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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
44,150 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

problem #4

Oct 222008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,600 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the air bag indicator remained illuminated. The dealer stated that the seat belt latch system does not work and they are charging him to diagnose and repair the failure. The contact stated that it is a safety hazard that the seat belt does not work. The failure and current mileages were 47,600. Updated 12/10/08 both of the rear springs broke and the rear axle bearing was bad. Updated 12/16/08.

- Windber, PA, USA

problem #3

Apr 212008

Explorer 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 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. Hubs/bearings wearing out. This is a very dangerous problem and Ford needs to recall these Explorer before someone gets hurt.

- Randolph, NJ, USA

problem #2

Apr 102008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer with slightly less than 130,000 miles with near incident of rear passenger wheel falling off at highway speed.

- Turners Station, KY, USA

problem #1

Feb 262007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
My 2002 Ford Explorer has been repaired for major transmission and rear end problems approx. 15 times in the past 3 years. The transmission continues to slip between 2nd-3rd and 3rd-4th gear. In reverse the clutch binds up. The rear end roars and was replaced at 35,000 miles (after numerous fix attempts) and at 66,000 miles rear wheel bearings, ring gear & pinion were replaced. The transmission was almost overhauled at 35,000, re-programmed approx 3 times and needs to be done again now. The compass has failed twice.

- Murfreesboro, TN, USA

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