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.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
85,570 miles
Total Complaints:
8 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (8 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #8

Jul 092011

Explorer XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles


so this is how the ford motor company takes care of its loyal customers.a damn shame.

- , Boston, MA, USA

problem #7

Jul 062011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,564 miles

Engine is making a clunking/rating noises when accelerating and is having trouble shifting between gears.

- , Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

problem #6

Jun 122003

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I purchased this Ford Explorer XLT 4.0L V6 from an East Hartford CT Ford Dealership in the summer of 2003. The vehicle had 34,000 miles on it and had had some body repairs done to it. I noticed the right rear wheel looked out of alignment when you looked at it from the rear. I later had to replace that hub bearing. The day I test drove it I asked the salesman why it sounded like it took to long to shift, it felt like it was holding back. He told me that was to give you a smoother shift and more comfortable ride. My old Jeep Cherokee with 130,000 miles still gives you a nice clean sharp shift between gears. I had purchased the top of the line extended warranty with an Enterprise loaner vehicle included. About one year later and 10,000 miles more on it the front axle housing blew a hole in the housing. The dealer took it back and put in a complete new assembly guts and all it took 5 weeks. Two day later I was on my cell phone telling the service manager to call Enterprise because my 4WD is not working. I was in a steep driveway in the snow for the past half hour trying to go 30 feet up a hill and I'm bringing my Explorer back. They had to rebuild my transfer case. I get a clunk in the transmission or rear end I'm not sure where it comes from. I have had this since I have owned it. I tried to make it happen for the technician but with no luck. The clunk happens if you accelerate and then let off the gas. This is very random. I work in an Auto Body Repair shop and Have worked on Vehicles for over 35 years. I do all of my own repairs except if I have a warranty. My extended warranty is over now so I'm on my own. I also have the mystery crack under the window on my lift gate. I also replaced the lift supports for the gate. I now use the European type all rubber windshield wiper blades so I don't get that awful wiper chatter. the rear ceiling fan motor has been replaced two times when it was under warranty now it is starting to make noise again. My front seat belts were replaced do to not retracting.

I still have my 1990 old faithful Jeep Cherokee as a back-up vehicle for me and my family, I keep it registered and insured it is cheaper than renting a car and my sons are under 25 years old and can't rent a car. I am lucky that I can do my own repairs and have my own loaner vehicle. I like my Explorer for now, my clunk is not any worse than it was six years ago, I will keep my fingers crossed. I get 20 miles per gallon this has not changed since I have owned it. I have replaced all of my hub bearings, brake flex hoses and rear e-brake pads and rotors. Every time I remove rear brake rotors from one of these Ford Explorers 1999 and up they all have very rusted e-brake surface. I just replaced the e-brake 2- cables from a local parts store in the rear on a 1999 and it was a two man job from hell. the boot that cover the e-brake arm to keep water out is available from the dealer $ 9.00, but you have to unbolt the backing plate to change it. I was able to remove and free-up the e-brake actuator with penetrating oil, but next time I would just purchase new ones. My son has a 1998 Oldsmobile Intrigue, I pulled the rear brakes and they looked like new inside with 78,000 miles, no rust at all. I don't know why Ford e-brakes rust out so.

I have 90,000 miles on my Explorer now and bought new tires last week and the alignment technician told me I need to replace my outer tie rod ends. Regarding hub bearings I change them all of the time on Chevy's also, I just did a Chevy K1500 pick up with 67,000 miles on it, a bad hub bearing will not only make noise it will make your ABS warning lamp go on. The new hub bearing assembly comes with a new ABS sensor. Only let an experienced mechanic change a hub bearing, there is no room for error on this repair. Check out your ball joints while your at it. There is a cabin heater switch located down by your gas pedal. When it starts to go bad it will click and not allow you to set you heat controls. the repair calls for you to remove the dash board to access the switch. I take a die grinder with a cutoff wheel and cut the lower part of the dash. I replace the switch and bolt up the section I cut off and use an epoxy adhesive to fill in the cut line and spray it with a spray can of interior color, if the color is off who cares it is better than pulling off your dash board. The trick is locate the bad switch by listening for the clicking, don't wait till it stops working completely, if you have never done one before you won't find it. The switch is a dealer item only. I gave the same dealer where I bought my Explorer my VIN # they said bring it in the switch is covered. After I left it there some other person called me and said my bill would be around $300.00 . I was told my warranty was up. I explained that I would not have brought it in if that were the case. They said OK just pay $ 100.00 for the diagnosis. I reminded them that I work at a repair shop and know how to do the repair and I was going to buy the part from their parts department and I had told them what was wrong with the vehicle before I even dropped it off. I should be charging them for wasting my time. The switch is about $35.00. I was not charged for the diagnosis. I replaced the switch in an hour. The lower seam of the doors is starting to rust, shoot some light oil up through the drain holes to coat this seam park on a hill forward then the opposite way to make sure the oil gets from front to back, this should have been done when it was new.

- , Wethersfield, CT, USA

problem #5

Nov 022008

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles



- , Ridley Pk, PA, USA

problem #4

May 212008

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

i am in the process of diagnosing this problem when i find the answer i will write back

- , Boiling Springs, SC, USA

problem #3

Nov 122007

Explorer XLT V6 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

The four wheel drive system locks up the front wheels at slow speed when turning, as soon as the wheels straighten out its fine. The trans shop said it could be as simple as tires ,,, got new tires. then he said we should disconnect the 4 wheel drive from the transfer case to isolate the problem. We did and the problem went away ,,, no i have no FWD. Oh did i mention the pep boys got me for ball joints saying that was the problem first ,,,lol dont go there. so now i have a grand into this problem and no idea what it is ?The trans shop said it could be the trans clutch or a switch... so i didnt want to continue any more repairs till im sure what it could be ? I would really like some idea's to help me find out what might be the cause of the problem?

- , Barrington, NJ, USA

problem #2

Jul 182006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • 83,000 miles

the problem is so bad I couldn't drive it. this is the 2nd time this has happened. I replaced my spare tire and the other one infront and the thumping/clicking noise starts up with a bit of a pull. The 1st time it happened we thought it was the suspension/alignment so I took it to this guy and he gave me his assessment and said to take it back to the dealer, since I mentioned it was still under warranty. The dealer took care of it and it cost me, under warranty, $100/ded. Today I called them and asked if this was the same scenerio what wld be the cost, the srvc butt-head, said approx $1400 + the $45 to assess. The butt-head also mentioned it probably isn't the same problem since it's only been about 30k miles. At the sametime, the parts are out of warranty now since it's been over a year. Since I jgot the new tires yesterday and had the car aligned and wheels rotated I made my way down to Sears. The guy tested it and said their job was fine and the bearings and toe bolts (?) were good but he said it could be the 'drivetrain'. I have an appt w/a great mom&pop shop but it's a city away from where I have the car. I also had to rent-a-car so I could pick up my child and get us home. thank God for an avail family member, she picked me up and got me to Enterprise, which the guy gave me a good price since I've been visiting him since 2001 when I picked up this EXPENSIVE crappy vehicle. I hope I can make it there w/o having to tow it, since I only have 1-tow per brakedown. The thing is the noise and stuff is unpredictable. It's not tied to any speed or any movement I can recall. I just read a Mercury coupon and it says 'FRONT END INSPECTION' defined to road test it and check for clicking noises, shudder or vibration. Kinda sounds like what's happening to me. Not sure, what do you think? When I find out I'll update u folks. Thanks.

- , Wahiawa, HI, USA

problem #1

Apr 252005

(reported on)


  • 72,000 miles

I have been talking with the Garage Managers at Ford since February. I reported to them that the car was making a loud thumping noise when I accelerate at approximately 70mph, sometimes before that. It happens when you have to accelerate fast or if you are already going fast and you let your foot off the pedal a bit, it sounds like an elastic band snapping with a bang.

No one seems to know what the problem is, I did read a comment online but it sounded like the noise is expected.

Here is the first comment and response:

"The problem is back now and happens every time the truck is driven. There is also a loud BANG in the backend whenever you accelerate and the rear wheels lose traction."

Online Answer: The loud bang that you experienced when accelerating is normal for the type of limited slip differential that is in your car.

What does this mean?

Has anyone else out there had this type of a problem?

- , Weymouth, MA, USA

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