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:
73,325 miles
Total Complaints:
14 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. repair differential (7 reports)
  2. not sure (3 reports)
  3. replace pinion seal (2 reports)
  4. replaced differential seals (2 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #14

Dec 052007

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,077 miles


I had had my vehicle gone over by Ford in July 2007 and they said nothing was wrong with it. In December they said my rear axle seals were leaking and needed replaced. Even the mechanic stated that this was not a problem that should have come up in 5 months. It was a 355.00 plus tax job.

- , Mechanicsburg, PA, USA

problem #13

Dec 012012

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

i think ford just needs to recall all Explorers made in 2002 and replace them completely these things are POS's.

- , Bellevue, OH, USA

problem #12

Jul 222011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,152 miles

A mechanic I knew charged me $150 and gave me the seals at cost. I had a dealer estimate of $700 per side and I changed both sides. I should have sold this car at 70,000 miles because since then it has cost me almost $10,000.

- , Dallas, TX, USA

problem #11

Mar 212009

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles


I bought this 2002 Ford Explorer XLT about two years ago, used with over 85k miles on it. The vehicle came with all of the paperwork & records of maintenance including receipts of said work. I didn't notice it until about 6 months after buying the Explorer that there was a rumble coming from the rear-end, especially when turning at a low rate of speed. Initially I thought it was a tire, or even worse... a drive axle. Later on I discovered my rear-differential was leaking. I did some investigating of my paperwork and maintenance records and it seems that the vehicle had already been in for a rear differential repair about one year before I bought the explorer. I ended up taking it to a friend who is a mechanic. He filled it with new gear oil and that seemed to fix the problem temporarily. Another few weeks later the rumble got worse and sure enough, the rear is going dry again. Meanwhile a year later I am still refilling the rear every time I get the oil changed. Now the Problem is so severe... Let's just hope I don't end up killing myself or, someone else if the rear-end blows out or, god forbid my Explorer flips over and kills a bus full of children (I know this isn't funny... but after the Explorer's track record... it's very possible).

After reading all of the similar posts of people having this problem reoccurring even after repairing with new parts. I almost wonder is it worth getting it repaired again? This is my 3rd Ford Explorer... I had a 1991 XLT, 1997 XLT and now, my 2002 XLT. I never had so many problems with my Ford. I ended up trading in my 2004 F250 that was a beautiful full sized truck to get this used piece of Sh!t because gas prices were $4 a gallon, and I figured I'd down-grade to save on fuel costs. Now, I'm looking at a hefty service repair bill and the problem may just reoccur again? WTF!!!

I think I'm pretty safe to say that this will be my last Ford. It's a real shame that I've been a loyal Ford customer for over 20 years and it's come down to this. I always thought Ford sold a solid car with reasonable maintenance repairs. Now, I'm crushed because I gave up my F250 truck for bigger problems with this Explorer. Seems I shot myself in the foot. I think I'm just going to refill the differential on my 2002 Explorer and just drive it into the ground. Would hate to sell it to someone and lie to them knowing it has these problems. If Ford doesn't want to own up to the defect maybe we should all BOYCOTT FORD, get in on the class action law-suit ...or just buy elsewhere? With all these auto-makers in trouble with the current economy, I couldn't see them fixing the problem anytime soon. Good luck to all of you. RUMBLE, RUMBLE, RUMBLIN' down the road.

Andy Dreyer / Haverford, PA

- , Havertown, PA, USA

problem #10

Apr 152008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

When I purchased the vehicle used, the rear end had a leaking pinion seal, which caused a whining sound. I am guessing that this is not the only Explorer doing this.

- , Dexter, MO, USA

problem #9

Sep 122008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

In my 2002 FORD EXPLORER XLT (SEPT 07), I starting hearing a whining sound coming from the rear. As the weeks/months went by, it starting getting louder and it started sounding like an airplane flying overhead. This is a car parked in another state for occasional use, so we ignored the problem thinking it was the tires. We replaced the tires recently and the noise is the same. We smelled an oil burning smell recently, so I looked online and have found this is not good. I will pursue with FORD. Has anyone had luck with that effort since I see that it has been an ongoing issue for years now? THIS should be A SERIOUS SAFETY RECALL ISSUE.

- , Marietta, GA, USA

problem #8

Apr 222007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles


FORD in our vocabulary is a four letter word...I noticed oil leaking from the rear diff. and had it repaired to the tune of $650.00 at the dealership. Approx. a year and a half later, the whining noise everyone discusses in this forum started. An independent mechanic found contaminated oil in rear diff. Now whole rear end needs rebuilding. Cost will be approx. $1200.00 but I am considering selling now before the next shoe drops. I am a buy and hold kind a guy. Had a Chevy Astro brand new 1985 and kept for 19 years. I bought this vehicle as an upgrade and fully intended to keep for just as long. Now I am considering starting over this time with a Japenese car. This is not to mention that I have already replaced the rear door panel everyone talks about in this forum, and also cruise control has been out and mechanic has attempted to repair about 8 times to the tune of about $500.00. I am Sick up and Fed...

- , Nashville, TN, USA

problem #7

Jan 012003

Explorer Eddie Bower 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles

This things a piece of sh*t!!! ya we have replaced the REAR axle 4 times on the right side THEN 3 times on the left!!! The people at the dealership say the last guy installed it wrong which is bull sh*t!!!! its a design problem!!!! CAN ANYONE SAY RECALL!!!!!!!

- , Forest Grove, OR, USA

problem #6

Jul 072008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,900 miles

Typical Ford Explorer Problem. Now waiting for the Wheel Bearings and Transmission to got out. YEA!!

- , Kankakee, IL, USA

problem #5

May 262008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Manual transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Well I will the join the ranks of the many many, Ford Explorer owners who have the problem with the rear differential. I was just planing a trip, and this repair is going to cut into my fun budget. Makes you mad when you find out that many other owners have the same issues with oil leaks and ford turns there back on the problem...that doesn't make me want to buy another ford. Just 50,000 miles and I the vehicle is leaking oil from the rear differential. Took it to the shop, they said it was the pinion seal? Stated the part was only about 25.00 and should take an hour. With all the other complaints about the problems with the differential....I wonder if more issues are coming, no comfort in that thought when you want to take a road trip...Ford never again!!!

- , Surrey, BC, Canada

problem #4

Oct 142004

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles



- , Romeo, MI, USA

problem #3

Jan 312008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,419 miles

I cannot believe I have not traded this vehicle in yet... cracked panel, rear diffs going, bearings going, emergency brake fell off... whats next? I'm afraid to look!

- , Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, Canada

problem #2

Mar 152006

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

It is disturbing to find that a new rear end configuration is known within repair circles to have this problem and is yet another example of Ford failing to self report issues to customers to avoid recall repairs. I guess it is cheaper to ignore design and manufacturing flaws which run loyal, repeat customers away and to replace those customers with new, uninformed ones. The sales numbers for ford do not seem to back this strategy. I tolerated and repaired our 94 explorer and discovered similar strategies hid problems with front end support arm bushings which needed a shield from engine compartment heat and oil pump failures which led to low oil pressures and engine decline. I have had good experiences with my ranger service trucks but I don't intend to let that convince me that Ford gives a darn about my past loyalty to their product line.

- , Gainesville, FL, USA

problem #1

Jul 022007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

It's the second repair... first one right after the warranty expired and now the second time... both repairs were ~$350

- , Carlsbad, CA, USA

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