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. 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:
94,594 miles
Total Complaints:
44 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (24 reports)
  2. replaced part (7 reports)
  3. replaced 4 wheel drive control module (6 reports)
  4. replace transfer case shift module (2 reports)
  5. pull and replace fuses (1 reports)
  6. re wired whole electrical system (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #44

Jun 052008

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


a 4x4 can't get into 4 wheel drive mode. What a joke.

The module broke after the battery died, and it stopped working

after I replaced the battery. I am not the only one who had this issue.

Plenty of explorer owners had had this problem.

- , Bayside, NY, USA

problem #43

Aug 222010

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 205,508 miles

Well, 4x4 stopped working last summer, whining noise while you drive it. Electrical problems like door buzzer keeps coming on, door lock locks and unlocks on their own back. Hatch has 2 cracks below the back window, passenger side back door window motor stopped working. The motor, I have to keep filling up the antifreeze bottle ounce a week, have a hard time to starting the truck some times. When you hit the brakes it wants to swerves to the right, front shocks worn out, drivers side front wheel bearing bad, using a lot of gas like it is getting 6 miles to the gallon, back hatch leaks, light switch worn out, radio works but clock and CD player stopped working, electrical problems, running boards are rusting, 4x4 low light blinks, speedometer is 5 miles off, trans OD don't work but the light comes on, trans slips when you start it up and put it in reverse sometimes. I had this truck ever since 2008 and 2013, it started to fall apart and my truck is a 2002 Ford Explorer XLS.

- , Louisville, KY, USA

problem #42

Aug 152013

Explorer EB

  • Automatic transmission
  • 159,000 miles

I replaced the engine in 2008 and I have transmission problems.

- , Bolingbrook, IL, USA

problem #41

Sep 012010

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles


Four wheel drive is not working. Other fixes over the past three years have been rotors, brakes, replaced engine, rebuilt transmission and pretty sure I am due for a suspension overhaul. (Thousands of $$ have been spent!!!!)

Way too much money put into this EXPLODER and I find I have to choose my battles; the 4x4 has to wait for now.

It's Extremely obvious that this car was made with sub-par materials that do not hold up! Ford has gone down hill while companies like Hyundai have reached and achieved excellence! Is this the way to keep a business running?

Why is there not some sort of class action lawsuit going on with this vehicle? Given it's reputation of perhaps being one of the worst / problematic cars out there, there should be far more recalls. Funny that all recalls for this car that are posted on this web-site are small, little annoying, cheap fixes, but we can see a ton of high dollar repairs needed for this piece of crap car.

I used to be a Volkswagen guy until they got a little too pricey, but I think when / if I catch up on my current nightmare I may take a look at VW again!


- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #40

Aug 102011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

Right when I bought the explorer, the dealer admitted the 4 wheel drive didn't work...had to take it back into a shop and he paid to get it fixed.

- , Chardon, OH, USA

problem #39

Apr 082013

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

the one time i need it and when i went to use it the damn thing didnt work

- , Hobbsville, NC, USA

problem #38

Dec 272012

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles


first the trans fails at 109000 miles to the tune of $4200 now it will not go in 4 wheel drive. Webb ford wants almost $700 more to fix that. 4 wd worked fine before the trans repair. They say it is unrelated. Only thing I know for sure is this is the last FORD I will ever own. I am 55 years old and have never owned a foreign car but my next vehicle is going to say honda or toyota or something on it.

- , Hammond, IN, USA

problem #37

Sep 092012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 166,277 miles

Was about to go onto the beach. Before I attempted I tried to push the 4 High button..NOTHING! 4 Low, NOTHING..Why would its suddenly stop working? Anyone have an idea?

- , Pine Hill, NJ, USA

problem #36

Aug 102011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,975 miles

Took the car down to CarMax to see what they would give me and they told me the 4x4 wasn't working. Sure enough, pushing the buttons for either High or Low does nothing. I checked all the fuses and they are all fine. Going to take car back to AAMCO to see if my 12 month full transmission replacement will cover this, but knowing my luck, it won't. If it doesn't I have to decide whether I'll fix it or take the $1700 CarMax offered. Car is in great shape but I can't trust it any more and I'm sick of pouring money into it. Never again will I buy a Ford.

- , Dallas, TX, USA

problem #35

Jul 212011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 162,000 miles

When you buy a 4x4 the thing should be just that ( a 4x4 ) not a be a 4x4 when it wants to be. I take care of all my vehicles with the intention of keeping them a long time so it has nothing to do with me maintaining the vehicle . What should happen is the vehicle performing like promised when properly maintained , then standing behind it like you should be. The nerve of these car makers ( in this case Ford ) they should be ashamed of themselves . I expect to repair things with age , when age is the cause but when it's a manufacturers sh*tty design that is the cause then that's when you spineless freaks should man up and fix it. Sure we realize that this would cost quite a bit , but if you would design something that does what is promised then this wouldn't cost you anything. Let alone the crazy prices you soak the consumer to buy these vehicles , no wonder we don't get a good trade in price when we trade them in because you already know what kind of sh*t design you put into them. Well you made a General Motors family out of us , you must be real proud of yourselves . I hope you go bankrupt and our tax dollars aren't used to save your assess this time , only hope that none of the other car makers hire your people when you go belly up.

- , East Bridgewater, MA, USA

problem #34

Dec 012011

Explorer XLT 6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles


Ford seems to continue to be Fix Or Repair Daily. No 4X4 shift module should last only 54,000 miles. My 1991 explorer ran over 125,000 miles and the 4x4 system then used never failed and I used it off road a lot.

- , Aurora, CO, USA

problem #33

Dec 132011

Explorer XLT 4.0V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

Ford should be sued for all of the crap that goes wrong with these cars. From the transmission to the four wheel drive.

- , Norwich, NY, USA

problem #32

Dec 172010

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

when I first got the vehicle. I was rag about Ford FIX or repair daily.NOw its becoming daily.July is not a good month in terms of repairs.

- , New York, NY, USA

problem #31

Mar 272011

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,554 miles

The 4x4 quit working on my 02 Explorer on 03/29/11, I put it in the shop a week later and just got it back on 06/09/11 they could not find the problem so it is still not working. This is only one of many problems I have had and will never buy another Ford.

- , Loudon, TN, USA

problem #30

May 092011

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

I came to this site because we just had the shift pack replaced in the tranny to deal with the o/d light blinking. Had no idea that the 2002 is known for this issue. The car repair company offered the shift pack (solenoid) would cost 850 without assurance that it will work. I am furious to realize that this is such an issue for the 2002 Explorer and Ford won't take responsibility. Makes me so mad. I am the second owner, but purchased it with only about 15000 miles on it. I own a 2006 also and it is shifting by jumping just last week. Makes me so mad. I have been a loyal American Made owner/purchaser and this is what I get for my loyalty! Come on FORD....OWN UP.

- , Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #29

Nov 012010

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

4x4 will not engage until the car warms up for about half an hour. Then it will ingage and work fine. Looking for answers to the problem.

- , Saranac, MI, USA

problem #28

Dec 272010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,500 miles

Like a tractor the 4x4 low won't shift if the gears aren't lined up (cog on top of cog) instruction says put it in neutral to shift to 4x4low......needed to do that in deep snow, 4x4 lite was not staying on and it was in high. Finally got it in neutral on a hill and rolled by letting off brakes slightly. Then it would pop into 4x4. Sometimes I don't have to do that. Manual doesnt make this suggestion and I see others have trouble shifting into 4x4 but there's nothing wrong with it once you get in that mode, the motorized shifter can't shift it if the gears are'nt lined up though.

- , Cedar Rapids, IA, USA

problem #27

Nov 042007

Explorer Eddie Baura 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

light comes on and shifts in and out of 4 wheel drive at random

- , Okeechobee, FL, USA

problem #26

Jun 202008

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,548 miles

My '02 Explorer xlt is a piece! The 4x4 quit working,theres is grinding and rubbing when I start driving from a complete stop,the daytime lights flicker if i don't have the head lights on, the windows are stuck half way down because they just stopped working on day, the gear shifter snapped on me so i had to get the whole steering Column replaced, i had my rear bearing seize up on me, the hydraulic to keep my back window up quit working and just yesterday i closed the back window and it shattered. I am VERY disappointing in my explorer! I like the vehicle but i've just had way to many problems, big problems...expensive problems. Not impressed! Very pissed off actually. Ford needs a recall on this model or they should be sued!

- , Airdrie, Alberta, canada

problem #25

Feb 022010

Explorer LS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

4x4 motor works,but nothing happens when you push the button. im told it may be the 4x4modual behind glovebox. also there is no check engine light.

- , Schwenksville, PA, USA

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