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 18 of 45)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #548

Mar 202009


  • 102,000 miles


I recently had to have the bearings replaced due to problems that many have experienced with the same make, model, and respective years. Once the bearings were replaced I noticed more issues with the "slipping" transmission that many many many more have already lodged complaints against. What is being done" when can we expect answers"

- Cambridge, MD, USA

problem #547

Mar 102009


  • 99,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the transmission would slip between second and third gears. While shifting gears, the rpms would accelerate very high and the vehicle would jerk and perform as if it were in the neutral position. A diagnostic was performed and indicated that the solenoids were faulty. The current and failure mileages were less than 99,000.

- Cleveland, TN, USA

problem #546

Mar 122009


  • 70,000 miles
I have an 02 Explorer with 70K miles on it and the O/D light and service engine light are both on. I was told that 2nd and 5th shifts are gone and that I should rebuild the transmission. I was reading different articles and it seems like this is a big problem with the Explorer. Ford needs to recall this car!

- Lakewood, CO, USA

problem #545

Feb 012009


  • 70,000 miles


I have a 2002 Ford Explorer and my O/D light is flashing along with my check engine light coming on. This seems to be complaint #1 with this vehicle in searching the internet. I seem to have a transmission rebuild coming my way. It's always been tough to switch from drive to reverse. Now my lights are flashing and it has a heck of a time switching from 1st to 2nd gear. I have 70,000 miles on the vehicle. I also have issue #2 from the internet complaints on this vehicle. My tailgate molded plastic beneath my rear window split in half and fell off.

- Levittown, PA, USA

problem #544

Mar 052009


  • 98,000 miles
Same problem everyone else has. I have a 2002 Explorer trans went had to get it rebuilt. Only had this Explorer 11 months.

- Clinton Township, MI, USA

problem #543

Mar 132009


  • 76,150 miles
I have an issue with my transmission in my 2002 Ford Explorer. The car has 76,000 miles and the O/D light flashes and 2nd gear is a mess. It started out of no where. I googled the problem and came across this website: it is a shame that over 100 people have complained about this same issue and that's just the people who found that site. I am a hard working self employed man who try's to stand by american made, but I am absolutely furious that Ford has let this issue go. I have owned the vehicle for 2 years and the tire rod and barring have already went bad. As well as the transfer case for the 4X4 has went out as well. Both of those issues where also reported by others on the above website. How in the world can Ford ask the government to bail them out when the very people who purchased their product keep getting stuck with the bill coming and going. I will take this complaint to my state representative in an effort to hold Ford accountable for their actions before getting one tax dollar from honest hard working americans.

- Newark, OH, USA

problem #542

Mar 092009


  • 91,000 miles


I am the owner of a 2002 Ford Explorer with approximately 91000 miles. I was driving on highway when O/D light began to blink. Researched problem on internet and seems to be a big problem with the transmission in 2002 Ford Explorer and I am one of many dealing with this. Typical solution is to have the transmission rebuilt which will cost alot of money. Ford refuses to acknowledge this problem as there own (clearly poor workmanship in building vehicle) and refuses to offer help. Presently, there is no recall for these transmission problems. How many people have to shell out there hard earned money before this problem is addressed. Please help.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #541

Mar 062009


  • 47,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer limited V-8, four wheel drive with 47,100 miles. I started to notice a clattering sound coming from under the truck. I took it to the mechanic and he said it was the torque converter. It cost $1,200 to fix. He told me he sees a lot of problems with this automatic transmission. It seems to me that 47,000 miles is very premature for a problem like this. I see that many others on the internet have had similar problems with this vehicle.

- Redwood City, CA, USA

problem #540

Feb 102009

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer 4.0L SOHC V6 automatic transmission. It has a problem shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear. While driving in traffic, car will not accel up to speed and doesn't shift out of 2nd gear into 3rd. Have had a few near accidents because of car not able to speed up.

- Gainesville, FL, USA

problem #539

Feb 282008


  • 100,500 miles
My 2002 Ford Explorer start shaking and vibrating while driving on a road. This was due to the transmission going out while traveling at about 30 mph. The truck would not shift from 2nd to third 3rd gear which made the vehicle rpms run at about 5000 then the car started to smell and began to get really hot down toward the floor board. After this the O/D light began to blink on and off constantly. I then pulled to the side of the road to check the problem while pulled there I put my truck into reverse so that I could back up into a parking lot. I took my foot off the break and pushed the gas and my truck rolled into the road. The reverse would no longer engage. I had my whole family in the car, luckily there were no cars coming at that exact time. I have found a website where over 200 people have reported the same problem on google search, but still nothing has been done to recall this issue. Just because we found all of ourselves in a lucky situation when this happened and no one was injured, does not make this any less of a concern.

- Fpo, AP, USA

problem #538

Jan 242008


  • 78,000 miles


This is my wife"S 02' 4X4 V8 Explorer, we brought it new and now have 78,000 miles in it, at first I heard some noise I thought it came from the tires that pretty worn out so I went to change out the new tires while I was in the shop and wait I ask the guy can I go in there to check out the brake pads I notice the rear springs broke"??? the more searching I did the more thing I find out, wheel bearing??" no more Ford.......

- Bel Aire, KS, USA

problem #537

Feb 132009


  • 52,000 miles
I like many others was just informed that my 2002 Explorer needs a new transmission. It only has 52,000 miles on it. I am on a fixed income, and bought this car believing that it would last me a long time if I took care of it which I have. I cannot afford this expense and very unhappy to find that Ford knows of this defect, and does nothing about it. I am truly beginning to believe that Ford stands for found on road dead. This clearly indicates a "lemon" product to me, and I feel that the consumers are the one paying for the CEO's rich life at our expense. When is our government going to look out for the people who finance this country?

- Hemet, CA, USA

problem #536

Feb 142009


  • 150,000 miles
O/D light began flashing diving on a major highway - RPM's ran at 3rpm's no matter what speed I traveled. Transmission shifts very hard and I am experiencing a terrible clunking noise - piece of┐!@#$% transmission - will have to replace the transmission according to the dealer and I have heard it is happening very frequently with the 2002 Explorer.

- Florence, NJ, USA

problem #535

Apr 162008


  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving approximately 50 mph on normal road conditions, the contact heard a loud noise outside of the vehicle. The vehicle vibrated excessively. The check engine warning indicator illuminated on the instrument panel and remained lit until the engine was turned off. The driver pulled over to the side of the road and the vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic for diagnostic testing. The technician stated that the rear driver's side wheel bearing was cracked. The vehicle was repaired. Recently, the front passenger side wheel bearing exhibited a crack. In addition, the overdrive warning indicator illuminated while traveling on the highway. Also, the automatic transmission was slipping out of gear. The mileages were unknown.

- Lynchburg, VA, USA

problem #534

Feb 112009


  • 59,550 miles
While driving O/D light started to flash and check transmission light came on. Original owner with 59K miles. Dealer states I need a new transmission. I have read numerous complaints about this transmission online. NHTSA needs to investigate this type of closed system transmission design. Loss of drive power during entry to highway or lane changes could result in a major accident.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #533

Feb 042009


  • 111,000 miles
The O/D light is blinking fast and now it is beginning to shift gears very rough. All the websites I have seen makes this a common attribute with this year of car. Nothing really lead up to this, it just started blinking on my way to work.

- Olathe, KS, USA

problem #532

Feb 062009


  • 78,500 miles
Accelerating from 0, failure of transmission to shift from 1st to 2nd gear, engine revs to 4000 RPM and fails to accelerate or shift.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #531

Jan 232009


  • 93,000 miles
I bought a 2002 Ford Explorer in 2004 and the transmission is going bad. The od off light is blinking and the car has less than 95000 miles. I took it to the Ford dealer to find out the problem, they told me the transmission needs to be rebuilt or replace. The cost is between $2400 - $3700. I had the car for 4 years and still owe on the car. I googled for od off light and found that many Ford owners with the same model and year have the same problems, everyone can't be wrong. I would like to see this issue resolved. I just want my car fixed.

- Lawndale, CA, USA

problem #530

Jan 152009

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 212,500 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer 4.0L V6. I had the transmission rebuilt 10 days ago. I have had to take my vehicle back to the transmission shop now for the third time in 10 days due to problems that the shop says are chronic with, and known by, Ford. Ford needs to address the problems inherent with the transmission in this year model. Consumers are continuing to shoulder the financial burden of a problem of which Ford and the NHTSA are both aware and about which neither are addressing. There have been thousands of complaints about this problem. What needs to happen for the NHTSA to support consumers on this established and known issue?

- Slidell, LA, USA

problem #529

Jan 012008


  • 50,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLS. I purchased this vehicle in June of 2004 and shortly after the O/D light was blinking setting off the "check engine" light. When I took it to Ford, they claimed it was a solenoid that needed to be replaced at my cost because it was not covered in the warranty. After a high priced repair, the O/D light came on again within a month's time. I returned to have them repair it again on the repair warranty from the prior fix and the O/D light came on still again. This problem has been a major drain on my finances and now I have seen that the O/D light is the second-highest complaint on this model and make of vehicle. Ford continues to claim that it is an oddity and unrelated to the make and model. Can anything be done that will get Ford to make good on either repairing or offering recompense in some way to customers who have been struggling with this nonsense? R. francis

- Huntington, NY, USA

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