A 2002 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Owner Is Having a Hilariously Hard Time Entering Her SUV

It’s a good idea to research a used car online. In among the factual information are some entertaining, if frustrating, stories from owners. CarComplaints.com is one good spot to hear about other owners’ experiences. The 2002 Ford Explorer Sport Trac shows a number of owner issues with transmissions and various categories, but one owner had a hilarious issue with her truck that left her crawling in and out of all of the doors.

In and out the doors

Shannah H. from Chattanooga, TN, described herself as a poor college student who received her 2002 Explorer Sport Trac as a gift. By the time she submitted her story to CarComplaints.com in 2016, her gift was turning into a nightmare. One of the quirks of her Explorer Sport Trac was that the child safety locks were permanently turned on for the back seats, so those doors could only be opened from the outside. This sets the stage for her problems that begin to multiply.

First, the outside driver’s side door handle broke. To get in, she opened the back door to then use the driver’s side door’s interior handle. After ignoring the problem for about a year, Shannah had the handle replaced, but the new one stopped working after “about a day.” The mechanic found that there was an electrical problem.

Next, the inside driver’s side door handle broke. Now to get in, she had to crawl in from the passenger’s side. After about two days of doing that, the outside passenger’s side door handle “snapped off.” After that, getting in meant opening the rear door to open the passenger’s side door from the inside, and then crawling across to the driver’s seat.

She was left worrying that the inside passenger’s door handle would break off too. If that happened, she’d be able to get in through the rear seats, but she wouldn’t be able to get out because of the problem with the child safety locks. She’d then be forced to exit out the window, except that then the driver’s side window stopped going down (on the same day a problem developed with the transmission).

She ended her info saying, “I have a feeling things are only going to get better from here.” And, without an update, we can only hope they did.

The 2002 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

While Shannah was the only owner who submitted this particular problem to Car Complaints, several other owners alerted the NHTSA to similar door handle issues. The door handle problems were frustrating, but the 2002 Ford Explorer Sport Trac had other much more common problems too. It had 85 total issues submitted to Car Complaints.

By far, with 37 reports, the most frequently submitted problem was with the transmission, including transmission slips and failures. Body paint issues were also common as were engine issues. These problems were reported 11 and nine times respectively. All these issues together earned the 2002 Explorer Sport Trac Car Complaints “Beware of the Clunker” seal.

The 2002 Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer Sport Trac is the truck version of the Explorer SUV. The SUV is still produced, but the Sport Trac truck is not. The 2002 Explorer is also the Ford vehicle with the most submitted issues on Car Complaints with 3,956 complaints total.

Like the 2002 Sport Trac, the 2002 Explorer’s biggest problems are with the transmission along with body and paint. Those concerns had 1,518 and 748 complaints submitted, respectively. The third biggest category of problems was with the interior accessories with 335 submitted. The leading problem there was that the gear shift lever fell off. This high number of issues earned the 2002 Explorer Car Complaints’ “Avoid Like the Plague” seal.

The 2020 Ford Explorer


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While the Ford Explorer Sport Trac’s last model year was in 2010, the Ford Explorer was just redesigned for the 2020 model year. So far, it has no complaints on Car Complaints. Consumer Reports gives it a predicted reliability score of three out of five and a predicted owner satisfaction score of four out of five. These scores are an improvement on those given to the previous generation, so hopefully, the 2020 Ford Explorer has now moved past issues like the ones Shannah dealt with.