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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
16 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
8 / 0
Average Mileage:
75,198 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 10 of 45)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #708

Mar 012010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 151,900 miles


No event led to the failure the column mounted shift lever broke off when shifting into reverse from park, occurred once car cannot be operated without shift lever. No replacement part available without replacing the entire steering column assembly. The part that broke is easily serviceable and could be replace if sold separately from the column assembly column assembly is $1400 for part only.

- Los Altos, CA, USA

problem #707

Nov 242009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 135,568 miles
Automatic transmission hard shuddering between 50-70 mph with O/D off light blinking. Exactly the same as the more than 2000 other complaints on this same vehicle. Took it to Ford dealer who charged me $250 to tell me that they could only reproduce the problem once, but when it happened it was heavy. Despite that they said nothing was wrong because they could not reproduce the problem again. I drove it 2 more months until the shuttering was very bad and also got the check engine light with codes P0775 and P0735. Now they want to replace my transmission for $4100. This defect leads to a very dangerous situation as it happens at high speeds and causes the driver to believe they may have hit something and possibly swerve off the road.

- Scott Afb, IL, USA

problem #706

Jan 142010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 109,000 miles
O/D light blinks all the time. Transmission slips and clanks.

- Aurora, CO, USA

problem #705

Feb 262010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 147,280 miles


I have a 2002 Ford Explorer while I was coming home the od light came on and the check trans. Came on. There was no problem leading up to this it just happened. So take it to the Ford place and they say needs new transmission. I still owe 3,000 on it that is also the price of the new trans. The trans. Has never used any fluid. I need help!

- Pinson, AL, USA

problem #704

Feb 102010


  • 120,000 miles
The O/D light on my dash of my 02 Explorer started blinking. It takes a while and struggles to get to 30mph, when it finally reaches 30 it slams into gear and acts fairly normal. The next day, it wouldn't get above 20mph. We paid for a new tranny ($1732) and paid a certified mechanic to put it in ($225, which does not include the cost of the fluid). The problem was not fixed. We then bought a $75 electronic range sensor, mechanic put it on, and still the same problems. It is now still in the shop (3 weeks, now) and we have spent about $2100 and my car is still not fixed! we are a one income family and cannot afford the continued negligence of Ford.

- Hooks, TX, USA

problem #703

Mar 012008


  • miles
I was driving under normal conditions when my 2002 Ford Explorer transmission began to bang and clunk into gear...apparently this is a popular problem among the Explorer and really should be recalled. A new transmission and $3,000 later....

- Winston Salem, NC, USA

problem #702

Feb 262010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 94,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems. We bought this truck in Jan of O4 with 40,000 miles on it. Around 50,000 it started shifting funny, like missing a shift and banging into gear. Went to dealer and had system flushed. Had computer reflashed around 80,000 miles and reverse solenoid replaced along with flushing again, wow what a shock on the racks was 2 other Explorer getting new transmissions. Shortly after the O/D light started flashing then went out. Now it came on again. Went to dealer they said without the light on they couldn't say what is wrong for sure. Might be a accumulator or band. Suggested it would be better to get a Ford remanufactured trans that has all the problems corrected. This would cost over 3,000. He told be to keep driving it till the light starts coming on regulary then come in. If my trans is sealed from the factory with no way to check or add fluid, which by the way is just stupid. And there have been articles that have said that Ford might have shipped the transmissions with the incorrect fluid. They need to man up and fix these problems. I have been a Ford owner for over 20 years and cant believe with all the problems they haven't been forced to recall this trans before it fails and kills someone. Or maybe that's what it will take.

- Plainfield, IL, USA

problem #701

Feb 082009


  • 11,000 miles
O/D light continuously blinking, transmission slipping and engine revving up causing lots of jerking everytime I drive my 2002 Explorer. In order for me to drive my SUV I have to turn the O/D off...and sometimes the engine will continuously rev up even when the O/D is manually turned off. There are too many people with this problem for it to continue to be ignored. Please help us consumers.

- Ridgeland, MS, USA

problem #700

Mar 012010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
Transmission failure on my 2002 Ford Explorer. Transmission has always had "so-so" performance. Hard shifting into gears. Now is going to cost me $3500 to repair.

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #699

Feb 192010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 118,225 miles
2002 Ford Explorer eddie bauer has had the od light come on driving down the road. The RPM's increase and shifts from gear to gear hard. Pulled over to figure out what is wrong and problem went away. Light has continued to come on and off at random times and noise continues as the light is on. The problem occurs of and on. Problem first began in Aug 2009. Have had this problem occur this past week. Have been told that we need to have a over haul of the transmission to fix current problem.

- Pleasant Grove , UT, USA

problem #698

Feb 242010


  • 104,900 miles


The O/D off light started to blink and when I pressed on the gas pedal the RPM's went up like crazy the car was hard to shift.

- Arecibo, PR, USA

problem #697

Jan 132010


  • 41,181 miles
Transmission failure od blinking repair new trans but still has the same problem 42 K miles Ford Explorer.

- Guaynabo, PR, USA

problem #696

Dec 122009


  • 120,523 miles
My 2002 Ford Explorer has a transmission failure. The od light is blinking. And it shifts hard with gears. Also makes a knocking noise when trying to shift. When I try to go, the RPM just runs high and the truck does not move. When im driving and it needs to shift to another gear, it just rems and doesn't shift.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #695

Feb 232010


  • 130,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer. I bought ti used with 64,000 miles on it. Replaced both rear wheel bearings. I have also replaced all struts and coils springs. I have an engine light on for a intake gasket problem. Then on my way home from work today my O/D light came on. My truck has 130,000 miles on it. Before I purchased Explorer I found out it was in a rear end accident.

- Livonia, MI, USA

problem #694

Feb 192010


  • miles
O/D light flashing and then transmission warning came on in 2002 eddie bauer Explorer. Ford dealer quoted $4500 to rebuild transmission.

- Jackson, MI, USA

problem #693

Feb 102010


  • 138,000 miles
O/D light flickering and transmission is slipping. Will not go into gear without a violent jerk and sometimes wont go into gear at all. Car has to completely idle before you can press the gas which is very dangerous because I will sometimes be in the middle of the roadway or driving down the road or crossing over traffic to the left after a stop at a light.

- Decatur, GA, USA

problem #692

Jun 182008


  • 75,000 miles
I pulled up to the gas pump and put the Explorer into park. As I got out, it started rolling it rolled backwards approximately 10 feet, I hung on to the door and was able to get back in and bring it to a stop. I sat there in shock for a minute as several people who witnessed this were in horror..I put it back into park.I was lucky the Explorer did not hit another car, any people or run me over!! since that time, about 2 years ago, I have a hard time with putting the car in park at seems to get stuck around, I am very careful to make sure when I put it in park, it is in fact, in park!

- Largo, FL, USA

problem #691

Feb 202010


  • 137,000 miles
The rpms were spiking the O/D light started blinking and then the car would not shift correctly.

- Broad Brook, CT, USA

problem #690

Feb 202010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles
Ford explore 2002 4.0L V6 sudden and total failure of the automatic transmission at 122,000 miles. Od light flashes and transmission inspection by mechanic reveals it is junk. Despite careful maintenance this SUV is the worst vehicle I have ever owned the list of problem on this vehicle have nothing to do with the operation or maintenance of this vehicle. It is possibly the most poorly engineered vehicle since the vega!

- Dewitt, MI, USA

problem #689

Jan 312009


  • 96,420 miles
Shortly after purchasing our 2002 Ford Explorer XLS, we began experiencing delayed shifting on occasion. The problem continued to get worse until occasionally, after making a turn, it would slip out of gear impeding acceleration in traffic situations. It also hesitates going into gear after backing up out of parking spaces. This almost caused us to be hit from behind one day when another driver backed out of a parking spot behind us without looking. Luckily it went into gear just in time so that I could move the vehicle back into the parking space and out of the way. Eventually the O/D light began to flash and now the transmission slams into high gear and downshifts hard when coming to a stop. My concern is that this in not an isolated problem with just our Explorer as I have read numerous reports of the exact problems. Not being able to move the vehicle in traffic poses a serious safety concern that needs to be corrected.

- Hutchinson, KS, USA

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