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 41 of 45)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #88

Jan 082005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,012 miles


2002 Ford Explorer has had 2 rebuilt transmissions and over $1,800 in transmission work not related to the rebuilt transmissions.

- Ft. Wayne, IN, USA

problem #87

Jan 172005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles
Transmission failed during ordinary driving. Transmission required nearly three weeks to repair at a cost of $2,800.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #86

Mar 012005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles
My truck is starting to have problems with shifting in to 3rd gear, dealership told me I'll have to fix transmission or replaceit. Major problem in these transmissions, crappy idea to make it a sealed transmission.

- Edmonton, 00, USA

problem #85

Mar 072005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles


O/D light flashing on a 2002 Explorer. Resulting in a new transmission after only 50,000 miles. It's a known problem, and I have to suffer and pay for Ford's failure to provide a recall or compensation for owning their equipment.

- Cudahy, WI, USA

problem #84

Mar 012005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles
Transmission failure shifting to overdirve. Dealer recommended replacement. Vehicle is only 37 months old. Mileage is 50,000.

- Skokie, IL, USA

problem #83

Oct 012004

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles
The 2002 Explorer with the 5-speed automatic transmission definitely has manufacturing flaws and should either be replaced or repaired.

- Hoover, AL, USA

problem #82

Mar 022005

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Prior to purchase 6/03 @ 40K miles, trans fluid 2 qts low, nothing else addressed. April '04 @ 50K miles replaced leaks in transmissions, charged $200 deductible. Sept '04 replaced rear differential, Jan '05 replaced rear diff clutch assembly, now need whole new transmission at 68000 miles.

- Lees Summit, MO, USA

problem #81

Nov 162004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles
Consumer experienced a problem with the transmission on another Ford vehicle. Traded it in for a new vehicle. The newly purchased vehicle displayed the same symptoms as the previously owned vehicle. T he gears slipped when pressing the gas, then it engaged. The vehicle went from 50 mph to 30 mph.

- Missouri City, TX, USA

problem #80

Feb 092005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,000 miles
Several problems - at 9,000 miles my brakes went and had to have my rotors resurfaced by 23,000 miles my rear brakes were completely gone and my front brakes were nearly gone. This cost me over $1,000 to repair. At 25-27,000 miles my vehicle would not change gears properly. Going in reverse the vehicle would "bang" into gear, then going from park to any gear this would happen. On level ground and on hill. The dealership said they guessed at the problem and fixed something in the transmission. At 32,000 miles the piece of plastic under the liftgate window completely cracked. Since under warranty the dealership is fixing this. There has been a "whining" noise while using the gas pedal for some time that the dealership can not recreate.... I expect that to go wrong as soon as my warranty expires. I think you only get 36,000 mile warranty because they know the vehicle will fall apart after that!

- Holden, MA, USA

problem #79

Jan 042005

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles
Over time noticed jerking while upshifting. Loud winding noise at high way speeds when on gas pedal. Drive mostly highway and still extremly poor mpg. 9.8-10.6mpg average on highway! also passenger side rear seat belt does not retract. Had replaced under warranty. Still have the problem.

- Studio City, CA, USA

problem #78

Nov 162003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,000 miles


My truck worked fine for the first 18000 miles I have had it and now it has almost 45000 miles on it. When the truck tries to change gears from second to third the transmission makes a clunk noise and then the rest of the time it changes gears fine. The noise just happens between second to third gear.

- Powell, TN, USA

problem #77

Jan 252005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,426 miles
Transmission died at 3642 miles very low milage transmission has to be defective and it costs more than 3,000$ to fix it. The cost should be picked up by Ford.

- Hayward, CA, USA

problem #76

Sep 152004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles
My 2002 Ford Explorer XLT had a transmission problem. When putting it in reverse nothing would happen for 5 - 10 seconds. Then it would lurch into gear and rev up and shoot backwards. Since nothing would happen you would think it needed gas and then when it engaged after 5 - 10 seconds it would lunge faster backwards creating a serious risk of backing into someone or something. Ford fixed the problem at my expense (over $1000) saying that there was a problems with the transmission controller. Others that I have spoke to have said they have had similar problems. I think that this should be subject to a safety recall.

- Riverside, CT, USA

problem #75

Oct 282004

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 27,500 miles
Transmissions problem, been to two dealers, and cant fix the problem. Ford wil not help. I first went in before my 3-36 was up now im 45 days over and they won't pay. It misses under a load and when passing other cars feels very unsafe.

- Fort Scott, KS, USA

problem #74

Dec 212004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I was driving, when I heard a loud noise comming from underneath my Ford Explorer.I thought for a second or two, that I had ran over something in the street.the vehicle, slowed.when I stopped for the traffic light, it would not move.the od off light was flashing.the only way I could move the truck was in neutral.I had the truck towed to joe rizza Ford in N.riverside, il.they told me that the transmission had to be replaced.I purchased this truck from rizza new on 09/11/01.59,000 miles was on the spedometer.I believe the transmission was defective.I was told it would cost me $3,400 to get it replaced.I had no choice but to go further in debt and buy another vehicle.

- Broadview, IL, USA

problem #73

Dec 122004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While traveling at 25 mph driver's gear popped out, and vehicle was not able to move. Consumer was informed that the vehicle needed a new transmission when taken to the dealer.

- Townsend, GA, USA

problem #72

Jul 062004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles
My Ford Explorer transmission it was at 36000 miles, my car was tuned and serviced as shudule, and it cost a total of $1700 to fix. Which the car is only 2 year old. The air condition stop working in December of 2003 and at the time my car was barely 1 year old thier has been many other concern with my Explorer that I am making $500 payment on. I belived I have purchase a defected car.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #71

Oct 272004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,900 miles leading up to the failure -on more than one occasion while having my car at the dealer while in warranty I made note to the service individual, that some thing felt wrong when my car would shift in to another gear while moving.nothing was ever found wrong or any documentation was made. 2.failure and its consequences-as my vehicle reached 43,900 miles my transmission started to shift even more harder and sometimes would not go in to gear.the rear would vibrate to the point where it shook the vehicle hard. 3.what was done to correct the failure-when vehicle was taken to the dealer it was quickly brought to my attention that my vehicle was out of waranty and after diagonosing the problem that the trans assy solenoid had to be replaced. I had no choice but to fix this problem because the vehicle was up on a lift. This cost me a total of $976.91. I feel that I was led on until my warranty expired and that Ford should covered the cost of this problem because this is a fairly new vehicle and it was not my fault that this part went bad.this part should be recalled.

- Howell, NJ, USA

problem #70

Aug 292004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles
Consumer complained about transmission problems. Automatic transmission shifted hard when changing gears, and slow in reverse. Consumer heard a grinding noise when the gear went into overdrive. Dealer was notified.

- Rule, TX, USA

problem #69

Nov 022004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles
Transmission will not shift to overdrive. Dealership was notified, but did not resolve the problem. The transmission was replaced on five occasions. The over drive light would come on and the band would burn up.

- Hillsboro, MO, USA

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