Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.

CarComplaints.com 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.

9.0

really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
$1,041.00
Average Mileage:
108,903 miles
Total Complaints:
162 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (67 reports)
  2. replace / rebuild entire steering column (54 reports)
  3. repair / replace shift lever (18 reports)
  4. rigged it so I could drive (4 reports)
  5. goodwill repair and upgrade manufacture of part (3 reports)
  6. new steering column (3 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 5 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #82

Jan 142010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,273 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

My wife and some other ladies in her church group were getting ready to leave Bible studies when she called to say that the gear shift broke as she was trying to put the car into reverse. It was a good thing that there was other women including the Pastors wife were still there. They were able to get a ride home

- , Waikoloa, HI, USA

problem #81

Dec 282009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

My dad was on his way to work and he stopped to get some gas. Upon leaving he shifted and the gear shift broke. We had it towed back to our house. We called Ford and they quoted us $1000 for a new column. However we picked one up for $100 at a junkyard. We changed the column out ourselves to save mechanic fees. Only now when we try to start it the theft system has been activated and it wont do anything. Can anyone help?

- , Monroe, NC, USA

problem #80

Dec 282009

Explorer XL 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

VERY EXPENSIVE FOR SOMETHING THAT IS VERY SIMPLE. FORD MOTOR IS MAKING US PAY MORE THAT WE SHOULD

- , Rio Grande, PR, Puerto Rico

problem #79

Dec 202009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

My gear shift broke off while trying place the vehicle in drive. I am without a car during the holidays and the only option from Ford "buy a new part for $1500.00". If anyone can tell me where to purchased or order the parts for less my number is 787.635.4740 or email darrylhenry@gmail.com.

- , San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico

problem #78

Dec 162009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Was just parking the vehicle and went to shift it to "Park" when the PRNDL (shifter) came loose. WTF??!

Jiggled it a bit, then popped the rubber insert to see whether I might be able to fix this. After a bit of fiddling about, I determined I could not fix it. Went in to the meeting I was by then late for.

Afterwards called AAA to come and tow the car to Briarwood Ford. Tow company had to use dollies to tow because the tranny was locked. Got the car to the dealership about 2:30 PM. Finally got a call from them @12:45 today. The first thing he tells me is $1500 for a new steering column assembly! Needless to say I nearly went ape-sh*t at this guy on the phone. He then explained that they could do it with a "junkyard part" for $550. The steering column assembly from the junkyard is more that $1,000 cheaper than the Ford part!

Told him to go ahead with that. That is going to take till late next week they say. Late next week is Christmas, dumbass! So, I figure I'm without the vehicle till after Christmas. Sigh.

Now that I found this website and the other 48 complaints of this same problem on the same model and year of vehicle, I'm wondering if I made the right choice. Thinking that I'm going to print out this thread and take it to my dealership as well as call the number posted in the thread.

Bah! Humbug, Ford!!

- , Ann Arbor, MI, USA

problem #77

Dec 092009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,387 miles

I pulled into my parents driveway facing forward, and stopped inches from the garage door. I had been inside visiting for some time when I decided to warm my 2002 Ford Explorer up before leaving. Once the SUV had run for a while, I attempted to put it into reverse, when the shift went "limp". The gear needle was between park and reverse, but I couldn't get the lever to work, so I turned on the interior lighting. I then saw that the shift lever seems as though it was not connected to anything on the steering column. Puzzled, I unsnapped the rubber that goes around both the shift and the ignition and saw that a rough piece of metal had literally snapped away, leaving the shift lever unusable. As bad as this was, I was blocking the car inside the garage that HAD to leave in the morning.

I called AAA, and fortunately, the driver was very mechanical. He reached under the SUV and shifted it to reverse,so I parked out of the way before he put it into Neutral for me. If FORD will fix it for me, then I'll have it towed to a dealer. If not, the guy across the street for my parents will make MY CHRISTMAS loot!!!!!

It could have been worse- I could have been on the street, or something. Then someone might be dead right now, huh?

But this is a hazzard for sure!!! Warn your friends about their SUV's, PLEASE!

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #76

Dec 122009

Explorer Limited 4.5L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,450 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I add my beef to the growing number of complaints of having my gearshift lever break off. After enjoying a nice dinner with friends and one of the local upscale restaurants my wife and I were preparing to go home and relax. I started my vehicle and attempted to put the car in reverse to exit the parking lot. The gear shift lever snapped off in my hand. I could not believe it. I thought some type of pin must have come loose and I can reassemble and be on my way. However, on closer inspection by pushing the rubber boot aside that covers the assembly area of the the shifter to the steering column I saw that the lever had simply snapped off. I could see it was a cast pot metal appearance and knew this was just another terrible design/specification problem in the long list (transmission, drive train, brakes) of issues I have had with this vehicle. The amazing thing is that this vehicle is driven by my 5'1' wife who has only had it in 4 wheel drive about 10 times when we have had one of our infrequent snows. She is a cautious driver who has really enjoyed driving the Explorer. Additionally, we have always parked the vehicle in our garage. It still looks very nice on the inside and out. I have owned at least 30 vehicles over the course of the last 40 years, had 3 teenagers thru our house who were tough on cars. But I have never seen this problem before. Ford appears to be moving in the right direction with their current lineup and avoiding gov't interference. However, I consider this a safety issue and firmly believe they should step up to the plate and issue a recall for this repair. While they woo new customers to their show rooms, they need to take care of the old customers who are living with their "buy it from the cheapest vendor" philosophy of the past 20 years. We will get this fixed and probably move on to a Toyota or Honda. I also have a 2006 Lexus that gives me 0 problems.

- , Evansville, IN, USA

problem #75

Nov 202009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

tow truck came to pick up my junk. Went to move it try to put in drive, and the gear shift fell off. what the F--K no F--K way.All rady not having a good year, and now this.

Why dont they recall this S--t?? WILL NEVER BUY FORD AGIN!

- , Woodland, CA, USA

problem #74

Nov 242009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

Get back in the car to go back to work after a lunch with some coworkers. Turn it on and while trying to shift into drive the dang thing just snapped off and went limp in my fingers. I couldn't believe it and my coworker just started laughing. We didn't hear any snapping or breaking sound. I tried to peer in to see what was happening when I started rolling backwards (it had gotten stuck in Reverse). Thankfully there wasn't a car behind me!

First called the other car to pick up the coworker depending on me for a ride to take him back to work, then called AAA for a tow to the dealership. Unreal.

At the dealership by 2, they promise me they will see it and get me an estimate that evening, but I don't get the call until 11am the next day. ~$800 for parts and labor (used steering column). The real kicker here is that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I'm without my car for 72 hours minimum due to this stupid part.

The shifter has never "stuck" or had to be muscled in any way, which makes this all the more shocking - nothing but normal force has ever been put on this thing. While waiting for the tow I looked into the area and as another commenter had said the part that snapped was clear as day a "rougher" metal than the rest. I'm certain someone at ford figured that using a softer or cheaper metal would be ok. I'm fuming that something so small renders the car completely useless. Also frustrating that to fix a small 3 inch broken metal piece the entire steering column needs to be replaced. Not right.

There really should be a recall for this.

- , Richmond, VA, USA

problem #73

Nov 112009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

Just wanted to let everyone know I called Ford at 1-800-392-3673 and complained about the gear shift breaking off. And they said calling and making them aware of the problem is the only way to get a recall. So let's make this recall happen!

- , Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #72

Sep 012009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

click to see larger images

gear shift lever fell off

Hi i had the same problem with my Explorer, the gear shift linkage just broke off with no warning! since i live in Sweden its virtual impossible to find a used steering column to take the parts from..and when i asked my local Ford dealer i was told that it will cost me around 3000 $!!! fortunately i have a scooter shop and managed to mold entire new parts! fitted and it works like a dream I have also sold some of them on Ebay and the customers are very satisfied with it.. if someone is interested in buying my parts drop me a email: robert66@tyfonmail.se thanks Robert

- , Bergsjo, Vasternorrland, Sweden

problem #71

Nov 122009

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

IM A HARD WORKING EMS PROVIDER WHO IS HAVING A HARD TIME CATCHING UP WITH BILLS ALSO GOING THREW A DIVORCE AND 3 KIDS, JUST BOUGHT THIS 2002 FORD EXPLORER SUV CAUSE WINTERS ARE HARD, PULL UP TO A COFFEE SHOP 20MIN BEFORE MY SHIFT STARTS I PARK IN PARKING SPACE START TO SHIFT FROM DRIVE TO PARK WHEN THE SHIFTER BREAKS OFF WHILE STILL IN REVERSE, I MEAN SH*T HAPPENS BUT FROM WHAT IM READING IM NOT THE ONLY ONE, NOW IM OUT 1,200 BUCKS OF HARD EARNED MONEY THAT MY KIDS NEED AND IF THIS IS A MANUFACTURER ERROR WHY DOES IT COST ME SO MUCH TO REPLACE, I THINK THIS IS COMPLETE BULL SH*T I SHOULD GET MY MONEY BACK, WHAT IF THIS HAPPENED IN THE MIDDLE OF SOME SNOW STORM OR ICE STORM WITH MY KIDS IN THE CAR, TIMES ARE HARD NO NEED FOR BULL CRAP.

- , Lowell, MA, USA

problem #70

Oct 222009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,300 miles

Add me to the growing list of extremely dissatisfied Ford Explorer owners stuck with a broken gearshift selector in his hands.

My 2002 Explorer XLT was parked in my nearly-flat driveway, and I as I tried to shift from P into R the steering column-mounted gearshift selector broke right off!! Given all of the repairs that I've had to make on this POS (replace AC manifold, replace AC compressor TWICE, replace condenser, replace struts, etc.) I just couldn't believe it. I removed the rubber cover on the side of the steering column that houses the gearshift selector to see what happened, and it became obvious: rough metal inside the end of the shifter rod matched rough metal where the joint meets inside the steering column, meaning that the metal simply broke. (Some further Internet research revealed that this piece is made of cast ALUMINUM, rather than steel, which would make it much more prone to failure.)

I called Service at the local Ford dealer, who seemed surprised to hear that this could have happened. (Given all of the complaints regarding this problem that I see on this and other boards, I would think that Ford service people must be well-aware of the problem.) After checking, he got back to me and told me that it would be necessary to replace the entire steering column. The cost with parts and labor: $1,920!!! That's right, nearly TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS because some jackass engineer at Ford wanted to look good on his performance review by installing a cheaper substandard aluminum part rather than a proper steel part, thus saving Ford Motor Company maybe 50 cents per car, thus making Ford's bottom line look better so that their CEO could justify a nice fat bonus. Hey, here's a suggestion for you f**ks at Ford: why not make the part out of WOOD and paint it to look like metal. That would save you another 50 cents per car, and it would fail even faster so that you can make more money off of replacing the entire steering column even sooner!!

Fortunately for me, I have a neighbor who owns a car dealership, and he has a friend who should be able to install a steering column from a junkyard for maybe $250 parts and labor. I hope to God I can get this done, because just as soon as I can get this stinking POS drivable again I am going to dump it and buy a foreign car. I really hope this POS is "Ford Tough" it's gonna need to be tough in auto hell!!

- , Muskogee, OK, USA

problem #69

Oct 232009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

I got off work and decided to stop by the bank before going home. Pull up to park the car and while trying to put the car in park the entire gear shift changer just broke off in my hand. I couldn't believe it!! WTF!!!! Now I can't put the car in park or anything it was stuck in between reverse and park. So I called my cousin in a panic who is a retired mechanic to please come help. He came and put the car in drive manually by changing the gears underneath the car so that I can drive home and needless to say he had to follow me in order to go back under the car and put it in park once I got home.

We tried to find the part that broke but was told it wasn't sold separately you had to buy the entire steeing column. This has really been a pain because just as in other cases I've read about on this website, the dealer actually chuckled when I asked if there was a recall on the this as if I had told him a freaking joke or something - acutally kinda pissed me off. Anyway, so far it's costing me at least $325 for a used steering column if the guy still has it by time I make it to another city that's an hour drive from where I live to purchase it. We'll see. Ford really ought to be ashamed of themselves!!! Come on, if there are this many complaints here for the damned gear shift breaking off what do you think about the ones who never came here to the sign to post their complaints??????

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #68

Oct 122009

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

Leaving my house on 10/12/09, I attempted to shift from park into reverse, and the shifter just snapped off in my hand. Well, it didn't actually snap off, it was held in place by the rubber boot that attached it to the steering column. I pulled back the boot, and discovered that the only thing holding the shifter to the column was the electrical cable for the overdrive button on the shifter.

I had the vehicle towed to my local Ford dealership. Like the rest of you, I was told that the entire column needed to be replaced. Also, like many of you, the technician told me that he had never heard of this happening before. Right after asking me if I was sitting down, he told me that repair would cost $1,487 - the part itself was $1,070. I asked him if this was tied to a possible recall, and he told me "no" with a half-chuckle.

This was on a 2002 Explorer XLS V6 with 88,000 miles on it.

- , Muncie, IN, USA

problem #67

Sep 192009

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,108 miles

I was looking around for a solution to this problem and was surprised to find all these complaints to the same issue, my family and i were in the country trying to spend the day on a Saturday and when we parked i pulled the shift and it broke ¡¡ ... i got nervous and desperate, tried to put it in gear so at least we could get back to town but no luck .. had to wait for two hrs for a tow .. until today i got the diagnostic saying i have to replace the whole steering column $1,300 us just the part .. it is ridiculous how poor the design is, so thin and fragile, had i known .. . I will not pay for a new one having the risk of it failing again .. i guess i will look for a used one .. or have it welded which may be a better way to reinforce it and avoid it from happening again.

- , Mazatlan, SIN, Mexico

problem #66

Aug 032009

Explorer Exlt V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I will never but another Ford again in life. I have found so many complaints about the steering column for this vehicle and I cannot believe they did not do a recall. I was just pulling into my driveway and I put my car in park and the gear shift just broke off!!! I first I thought that I was losing my mind until I was not able to get the key out of the ignition. I could not believe it--what the f$%$$%%!!!!!!!. I will never --repeat --never but another Ford vehicle!

- , Collingdale, PA, USA

problem #65

Jul 302009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

click to see larger images

gear shift lever fell off gear shift lever fell off

This morning as my wife was powering up the 2002 XLT The columm shift lever broke off in her hand. I notice that the aluminum (pot metal) casting sleeve going into the columm itself was busted. Now she can't remove the key from the columm. the car only turns on in and stays in "park"

Has anyone had this problem before? What is the solution? Do we have to replace the whole steering section? Is there a separate part for replacing the shift knob assembly?

I've noticed that the lever itself is not broken, The cylinder that is connected as the pivets on the lever and is in the columm is busted. Ford dealership wants 1000 for whole shifter columm and 400 for labor.

- , Fleischmanns, NY, USA

problem #64

Jun 272009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

This is truly unbelievable! I've had Fords my whole life and have never had a problem like this. I can't believe that there is not a recall for this.

Instead of fixing, I attached a pair of vice grips to the bottom of the broken cylinder and change gears with them. It's kinda ghetto, but I haven't wasted any money!

- , Coventry, RI, USA

problem #63

Jul 192009

Explorer 3.2L V.6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

woke up this morning and started my car to go to the store. i took my key out of the ignition and the ignition ring comes out. someone tried to steal my car this morning. i paid close attention to my ransacked car and said oh well forget it they cant steal it because i have the silencer. well a few hours later i am in Richmond va 109 miles away from home my hubbie goes to put the truck in park and the whole fu%$ing gearshift falls off. i went the hell off. had to get home and make a report and then i go on to here and see all the beefs about this part i am pissed. and i owe the hubbie an apology for cussing ine the first places i hate my damn truck too many damn problems

- , Washington, DC, USA

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