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:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
58,443 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 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #5

Mar 042006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


: the contact stated while the vehicle was parked the contact attempted to put the vehicle shifter into the drive position however, the steering column completely fell apart. The vehicle was driven home and then to an independent repair shop and repairs have been made.

- Oakley, CA, USA

problem #4

Feb 142006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Backed my 2002 Ford Explorer out of the garage and put it in park for a moment and went to put the car in drive and the gear shifter broke off. The steering column had to be dismantled to allow for towing and mechanic having trouble getting the parts to fix it.

- Jefferson, MD, USA

problem #3

Apr 112005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,666 miles
Began backing out of garage but noticed "door ajar" light on; a frequent occurrence in this car, and light doesn't indicate which door is the problem. So, finished backing car out of garage and parked it in driveway, placing car in park and applying emergency brake. Left car running. Exited car, left driver door open, and had some time to stand, turn around and look at back door behind driver's side first. Determined it was closed by visual check. Began to move toward rear of car to check hatch next (hatch problematic; had it fixed after bought the car then it was just recently recalled again. But much to my shock the car slipped out of park and ran over me. Tried to dive out of way; car ran over me at both knees. Suffered crush injury. Had car examined; forensic specialist thought it was a design flaw with lots of gap in steering column between reverse and park and some play in where it would groove in.

- Centennial, CO, USA

problem #2

Jan 102005

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Steering column broke while driving. Consumer applied the brakes, and the pedal went to the floor. Consumer lost control of the vehicle, and it crashed into a guard rail. Upon impact, both air bags failed to deploy. Driver sustained minor injuries, and went to the doctor on her own. Vehicle was towed, and totaled out by the insurance company.

- Centereach, NY, USA

problem #1

Dec 232004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles
When shifting from drive to park column shift lever would get stuck. Upon a stalling, , when shifting from drive into park to restart the car, column shift lever broke off resulting in being unable use the vehicle while in a parking lot at night with small children in the car. Vehicle towed to dealer, where we were told the whole steering column needed to be replaced at an estimate of $747 for a three year old vehicle.

- Huffman, TX, USA

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