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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.

6.8

fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
$1,900.00
Average Mileage:
107,094 miles
Total Complaints:
18 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (7 reports)
  2. replace transmission (7 reports)
  3. push in button underneath steering wheel (2 reports)
  4. replace solenoid body (1 reports)
  5. replace steering column - reprogram alarm, keys, airbags (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #18

Aug 062012

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 300,000 miles

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

Costs 2,900 for the replace transmission, and couldn't do automatic when we need to use "R" reserve when the truck park. Waterloo Transmission at Dover, OH couldn't help so much because it costs us a lot of money, We will need some help to figure what to do with its a ford fault from 2000's and we have 2002 Explorer Ford. Any suggestions?

- , New Phila, OH, USA

problem #17

Mar 162011

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

Very hard sometimes to put the car in reverse or drive, especially when the vehicle is on a hill or slight incline.

- , Winder, GA, USA

problem #16

Nov 012009

Explorer LImited Edition V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

Transmission failure is just the start.... Countless problems wheel bearings, springs, transfer case, rear end seals replaced, leaky brake fluid. Its endless. I had the truck in the shop Wednesday for front wheel bearings. Its back again Monday (not even a week) for rear wheel bearings. The rears were replaced not even a year ago... What the hell is going on?

- , Niskayuna, NY, USA

problem #15

Nov 052008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,274 miles

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

My brother had a 1991 Explorer, really nice, and rarely had problems, so when it was time for me to buy a new car the Ford Explorer was my pick; as I thought I had a decent amount of knowledge as to the reliability of the vehicle, as well as, the new third row seat was a real selling bonus. (I needed the room for kids) I really do enjoy my 2002 Ford Explorer, but have now found out that the transmission on this vehicle, and the 150's too, seem to fail around 75,000. (Mine was 85,000.)

I think the car isn't made to the standard it once was, it seems more cheaply made than the older models like my brothers 1991 Explorer. I had a Honda Accord before I bought the Ford and never had any significant problem with that vehicle, and I owned it for 16 years! Well, now that gas prices are off the charts again, perhaps my next car will be a Honda. Even though I enjoy the Explorer, I have spent a small fortune repairing it in a relatively short amount of ownership time. Now, all the little things are happening because the car is 9 years old with 118,000 miles, so if you can't afford car repair bills, don't buy this vehicle.

- , Santa Clarita, CA, USA

problem #14

Apr 262010

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

I tried the "button under the steering wheel" fix for my transmission and it seems to be helping. I need to make sure the brake is pressed in completely but so far it has made it easier to shift into reverse to back out of the garage. Thanks for the tip.

- , Spokane, WA, USA

problem #13

Mar 112010

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,119 miles

my explorer does the same. cannot shift from drive to park. and sometimes from park to any gear.. this is something every explorer owner should have been told when buying this truck..look under your steering wheel and there is a little plastic square thing that can be moved to show what looks like a key hole..push that button in or clog it with a piece of paper then push back the plastic cap and voila you can now shift perfectly again...also one main reason ive found i couldn't shift was cuz the brake lamp light fails so when you push the brakes to shift from drive or reverse into park it will not allow you to and vice versa..but after 30min to an hour it comes back on again..i believe its all faulty wiring or needs a new fuse or two underneath by the brake pedal..

ohh and if you get that silly door ajar symbol always poping up open the driver side door and wiggle the wires or wipe it with a napkin if wet..ivew seemed to have solved most of my explorers problems just by going threw the manual..im also due for an inspection from where i bought my car.. alot of the dealers didnt even know how to fix these problems all they could say was your gona need to get it towed..hope this little bit of information helps all of you out..take care and good luck with your ford(Found On Road Dead) explorers..lol.

- , Vancouver, BC, Canada

problem #12

Mar 172010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 195,000 miles

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

My 2002 Ford Explorer has been giving me trouble since 2006 when I had to have work on the transmission totaling $1500. The service engine light is still on, it makes a THUD sound when placed in reverse like the rear end has dropped off, hesitates shifting to 2nd and 3rd gear, and the rpm goes to 3 or 4 when taking off.I have had so many problems with this SUV its nerve wracking. All of our friends say they would NEVER buy a Ford, NEVER. Form all the complaints I have read it seems like Ford should do something about helping with the cost of having it fixed. I can't even afford to have it fixed, and I need it to get to work!!!

- , Beaufiort, SC, USA

problem #11

Jan 052010

Explorer E/B 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,817 miles

This 2002 explorer got only 52,000 Miles on it and i am feeling signs on transmission failure. I hardly drive this vehicle as i use this Explorer (exploder) as a spare one because i know it going to cost a lot to get it fixed.I keep it parked in garage most of the time because i don't have that much money to get it fixed. Not even worth of selling it as resale value is very very low as you know it got blue ford logo on it. I dint knew this model had transmission issue, if i knew i never would have purchased this piece of crap. 2007 was worst year of my life when i purchased this used piece of crap from Ford Dealer. we all are in same Ford boat middle of nowhere ,where we all going to sink one day no matter what. Hope Ford reads this complain and for sake of their image they call for recall.

- , Surrey, BC, Canada

problem #10

Jan 012007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

ALL OF A SUDDEN EVERY TIME I WENT TO SLOW DOWN I HERD AND FELT A "CLUNK" NOISE FROM THE REAR END, I CONTINUED TO GET WORSE, AND IT ALSO STARTED SKIPPING GEARS.I TOOK IT IN TO FORD AND THEY TOLD ME THE PCV HOSE COLLAPSED, AND THE MAIN COMPUTER WENT OUT. THEY REPLACED IT AND STILL "CLUNK" GOES MY CAR.. NOW IT'S JUMPING GEARS ALL THE TIME, AND ON 3/22/09 I WENT TO PUT THE CAR IN REVERSE, AND HIT THE GAS, I WENT NOWHERE. TRIED IT AGAIN AND STILL THERE IN MY DRIVEWAY I SAT. I SLAMMED IT IN TO PARK, AND THEN INTO DRIVE, REVERSE AND AWAY I WENT,IT FEELS LIKE IT LOOSES POWER IN REVERSE, AND EVEN WHEN DRIVING IT FEELS LIKE IT'S GOING TO LOCK U AND DIE OUT.

- , Pleasant Hill, CA, USA

problem #9

Apr 012009

Explorer LX 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

For several months my car has been "clunking" every time I put it in reverse. Sometimes the clunk is really pronounced. Sometimes it doesn't happen at all. Sometimes it just hesitates but then engages okay.

For the past few months I've been parking in such a way where I rarely have to reverse. So if I park at the grocery store, I either park far away so I'm not blocked in, or I pull forward into a stall to the other side so I can drive forward only.

Finally decided to take it to AAMCO. Diagnosed with hesitation in reverse and clunk. Other gears were fine but they said they found metal shavings on the magnet. Recommendation was complete overhaul. Cost? $2200.

They said Ford designed these components with a faulty case and there's some kind of gasket or something that is prone to failure. He said that if we fixed it with him, he would bore out the transmission case to insert some kind of "brass fitting" that would fix the problem and have a solid transmission. He also said it would have cost Ford 20 bucks to correct this problem at the factory by just installing this brass fitting to begin with.

So now I'm stuck, repair the truck and take my chances or just get a new car? I think I'm going to trade it in for a Nissan Xterra.

- , Whittier, CA, USA

problem #8

Jan 012008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

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

It all started when my check engine light came on. I went to the nearest auto parts store and asked them to run a scan on it. They told me it was a bad gas cap. (I had just got gas.) Later that day it came on again. I let it go for a little while, because I did not have time to get another gas cap right away. Then my car stated shifting really hard when I was shifting from park to reverse. I had the car looked at and they said I needed to get a transmission flush and fill. I paid over 200.00 for this and it is still doing the same darn thing only worse now. Now it is shifting really hard from park to reverse and every other gear I put it in. Even while driving it shifts really hard from first to second and so on. I now cannot drive my vehicle until tax time to fork out 2500.00 for a new transmission.

- , Sidney, OH, USA

problem #7

Dec 182007

Explorer 3.2L V.6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,986 miles

well my ford ford explorer sucks. i thought this was the ideal SUV for me until i start driving it and after 1 month the cheap ass transmission started to act up. the truck starting to roar and excel when shift into reverse this truck really sucks, every time i take i to the dealer they keep saying the same sh*t "it just the down shifting" wtf is that i think their ass just don't want to service the damn tranny. i would never recommend anyone to buy a explorer that older than 2 years.

- , Washington, DC, USA

problem #6

Apr 142008

Explorer Liminted V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

We have a 2002 Ford Explorer Limited V8. It all started with the transmission "clunking" when trying to put in reverse from park. It feels like the whole engine is going to drop out from under the truck. Now when you are driving sometimes when you accelerate it acts like the transmission is slipping gears. We are going to have it looked at this week with no hopes of actually solving the issue. May just pay off and get another car. Does not sound worth all the trouble everyone else is having! I will never buy another Ford Explorer again!

- , Mount Vernon, MO, USA

problem #5

Nov 082006

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

This transmission was a piece of crap and the dealer knew it all along. I've had the following problems that they could never find until they finally wanted me to pay $2700 to have the piece of sh*t re-built.

Randomly lurches forward or reverse when going into or out of park

Slipping feeling when shifting

High revving before shifting

- , Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

problem #4

Jun 242007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

yea so i have the same problem as every one else. shifting to reverse takes about 320 seconds and now my od light is flashing and the car barely shifts/drives at all. i really don't know what to do and i'm not about to pay all that money for a new transmission. any suggestions?

- , Westchester, PA, USA

problem #3

Jun 282007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

I have read the other complaints about the transmission being terrible and want to see how many people would join in a class action suit against the Ford motor company. I have to fix or replace my transmission and the paint panel of my window hatch. It has a crack on the passenger side. Lets make Ford either correct this problem, or use the consumer power of buying to bring them to their knees!!!!

- , Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #2

Jul 052007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Same as everybody else, difficulty shifting from park to reverse. Last Ford ever I will buy.... never again!

- , East Aflmouth, MA, USA

problem #1

May 292006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V8 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,500 miles

Difficulty in shifting from Park to Reverse started at about 50,000 miles. Brought to dealer to diagnose at 64,400 miles. They recommended a rebuilt be installed for my problematic tranmission. The rebuilt turned out to be in worse condition than my original. We will find out what the dealer will do for me this week - May 30, 2006. Stay tuned....

- , Woodbury, Minnesota, USA

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