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:
0 / 1
Average Mileage:
10,000 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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2002 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #4

Jul 212006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles


Persistent quality problems: Engine, transmission, power steering, air compressor, and related safety hazards such as defective rear hinge.

- Cary, IL, USA

problem #3

Dec 262004


  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer rollover incident on 12/26/2004 resulted in the death of my stepson.

- Alta Loma, CA, USA

problem #2

Aug 222003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
Consumer stated that while making a left turn he heard a loud humming noise and had difficulty turning vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and the technician indicated that the power steering rod failed. This problem occurred in July. In August the consumer made a turn and the vehicle shut off in the middle of an intersection which caused the steering wheel to lock up. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who indicated that the fuel tank needed to be replaced. The glass in the rear hatch rattled. The vehicle was purchased new and the consumer believes it should not be experiencing these types of problems.

- Ontario Canada, 00, USA

problem #1

Aug 062002

(reported on)


  • miles
Driving on highway 70 mph swerved to avoid a tire in road car over steers, you must turn back the opposite way then you are out of control in that direction. Any sudden manuver you are out of control. I took the truck to Ford service they said "you have a short wheel base, that will get your attention"

- Wake Forest, NC, USA

Not what you are looking for?