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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
76,009 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 3 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #74

Jan 232010


  • 157,000 miles


Event/situation: Hesitates and chokes at 40-45 miles per hour when trying to accelerate, along with a slight rubbing sensation felt through the steering wheel and gas peddle. They advised replacing the upper ball joints. They also stated a weak battery which was replaced. This did seem to fix various faulty false electrical issues: Interior lights staying on and false light/dashboard readings. Faulty transmission, emissions or plugs/wiring have been possibilities. I've taken it to Goodyear who recommended changing out the plugs and wires, along with a flush. I've been told that flushes can ruin parts on older vehicles and cause other expensive problems. I found a few websites were there are many other customers having these same issues with the 2002 Ford Explorer. Ford has been notified and aware of these transmission issues and expensive problems, covering up with other little recalls like the wiring harness. I, like many, are being forced to pay for faulty transmissions. I believe this needs to be investigated and make Ford pay for recalls and repairs. It has been taken to the Ford dealership for its oil change and a wiring recall approximately two weeks ago, in January 2010. Here is the website with many other Ford Explorer official complaints who demand a responsible/reliable recall fix from Ford.

- Holly Hill, FL, USA

problem #73

Feb 212007


  • 64,869 miles
This complaint is concerning the wheel bearings on all 2002 Ford Explorer and the frequency in which they break or come lose causing lose of control of the vehicle. This has happened on my vehicle on 5 occasions, the last of which Ford refuses to replace at their cost due to it being out of warranty. The first incident happened in February 2007 when my right front bearing broke while I was on an highway overpass driving at approximately 60 mph and almost lost control of my vehicle as the wheel nearly comes off when this happens and the vehicle jerks. The truck was towed into the dealership for repair. The second incident happened in January 2008 when my left front wheel bearing broke. This time I was thankfully not on the expressway but once again the vehicle was towed into the dealership for repair as it was not drivable. When the vehicle was in for repair this time I requested that the rear bearings be checked and replaced if necessary and it was found that those two bearings also needed replacement. Now, in October 2009, once again my front left wheel bearing is lose and needs to be replaced. I called Ford regarding the possibility that the bearings are faulty and that someone is going to be killed due to this issue but the customer service center just says to make a complaint. They also will not cover the cost of the repair as it is out of their 12 month or 12,000 mile warranty period. I have started researching this issue and have found 28 pages of complaints from people having the same issue and this is just one website. This seems to be a common occurrence with the bearings on 2002 Explorer. This is supposed to be a sealed factory part that usually does not require repair and I am on my fifth repair. I am concerned for my own safety and the safety of others.

- St. Clair Shores, MI, USA

problem #72

Jul 272009


  • 116,000 miles
I have had troubles with the wheel ends on my Ford since I bought it in 2005. I didn't realize the problems that I am having are common in this vehicle. I started noticing more brake dust on some of the wheels than others. Then on my rear/passengers tire I hear a squeaking, grinding noise with a little wabble in the wheel. Take it back to the dealer -said they grinded something down. Didn't hear the noise anymore. My ABS light kicks on won't go off has something to do with defect in wheel end assembly apparently. Paid $150 to get it off comes right back on weeks later!! my entire wheel end almost falls off while on the hwy. Pull over all 4 studs had come completely off of the wheel except 1, the wheel was literally hangin. Had to have all studs replaced. Have had to have wheel studs replaced frequently at some point on all four tires. Paid to have rear passenger wheel bearings replaced finally $300+. front, drivers wheel bearings went out while driving 70-80 mph on hwy, loss control, barely made it off hwy in the middle of nowhere! 1-2months later front passengers wheel bearings go bad have to be replaced-$300+ each time. Had front brakes & rotors replaced March '07, rear brakes & rotors Jan '08. This month Sept '09 had to have rear brakes & rotors replaced. Could only afford to have brake pads replaced. Only put 30,000miles on it since had B/R changed in '08. Why am I having to have them both changed a year later. Something in the wheel end assembly is causing increased wear & tear on rear brakes, rotors and everything else! now my brake pads are burning insanely crazy, alot of smoke comes from the wheel. New brake pads shouldn't burn that fast even with somewhat bad rotors. (that shoudn't be bad), have to go back to the shop this week. All are common issues apparently. Please review link w/complaints on this ┐02 model. & they tell me my ball joints are going out! thank you.

- Frankfort, KY, USA

problem #71

Sep 112009


  • 107,912 miles


Have a 2002 Ford Explorer have had several problems, but while I was out driving today my car began to pop as I turned the wheel. I have gotten my tie rods replaced and there seems to continue to be a problem with my vehicle. My husband drove the car home for me slowly but will not drive for fear that the wheel may pop off. Contacted Ford and am waiting on a response, this problem has been noted on the internet by several owners of this model and year. This is a suspension problem and I would like this further investigated so that noone is riding down the highway with their children in vehicle and the wheel pop off. I was very lucky that my child was not in the truck with me at the time this incident happened.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #70

Aug 102009


  • 72,000 miles
Noticed a noise from rear of vehicle. Upon inspection, I found both rear coil springs were broken. Springs were replaced with new. Old parts have been disposed of but do have photos.

- Gansevoort, NY, USA

problem #69

May 202009


  • 91,000 miles
Flat tire; after taking tire off I noticed that the coil spring was broken in half and the wheel bearing was bad, causing the wheel to wobble. There was no apparent reason for the part failures. After consulting others with the same vehicle type this is a very common problem for 2002 Ford Explorer - wheel bearings and coil spring failure. Ford may want to recall these before it causes accidents.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #68

May 032009


  • 104,000 miles


Heard a grinding noise coming from the rear of the vehicle, had brakes changed, noise continued. Found out it was the driver side wheel bearing and the passenger side front both going bad. Repairs not done too expensive.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #67

Mar 112009


  • 100,000 miles
Have had several incidents with my Ford Explorer attempting to run off parkway at 65 mph after wheel bearing failure. Have had to replace wheel bearings 6 times from 100,000 to 102,000 miles.this problem is extremely dangerous due to failure of control of vehicle with no prior notice of any mechanical problems concerning the bearings until complete failure. Even the replacement parts after installation have failed after less than 1000 miles.

- Barnegat, NJ, USA

problem #66

Feb 142009


  • 150,000 miles
O/D light began flashing diving on a major highway - RPM's ran at 3rpm's no matter what speed I traveled. Transmission shifts very hard and I am experiencing a terrible clunking noise - piece of┐!@#$% transmission - will have to replace the transmission according to the dealer and I have heard it is happening very frequently with the 2002 Explorer.

- Florence, NJ, USA

problem #65

Jan 012009


  • 90,000 miles
Had to have both front wheel bearings replaced.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #64

Sep 282008


  • miles


Wheel bearings on 2002 Ford Explorer are wearing out without any notice. I never had a car that experienced this issue. This is a sever problem as I drive my small children around in. Knowing that a wheel could eventually come off scares the life out of me. There is no recall from as this is a manufacture defect.

- Jackson, NJ, USA

problem #63

Sep 202008


  • 55,000 miles
Premature failure of all four wheel bearings in my 2002 Ford Explorer as well as the pinion gear and clutch packs with less than 50,000 miles.

- Cary, NC, USA

problem #62

Sep 012008


  • 58,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer, wheel bearings went out (pre-maturely as on thousands of this model car)and airbag disconnected (Ford made cable too short under driver's seat.) lucky we caught it before wheel flew off and airbag didn't deploy!

- Castle Pines North, CO, USA

problem #61

Sep 292008


  • 590,000 miles
Brought my 2002 Explorer (59K miles) to dealer for repair and was informed I had a broken rear spring. On discussion board on-line found allot of other people with same problem. Very costly to fix can't understand why spring would break on low mileage vehicle.

- Plainville, MA, USA

problem #60

Dec 142005


  • 82,578 miles
I purchased a 2002 fore Explorer XLT 10/2004 with 69,500 miles. I now have $17,500 miles. I have owned this vehicle for approx 4 years and have had to replace the wheel bearings for all 4 wheels. The first time was 12/05. All four times the repairs were done at a Ford dealership. They offer no reason why this might happen. This was my first Ford vehicle.

- Schenectady, NY, USA

problem #59

Jul 072008


  • 84,500 miles
First the back (both) wheel bearings went. Sounded like a nasty grinding noise, very loud. I had them replaced at $750 to replace them and that was not including the fact that they destroyed my brakes and they had to be replaced also..very expensive.. no warranty..than replaced the drivers front bearing and not the passenger side bearing is going..will replace very soon.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #58

Jul 312008


  • miles
I'm reading many, many, many and multiple complaints about the same things for the 2002 Ford Explorer. Mainly the wheel bearings going which can cause the wheels to fall off with the potential for severe injury or death and the rear differential going out. Ford needs to recall these vehicles and fix this matter!

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #57

Jul 222008


  • 77,000 miles
Wheel bearings eroded after only 75K miles; tires in danger of falling off.

- Daniel Island, SC, USA

problem #56

May 212005


  • 85,000 miles
Wheel bearing problems with most 2002 model Ford Explorer all trim levels.

- Lithia Springs, GA, USA

problem #55

Mar 152007


  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer 4.0 has excessive wheel bearing noise. I have read of many wheel bearing issues with this model which signifies a manufacturers defect. A recall should be instituted.

- Decatur, AL, USA

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