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:
7 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
88,059 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 6 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #6

Oct 232002

(reported on)


  • miles


The owner states the truck veers side to side not keeping a straight direction. Truck has been in the shop (8) times for problems with the front end or steering. The parts were replaced from the steering to a complete rack and pinion with defect not corrected. An engineer from Ford has also inspected the truck and has determined that there is no problem. The dealership is insisting that the owner come pick the truck up in the same condition.

- Mcdonough, GA, USA

problem #5

Jun 012002


  • miles
Im complained that the steering was too sensitive. I swerved to avoid a tire in the road and lost control of the vehicel. Took car to dealed who found no problem. Days later I received a call from the dealer that they had a factory rep coming to test my car. (why if there is nothing wrong) the factory man said he road tested the car and put it on a lift. He found no problem that is the way a short wheel base should drive. Fords big excuse was there is a sticker on the sun visor that reads "avoid abrupt manouvers" the rep even wrote on my service ticket that the lable was in place. The car can flip over but we told you so. I dont think this is safe and it is not right for Ford to know they have another problem and wash it away with a lable. Drive down a highway and tell me if you can avoid abrupt moves. How come airlines dont put stickers on the seats that this plane might fall from the sky. Ford has a problem and the public will pay with their lives.

- Wake Forest, NC, USA

problem #4

May 072002


  • miles
While traveling at 25 mph steering became impossible to turn in any direction. Took to dealer, and they stated this was a known problem with a defective seal. Consumer feels consumers lifes were put into danger because of a known problem.

- Jamison, PA, USA

problem #3

Feb 172002

Explorer 4WD

  • miles


Ice and slush enter the door panels from under the vehicle causing, doors to freeze shut.

- Ft. Collins, CO, USA

problem #2

Jan 152002


  • miles
When driving steering will lock up for about 5 to 7 seconds. This happens intermittently. Dealer contacted. Please add VIN.

- Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #1

Sep 212001


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving, consumer would hear popping noises coming from left front end. Dealer checked and repaired steering column shaft. Problem not resolved. Took back to dealer and steering column assembly was replaced. However, problem was not resolved. Took vehicle back again and left front wheel hub assembly was replaced. Nothing solved the problem. Mechanic could not resolve it. Manufacturer is working on solution.

- Victoria, TX, USA

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