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 16 of 45)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #588

Apr 062008


  • 48,000 miles


I have a 2002 Ford Explorer, I love this car and has been perfect except for 1 major thing the piece of !@#$% transmission, what a joke have had 2 replaced at 48,000 miles and 115,000 miles, there needs to a be a recall on these junk transmissions this is a big problem for these cars. I have other Ford and they are awesome this 2002 Explorer is a complete lemon. Its a hazard when your going 68 mph down a highway and your transmission blows out, going on a roadtrip to the white mountains of nh.

- Winchester, MA, USA

problem #587

Mar 012008


  • 75,000 miles
I took a trip from home in ok to canton, tx on return heard loud noise when I stopped to have the vehicle inspected I found out the front drive shaft was coming out. In March of 2008 I noticed a noise coming from the rear of the Explorer. When I had it inspected I was told the rear end needed to be replaced. This cost me over $2000. My transmission is now slipping and after reading other complaints I fear the worse if I have my transmission checked. Who do we contact to have a lawsuit started? my truck now has approximately 110,000 miles. I have replaced the front drive shaft, rear end assembly. My air bag light stays on and the rear panel below the back window has cracked. I have all the complaints listed except for the gear shifter breaking off in my hand.

- Blackwell, OK, USA

problem #586

May 162009


  • 38,000 miles
When I go to or from park the car jerks and has almost cause me to get into several crashes. This happens at least a couple times a week.

- Saint George, UT, USA

problem #585

Jun 142009


  • 135,000 miles


Our 2002 Ford Explorer gear shift lever broke off in my hand while trying to shift from park to reverse. We had some trouble with the lockout in the past, but this left us stranded and required a tow.

- Kitty Hawk, NC, USA

problem #584

May 012005


  • 50,000 miles
I have had my 2002 Ford Explorer eddie bauer edition for 4 years. The entire time of owning this vehicle it sounds like the engine slips and lately it seems like it is getting worse. I have talked to a few car repairmen and they said that this make and model is known for this complaint. I feel like since there is an overwhelming amount of complaints for the transmission, someone should look into this.

- Cleveland, GA, USA

problem #583

May 302009


  • 85,000 miles
My 2002 Ford Explorer eddie bauer V8 has required a transmission at 35K & 85K miles. This is a huge safety concern when the car fails without warning!!!! I'm not alone in dealing with this incredibly costly & dangerous predicament. Please take action! I'm reading that the design of the transmission is apparently bad. Quoting another's description: "after lots of research it appears the most likely cause is worn case bore, where the pin for the 2nd gear & overdrive band servo actuator passes through the case. If the people designing these machines spent even a bit of time in their lives working with their hands on real parts they would know better than to pass a hard steel pin in a wear point fashion through a softer aluminum casting. It is no wonder so many transmissions experience this problem." You would think when my transmission was replaced the 1st time that Ford would have been required to solve this problem by putting brass casings on the pins to ensure the safety of the vehicle. Now, I'm having to get a 2nd transmission, & since I didn't take it to Ford, they are replacing the transmission with this fix implemented. I shouldn't have to bear the $3500 needed to replace the transmission. Ford should stand by their products, but since they won't, I hope that you can require them to do so! thanks! I identified this as an equipment failure because the transmission that came with the car was obviously defective to require a new one at 35K miles. My car is dead at a shop so I can't look at the transmission to give you any product information. The date I provided for equipment is the date the 1st transmission was replaced. I am the original owner & purchased the car new. I am assuming that the 1st transmission failed due to the pins. There's no way to check the transmission fluid because it's a closed system, which has also been a problem. The site detailing these problems is:

- Damascus, MD, USA

problem #582

May 292009


  • miles


O/D off light flashing, find out solenoid pack needs to be replaced. Also needs all 4 ball joints replaced. Found out these are very common problems to 02 Explorer. Not sure if we will repair because it looks like we'll end up doing it again or the transmission will go out. We've already replaced rear end, window motor and have faded window panels and a cracked back panel on lift gate. Why is the gov't not addressing these problems. This was not a cheap car - why is it acceptable to have this many problems with a vehicle?

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #581

Jun 012009


  • 181,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLT parked nose down on an inclined driveway. No keys in ignition but vehicle slipped away and hit a lightpost 50 meters down the street.

- Greensboro, NC, USA

problem #580

May 152009


  • miles
Gear shift lever snapped off in the hand of my 110 lb girlfriend. She put her foot on the brake, went to shift the car into reverse and the part that connects the gear shift to the steering column broke off. The car was on and luckily did not make it all the way into reverse or the car would have been stuck in reverse!! she quickly turned the car off, but the transmission is not in park either, so the key won't come out! I have 2 small children and my neighbors have little ones as well. This is a dangerous safety issue. The car is not completely in any gear and the key is in it. It can't be driven so I had it towed, and like many, many others have found out, this small, cheaply made part is not available to replace. The entire steering column must be purchased through Ford and replaced. I was given a "discounted" quote of $1900 from berge Ford in AZ. How has this small, weak, cheaply made part not been recalled yet" are we waiting for someone to be run over and possibly killed by a vehicle stuck in gear"!

- Mesa, AZ, USA

problem #579

May 162009


  • 114,102 miles
While attempting to move the shift lever on my 2002 Ford Explorer from park to reverse, the entire shift level fell out of the steering column. Inspection revealed that the cast pot metal plunger assembly that engaged the shifting lever had a uniform crack and the entire top of the assembly had broken off. A review of the internet, specifically showed that this is not an isolated problem with the Ford Explorer series. Ford has accepted no responsibility for this inherently dangerous safety defect, has issued no recall, and will not acknowledge faulty or defective workmanship and/or casting. What is probably a $40 to $50 sub-assembly part cannot be replaced even though it looks as though it could. The local Ford dealership advised that the entire steering column must be replaced at a cost of approximately $1700. Please review the website I have listed and you'll see that I am not alone and that this is not a problem, but an overall symptom of an issue that exists in various year models of the Ford Explorer. A component of a steering system that can experience such fatigue under normal operating conditions and which will completely break off in ones hands is simply a tragedy waiting to happen. Please help us the consumer out --- investigate this problem and hold Ford Motor Company responsible. We average citizens cannot fight and win against a major corporation but if you fail to investigate this problem on our behalf then your concerns for driver safety are no more valid than Ford's claim that "quality goes in before the name goes on". the service manager of the Ford dealership that has my car said that he "has never seen anything like this", but at the same time acknowledged that he had heard about the problem and that Ford wouldn't do anything about it. Help ---- this is not right !!!!!

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #578

Mar 122009


  • 76,345 miles


2002 Explorer started out with alot of electrical problems and now depending on how much you push in the gas pedal the transmission starts slipping. Just like alot of other complaints. Had some similar trouble with it about 2 years ago dealer said had to wait till it got worse to find exact problem.

- South Fork, PA, USA

problem #577

May 142009


  • 80,798 miles
I own a 2002 Ford Explorer XLS 4X4. Yesterday while trying to cross an intersection, all of a sudden the O/D light started to flash and the transmission would not go. Their was an 18 wheeler coming in which had to slam on brakes nearly hitting me and my children, I have done research on this model and the trouble with the 5R55W transmissions. Their is a service bulletin on these, but no recall I feel that their is an safety issue and one that needs to be addressed this is definitely an lemon transmission and Ford needs held reliable.

- Paris, IL, USA

problem #576

May 132009


  • 118,000 miles
I am having the same problems all the other people are having that own a 2002 Explorer. O/D off light flashing, service engine soon light on, car slips out of gear if you have to stop suddenly, hard to put into park, erratic shifting. Please make Ford recall these vehicles and fix the problems that they knew about but sold the vehicles anyway. Do this before someone has to die in a wreck because then it will be too late!

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #575

Mar 012009


  • 120,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer faulty transmission.

- Carleton, MI, USA

problem #574

May 012009


  • 91,247 miles
I went to put vehicle in park and shift lever broke off inside steering column. Had to replace entire steering column for 1 little piece of cast white metal which I found out is a common problem with this particular vehicle. After repair was complete, od off light started blinking and service engine soon light came on. Code PO755 on engine scanner which according to carcomplaint web site and my mechanic is also a very common problem with this vehicle.

- Macedon, NY, USA

problem #573

Apr 242009


  • 61,500 miles
I own a 2002 Ford Explorer, purchased new in 2001. First a few years after the vehicle was purchased, my O/D light stated flashing. I brought the vehicle to my local Ford dealer as it was still under warranty. The transmission was overhauled and haven't had a problem. In 2008 I had routine brake replacement done on my vehicle at a local garage and when this was done the technician working on the vehicle noticed that my rear coil springs were broken and nearly fell out. I had this problem replaced with new shocks and springs and did not think something like this would happen because the vehicle had low mileage. Now just recently with 61000 miles on my vehicle the O/D light began to flash again, I had problems shifting from park to reverse, their was a definite slip, and also noticed a few days before the light came on that their was a shudder when upshifting from 4th to 5th gear. I brought the vehicle to my local Ford dealer and they determined that I needed to replace the transmission. Due to the cost of this being over $4000, I decided to bring it to a reputable transmission repair facility. I did get a lower quote and authorized the repair. I spoke to the owner of the business and he advised me that the transmission needed to be remanufactured and they also found water or coolant in the transmission fluid. The owner also advised me of the fact that their is a vent for the transmission and it was plugged with some sort of plug which should not be their.

- Colonia, NJ, USA

problem #572

May 042009


  • miles
My 2002 Ford Explorer has a transmission going bad. At the end of my 36,000 mile warranty I took it in to a Ford dealership who said since the vehicle just went over the warranty by less than a 1,000 miles that they would share in the cost of doing the work. It cost me approx. $700. For what I have since learned was a solenoid. Now, (70,000 miles later) I'm being told the transmission is bad and needs to be replaced.

- Centerville , OH, USA

problem #571

Mar 302009


  • 76,000 miles
I bought a 2002 Ford Explorer with 19,000 miles on it also thinking what a great deal I have had the truck for 3 years it now has 76,000 miles on it. The check engine light has been coming on and the O/D light will start blinking I tow a boat so I took it to a transmission shop they said it was very common for this to happen with the year of truck that I have. They said the cause was servo piston bore what ever that means they also said that if I donT repair it for $2,400 that the lights will continue to come on and the truck will continue to slip. The other weird thing is I'll be driving and I hear a ding you know the sound you have when you leave your keys in the truck but I'm driving my truck when this happens and the door lock will go off like I'm locking the doors. I really love my truck the body is in excellent shape I still owe on my truck so buying something new isn't an option. The sad thing is I tow a boat every weekend and IM worried that something might happen.

- Reno, NV, USA

problem #570

Apr 042002


  • 102,252 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer that is now having transmission problems which will cost in the neighborhood of $3000 to fix. After doing some research on the internet I can't believe the number of owners who have the same problem. Ford apparently knows of this problem and has declined to accept responsibility. I know its not a safety issue but we are having to pay for repairs of a faulty product in bad times when some of us don't have jobs. I am asking the NHTSA to help address this problem to Ford. Thank you!

- Berwyn, PA, USA

problem #569

Apr 252009


  • 105,622 miles
Transmission failure.

- Akron, OH, USA

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