Notes: The 2002 Ford Explorer is hands-down our worst vehicle on record. "Avoid like the plague" is putting it lightly.

The 2002-2005 Explorer has a very well-established record of expensive transmission failure at under 100k miles. The Explorer has an enclosed transmission which is typically replaced with a rebuilt transmission at a cost of almost $3,000.

Another common problem for the 2002-2003 Explorer is wheel bearing failure at around 90k miles, with a typical repair bill of $500 to $1000 depending on how many wheel bearings failed.

Adding insult to injury, the 2002-2005 Explorer also has a massive problem with the rear panel cracking. While it's a minor annoyance compared to transmission failure, ironically the crack usually goes right through the Ford logo.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
43,811 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Ford Explorer seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #5

Mar 042007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles


- the contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The airbag warning light remained illuminated. The dealership informed the contact the driver's front seat pretentioner upgrade harness needed to be replaced. The dealership made the repair. The airbag warning light no longer illuminated. The current mileage was 73,000. Update 4/23/07

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #4

Jan 262006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles
: the contact stated the air bag light intermittently illuminates. The vehicle was seen by a dealer. The service department determined both front seat belts needed to be replaced due to the integrated air bag/seat belt system. The entire front seat belts were replaced accordingly but the air bag light later illuminated. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer. The service department suggested replacing the seat belts again. Updated 3/3/2006 - the consumer has also had to replace the rear washer motor, odometer and has had problems with the automatic door locks.

- Cheshire, CT, USA

problem #3

Oct 032005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,056 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer. My airbag warning light notified me of a problem. When I took the car into the dealership, they said that "both front seat belt pretensioners" needed to be replaced. I just find it odd that they would both happen to break at the same time. It sounds more like defective parts.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #2

Jan 032005


  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer driver side seat belt stopped working.** answer required***.

- Unknown, DC, USA

problem #1

May 142002


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving at 45mph, was involved in a rear end collision. Upon impact, none of the air bags deployed. The sensor was bent up and sideways. The seat belt allowed consumer to slide under. Both knees hit the dashboard. Consumer suffers from upper and lower back pain and sore knees. Consumer is not sure if there is an airbag in the vehicle.

- San Pedro, CA, USA

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