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 32 of 45)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #268

Feb 092007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,449 miles


Transmission started slipping while shift gears around 35-40 mph. Engine would rev high. Dealer said I lost 3rd speed. Dealer replaced transmission at cost of $2565.77 plus $1020 in labor. Dealer also replaced rear axle seals ($265.48). Explorer had 89,449 miles on it. Friends and web say rear diff and transmissions are notoriously bad. When will Ford recall these vehicles" will the consumer ever get their money back"

- Camillus, NY, USA

problem #267

Feb 272007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
- the contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the transmission failed. The dealer told him that he had lost the third gear. The gear would slip instead of engaging. The contact stated that the vehicle would shake the steering wheel really badly, and feel as if it was pulling away from him. This normally happened between 0 -29 mph, and that when the vehicle reached 30 mph it would level out and drive normally. The contact stated that the vehicle was doing this for approximately three months. The contact stated that weather was not a factor. The contact stated that this happened every day. The failure mileage and the current mileage were both 40000.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #266

Jan 012005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles
The same thing I have been reading hundreds upon hundreds of times online from other Explorer owners - O/D light flashing, humming noise, rpms revving up way too high when accelerating, skipping 2nd gear altogether. I can not afford to have this fixed, and strongly believe that, with the thousands of other Explorer owners that have the exact same problem, this should be something that Ford should have to pay for. This is theft.

- Smithton, IL, USA

problem #265

Feb 232007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


Transmission failed after having been serviced on multiple occasions by Ford dealership. Transmission failed causing vehicle to be disabled in travel area of the roadway. Ford dealership stated on multiple occasions that there was "no problem with the transmission". vehicle now needs new transmission after only 60,000 miles at cost of $2000 +. this is an ongoing problem with 2002 Ford Explorer SUV's and immediate failures are dangerous to passengers and other motorists.

- Wabash, IN, USA

problem #264

Feb 202007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles
Transmission went at 66K and caused me safety concerns when driving because I could not accelerate.

- Bridgewater, NJ, USA

problem #263

Feb 032007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles
I have two or three issues; the first one is my timing chain tensioner broke and came up through the head gasket cover. It was brought to my attention that Ford has had this problem with many of it's 2002 Ford Explorer. I am just returning from iraq (air force) I have just had it towed to the repair shop it has not be fixed. I have transmission problems for about 2 years were it jumps into gear and I have a whining noise coming from the rear end. I spoke with ganley Ford in barbeton and they tell me that there are no recalls however, a lot of customers complain.

- Copley, OH, USA

problem #262

Feb 012002

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30 miles


- the contact stated she has been having problems with a 2002 Ford Explorer since she purchased it in February 2002. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start. The vehicle vibrated and the check engine light turned on. The contact stated that the vehicle is at a Ford dealer for diagnostic testing. The vehicle may need a new transmission. The contact stated that the repair shop told her the problems with the vehicle was internal.

- Lincoln Park, MI, USA

problem #261

Jan 152007


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer limited edition. While under warranty, @ 52,000, I had major issues w/ the transmission, an overhaul was completed, and my transmission was "rebuilt". less than 2 years later and a little under 40,000 miles later, my O/D light goes off, gears slipping and I am told I now have metal in the pan and I do not have 2 gears, hence, I need a new transmission. Now that I am no longer under warranty, I am told this will now cost me $3,000 to replace. After looking on-line for only 10-15 minutes, I find thousands of complaints regarding 2002 Explorer transmission problems. I spoke to the service department manager, and was told there was nothing they could do since the "rebuilt" transmission only has a 1-year warranty on it. I called Ford motors, and again, was told that my warranty is up, and they are not responsible for the payment. Since this is not an isolated problem, I feel that something needs to be done! Ford needs to back their problems and either issue a recall, or foot the bill for the thousands of transmissions that are not working properly and need to be repaired or replaced. I can honestly say that I will never again buy a Ford, and I will make sure I tell all my friends and family the lack of support that this company gives to their customers. No wonder they are having financial difficulties!!

- Arnold, MD, USA

problem #260

Jun 262006

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles
I bought my 2002 Ford Explorer XLS in Nov 05 with 37000 miles, in June 06 with 43000 miles the transmission had to be completely replaced. Now, here in Jan 07, with 52000 miles the transmission has to be replaced again. In my research, I have found that this a common problem with the 02 Explorer.

- Homewood, IL, USA

problem #259

Jul 102004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles
I bought a used (flawless) 2002 Ford Explorer with 32,000 miles. I took it to a dealership with what I thought was transmission problems at which time they replaced the cilanoild body. The problem continued. I had the transmission flushed. The problem continued, and at 44,000 miles the transmision is being replaced. I have read numerous complaints about the 2002 Explorer's transmission. Obviously there is a problem but Ford won't has no recall! $3,500 later and a new transmission the problem is solved. Ford blew me off and I believe they knew of the problem!.

- Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #258

Jan 222007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


Overdrive light on dash of 2002 Ford Explorer flashing rough shifting into reverse and from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd.

- Mckinney, TX, USA

problem #257

Jan 022007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,773 miles
- the contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving at 10 mph she noticed that the overdrive light was flashing on and off. As she applied the accelerator pedal the vehicle would not respond and the engine idled. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and diagnosed. The transmission band for third gear had failed.

- Aiken, NC, USA

problem #256

Jan 012006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
I have had many problems with my transmission. It has a hard time going into gear, has no pickup whatsoever and I am afraid to take it long distances. I have read that many others have had this type of problem with the 2002 Ford Explorer.

- Woodside, NY, USA

problem #255

Jan 162007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
Transmission is slipping. It makes noise, takes a long time to get into 2nd and 3rd gear, also reverse. It jumps when it finally engages. I have almost had an car accident because of it. I have to take in to be repaired.

- Wetminster, CA, USA

problem #254

Jan 032007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,700 miles
Vehicle always shifted hard. Suddenly began slipping between gears. Immediately taken to the dealer who referred it to a transmission shop. The solution was a total rebuild at 66,700 miles. Partially covered by an extended warranty, but still cost $1300 out-of-pocket. Love the truck. Dislike the manufacturer for not stepping up to the plate. The transmission on a truck/SUV should be one of the more durable components not one of the weakest (opinion).

- Mechanicsburg, PA, USA

problem #253

Jan 172007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles
- the transmission on a 2002 Ford Explorer 4.0 liter slips gears occasionally. The contact stated that after engaging the accelerator when at a full stop the transmission will slip into neutral and then several seconds later the transmission will jerk into gear. The failure mileage was 107000.

- Seaford, NY, USA

problem #252

Jan 142007

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles
All of a sudden the transmission would not shift gears and the overdrive light started flashing. When taken to a mechanic, the diagnostic test threw a code of P0733 and P0745. We were told that a band broke in the transmission and 3rd gear went out. The fix was to overhaul the transmission for $2700. Upon doing some research, it appears that this is a common problem with 2002 Ford Explorer and Ford should do a recall.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #251

Jan 022007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,773 miles
2002 Ford Explorer two issues 1/1/07 - grinding of rear wheel. 1/2/07 - O/D light started flashing, within 7 miles service engine light came on. Car would not accelerate until letting off the gas. 1/2/07 - call aaa to have car towed to local Ford dealer. Ford quoted $5,100 for repairs. We denied repair at Ford. Due to out of pocket expenses we had a local transmission shop do the repairs. We did not want to give Ford any more money since we were told by several repair shops that this is a very common problem with Ford Explorer. The local shop indicated there were tsbs published and they had to buy special equipment from Ford to fix the problems. If companies are buying special tools because the problem is so common, isn't there a problem? we also investigated many numerous websites to read about many complaints regarding the exact same problem. To repair the car we purchased rear wheel bearings and the transmission shop purchased an overhaul transmission kit. They repaired both problems for less than $5,100. Unfortunately, a co-worker had the exact problem with her car just last week. She came to warn me of the problem with her car only to find out I picked mine up from the shop the same day!

- Aiken, SC, USA

problem #250

Dec 182006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles
- the contact stated that the check engine, and overdrive lights will turn on intermittently. This failure does not happen at any particular speed. The failure occurred at about 67,000 miles. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer and was told he would need a new or rebuilt transmission. Updated 03/07/07

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #249

Jan 122007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles
I bought a 2002 Ford Explorer new in 2002 and noticed six months later that there was occasional slipping between 3rd and 4th gear and the overdrive in the automatic transmission. I had mentioned it to the Ford service guys but they said it was nothing to worry about. Now with the warranty expired and 43,000 miles on the car the overdrive light comes on and the Ford dealer pulls the transmission and finds a sensor plug (pressure control solenoid) had cracked then broken, bands need to be replaced, and some other damage recommended for repair. Choices were $2800 for rebuilding (changing bad parts) or $3800 for refurbishing with 75K 3 year warranty. A transmission this young should not have to be replaced and from researching the web (just type in Ford Explorer transmission) lots of folks have had this problem with low miles. Ford seems to have a problem with this transmission that they do not want to admit.

- Fredericksburg, VA, USA

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