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 5 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #34

Feb 152008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,900 miles


1. humming noise coming from vehicle, went to dealer got it looked at dealer said it was hub assembly in 3 of four wheels that needed replaced. 2. asked if I could drive it until I had the money, was told it is not recommended because (if) (when) it fails completely it could damage the braking system or the wheel could fall off, searched online and found and discovered numerous Explorer drivers with the same problem and was told the same thing about the wheel falling off. 3. wheel hub assembles will be replaced, I could get the old parts back if requested. Just kind of scary that the wheel could fall of when this part fails, and it failed on 3 out of 4 wheels.

- Perrysburg, OH, USA

problem #33

Feb 042008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,400 miles
I own a 2002 Ford Explorer, and I have had it for nearly 3 years. I recently started hearing a familiar noise from my truck, another wheel bearing needs replacing! this is the third one over the past year and a half! Ford has to fix this problem, there is no reason a vehicle should have this many problems with the bearings!

- Girard, PR, USA

problem #32

Feb 112008

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles
My complaint is that I've had to replace all four wheel bearings on my 2002 Ford only has 90,000 miles on it and it is a very costly repair. It seems to me that these bearing are defective and if I don't replace them the car would be in serious jeopardy of an accident.

- Weston, CT, USA

problem #31

Feb 062008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • miles


Recently purchased a 2002 Ford Explorer for my 17 year old daughter, it has 79,000 miles on it. Within the first three months of owning the vehicle I have had to replace 3 of the 4 wheel bearings. The tire was practically falling off the vehicle by the time it made enough noise for anyone to notice.

- Weymouth , MA, USA

problem #30

Jan 312008


  • miles
Potential lost left wheel due to failing wheel bearing.

- Rockville, MD, USA

problem #29

Feb 052008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLT replacing 3rd wheel bearing in 2 years.

- Brunswick, OH, USA

problem #28

Jan 072008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer front and rear wheel bearing replacement. Back right wheel bearing failed causing damage to the axle, breaks and wheel drum. Front left wheel bearing failed. In both occasions noises were heard. In regards to be back wheel bearing the tire almost came off and the wheel froze. This occurred while on a major interstate traveling at a speed of 65 miles an hour. Back wheel bearing, axle, drum and brakes replaced at a Ford dealer, costing over $1700 dollars. Front wheel bearing began making a thumping noise and was replaced at a local mechanic costing $500. In contacting Ford I was told there was nothing they could do.

- Cairo, NY, USA

problem #27

May 012005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle began to vibrate. A sears mechanic diagnosed the failure as the front wheel bearings and performed the repair. The left front and left rear wheel bearings were also replaced. The current mileage is 92,000 and failure mileage was 50,000. The rear coil spring were weak. The end bushing were replaced. Updated 06/08/07.

- Shirley, MA, USA

problem #26

Feb 062007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,258 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer. When it started to get very cold, my Explorer, that I just bought, started to not want to go into gear. It would grind and slip. There was a clicking sound coming from under the dash. It was from the computer that runs the 4 wheel drive. The 4 low button would just kick in by its self. Then it would not go into gear. After a while of trying to get it into gear it would go. It would only act up when it was very cold out (10 to -5 degrees) it did this to me for about a week and then it just stuck into 4 low and now won't come out. There was a smell this last time of burning electrical wire and smoke. Now my Explorer won't drive and has a electrical smoke smell stuck in it. I now have to have it towed to a Ford dealer to get it fixed. It also makes a really loud popping sound when I go to turn or hit a bump. Sound comes from the front of the Explorer drivers side.

- Maxwell , IA, USA

problem #25

Oct 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles
Thumping noise from drivers side front end in the wheel area. The noise is most noticeable at between 40 and 60 mph during acceleration. It also becomes a humming noise as the gas pedal is released and the car is coasting or decelerating. Had new tires put on then new brake pads and rotors. Nothing fixed the problem. Talked to my brother, another loyal Explorer owner, and he had same problem diagnosed as a bearing needing replacing. He also told me about a leak on his garage floor in the rear middle of the car where the rear axle is. I told him I have same exact spot of something leaking on my garage floor. We read about all the seal problems with the axle and needing to be replaced. He spent over $1000 on the front bearings and now in for another big bill for the seal problem. I see we are not alone in our Explorer disappointments. All with the same problem. Come on Ford, back up your vehicle and pay for these defects to your SUVS.

- Plainfield, IL, USA

problem #24

Dec 012006

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


Fix for chattering and rear whine on 02 Explorer. When the car was new 25,000 the dealer replaced the rear pumpkin, very loud whine.. last month with 85,000 miles on the car, during a turn the rear would chatter and shake the car. I was told the rear needed a special lube for the rear to keep the rear clutches free, I had a local shop replace the rear differential oil with a special blend and it has been fine since.

- Midlothian, VA, USA

problem #23

Jul 012006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,230 miles
Explorer makes whining noise in rear end at speeds between 45 and 70 mph. The ABS light stays lit continuously even after having the brake system services. Have also had front wheel bearings replaced all this since the vehicle reached 60,000 miles it now has 86,000 and mechanic says it need a new rear end.

- Decatur, TN, USA

problem #22

Jul 232006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles
Bought 2002 Explorer in 2003 with 12,000 miles. Servicng dealer replaced transmission and torque converter under warranty @ 32,000 miles after O/D light started flashing. Now needs another transmission @ 54,000 miles. Car has always been serviced, driven lightly, never towed, never abused. Dealer will not pay or help out one bit. Ford knows 2002 Explorer have defective transmissions and rear ends, is ignoring problem, leaving consumer to absorb cost! have also had to replace timing chain tensioner, rear windshield wiper assembly, air conditioning unit under warranty. Front and rear wheel bearings needed replacing- out of warranty. Rear end is making classic "humming" sound that Ford is also ignoring-pinion gears.

- Marcellus, NY, USA

problem #21

May 122006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
My 2002 Explorer is also having the same problems which have been previously noted by other Explorer owners. The whining when reaching 50-60 km/hr, which goes away when you take your foot off the gas, the slipping and shuddering of gears and sometimes passing gear never kicks in, the ABS light comes on (usually after the truck has warmed up and it doesn't seem to happen when the weather is really cold), the ABS is now starting to act up, wherein it randomly activates itself even while on dry pavement and the brakes feel mushy when this happens. Now the locks are randomly not working. I would like to share one instance about the passing, shuddering, slipping was when I was traveling on the highway with my kids, I pulled out to pass, and when I stepped on it the truck shuddered so hard, that my daughter, who was coloring a mother' day card, actually scribbled when it shuddered, if that makes any sense. She was po'd at me asking me why did I do that and now her card was ruined. We have had the transmission in for service and were told nothing was wrong. We had the transmission fluid changed and the truck worked fine for about 2 weeks and then back to the same old problems. My husband and I are seriously considering trading this piece of crap vehicle off and we have decided that it will only be imports from now on. Ford needs to wake up and start fixing all of these problems or they will be finding themselves bankrupt in no time. I was brought up as a kid in Ford; 67 T-bird, Ford ltd, 1/2 ton truck, 3/4 ton truck, 78 Ford T-bird, Ford Taurus, my first car being a Mercury lynx, then a 93 Ford festiva, hubby owned a 93 Ford Ranger 4X4, 98 Windstar, my mom owns a 96 Explorer and so on. My friend just got rid of her 2000 Explorer which she lovingly named her 'Ford exploder'. thanks for listening to my rant and I really hope that with everyone's input that something can be done about this.

- Warman, 00, USA

problem #20

May 182006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 72,010 miles
Tried to put the vehicle into reverse from park and the column shifter broke off. Vehicle could not be driven and was towed to a transmission business. Cost to repair is $1300. I bought this vehicle in 2004 used. I've had the rear transmission seals, shocks, tires, front window and the entire steering column replaced.

- Sunnyvale, CA, USA

problem #19

May 102006


  • miles
2002 Explorer with 95K miles: Power windows, airbag and front/rear wheel bearings. Dealer was not surprised by these problems at all. $3K estimated repair cost.

- Glen Allen, VA, USA

problem #18

Apr 102006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles
Three instances of whining noise at 50+ mph and fluid leakage from rear axle seal 2002 Ford Explorer. The first one caused loss of control when accelerating on highway. Difficult to determine since rear transaxle fluid leaks down drive shaft to brake assembly. I noticed significant corrosion of brake assembly where fluid is running into the wheel assembly. Only when leak is significant will fluid drip onto surface below rear axle. Dealer noted Ford engineers are aware of problem but expect the consumer to pay for repairs. First replacement of rear axle seals at 30000 miles; second at 460000 miles and the third at 62000 miles. These seals should last longer. Second instance had vibration when engaging the vehicle in reverse and loud whining noise/ vibration from rear; then fluid leakage. My dealer acknowledges that many Explorer (2002-2005) have this problem and Ford Motor Company engineers are evaluating; as a dealer there is nothing they can do. Ford has not indicated a fix other than to check fluid level, replace rear axle seals, and/or the rear unit. This is a significant hazard since in most cases the vehicle owner will not know there is a pending failure due to the fluid leaking down the rear axle drive shaft toward the brake/wheel assembly. The whining noise will increase as fluid level decreases with risk failure and loss of control. This problem is far more common than reported due to the difficult nature of observation of leakage. One has to crawl under the rear transaxle and carefully inspect the two axle seals to look for signs of corrosion and fluid leakage.

- Hilliards, PA, USA

problem #17

Mar 152006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I own a 2002 Ford Explorer, with 69.000 miles on it. In the last few months I have had to replace ever wheel bearing on my car, the wheel have come loose, and the bearing were scraping. The cost for the bearing and the labor was over $1,400, I am also have to replace my tires because of this, when I contacted Ford on this matter, there commit was "that is your problem it is out of warranty, there is no reason all 4 wheel bearing would have gone bad with no more miles than there is on the car. My concern is that the next person may not know in time that there is flaw in the bearings and may have a wheel come off. This should be a very big safety concern. This could cause someone there life. I hope I can get someone to listen before it is to late and causes a child's life. Thank you.

- Cleveland, TN, USA

problem #16

Sep 022005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,010 miles
I brought this SUV last year at bill heard Chevrolet dealership. Even though this was a new vehicle. When I went to the dealership they told me that I could pay this car in three years but in reality it was five years. I signed all the paperwork I had to but they didn't give me any papers when I left. However when I went to apply to buy another car they didn't accept my application because they told me that I was already being finance a car for five years. This car has had many problems like the transmission would just make really loud noises when I drove the SUV; the transmission was simply not functioning properly. When I drove the car 60 mph or more the vehicle would just start vibrating. I contact the dealership to make a complaint but they simply just ignore my complaint.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #15

May 152003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,078 miles
ABS light came on at 19,518 miles, 22,071 miles, and 27,078 miles. More importantly, however, are my issues with the 2002 Explorer rear end. 10/1/03: 27,078 miles ABS light came on, the dealer replaced the assembly. Rear differential was leaking, dealer replaced the seals. 7/28/04: 40,541 miles rear end leaking again. Half shafts were worn. Rear locking diff was slipping. The dealer had to replace both halfshafts, seals, and clutch packs. 9/22/04: 43,203 miles rear axle chattering. Replaced whole rear axle assembly. 2/25/05: 54,960 miles rear diff making more noise. Left rear axle bearing was noisy. Replaced left rear axle hub and assembly. On test drive, the dealer found that the bearing they just installed was bad, so they had to replace it again. 8/11/05: 68,000 miles leaking fluid from rear end. The dealer performed the following maintenance: Replaced diff seals, replaced timing chain, replaced right front hub assembly, replaced ring and pinion, replaced front end tie rods, replaced both lower ball joints, performed front end alignment. All told, I have had my Explorer in the shop at least 10 times. My warranty is about to expire (7,000 more miles) and I'm going to try to get Ford to buy the vehicle back. From what I've heard, this is not an easy process and apparently doesn't happen often with such 'high mileage' vehicles. If they don't buy it back I will be forced to take a huge loss on the vehicle. I will then purchase anything but a Ford.

- Mason, MI, USA

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