Print this page 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 1 of 10)

problem #181

Nov 102016

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles


I gave this car to my son about 18 months ago and he probably put on about 18000 miles in commuting. It had just had some repair work done as well as new tires etc before I gave it to him. Yesterday, he was driving to work and the rear end started swaying and he pulled into a parking lot and the rear tire was turned inward and smoke from the underneath was coming out. he called a tow truck and the driver found the rear axle had failed on the right side. He was able to get it on a sled and towed to my mechanic, who reported this morning the right rear wheel bearing had pretty much vaporized and taken out the axle as well. This was the same bearing that he had replaced about 7 years ago when it was vibrating badly then. He checked the other bearings and the two front wheel bearings were shot as well. To add insult to this, the front tires (less then 20K miles on them) were badly worn due to the wheel bearing wear.

The front two bearings were replaced about 8-10 years ago as well. Now have to rebuild the right rear wheel, bearings, axle, etc as well as the two bearings in the front. Along with that, I will most likely have to replace the front tires as well. Looks like the repair bill for all of this will be around 3K plus some change. I will go ahead and fix it since my son needs wheels to get to his job but once he gets a new car next year not sure what we will do after that. If I could afford it I would just as soon as sell it to a re-cycler and take one more Explorer off the road but most likely will hold onto it for a spare car that just sits there most of the time. I hope it can do that at least without bearing failure...LOL.

If anyone from Ford is looking at this; Just so you know how this works, I am currently looking for an SUV to replace my wife's car and among the cars we were considering was the new Explorers but after this no way....Except for this car, I have never had the kind of failures with other cars (Chevy, Chrysler, and Honda) I have owned like this one.

- Tim H., Mill Creek, WA, US

problem #180

Nov 032014

Explorer Eddi Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 162,000 miles

This is getting to be a real pain in the ass! I just fixed all four not 6 months ago. Now i have to redo the front again. i can not keep doing this. I have 2 jobs and all the extra money is going to this Explorer.

- jednat, freedom, NY, US

problem #179

Aug 012004

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Outer rear wheel bearings have been replaced many times. Just when you think the problem is repaired, it starts again. If you are sitting in the second, or third row seat there is an acceleration hum in the back that starts when the vehicle reaches 40 mph, or above. You cannot hear any conversations, & it is quite annoying.

- D C., Olathe, KS, US

problem #178

Sep 152012

Explorer 4DR XLT 4X2 4.0L Sohc V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,490 miles


In June 2003 I took my SUV to Covert Ford complaining of a whining in the back. Numerous attempts were made to try and get this fixed to no avail. Finally took to independent garage who removed the right rear spindle assay and replaced wheel bearing, hub and spindle. After NINE years of dealing with Covert and the problem, it was finally fixed completely. No more freight train in my back seat . Absolutely unbelievable that for 9 years I listened to this obnoxious noise and finally it was gone.

- pjbuckle, Austin, TX, US

problem #177

Jul 152010

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

I had to personally remove the front and rear wheel bearings from this vehicle as well as our 2003 Lincoln Aviator. The rear bearings were completely awful. The new bearings had to be pressed into the knuckle at a machine shop and the removal and install was an overwhelmingly large job for me to undertake.

- Todd S., Edmond, OK, US

problem #176

Aug 152011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Another failure for this vehicle. Disappointed with the quality of the 2002 Ford Explorer

- Guy A., Wilmington, MA, US

problem #175

Sep 152008

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles


The bearings failed and of course you can't just replace one have to replace both at the same time. First the front hubs had to be replaced and then the rear bearings went.

- Todd S., Edmond, OK, US

problem #174

Jun 032008

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Had to replace all four wheel bearings as they got worn out! Had between 50K to 60K miles when these bearings got worn out!

- Milton H., Providence, RI, US

problem #173

May 282013

Explorer XLS 4.6L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

The wheel bearings were so bad everyone was scared to drive it because it felt like the wheels were going to fall off. I missed a week of work because it took so long for the shop to fix it. All 4 bearings were bad but could only afford to fix 2.

- johnnyripper, Glassboro, NJ, US

problem #172

Jul 172007

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,460 miles

The left wheel bearing needed replaced. Fortunately I bought an extended warranty and it was covered.

- Beth G., Mechanicsburg, PA, US

problem #171

Feb 012013

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 175,000 miles


Just had the right rear bearing replaced... now its out again.. This truck's going to the junk yard...

- jsaathoff, Bloomington, IL, US

problem #170

Sep 012012

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

Both rear bearings out... you turn left going down the interstate and the vehicle wants to go right. Stay away from this vehicle.. as soon as I find another vehicle this one is going to the junk yard. I refuse to pass this vehicle along to someone else!

- jsaathoff, Bloomington, IL, US

problem #169

Mar 202012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

This is the second time I am replacing the bearings. First the back and now the front. UGH!!

- Suzanne G., Meriden, CT, US

problem #168

Oct 052011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I will try to make my mom proud and be as lady-like as possible. I've been hearing a chirp, like crickets when I apply brakes. Went to garage - RR rear brakes. Again, now 2 weeks go by chirping when accelerating - RR serpentine belt. Again, still have a loud squealing coming from right side can't tell if it's front or rear...ok...I go to a local garage. The man there is fair and very talented and I refuse to put anymore Ford employees kids thru college and warranty is out.

I dropped by our local garage again today on my way home cause the squealing started and I figured - if he can't duplicate the complaint I can show him. Note this complaint is when the axel has time to warm up...hum...he said he'd take it in next week, no time today and he was really busy. So, now I'm home and alone and talking to myself. I think ok, just look at the wheels. I'm Italian so look means touch...LF wheel, cold to touch, some brake dust. LR same thing. RR same thing, cold metal. Now, we are talking about an hour since I got home. RF wheel is HOT! HOT! HOT!!! Brake dust all over the wheel.

So now I'm talking to you all. Any thoughts? John says calipers were alright, will redo brake job cause it's under warranty. Can I just tell you - I'm worried? I've also nicknamed this vehicle Christine, after that haunted '57 Plymouth Fury from the Stephen King movie. Yeah, I'm a girl, but a bit of a gear head in my younger days.

And, after two Ranger XLT's, 2 F-150's, 1 Expedition and now this Explorer, I'm telling you, I'll NEVER buy another Ford again. If it's not electrical or cracking aprons, it's something else. I could have had a new Subaru for what I've put into this vehicle!

Thanks for letting me rant, any thoughts?

- Jaye T., Webster, NH, US

problem #167

Dec 052011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

I think I had the left rear bearing replaced awhile back but dont remember. Now the right rea bearing. Mechanic said its dangerous to drive as is so am stuck. Ford needs to do something.

- damons, sugar grove, IL, US

problem #166

Aug 112011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles

I just bought this Explorer and seemed nice but needed new tires. When I was having tires put on the guy said the wheel bearings were bad on passenger rear. I scheduled it for replacement and then they told me the drivers side front wheel bearing was bad too. I just can't imagine a vehicle with so many problems with the wheel bearings and the Ford companies doing nothing about it. Mine has 126,000 miles on it but in this day that isn't a lot of miles. I also have wheel sensors that need replaced. I am assuming this went bad because of the wheel bearings. So now I have another trip into the repair shop and another day without a vehicle. $693 later I hope I can drive the silly thing..I wish I would have looked into the problems with this year of Explorers before I bought this one.

- marlenew, Numa, IA, US

problem #165

Jul 232010

Explorer XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

While driving to work I heard a noise in the tire , on the way home had to have the truck towed. Replaced the calibers and bearings in front tires, could have really been hurt while driving this vehicle this truck has to many problems. REAR END, TRANSMISSION, DASH LIGHTS, WHEEL BEARINGS, CALIBERS, SERVICE ENGINE LIGHT, DOOR A JAR, LIGHT STAYS ON AFTER ALARMING ALARM OOOOOOOOOO BAD CHOICE. Spoke to a Ford mechanic and he stated all 2002 explorers have rear end problems because Ford changed the rear end that year along with transmission, problems.Come On Ford, We pay your salary, don't we deserve better treatment, well no more money from me.

- explorit, Memphis, TN, US

problem #164

Feb 102011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

I put down the date of the last wheel bearing replacement but this is the 6th wheel bearing replacement. The first was the rear drivers side and I took it to shop for brake noise. They replaced it for 400.00. Next was rear passenger ,then drivers front, then passenger front, only to be followed by rear driver side twice now. Luckily my brother is a great manager at an Ol'Rielys parts store. He is now well rehearsed it only takes a couple of hours to fix. The first one took him 5 hours. He charges me only for parts about $100.00 and we have bought the tools to fix ourselves. A person can rent it from Ol'Rielys for $0.00.

- Kerri M., Nokomis, IL, US

problem #163

Jan 202011

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

The complaint thing only let me pick one date. However, this happened on multiple occasions. The first time it happened, it happened in August 2008. I just moved into my dorm, and I had to go home for a little while. I was on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and my truck began swerving to the point that I had no control over it, and I had to pull over. when I got out, I pulled the lug cover off the rear passenger side wheel to find that four of the five lugs were snapped. I had to pay $400 to have it towed, and when it got to the garage, they found that the wheel bearings and hub were damaged. The next time it happened, it happened on the driver's side rear wheel, and, again, the lugs snapped and they found the hub and wheel bearings to be the cause of it. This was about a month after the first incident. The third incident involved both front wheels, but luckily only the wheel bearings and hubs were damaged and my wheels stayed in place. This happened about November of 2010. In January of 2011, the rear went again. This time it was in the middle of a snow storm, so I had to wait in the freezing cold for two hours until the tow truck could come. Why in the freezing cold you may ask? Your heater will still work if the wheels fall off, won't it? It sure will, but not when the engine is idling at 8,000rpms. That's the best part of all. Simultaneously, when the wheels decided they no longer wanted to be a part of the truck, the throttle decided it was going to throw a temper tantrum and get stuck. I didn't turn the engine on because I was afraid I would destroy it. Anyway, $1500 later, the transmission is going. Thanks Ford. My tax money bailed you out, and this is what I get in return?

- Dexter W., Meyersdale, PA, US

problem #162

Jan 062009

Explorer XLT 4.3L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,021 miles

Bought this POS back in 2009 and with in the first week of driving it wheel bearings let go and needed to be replaced. Then within 6 months they were replaced a total of 6 times and now that it has been a while they are going again,Top it all off the tranny needed to be replaced 4 times with in the same timeline as well as the rear control arms and balljoints. I would think that FORD would get there ac t together and solve the problem, Will never get a FORD again,will go back to Chevy as I have never had any problems with their Trucks ,Ford tuff ya right should say Ford ...will fall apart the first time you drive it .

- Anthony H., Red Rock, Ontario, canada

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