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 / 0
Average Mileage:
76,982 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 8 of 10)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #52

Feb 212008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,954 miles


2002 Ford Explorer XLT, car will not shift out of 2nd gear. Over drive off light flashes and shifting stalls. No replacement has happened yet, but seems like everyone else who has had this happen to them needed a transmission rebuild. I don't have the money to shell out for a rebuild. Also 5 months after purchasing the car, I had to replace the rear ball baring hubs and bearings. The total cost was 1,000 dollars usd. We need Ford to recall the transmission.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #51

Feb 172008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,935 miles
After normal driving I began to hear a loud grinding and humming noise coming from the rear drivers side tire of my 2002 Ford Explorer. After going to my mechanic he had said my rear bearing and hub are bad which also made my rear tire unstable. He began to tell me it is a major problem with this vehicle and the bearings, hubs, and brakes were defective due to the fact that they cannot handle the braking load of this vehicle. After researching the problem online it would seem he is correct. This is a major safety problem in that all the bearings and hubs eventually go bad and can fail at anytime making the tires unstable and could fall off during driving. This is obviously a defective design and /or parts installed in this vehicle. There are many complaints of the same events happening to other owners. Since this is a major safety issue and a very expense fix for unsuspecting owners I hope you look into this issue and make Ford issue a recall. Thank you.

- Oceanside, NY, USA

problem #50

Feb 062008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles
02 Ford Explorer, bad wheel bearing, go on internet and find out very high failure rate of these bearings that could cause wheel to come off and potentially kill someone. Ford will not recall these bearings.

- Lincoln, NE, USA

problem #49

Feb 122008

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


I have a 2002 Ford Explorer and replaced the right rear wheel bearing in 2004, again in Oct. Of 2006, and now in Feb. Of 2008. The right front was also replaced in Dec. Of 2006.

- Salem, SD, USA

problem #48

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 #47

Jan 232008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles
This vehicle has been maintained per manufactures recommendations. It is not used off road and run under normal conditions. With no warning and no previous noise the right rear wheel hub/bearing failed. The bearing came apart and the wheel was so loose it was walking 1-2 inches side to side. Had my wife not been driving slowly there could have been a horrific wreck. Luckily she was close to a shop when it happened. I have not fixed it as of yet but am in the process now. I know I will need a hub, bearing and the brakes were knocked out by the walking motion. There should have been a recall on this. I see on the internet where a lot of individuals have had the same issue.

- Murtaugh, ID, USA

problem #46

Jan 312008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,156 miles


Grinding noise from rear especially driver side rear humming and swaying brought to dealer replaced rear hub and bearing assemblies both sides replaced front sway bar links and bushings both sides.

- Reading, MA, USA

problem #45

Jan 302008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,997 miles
Heard loud roaring noise coming from back rear tires. Had Explorer checked to find out that right rear tire was almost ready to come off Explorer. After doing some looking around on the web I found out that many other Ford Explorer owners are also having these hubs/bearings wearing out very early (50-70K miles). This is a very dangerous problem and Ford needs to recall these Explorer before someone gets hurt. Thank you

- Boylston, MA, USA

problem #44

Jan 172008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles
Vehicle mileage: 69,000. Loud grinding noise from rear of vehicle while driving on the highway. No previous warning. Required tow. Replaced 2 cracked rear springs, 2 damaged struts, 2 rear wheel bearings. Unusual and dangerous incident for this mileage. We now know it is a "notorious problem" - old parts available.

- Medford, MA, USA

problem #43

Jan 042008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,888 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer V6 and in the past 2 years I have replaced both left and right rear wheel bearing and about to replace the one on the right side again. I called Ford and they told me they could only recall a vehicle if you ladies and gentle call for a recall. I have spent over $1200 dollars on this problem and about to spend another $600. I checked on line and realized I was not the only one with this problem. Hundreds of others have had this problem with the Explorer but still no recall. I was just wondering what should I do about my problem. I'm tired of spending money on a truck that barely six years old and had less than 70,000 miles when this problem first occurred.

- Toledo, OH, USA

problem #42

Nov 222007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles


Front and rear bearing for the 2002 Ford Explorer fails while driving. Ford is aware of the problem but will not recall until your approval, repairs are made at the owners cost....please help.

- Garrochales, PR, USA

problem #41

Oct 192007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles
I own a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT. Vehicle has @ 57K miles on it. Wheel bearings had to be replaced. My understanding this is factory sealed and should not need replacing this quickly. Normal lifetime of wheel bearings should be over 100K?

- Wilmington, DE, USA

problem #40

Sep 012007


  • miles
1. rear wheel bearing failure, manufacturer sealed part 2. failed 3 times, passenger tire broke free from wheel while driving down road with 2 young children in the car. 3. fix both rear wheel bearings three times at a cost of $800 each time totaling $2400 in wheel bearings. This part is not suppose to fail....I have been told it is a manufacturer's sealed part, but I have 6 different ones for this vehicle and they all fail!!! all bought at the dealership, but no warranty applies as they last long enough to out live that!

- Redford, MI, USA

problem #39

Jun 152007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,400 miles
Grinding noise sounding like it is from rear end, especially accelerating at high speeds, and turning. Told to replace rear hub assembly.

- Attleboro, MA, USA

problem #38

Feb 282007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles
Rear wheel axle bearings. I have a 2002 Ford Explorer that had 85,000 miles on it. I had to have the rear wheel axle bearings replaced. I drove the vehicle about 20,000 and it was just over a year and the rear bearings went out again. Ford would not cover these. I had to pay full price again to have them replaced. Numerous people I have spoken with said there have been many problems with the bearings. Also a very close friend of mine also has a 2002 Explorer and she has had to have her bearings replaced too.

- Jefferson, MD, USA

problem #37

Apr 182007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. On February 21, 2007, the contact replaced the rear driver side hub assembly. Currently, the vehicle is in the shop a second time for the passengers side hub assembly. On April 18, 2007, the contact heard a loud rumbling noise while driving 65 mph. The vehicle began to operate as if the alignment had failed. Someone driving beside the contact informed her that the rear wheels appeared as if they were about to detach from the vehicle. The current and failure mileages were 65,000.

- St Louis, MO, USA

problem #36

May 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles
- the contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving 50 mph he heard a loud noise coming from the rear wheels. The mechanic stated that the wheel bearings were rusted and should be replaced. The dealer made the repair. The failure mileage was 83,000 miles at the time of the repair. There had not been any other occurrences since the repair. The vehicle's current mileage was 95,000 miles. Updated 07/03/07.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #35

Apr 132007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,465 miles
1. inspected rear coil springs. 2. found both rear coil springs broken, causing rear of vehicle to sag. 3. had both rear coil springs replaced, also replaced the rear struts. I still have the old coil springs and struts.

- Brownstown , MI, USA

problem #34

Mar 022007


  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer was in an accident because of wheel bearing problems** transferred to dad * the consumer was told the wheel bearing failed due to wear, however the consumer stated there was no noise prior to the accident.

- Monroe, NY, USA

problem #33

Mar 092007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 960,000 miles
Car started making humming noise when going 30-45 mph, took to a mechanic who ref me to the dealership to check the transmission and then for transmission flush, still the same issue, I was advised that the tires needed to be replaced, I have 4X4 which requires the same 4 tires or the car will jerk. The brake pedal vibrates, and the 4X4 gauge doesn't work, replaced the component and still the same issue. Any who to make a long story short, now I am hearing a clinking and rubbery sound coming from the rear of the vehicle. I am now forced to take the car in... and of course be charged a ridiculous fee, for them to run diagnostics on the truck to diagnose the issue, and then of course pay for parts and labor.... my next car will be a foreign car.. they break down less, and the cost of maintenance and equivalent or less then the cost of maintaining a good ole' american made Ford vehicle. (Lexus, Kia, and I believe either Mazda or Toyota are owned by Ford.. so steer clear of those brands). Timeline reflects the latest issue, and the amount of previous problems.. amount to many.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

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