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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
53,200 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

problem #3

Dec 152007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the shift gear detached from the steering column when being shifted out of park. In addition, the key would not turn. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and they stated that the steering column needed to be replaced. As of January 2, 2008, the dealer had not repaired the vehicle. The VIN and engine size were unavailable. The current and failure mileages were 69,000. Updated 01-29-08. The consumer stated contacted Ford customer relations several times and informed to bring to a Ford dealership in turn Ford informed the consumer there was nothing they could do due to the fact the vehicle's warranty had expired. Updated 01/29/08

- Adams, MA, USA

problem #2

Oct 022007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,600 miles
Pulling out of a neighbor's driveway, my shift rod cracked off and dangled, leaving the truck immobile. Nothing had preceded this. Due to towing fees, I contacted a local mechanic who was able to bring it to his shop, a mile away, vs. To Ford, which would have required a $200 flatbed tow. This provider tried for 3 weeks to get a part, # 5L2C36529A, told that Ford had 1300 vehicles with this issue. If this had happened on the street, there would have been an accident. Several calls to Ford and local dealerships have been not only unproductive but fruitless and demeaning. We are concerned for others that have this same issue, which Ford (which I have always been loyal to prior to now) has gone out of its way to deny, are going to be endangered and would like a recall investigation, please!

- Shoreview, MN, USA

problem #1

Aug 282001


  • miles
The vehicle has been in the service dept 3 times since purchase on 8/01. Upper & lower steering shaft has been replaced on 9/14/01. The front end rattles when I am operating the vehicle over normal terrain. Steering wheel has a popping feel when I go over a bump or turn right, feels like the car is going out of control (at slow speed). The vehicle will be back at Ford on 12/6/01 for further testing to detect/correct these problems. After looking at your website, I have discovered similar complaints exist. I will take copies with me to the dealership supervisor today.

- Glencoe, AL, USA

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