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Ratings on over 1,000 new & used models going back 5 years, from the Center from Auto Safety. Learn more about The Car Book 2018 here. 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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
88,900 miles
Total Complaints:
181 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace wheel bearing (78 reports)
  2. replace bearing and hub (45 reports)
  3. replaced wheel bearings (34 reports)
  4. not sure (14 reports)
  5. replaced causual part, and surrounding parts (3 reports)
  6. replaced the following wheel bearings, tyrod, caliper, rotor (3 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer wheels / hubs problems

wheels / hubs problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 3 of 10)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #141

Aug 092007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles


Since this was my second time replacing wheel bearings, I asked what I might me doing to cause the problem. answer - nothing, didn't know, whatever, I had also taken it to another dealer to see if it would help. no

- Mary B., Garfield, AR, USA

problem #140

Apr 222008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,000 miles

Regarding premature failure, from a mileage standpoint I may have everyone beat. I purchased a new 2002 Explorer Sport 4X4, and drove it conservatively under normal conditions; no off-road, never towed, garaged, etc. With the original tires and suspension system, at 27,000 miles, the left front wheel bearing (referred to as a joint in the Ford shop manual) and hub assembly (a single, sealed unit) failed so badly the vehicle could not be driven. This was replaced at a Ford dealership, but as I was over three years since purchase, the repair was not covered by the warranty, and cost $500.00. After the repair, at 65 MPH, a fairly bad vibration was present in the front-end. At 36,000 miles, the right front wheel bearing and hub assembly also completely failed, and required a tow to the Ford dealership for replacement. The vibration is gone, so was caused by the right bearing, but not caught by the technician when the left side was replaced.

As Ford will admit, their parts are now manufactured in China and Mexico. Premature part failure is rampant, so obviously there is little quality control. Additionally, China has a huge counterfeit auto parts problem, and it seems reasonable these parts are being used in new American vehicles.

Even though these bearing assemblies should easily last 100,000 miles, I'm confident Ford will not issue a recall. It seems the only recalls involve parts where people are seriously injured or killed. The two recalls on my Explorer Sport are for a cruise control fusible link, and reclining seat bolt. The link was installed to prevent documented fires, which injure and kill people. The seat bolts failed, which caused the seat-back to abruptly drop. If you are driving, and suddenly the seat becomes bed-like, and you are now looking at the headliner, as opposed to through the windshield, this could cause injury or death.

I spoke with Ford customer support regarding compensation for the 27,000 mile premature part failure, and also mentioned I had previously purchased a new Ford Aerostar. The representative stated the vehicle was over three years old, and out of warranty, and they would do nothing. What I will do is purchase my next new vehicle from a Toyota dealer, and I suggest everyone reading this do the same, or at least purchase no additional Ford products. Compare customer satisfaction ratings on vehicles from the major foreign car companies (many of which are assembled in US plants) with Ford models. This will convince you to stay away from Ford.

- Dave F., Orwell, OH, USA

problem #139

Sep 072006

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

On vacation in northern michigan when noise and vibration in the rear became apparent. Took vehicle to Ford dealer in Tawas City. Right rear axle and bearing shot. Lost use of vehicle for 3 days. They gave me a courtesy car in the meantime. Looking on this website, it appears this is a major problem for Ford. But they really don't give a damn. When I complained to customer service, they kind of just shrugged their shoulders. I can see why people are going to Japanese built vehicles. Ford has built a piece of sh*t in this vehicle. And they just don't care.

- rdhill, Tawas City, MI, USA

problem #138

Jan 012008

Explorer XLS Unk

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles


Well, the car started making a noise and we had the local mechanic fix the second wheel bearing. The mileage and date are approximate. It was considerably less than the Ford dealership cost to fix it.

- Carol M., Crescent, IA, USA

problem #137

Jul 022004

Explorer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Okay so now we have 115000 miles on the Exploder, we are replacing the stupid wheel bearings for the THIRD time. This is truly ridiculous. The 1st time when the wheel came off with no warning, my son and I were almost killed. Ford needs to recall this entire vehicle because this is only 1 of the MANY MANY problems we have had with this thing. It has almost killed my family on multiple occasions and I'm DONE!!!!!!!!

- onwingsofdragons, Severna Park, MD, USA

problem #136

Feb 232006

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,045 miles

This was the first bearing/hub replacement. Since then I've had to replace the bearing/hubs on all other wheels.

- Arend F., Rockland, Ontario, Canada

problem #135

Aug 142009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


I took car to station for genereal oil change and inspection and they found 2 rear cracked coil springs as well as right rear wheel bearing gone bad

- Tracie L., Easton, PA, USA

problem #134

Feb 012009

Explorer XLT 3.8L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Stupid Ford, First one of the rear knuckle assembly breaks while im driving 65MPH. Car starts jerking around. I pulled over immediately. Jacked up my car on each tire to find out what the heck happened. The rear passenger tire was about to fall off. I had it towed, $300 bucks to replace it. 1 Month later the other broke. Same darn thing, tire about to fall off, towed, $300 bucks. THERES A RECALL RIGHT? Nope. I'M GLAD I DIDNT DIE WHEN MY TIRES ALMOST FELL OFF MY CAR. Also, my Fiberglass panel beneath rear windshield cracked like everybody elses. RECALL RIGHT? Nope. My ABS light comes on whenever it feels like it. Then it randomly turns off whenever it feels like it. CV Joints had to be replaced, $400 dollars. Also my vehicle also has problem with power steering fluid getting extremely dirty, soon after its been changed. Tranny Slips. Rear driver blinker bulb goes out every few months. Will never do business with Ford again. Good riddance.

- Jordan B., Georgetown, TX, USA

problem #133

Aug 032009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

I had my friend who is mechanically inclined listen to my problem. And he mentioned the hub bearing after going on here I know it is the same problem everyone else is having with the 02 Explorer. My rear hub bearing is shot. Haven't got a quote yet but will probably fix it myself. I refuse to pay for a repair by FORD! They suck.

I have had the car 4 months and I can mention 1000 problems already! The reason why your brake lights stay on after you are parked is because of this little black box over the f*cking brake pedal. You can actually feel it getting hot. If you jiggle it a bit the lights eventually go off. This is also the fix for your Gear being stuck. If you cannot move it from park to drive - jiggle the damn box. The car also leaks when it is raining. ON THE INSIDE. The rain seaps in through the sun roof. The seat also gets stuck all the way forward on the driver and passenger if it is pushed up too much. The fix for this is to take the seat apart and loosen the screw (which is hell). It is a black screw and you would need a torch wrench to do it. I am a girl and have fixed more problems by myself than paying a stupid man at FORD!

- freeletto, Woodhaven, NY, USA

problem #132

Nov 202008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

After my truck (Chevy) was totalled, I was looking for a decent priced truck or SUV. Although I did not want to buy another Ford, after all of the problems I had with my Tbird, the Explorer was the only vehicle in my price range that fit my needs. Plus there is a vast difference between the workmanship on a 90's Tbird and a modern Explorer, right? Yeah....We drove 2 hours to test drive it (there were not many vehicles on the market at the time) and out of the three of us, no one found any problems mechanically and the car litterally did not have a scratch on it. How the lady did it for almost 90,000 miles and four kids I will never know. We negotiated the price for a few days and my boyfriend drove up to pick up the car. On the way back he said that there was a weird noise. I figured he just was not use to the sounds of the new car since we hadn't heard anything on the test drive. Over the next few weeks it was evident that it was not a little noise (and no way it was something we would have missed on the test drive). It soon became a worrisome roar so I took it in. Luckily we have a friend that is a licensed mechanic. Not 10 seconds after we went for a ride he diagnosed it as the wheel bearing. It was the first of many "it's a common problem in the Explorers." A call came a few hours later to let me know that it was not only the wheel bearing but the bearing inside the differential as well. Translation...$1,100, and that was the the friend rate!. I opted to take care of the differential first and wait on the wheel. bearing This was only $860. I just recently had the left rear wheel bearing replaced for another $200. That cut the noise in half. I now have to replace the other rear bearing for another $200 that I do not have. I love everything else about my Blue Explorer but with as many complaints that have been issued about this bearing problem, Ford needs make some reimbursments. They are lucky no one has been killed (at least that I know of). What may save Ford the $1,500 it would cost to fix my problem will guarentee that neither I or any of my friends or family will ever again spend money with them. I am a young, working woman who will purchase several more vehicles in her lifetime, none of which will be a Ford.

- jennca, Reedley, CA, USA

problem #131

Jul 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles


Well I must say that FORD dealers deserve to be out of business. They are so negligence and Non Chalant about the product. I have searched around and all the people inform me that this is a common problem in the Ford models and this happens quite often at shops where they play around with the idea of it being Bearings, then rear end replacement, or differential, then the car began leaking some oil from the back of the vehicle from where the rear end was located! Ford dealer wanted to charge me 1100.00 to replace all the bearings , if they had to break down the rear end I would have been pat 3500.00 total (YEAH RIGHT) Basically, this is the worse deal ever! I traded my Acura for this piece of Junk!! Now, The $500.00 warranty I brought of course does not cover any components of the rear end, But this doesnt surprise me because 2 weeks after purchasing the car back in 2007 the dayum transmission was slipping after I took it to the shop for them to replace a rear break light! I had to raise all types of sain and call the regional in North Carolina to get them to repair the Transmission, they wind up putting the charge toward my warranty of course and ate the other cost difference. I am upset that this is common and it's unfortunate they don't stand behind their product, but I should have known the American way is short cuts and building wealth off of the little people. Ford can Go to Hell!!

- marync, Greensboro, NC, USA

problem #130

Jun 242009

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

after i went and got the problem fixed my other bearing went bad and my wheel was damn near falling off. i have three small children under the age of 3, what if the died in a car accident from this problem? does ford not care about causing death??? especially to a 4 month old baby!!! to me this is grounds for attempted homicide by neglect! I say we all sue the sh*t out of ford who is with me???

- dmeyers, Hannastown, PA, USA

problem #129

May 222009

Explorer XLT 55,000

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Heard a whirring sound once I hit about 30 mph and b/c the rear passenger window just started falling down for no reason...I made appt to take it in for that repair but instead decided to investigate trading it in for newer more fuel efficient, Escape, also thinking it was patriotic not to jump to Honda, which is my inclination. Instead, the dealer, from whom we purchased the car proceeded to list the front driver wheel bearing as very shot, quoted a minimum $800 to repair, was rude b/c we were perturbed that even though they would simply send the car to auction, they wanted us to have the wheel repaired, immediately, for safety, which is fine, but also intended to reduce our trade-in by $1,000 b/c of this problem, which is obviously a defect. The car is cherry inside and out and they still lowballed us until we showed them Kelley Blue Book and Edmonds and reluctantly upped the offer to $4500 trade in allowance on a car we paid $36,000 for. The BB value is about $6500 wholesale for car in good condition! NOT HAPPY WITH SALES DEPT, BUT PLEASED WITH REPAIR FOLKS, WHO DID AGREE TO LOWER LABOR FROM $99/hr to $89/hr.

- Lynn R., Aquebogue, NY, USA

problem #128

May 162009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,000 miles

Sooooo many problems! The rear differential went to start this downward spin that wasn't covered unless you get it checked by insurance company first before the dealership starts work on it. Followed by transmission, springs, struts, and now bearings. What else will go wrong . . My other trucks ( Ford Ranger) engine blow when the head leaked antifreeze into oil. This all happened in the last 2 years

- John H., Manchester, CT, USA

problem #127

May 042009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,500 miles

Ford Dealership wants to charge $2,000 to have both rear wheel bearings, hubs, and knuckles replaced. Holy sh*t!

- alinz45, Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #126

May 052009

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

Within 56,000 miles, we have had all four wheel bearings replaced. Our dealership tells us that is very common in the '02's. Checked with Ford Complaint Center for recalls. None have been issued for this model year, and there are three times as many complaints on the '02's as on any other model year! Ford would not stand behind the bearings. They would not issue any Good Will as well. Had the right rear bearing replaced within two weeks after we bought the vehicle, and now, within one month the other three have been replaced. Now I admit that the left front had not gone out yet, but when the left rear was replaced at the beginning of the month, and the front right went out two days after I got the car back, I just had both front bearings fixed at the same time...figuring that within days, I'd be back anyway.

I am at a loss to explain these problems, as all of my other Ford products have been fine. Just my two cents worth, but if you read the other complaints, the common denominator here is the mid fifty thou range. Not really happy with the attitude on this one from the company, and the dealerships hand are tied fairly tight with the economy the way it is. They did cut their charges down the bone for me though. Very happy with the dealerships response to the problem, with the exception of the "Oh yeah...that's been a real problem with the '02's...along with the transmissions!" OH BOY.....

- kanauz, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #125

Apr 172009

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

Another F.O.R.D. part failure. Another $360 down the drain, this time for the wheel bearings. I have nothing else to say.

- Daniel M., Howell, MI, USA

problem #124

Mar 272009

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

I have a 2002 Explorer, SUV 4x4, auto, 4-door, V6, and I've had troubles with the heat and air; it would not switch from heat to air and back. I deal with that, then the rear wheel bearings went out, on both sides. I took the Explorer into the garage, where there were several of the 2002 Explorers there with the same problem. I ask more questions and they say that that model is often in with that problem. They said it was a common problem, and it is a very costly one. I feel it should be a recall from Ford on this problem.

- sks, Mountain View, AR, USA

problem #123

Aug 292008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

The rear wheel bearing went out, and when they did, it sounded like the hub pumpkin. I thought is was going to be a larger job than it was. Expensive though.

- Paul S., Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #122

Mar 132009

Explorer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,119 miles

first front wheel bearing on drivers side went out 3 days later rear bearing went out alot of people who own these have had problems that I've talked with also auto parts stores have sold alot of these bearings ford should check these models bearings before someone gets killed or hurt because of these bearings luckily I found mine.

- Darrell W., Harlan, KY, USA

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