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 28 of 45)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #348

Dec 122007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


I have this 2002 Explorer eddie bauer edition. It only has 79K on it, and the O/D started flashing. I pulled over and shut it off, and started it again.....after I restarted no problems...light was gone, and still shifted correctly. I proceeded and took it to my dealer....was told it would be around 5800 to fix this. That is ridiculous...with that low of miles on it......

- Springfield, MO, USA

problem #347

Jan 052008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,006 miles
Transmission went out on my Explorer 2002...every single person I know that has 2002 Explorer had to re-build their transmission..Ford needs to take care of...I cant afford to fix it each time..its factory defect that should be recalled. There's alot of non satisfied costumers that I find all over the world. Something has to be done.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #346

Jan 262008

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles
Transmission failure - known 2002 Ford Explorer issue and not a recall. Have to replace entire transmission.

- White Plains, MD, USA

problem #345

May 012007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


Transmission would not work beyond 2nd gear. This truck had less than 60,000 miles and was a 2002 model. The transmission had to be completely removed and a new transmission was put in during 2007.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #344

Aug 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles
I own a 2002 Ford Explorer. When the vehicle was 3 years old, the transmission went out in it. One day it wasn't driving right, and by the next day the transmission was out. The dealership did not stand behind their warranty (it was still under 100K miles) I ended up shelling out over $2000 for this to be repaired. I have had alot of people tell me that they have had the same problem with their Explorer. The shop that repaired the car had lots of trouble with the transmission as well. It took them a month to get it running properly. I still have problems with the third gear. It does not shift properly and will sometimes skip the gear all together. I am proud to own an american made car, but it runs like crap and I wish that Ford would do something to correct this. It is not old enough to have this kind of problem, and many people are in the same boat as me with their Explorer. I am still trying to pay this off as well as continue to make the car payment.

- Kansas City, KS, USA

problem #343

Jan 152008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles
I bought my 2002 Ford Explorer used in 2005 with about 60,000 miles on it. In 6 months the entire car would shake if I went above 50 miles per hour. About a week later, while driving on the highway I felt the car shift extremely hard. I took it to a shop and was told that 3rd gear was already gone and that I was going to soon lose 2nd and so on. I had to spend $2000 on a rebuilt transmission. However, almost 2 1/2 years later this rebuilt transmission is failing again. This time the od light started to blink; I had a garage get the code immediately. It said there was an issue with the torque converter. I had them look at the transmission closer and they found that the transmission fluid was burnt and there were metal shavings in it. The transmission is fried again, and it will cost approximately $3200 to fix it this time. This is definitely a safety concern because these problems often come with no warning. Both incidents I was driving on a highway with my family in the car. Something must be done. This is definitely a defect in the sealed transmissions put in the 2002 Explorer!!!

- Red Lion, PA, USA

problem #342

Nov 072007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles


Purchased '02 Explorer eddie bauer brand new in Aug '01. From brand new, Explorer would not immediately engage when stopped at a light and pressing the gas. After multiple visits to Ford, and they couldn't find anything wrong, they finally got a service notice that told them how to fix it. Now at just 86K miles, young for gently driven, fully maintained vehicles, I am being told that I need a new transmission. O/D off light repeatedly comes on, goes off when I turn off the Explorer. Also, strange vibrations at highway speed (not rough road), and loud/firm shift in and out of reverse. Yesterday O/D off light came on with service engine soon. Ford service says that I need a new transmission for $3K+ and that it can go out any day now. After research, this is obviously a very common issue and related to a defective transmission, which should not be an expected cost of auto ownership. Have not decided who to have repair it yet.

- Bellevue, NE, USA

problem #341

Jun 232007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles
Oh where to start!! I have a 2002 Ford Explorer that has had numerous problems, mostly the transmission. Something needs to be done to correct this problem. I have around 75K miles and I'm on my 4th transmission, including the one that came with the car. Now, one a cold day my passenger side window has broken. I am very upset with the quality of this vehicle. One transmission went out while I had my kids in the car with me. It was fine one moment and then the next moment I couldn't do anything. That is very dangerous and something needs to be done to correct this problem. After much research I have found that this is the #1 problem with Ford cars, or Explorer and nothing has been done about that.

- Greenwood, AR, USA

problem #340

Jan 012007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer and like numerous other people, I have transmission problems with this vehicle. The O/D light blinks off and on and it does not shift properly when this happens. If you turn the vehicle off and then back on, it usually shifts ok for a while before it starts all over again. I believe Ford should recall this problem because obviously the large majority of these vehicles have this or similar problems with the transmission. Sometimes you have to shift to neutral, shut off the vehicle, then restart before it shifts properly again! this is dangerous!

- Piedmont, WV, USA

problem #339

Jan 072008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Currently own a 2002 Explorer XLT with only 65K miles on it. The transmission is in need of a rebuild because is slip from time to time. The rear differential seals are leaking. The entire rear of the vehicle makes a humming noise so I suspect that a rear bearing is going bad. Not to mention the 4wheel drive system has not worked since I bought it a little over a year ago. I've had intermittent issues with the air bag control module and also the backup alarm system. There is nothing but poor write-ups about this truck all over the internet. All the same problems I'm experiencing are problems many other drivers have also had.

- Norton, OH, USA

problem #338

Jan 022007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles


"O/D off" light began flashing rapidly. Apparently tripped by a failed solenoid B valve body. The valve body of solenoid B (the one controlling 1st and od, which together constitute 3rd gear) is a known faulty part. This can also be associated with a failed epc valve, which is usually replaced at the same time as the solenoid. According to auto professionals, this is a common issue with Ford light truck automatic transmissions. The average cost of resolution is approximately $1200.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #337

Dec 012007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles
Transmission overdrive light is blinking and illuminated and jerks between 2nd and 3rd gear. This problem is clearly a defect as the identical problem is posted all over the internet. The error code for the service engine light points to the solenoid. There should be a recall issued before somebody's transmission fails and causes a death.

- Lewisville, TX, USA

problem #336

Jan 032002

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles
The transmission on my 2002 Ford Explorer has failed. It will not shift from second to third gear, and the top speed I can go it 20 to 30 mph. Though transmission problems happen frequently, I know that this is not an isolated incident. I have made this complaint not so much for myself but on behalf of all owners of Ford Explorer. While I was researching 2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems, I came across the website on this website there are 247 complaints about the 2002 Explorer's transmission more specifically, there were many transmission failures that involved the third gear or the entire transmission. this all seems like it makes sense, but when we look to the 2001 Explorer's complaints there are far fewer and the 2003 has fewer transmission complaints as well. additionally the 2003 has no complaints about the switch from second to third gear like the 2002 does. additionally, the home page of has the top 5 complaints of the past 90 days, and the Ford Explorer's trasmission ranks 2nd. There is a problem. A huge problem. my Explorer is currently being fixed, and I researched this once the mechanic gave me the quote. All of this being said, with all of these links as proof, I think it's time that Ford recalls the 2002 Explorer due to severe and costly transmission problems. Please help in this worthy cause.

- Lafayette, LA, USA

problem #335

Jan 022008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The transmission in my 2002 Ford Explorer has a history on intermittent problems that the Ford dealer was not able to replicate. Therefore no repairs have ever taken place. This has bee a safety issue as the car fail to shift in the middle of an intersection, or when I attempt to pass another vehicle. At other times the car will lurch forward or backward when placing or removing the car from park. Recently the transmission lost 5th gear and I am told by the dealer that I need to re-build the transmission at my cost despite the long history of problems I have experienced.

- Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

problem #334

Oct 012007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD transmission is slipping shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear. The O/D light and service engine soon light are on. There are only 66,000 miles on the car. All maintenance has been done as directed. Many complaints of this have been found and noted. I had a licensed mechanic "adjust" the bands on the transmission and that stopped the problem for about a month.

- Woodbury, MN, USA

problem #333

Jul 192005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,005 miles
Noticed harsh shifting into reverse and from 3rd to 4th gears on 02 Ford Explorer 2wd with 48,000 miles. Required rebuilt transmission at cost of $2124.

- Lake Worth, FL, USA

problem #332

Dec 172007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles
Transmission failure. After research, it appears there are several issues dealing with this similar item.

- Pleasant Grove, UT, USA

problem #331

Dec 062007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles
At 65,000 mi. The check transmission light came on and O/D light flashed while accelerating. I called dealer they said to wait until light stayed on. At 72,000 lights came on again as well as check engine. Brought it to dealer and need new transmission. I have found many posts regarding new transmissions for this vehicle at low miles. Cost of transmission was 3200 out of pocket. There should be a recall on this.

- Roseville, CA, USA

problem #330

Dec 102007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While approaching a stop light, the contact depressed the brake pedal and the engine light illuminated. The dealer stated that there was transmission failure and it needed to be rebuilt. Ford stated that the contact would have to pay for the repairs. The VIN was invalid. The current and failure mileages were 97,000.

- Ashford, WA, USA

problem #329

Dec 102007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer transmission slippage, issues with transmission over-revving between gears and then shifting gears at high rpms causing vehicle instability, O/D off light on console blinks consistently, "check transmission" notified on display screen on console, occurs even after engine restart, internet research shows that this is a common problem with the Ford Explorer with a 5R55W transmission. Extremely dangerous event because of sudden nature in failure, occurred to me at approx. 55mph when the rpms ran high during the slippage and then the vehicle jerked when the gears suddenly shifted even after taking my foot off the accelerator. No parts replaced/repaired as of yet, but again research shows that transmission rebuild is imminent.

- Lexington Park, MD, USA

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