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:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
25,290 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 wheels / hubs problems

wheels / hubs problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #4

May 102006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles


The contact owned a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving at 35 mph in the rain, the rear passenger side tire blew out and caused the vehicle to flip over three times. The contact suffered injuries to the back and neck, but did require medical attention. A police report was filed. The vehicle was destroyed. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and stated that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 01V171000 (tires: Sidewall). The failure mileage and tire information were unknown. MA 08/11/15

- King George, VA, USA

problem #3

Jan 102008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,562 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The vehicle has Goodyear Wrangler rt/S, size P265/70/R16 tires. While driving between 45-50 mph, the rear passenger side tire failed. The mechanic stated that there were severe cracks around the sidewall of the tires and they all needed to be replaced. The first tire that failed had severe tread separation. The dot number was unknown. The current mileage was 75,481 and failure mileage was 48,562. Updated 02-12-BF08 * the consumer stated Ford replaced all four tires with Wrangler Goodyear rt/S dot MD70 D5hr, mts P245/75R16 and charged $100 for the new tires. Updated 02/12/08

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #2

Mar 292005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 32,000 miles
Problems with defective Michelin tires on the 2002 Ford Explorer.** answer required***. on two occasions, noise was heard while going speeds of 40-45 mph. The brakes felt heavy and it was difficult to slow the vehicle down. On one occasion, the steering wheel was uncontrollable and a few minutes later, the consumer was able to control the vehicle again. The consumer found that the tire treads and wire were separated as if they were cut. Recall campaign #01V171000.

- Isla Verde, PR, USA

problem #1

Feb 192004


  • 20,600 miles
While driving front tire tread separated. Dealerships mechanic was notified, but had not resolved the problem. Michelin, size P235/70R16.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

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