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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
47,055 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 7 of 8)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #40

Aug 232005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,670 miles


2002 Ford Explorer, rear end whining, replaced for the second time. First time at 48K miles. Now again at 57K. Should be a recall on this issue.

- Pearland, TX, USA

problem #39

Mar 012005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
So I bought a used 2002 Ford Explorer (V6) and immediately had a loud vibration coming from the rear end. The mechanic knew what it was before I finished the first sentence. He informed me that I was his fourth 02 Explorer this year for the same problem. He further indicated that, in his opinion, using light weight aluminum alloy for the rear end was a very poor design choice. The repairs were made, and, just out of curiosity, I jumped on the internet to see if I was the only one with this problem. I keyword searched "2002 Ford Explorer" (yeah, just that) and hit number one was a two page tirade from quite a few owners indicating the same problem. Also, every 02 Explorer owner I know (6 of em) said they have or had the same problem. How is there not a recall? that !@#$% cost me 1200 dollars. That was six months ago. There's another vibration in the rear again. Statistically, this sure seems like a cover-up by Ford to me.

- Remsen, NY, USA

problem #38

Aug 162005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer has transmission shifting problems and whine from rear differential. Out of factory warranty. Dealer has to replace rear end at my cost. No way a differential should go out at 48,000 miles. Do not know if transmission problems will be solved at this time.

- Ramsey, MN, USA

problem #37

Aug 052005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer XLT transmission problems. Shifting from park to reverse causes a loud clunking noise and the vehicle jerks forward. There is also a problem with the transmission shifting when driving the vehicle.

- Laporte, IN, USA

problem #36

Aug 152005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,100 miles
Loud humming noise coming from read end on 2002 Ford Explorer at speeds of alot of coplaints, seems to be a differential problem in the 1200-1500 dollar range.

- Groton, CT, USA

problem #35

May 152003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,078 miles
ABS light came on at 19,518 miles, 22,071 miles, and 27,078 miles. More importantly, however, are my issues with the 2002 Explorer rear end. 10/1/03: 27,078 miles ABS light came on, the dealer replaced the assembly. Rear differential was leaking, dealer replaced the seals. 7/28/04: 40,541 miles rear end leaking again. Half shafts were worn. Rear locking diff was slipping. The dealer had to replace both halfshafts, seals, and clutch packs. 9/22/04: 43,203 miles rear axle chattering. Replaced whole rear axle assembly. 2/25/05: 54,960 miles rear diff making more noise. Left rear axle bearing was noisy. Replaced left rear axle hub and assembly. On test drive, the dealer found that the bearing they just installed was bad, so they had to replace it again. 8/11/05: 68,000 miles leaking fluid from rear end. The dealer performed the following maintenance: Replaced diff seals, replaced timing chain, replaced right front hub assembly, replaced ring and pinion, replaced front end tie rods, replaced both lower ball joints, performed front end alignment. All told, I have had my Explorer in the shop at least 10 times. My warranty is about to expire (7,000 more miles) and I'm going to try to get Ford to buy the vehicle back. From what I've heard, this is not an easy process and apparently doesn't happen often with such 'high mileage' vehicles. If they don't buy it back I will be forced to take a huge loss on the vehicle. I will then purchase anything but a Ford.

- Mason, MI, USA

problem #34

Jul 022005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer [xxx] transmisssion not shifting properly. Rear end noisy at 40 mph. Not repaired. Updated 07/19/2012 information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6)

- Little Elm, TX, USA

problem #33

Jul 282005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles
1) began with whirling noise coming from rear end, ended with a leaking rear end component. Both rear end pinion seals replaced, new synthetic oil added and re-packed with all new gaskets.(new seals were ordered directly from Ford) I was told that these particular parts were not available in aftermarket.

- Acworth, GA, USA

problem #32

Jul 222005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,000 miles
Differential failed; repaired under original factory new vehicle warranrty. Differential failed again, 9000 miles later, when vehicle was out of original warranty. Dealer wants $825 to replace the exact same parts again in the differential.

- San Luis Obispo, CA, USA

problem #31

Jun 232005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles
Rear end on my 2002 Ford Explorer is roaring and leaking fluid.

- Dunlap, TN, USA

problem #30

Apr 302005

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,500 miles


I noticed some vibration/shuttering when accelerating in the rear end of my 2002 Explorer in April, 2005. The local dealer's service department diagnosed the problem as needing to replace the clutch pack for the rear axle (which they said would cause shuttering when turning) and to replace the tires. I put new tires on the rear which did nothing for the shuttering and in addition I could now hear a loud humming upon decelaration from speeds over 50 mph approximately. The dealer's service dept. Rechecked it and told me in addition to the clutch pack, I also needed to replace the ring and pinion at a total cost of over $1,500. The odometer reading on the initial service date was 43893 miles (warranty expired at 36000). I subsequently had a independent repair shop look at it and they told me they couldn't find anything wrong with it. I'm not sure what to do as I don't want to have my wife driving a vehicle that is a potential danger, but I don't want to unnecessarily spend $1500.

- Jacksonville, IL, USA

problem #29

May 012005

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,441 miles
There is a whining noise in my 2002 Ford Explorer coming from the rear differential. I occurs between 40-65 mph. It quits when I let off the gas. I am worried that the rear differential (the source of the noise) will soon lockup when I am driving on the highway, possibly causing an accident.

- Lexington Park , MD, USA

problem #28

May 142005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles
Vehicle has 78,000 miles, rear axle half shaft seal leaks at differential and there is a loud "whine' or "hum" while accelerating, noise stops when you let off gas. I have read numerous similar complaints and feel this is a manufacters defect.

- Cheboygan, MI, USA

problem #27

Feb 102005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer XLS which started to experience a whining noise from the rear end shortly after warranty expired. It continued to get worse. The fluid was checked, all O.K. now at 75,000 miles the rear end has failed. Cost to repair est $1200 - $1500. There appears to be a design or defective part issue. Dealers tell me this is an isolated case, which is not true as I personally know 2 other individuals who had same problem.

- Long Valley, NJ, USA

problem #26

Mar 112005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
Differential hums at 55-75 mph. 50,000 miles on vehicle hum started after warranty period expired. Read that many owners with the same year Explorer 2002 are experiencing the same problem. Ford should be recalling/repairing this problem free of charge because it is clearly a factory defect.

- Forked River, NJ, USA

problem #25

Jan 052005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles
Rear drive axle has excessive gear whine under load from 50-70 mph.

- Mason, MI, USA

problem #24

Feb 112005


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Heard whining noise when driving between 55 and 70 mph in this vehicle for several months; the whining grew into a faint grinding at lower speeds and then a more major grinding. The differential unit had to be replaced. Apparently the light construction of the Explorer differentials causes this problem frequently.

- Provo, UT, USA

problem #23

Jan 282005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles
Leaking seal on top cover of rear differential; differential was making noise. It was factory sealed with silicone which is not an acceptable long-term seal due to deterioration. Ford said silicone seals are not covered by warranty but relented after my strident cimplaint. Huge cost ($675) to remove differential which was repaired again with silicone which will not last. This needs to be a re-call as there will be oil leaks all over America. This is an improper seal design.

- Maryville, TN, USA

problem #22

Jan 242005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,078 miles
Rumbling/howling noise from under rear of vehicle. Dealer diagnosed rear differential failure. There should be a longer life expectancy for this component.

- Aberdeen, SD, USA

problem #21

Dec 152004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,750 miles
With normal driving, the differential of my 2002 Ford Explorer has progressed from humming to a loader roar while driving at all speeds, which I was told was 'normal for Ford'. 5,000 miles later I am looking at $1,300 to replace the rear differential at my own cost, since Ford warranty ran out at a measly 36,000 miles. This is a safety hazard in the fact that if you listen to what dealers and mechanics tell you, you can be driving down the road and have your whole rear end bust out on you, leaving the car without any capabilities to move anywhere. For someone who is not the most confident driver or does not now how to react, this can lead to some very erratic behavior.

- Lubbock, TX, USA

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