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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
56,597 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 1 of 3)

problem #55

Jun 062016


  • 85,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While the vehicle was at a local dealer for routine service, the front wheel bearings and hub assemblies were replaced. After the repairs, the contact heard an abnormal noise coming from the vehicle. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the front wheel bearings needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired; however, the failure persisted. While driving 60 mph, the front driver side wheel detached from the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the front wheel bearings needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 85,000.

- Ridgefield, CT, USA

problem #54

Oct 042010


  • 73,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 68 mph, the vehicle exhibited a squealing noise and began pulling to the left. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnosis and was told that the wheel bearings were frozen and that he should continue to drive on them until they fractured, in which the vehicle would be fine to drive. The vehicle was then taken to an independent mechanic who stated that the bearings were frozen to the axle, and that the rear driver's side axle would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 73,000 and the current mileage was 161,000.

- New Braunfels, TX, USA

problem #53

Dec 152008


  • 98,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving various speeds the contact heard a buzzing noise in the rear of the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the technicians stated the rear passenger side wheel bearing needed to be replaced. After the repairs were performed, the contact was driving approximately 5 mph when the vehicle began to shake and wobble. The contact pulled over to the side of the road. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The technicians stated the hub and the wheel bearing needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 98,000.

- Palm Coast, FL, USA

problem #52

Mar 172008


  • 60,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving at speeds of 40 mph, the contact could hear a noise coming from the rear of the vehicle. The dealer found that both the driver and passengers side rear wheel bearings were failing. The wheel bearings were replaced accordingly. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 60,000 and the current was 80,000.

- Michigan City, IN, USA

problem #51

Aug 012008


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated while traveling at unknown speeds, the wheel bearing failed on the vehicle causing her to lose control of the vehicle. The contact was able to barely avoid crashing with another vehicle. She stated that the wheel bearings had been replaced five times. The most recent failure was the sixth failure. The failure mileage was 130,000 and the current mileage was 150,000.

- Chambers, NE, USA

problem #50

Feb 052010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer. Wheels nearly fell off due to faulty wheel bearings. Needed replaced at only 70,000 miles. A recall is needed for public safety.

- Bowling Green, OH, USA

problem #49

Aug 282009

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 61,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The wheel bearings on three of the wheels have to be replaced. A representative from the manufacturer stated since the warranty expired, he was ineligible for a free remedy. The failure mileage was 61,000. Updated 01/12/10 updated 01/14/10.

- Bellevue, WA, USA

problem #48

Jul 242008


  • 106,000 miles
Right rear wheel making noise and is loose. Wheel hub/bearing is loose and wobbly. Parking brake pads worn completely off from wheel being tilted. Failed wheel bearing!!! 106,000 miles. 2002 Ford Explorer. Also replaced both front wheel hubs for same reason at about 95,000 miles (noisy and rough bearing).

- Grosse Ile, MI, USA

problem #47

Jul 162008


  • 65,000 miles
Front wheel bearing on my 2002 Ford Explorer had to be replaced at 65,000 miles. Shop said if it had been driven much further the wheel would have come off. My extended warranty expired last year and Ford will not help. This is evidently a very common problem with this model year and could lead to death or serious injury please issue a recall before anyone gets hurt.

- Plattsburg, MO, USA

problem #46

May 302008


  • 79,059 miles
My vehicle has 79K miles on it and I have all four of the wheel bearings replaced once and the left rear bearing replaced twice. I have never towed a trailer, driven through standing water or overloaded the vehicle at any time. The comments on the internet would indicate that this is a common problem on the 2002 Explorer. This problem could cause loss of control of the vehicle. I have not had to replace wheel bearings on other vehicles and I suspect that Ford Motor Company is well aware of this issue. My experience with the dealer was very good. I do not hold joe cotton Ford responsible for any deficiencies with my vehicle.

- Villa Park, IL, USA

problem #45

Feb 042008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving 45 mph, the front passenger side of the vehicle makes a grinding and roaring sound. The vehicle could not be driven while making a right turn. As of April 10, 2008, three wheel bearings and hubs have been replaced. The current mileage was 61,306 and failure mileage was 54,000.

- Bethel, VT, USA

problem #44

Mar 122008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 92,000 miles
Front driver wheel bearing replaced twice in 1.5 years. Right rear wheel bearing replaced once already need to replace again.

- Erie, PA, USA

problem #43

Mar 012008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I have Ford Explorer and have replaced three of four wheel hub assemblies in 3 years. Each time I took the car to a repair shop I was told the wheel was close to coming off the car because of the poor condition of the wheel hub assembly( bearings).

- Laverock, PA, USA

problem #42

Mar 012008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,145 miles
2002 Ford Explorer wheel bearing failure with under 80,000 miles on the vehicle. I have replaced the front wheel bearing and now both rear wheel bearings due to failure. The first was a rear hub assembly in 06 then a front in 07 and now the driver side rear in 08. I was told by a Ford dealer this is a common problem with a tsb addressing it. The dealer told me if not caught soon enough the tires could actually come off the vehicle while traveling. While this has not happened in my case there is the potential for an accident. Also this vehicle has a known defect in the transmission which Ford has done nothing about. I have had to replace my transmission at under 70,000 miles and many others have had the same problems I have had with my vehicle as found by searching the web for these problems.

- Delphos, OH, USA

problem #41

Feb 282008

Explorer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles
Front wheel bearings shot at 80K miles.

- North Branch, MN, USA

problem #40

Apr 222007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,503 miles
2002 Ford Explorer caught fire. Consumer stated that the vehicle caught fire while his mother was visiting his sister in a different state. No attempt was made to repair her vehicle and rental cost them $600 out of pocket. Prior to the fire, the consumer asked the mechanic to inspect the vehicle, because warning lights were coming on and going off intermittently. The consumer had a list of documentation relating to electrical issues. The vehicle had to get a jump several times, the vehicle would hesitate when first starting up. The brake lights were stuck, the dealer replaced the brake pedal switch. The cruise control was inoperable so the dealer replaced the brake light switch. The alternator and wheel bearings were replaced.

- Canandaigua, NY, USA

problem #39

Feb 112008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,252 miles
Wheel bearing failure for third time almost flipped truck I have had it repaired again.

- Mattydale, NY, USA

problem #38

Feb 082008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,343 miles
My 2002 Ford Explorer had rear and front howling noises similar to a jet during take off. Also was very unstable at higher speeds. Ford dealership found both rear wheel bearings and rear differential bearings need replacing. They also stated that the rear had such a wobble that it would dangerous to drive in its current condition. Just the rear wheel bearings cost me almost $600. On further investigation they found the front hubs and ring and pinion noisy and also in need of replacement. The total for these repairs is nearing $3000. No wonder Ford is heading into bankruptcy! this vehicle still has well under 100,000 miles, has never towed, plowed or used off-road, all highway mileage. Is this why they say Ford is fix or repair daily? my next vehicle will not be Ford for sure. Ford needs to have these issues recalled and fixed before somebody gets hurt.

- Victor, NY, USA

problem #37

Jan 312008


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

- Rockville, MD, USA

problem #36

Oct 112007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer and my problem first started with the 4X4 case. The dealership stated it was covered under the warranty and it was fixed. A month or so later my truck began doing the same things, weird noise when driving now I have to get the wheel bearing changed on the left side and that is not covered by warranty. The cost for this repair is estimated. $600.

- Trenton, NJ, USA

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