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2002 Ford Explorer Sport from North America – Comments

1289620814 99 2002 Ford Explorer Sport from North America    Comments12th Jun 2007, 17:26″The greatest vehicle I have ever owned”What things have gone wrong with the car?

Nothing has gone wrong with this vehicle in my brief ownership.

Upon purchase, I replaced a turn signal bulb and a brake light bulb.

This winter, the in-dash CD player had difficulty ejecting a CD from the No. 1 slot. It eventually ejected the CD when the cabin warmed up.

General comments?

I recognize that I have only driven about 1,800 miles, so I acknowledge that I may change my initial assessment in selecting so many high marks. But with that said: this is the nicest vehicle that I have ever owned.

Upon purchase, I immediately had a Ford garage perform the 75,000 and 60,000 mile maintenance schedules. this included flushing the cooling system, changing the transmission fluid and filter, changing the air filter, checking the brakes, and changing the oil, in addition to checking other fluids. I like to know where I'm starting from with a used car.

I had never considered myself a "Ford person" but I love this vehicle!

The seats are very comfortable, with lumbar support, and power adjustments for the driver.

The steering wheel is thick, so you can grab it, and the material doesn't slide through your fingers. Controlling the steering wheel feels smooth and tight, with no wobble.

The interior is tasteful yet utilitarian, easy to clean. Arm rests are at the right height, and the center console is useful, with storage in the armrest and two cupholders.

I appreciate little details like the hexagonal bolt head motif that is repeated on the step bars and steering wheel cover. I also appreciate the use of different materials on the door panel, rather than a cheap looking single piece of plastic or cloth.

The back seats adults comfortably. the best thing I can say about general comfort is that I drove it 600 miles in a day, and didn't feel sore or fatigued at all, and could have driven another two hours.

Instruments/Electronics:

I have only good things to say. I like the use of gauges on the instrument cluster, rather than "idiot lights", and it is easy to see all of the cluster through the steering wheel. I also like being able to turn off the overdrive.

The power windows and locks are a luxury for me, and they work flawlessly.

The intermittent wipers are great.

The 6-slot, in-dash CD player is nice, although I don't know how much I will use it.

The AC is fabulous, even too cold without going to "Max AC". the passengers really like the rear AC controls for the back seat.

I have a tendency to not want to use the key fob to lock/unlock the doors, for fear of wearing out the motors or servos.

If I haven't mentioned it specifically, assume that I'm happy with it.

I used to have disdain for 6-cylinders, but no more. I'm really impressed by the 4.0 liter, single overhead cam engine and the 5-speed automatic transmission.

I have checked gas mileage, and at 55 mph the Explorer gets 26 mpg, which I'm really excited about. Even doing over 65 mph with the AC on, it gets over 22 mpg, and in a mixture of short trips/highway/city driving, I got 19-21 mpg. this seems to wildly exceed the EPA estimate of 15 city/20 highway, but my driving habits have always beaten the EPA estimates.

The four-wheel, anti-lock disc brakes are nice to have, although my driving is controlled enough that I may never need their full capability. the previous owner must have relied on them a lot, because there is some pulsing, indicating warping, under harder braking, and one rotor has a groove worn in it, so a brake job will be in my future. I wouldn't consider this the vehicle's fault.

I'm a little skeptical about the long term reliability and ruggedness of the dashboard selector switch for the transfer case. I'm used to the lever and the mechanical connection. There are no problems thus far, although I haven't used it much. I like the 2-speed transfer case, since a low range is more appropriate for a truck as compared to "all wheel drive."

The body and differentials don't have the ground clearance that I'm used to in a 4-wheel drive, and the step bars lower that even further. however, I knew that my serious off-road working days were over, so I can't complain. I wouldn't take this vehicle to places where I wouldn't have hesitated to take my previous truck, although it is too nice to bounce off trees and rocks, anyway.

Everything is smooth and tight, no squeaks or rattles. the steering wheel is straight, and the vehicle goes where it is pointed without wandering, even in the interstate troughs made by tractor trailers.

The ride is quiet, with minimal road noise, although I have truck tires rather than street tires.

The steering and braking is smooth, and I find myself going about 15 mph faster than I thought because the vehicle is so much smoother than my old car. I know better than to consider any truck as a sportscar, but it takes corners pretty well, at least far better than my old full-sized truck.

You can feel nasty bumps and expansion joints in the road, but they aren't bone-jarring as in my previous vehicles. I'm impressed at the way it handles the undulating "up and down" motion of freeze-thaw affected roads, smoothing them out instead of bouncing up and down. In my previous truck, I would have to slow down to 45 or it felt as though my kidneys were being pounded.

25th Nov 2007, 10:47

I am the original reviewer, with an update after driving 1 year and 10,000 miles. Even though I bought it in December 2006, I have really only driven it since June, so that is 10,000 miles in six months. the Explorer now has over 89,000 miles and I still love it. I would still give it "10's" for reliability, comfort, performance, and running costs, and have no problems to report.

The gas mileage continues to be 19-20 for driving to work every day, which includes 10 minutes of neighborhood driving with about a dozen stop signs to get through, and an additional 10 minutes of interstate driving, mostly up a 7% grade hill. Cruising on the highway at 65 mph gives 22-24+ mpg, depending on hills and traffic conditions. State highways at 55 mph gives better mileage, at about 25-26 mpg.

The seats are very comfortable, and I can drive for 10 hours and not get sore.

The handling is great, and I would even describe it as nimble and responsive, for an SUV. the steering continues to be tight, no shaking or wandering.

I continue to be impressed by the stopping power of the 4-wheel disc brakes, although I have never jammed them on hard enough to feel the anti-lock pulsation. Even without feeling the anti-lock pulsing, the truck stops extremely quickly compared to what I'm used to, and to me feels like the truck will stop faster than I could remain in the seat.

I have used the in-dash CD player a number of times, and really like it. I have never had a problem with skipping, although still rarely have a problem with the CD in the Number 1 slot being fully ejected. It will eject it to the point where you may have to grab the edge of the CD with a tweezer and yank it out, but this only happens once every six months.

The heater and AC is great. at the height of summer, the AC kept the cabin ice cold just on the regular AC setting. I've never used the Max AC setting, and even on the regular setting it gets so cold that I have to back off on the temperature control knob. Similarly for the heater, it works so well that I have only turned the fan control up to "2" a few times, and generally turn it back to "1" and then turn the temperature down. I'm also impressed at how the heater is ready to work much more quickly than my old truck. My old truck required driving 1-2 miles before the engine had warmed up enough for the heater to work, but the Explorer is ready to blow warm air after only a quarter mile.

I noticed that my rear differential was low in fluid, and I had to add a quart of 80W-90 gear oil (it's not a limited slip differential, just regular). I hope that it hasn't been damaged by being run low on fluid for so many tens of thousands of miles, so I check it routinely now. the service guide doesn't even have you look at it until 150,000 miles, by which time I'm sure it would have been dry, so I'm glad that I believe in routine maintenance and took it upon myself to check it. the front differential was full, and the transfer case was 8 ounces low on Mercon ATF.

I have more faith in the dash-mounted transfer case selector switch now. It works great, and the 4-Low is geared appropriately so that the vehicle barely creeps down steep grades at idle.

I use the "O/D Off" function a lot, and have had no problems with it. I try to drive so that I don't exceed 2,000 rpm's by very much.

I notice some lack of torque from the 4.0 Liter V-6 compared to my other vehicles. I live at the top of a steep hill, where you have to be at a virtual dead stop at the bottom and climb up at 25 mph in a residential area, and then slow down to make a sharp turn, and the Explorer doesn't like to climb the hill in "D". It does better in "2", but if you let off the gas and then try to accelerate, there is a total lack of response and the engine really strains. the car needs to be in "1" in order to maintain any responsiveness from the engine climbing that hill, especially when slowing for potholes and obstacles and then trying to accelerate up the steep part, then slow down for the sharp curve and climb the last steep part. My old truck needed to be in "2" to climb it, and my Charger will do it in "D" with no problem.

This is minor, but as someone who believes in manual shifting and engine braking, I think the gear shift feels sort of sloppy. I don't feel the tight "clicks" that I'm used to with my other automatics, and when I manually downshift, I have learned to jiggle the shift lever a little to make sure it has seated.

I continue to be impressed with the quiet ride, and the only detraction is the plastic trim around the rear hatch that rattles on rutted roads, which doesn't qualify as a complaint.

In short, I continue to love this vehicle, and think it's by far the nicest vehicle that I've ever owned. I used to scorn Ford for decades. Then my parents bought a used '97 Mercury Sable that they've put 120,000 miles on (it now has nearly 180,000 miles) with no problems, and I started to take notice. this Explorer is my first Ford and they have won me over. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another Ford.

15th Nov 2008, 12:27

I'm the original reviewer, providing a 1-year update. I've put almost exactly 10,000 miles on my 2002 Explorer since I posted the last update, almost one year ago. It now has 99,200 miles on it.

I have experienced no problems and needed no repairs on the vehicle in that time, only performing the following items of routine maintenance:

A few months after the update, I changed the rear differential fluid, replacing it with 80W-90 gear oil. because it had been run low prior to my acquisition, I wanted to make sure that there was no sludge or metal shaving paste, so I removed the differential cover and wiped out the housing before refilling with gear oil.

I also changed the fluid in the transfer case, as per the recommendation in my Haynes Manual. the Mercon ATF was pretty gray, rather than bright red.

Recently, I changed the front differential fluid and refilled it with new 80W-90 gear oil. because of the presence of the radiator brace, it is impossible to remove the front differential cover with the axle still in the vehicle, so I used a suction pump to draw out the old gear oil and refill it.

I also changed the air filter at the Haynes Manual recommended service interval.

When I reach 100,000 miles, I plan to change the spark plug wires and spark plugs as routine maintenance.

I still get 20 mpg driving to work, in the conditions I described before. I generally get 24 mpg on the PA turnpike doing 65 mph, which has lots of big hills. On two occasions I've gotten what I consider exemplary mileage for an Explorer. In September I managed to get 26.3 mpg, and in July I got an amazing 27.6 mpg!

The Explorer still looks and drives like new, despite approaching 7 years old and 100,000 miles. this was my first Ford, and I continue to be very pleased. I would definitely consider buying another Ford, although the way things are going, it looks like I won't need another vehicle for several years.

8th Nov 2009, 17:23

I am the original reviewer, providing a yearly update for my 2002 Ford Explorer. My Explorer now has 110,422 miles on it, so I've put 11,222 miles on it in the past year (minus one week).

Other than changing oil every 3,000 miles, the only other maintenance was changing the air filter, a brake job, replacing shocks, and replacing a sensor. I also did have the spark plugs replaced about two days after my last update, which I said I was going to do.

At about 105,000 miles I had the shocks replaced, and a full brake job at the same time. when I bought the car at least one of the rotors had grooves, so I knew it would need a brake job eventually. the rotors were starting to chatter on hard braking, so I had all four rotors turned, and the pads replaced with new ceramic pads. the ride had gotten rougher, and the front end was starting to plow a bit, so I had new gas shocks installed at the same time. I believe the brakes and shocks were original, so I had no complaints about that service. It really did make a huge difference, and the ride is really nice again. Smooth and no bouncing or swaying.

The only unexpected repair was when the "check engine" light came on at around 107,000 miles. Apparently it was the DPFE (Differential Pressure Flow – EGR) sensor. That cost less than $200 to diagnose and replace.

The Explorer still runs great, and I'm very pleased with it. It is my feeling that my gas mileage may have dropped a bit, on average. Driving to work, I had a couple of tanks that only gave me about 17 mpg. That is the lowest I have experienced with this vehicle — so low that it makes me suspicious about the quality of the gas, the gas station, something. Before that, I would have continued to say my lowest reading was 19 mpg. It does seem as though highway mileage has decreased to about 21-22 mpg, although just today I recorded 24.8 mpg. I don't understand the lack of consistency.

I have also noticed that the computer does a better job of running the engine than I do. which is to say, when the cruise control is set the engine seems to work better with the transmission, especially downshifting to maintain speed up hills. In contrast, when I drive without cruise control, I really have to mash the foot pedal into the floor in order to force a downshift, and the acceleration seems sluggish. It just seems as though the computer knows where to find more acceleration and power than I can obtain with the foot pedal.

I'm still very pleased, and since there is nothing wrong, I'm hoping that this will last me another several years. We'll see. It still feels like a new car to me.

11th Nov 2010, 13:57

This is the original reviewer, with a yearly update for my 2002 Ford Explorer Sport. the Explorer now has 119,769 miles on it, so that is 9,347 miles since the last update a year ago. During the past year, the routine maintenance has included changing the air filter once, and changing oil three times.

An unplanned repair involved having the front passenger wheel bearing replaced at 118,680 miles. That was expensive, at about $550 with most of it for the part because the bearing incorporates a sensor for the anti-lock brakes. It definitely left me thinking that, while anti-lock brakes are nice (I suppose, since I've never had them activate under any driving conditions), a wheel bearing for my old Ramcharger would have only cost about $20. such is the price of progress, I guess. We'll see when the other shoe drops, but I would assume that if one side needed to be replaced, the other side won't be far behind.

I also had to buy new front brake rotors at 119,317 miles, despite having had all 4 rotors turned, with new pads, only about 15,000 miles before. That was about $330, while the ceramic pads were exchanged for free thanks to the lifetime warranty. the front brakes seemed to have deteriorated very rapidly within the couple months before changing them. Either the brake rotors are just so thin now, that after you turn them once their days are numbered, or the bad wheel bearing was causing something to wear unevenly. Alternatively, I have heard that with the popular use (or overuse) of impact wrenches, over-tightened lug nuts can cause warping of brake rotors.

It did seem as though the brakes started pulsing late this summer, a month or so after the mandatory vehicle inspection, during which time they remove two wheels to check the brakes. the same place did the brake repair, and with that suspicion in mind, I decided to check the lug nuts with a torque wrench, and found that the lugs had been tightened unevenly, such that some were loose enough to easily take off with a t-handle lug nut wrench, while others were so tight that it required jumping on the wrench with a breaker bar to loosen them. That had to be far more than the specified 100 foot-pounds!

Would that be sufficient to warp a brake rotor over the course of a couple of months? I don't know. But I do know that I needed to stack concrete blocks up in order to brace the end of the lug wrench, and then stand on the cross piece in order to break them loose, and would never have been able to change the tire if I'd had a flat out on the road. perhaps I'll have to tip the technician 10 bucks to not use the damned impact wrench on my car.

While getting the new rotors installed, I was informed that a ball joint is getting loose and will have to be replaced within the year. So, is this the point where everything starts to fail? We'll see.

Other than the bearing, which I suppose is not wholly unreasonable at nearly 120,000 miles, and the repeat repair of the brakes, which might not be the car's fault, I've remained very happy with the Explorer. It is still comfortable to drive, and feels nimble.

At nearly 9 years old, the step bars are pretty rusty along the joining seams, and two rust spots have developed inside the body on either side of the tailgate. also, the fuel filler cap door hangs part way open, so some sort of catch must have broken. Although it's getting to be an old car, it still runs and drives like a new car. the interior has held up well, no seat tears, no knobs falling off or broken, and there is no rust on the body, and the paint still polishes up nicely. all of the electronics still work, as do the power windows and power locks.

Last winter I had an episode that really illustrated how much better the drive-ability of the Explorer Sport is compared to my old Ramcharger. the hill on the way to work had been covered with wet, heavy snow that caused a semi and large rear-wheel drive sedan to get stuck, creating an obstacle course to weave through. the Explorer was the right size to remain on the narrow road while avoiding stalled cars and the ditch, and the 4-wheel drive effortlessly pulled up hill through the several inches of wet snow. Even the front-wheel drive car behind me had a very difficult time, spinning the wheels all the way up, riding that fine line between keeping the forward momentum going and losing traction by giving it too much gas.

So as I said once, even though my off-roading days are over, the Explorer seems better suited to these every day little driving emergencies than my old 4×4 truck would have been.

So, we'll see how things are going by next year's update.

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