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 8 of 45)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #748

Apr 252010


  • 74,000 miles


While driving down the road the od light started flashing and the transmission started to grind, slip, then just stopped working without any warning.

- East Meadow, NY, USA

problem #747

Apr 212010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 112,000 miles
Ford 2002 Explorer XLT limited. I have had a myriad of issues, which upon research appear common to the extreme. Front & rear bearings have been replaced multiple times. Springs had to be replaced. Now the transmission is slipping -- O/D light blinks, ses light activates, and vehicles over-revs, slips, and will not operate in overdrive. The transmission design is completely sealed, so I cannot even check for fluid levels, nor do any preventive maintenance whatsoever. There is no warning, just failure. Issues with this model year are so prevalent that local mechanics need only ask the model and year and can itemize the problems I have experienced, and public forums are full of similar complaints. Ford needs to recall this model year.

- Amherst, NY, USA

problem #746

Apr 162010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 107,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer transmission failure due to faulty machining of piston pathways in the transmission casing. My Explorer will not shift into third gear because of this issue and it is unsafe to drive. There are thousands of complaints about this same issue out on the internet and yet Ford will not take responsibility for a recall.

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #745

Apr 152010


  • miles


The transmission in my 2002 Ford Explorer has starting slipping and failing to get out of first gear. The check transmission light wasn't on then comes on and goes out - depending on which time the vehicle was started. It appears to need a brand new transmission now. In looking up information on this I noticed a rather large number of complaints about 2002 Ford Explorer transmissions and problems associated with them. I regarded Ford as a superior brand and didn't think I'd have problems with this car. It is well maintained and does not have an excessive amount of miles.

- Charlottesville, VA, USA

problem #744

Apr 162010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 11,500 miles
2002 Ford Explorer. Only owner 115,000 miles, mostly highway, well maintained. O/D light flashes, warning message to check transmission. Immediately taken into Ford service shop. Charged $90 for diagnosis: Slipping transmission. Dealership tells me that they will require approval of $720 to further diagnose problem. When asked further questions, I was told that it could range from the $720 - $3,000 +. I picked up the vehicle and have an appointment with a local transmission shop today. Was told by the man at the shop that this is a common problem for this vehicle. He actually was asking me if it did this or that....yes. His price for repair was thousands less than Ford's service department and I am not being asked to pre-pay hundreds of dollars. I have been researching this problem on the internet and it appears that this transmission issue is highly common on the 02 Explorer. I had just left the Ford service department where I had gone for regular oil change and multi-point inspection. They told my that they vehicle was in great shape. Literally 5 minutes after I left this happened while I was driving home.

- Highland, MI, USA

problem #743

Apr 182010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 91,003 miles
2002 Ford Explorer O/D off light blinking, hard shifting. Our 2002 Explorer (91,000 miles) has the all too common problem with the automatic transmission. I'm very surprised to see how many people have reported this same problem. From all that I've read, this is a serious defect that Ford has ignored. If you do a search on this problem, you will find thousands of similar complaints. I'm reporting this to you in the hope that something can be done to force Ford to deal with it.

- Littleton, CO, USA

problem #742

Jan 102010


  • 115,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer transmission failure and uncontrollable accelerator. The transmission had been shifting hard for months but it is considered by Ford to be a "sealed" unit and it is not recommended that the customer maintain the fluid level, so there was nothing I could do. In Jan 2010 the accelerator stuck while entering the freeway and we were out of control, I thought I was going to die and had to turn of the car on the freeway with no shoulder after brushing the guard rail and was subsequently rear ended. The O/D off light began blinking that day and it was tough to reach 60mph. Service engine light came on and I shopped around for diagnostic. Independent trans. Guy said it needs complete rebuild, Ford dlr agrees but for twice the cost. New parts are not available. It makes no sense why this car just started to fail on me like this, I'm the first owner and now its just decided to die and Ford has been no help what so ever. Now I'm looking at a repair that is 80% of the bluebook value. Each mechanic I've brought it to says this problem is endemic to this model/year and there should be a recall. Why would they put in a trans. That cannot be reasonably serviced and maintained and dies just after 100K mi. I have a very difficult time believing this was not planned by Ford and I will never buy their products again! my car is no longer safe enough to drive to the grocery store let alone the freeway. This is a clear case of irresponsible manufacturing practices on Ford part and warrants a recall!

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #741

Apr 142010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 61,000 miles
While in traffic today, my 2002 Ford Explorer suddenly lost drive power. Fortunately, the driver behind me was not tailgating and noticed my vehicle slow down rapidly. I now find this transmission failure is a very common problem with Ford 2002 Explorer. In fact on one web site alone, I see over 861 complaints on this issue alone all with 2002 Explorer. Transmission failures in heavy traffic and at higher speed could certainly be a significant safety issue. Also last year replaced both rear springs that had failed and broke completely affecting braking.

- Midland, MI, USA

problem #740

Apr 102010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 149,125 miles
My 2002 Ford Explorer XLT O/D off light started blinking while I was driving a couple of days ago;then the transmission seemed to stick when accelerating. After I drive for a few minutes, the truck seems to jerk again before getting in gear. I will take to auto shop again this week.

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #739

Aug 012008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 61,801 miles
2002 Explorer shifted funny from the day I purchased it new. I figured nature of the beast as a 4X4. Little did I know, these transmissions were junk from the beginning, and now they are all falling apart. Mine self destructed at 61,000 miles. After the repair, it still shifted as crappy as it did the day I purchased it. Now only 10,000 miles later, it is showing signs that failure is near again. If these transmissions are not recalled, I will never purchase another Ford.

- Gurnee, IL, USA

problem #738

Mar 162010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 169,500 miles


Sealed transmission in 02 Ford Explorer. Tanny shifts hard then over drive light flashes, starts shifting into od hard then not at all, then hard then back and forth alot. No way to check fluid. All Ford offers is a rebuilt at $3000 dollars.

- Corydon, IA, USA

problem #737

Dec 102008


  • 141,379 miles
1. O/D light started flashing, car was jerking when slowing and accelerating. 2. almost every time starting and stopping vehicle jerks. 3. remove and rebuild the transmission, FM68 torque converter, transmission overhaul kit, overdrive band assembly, inter band assembly, servo bushing kit, bushing kit. As of April 5th 2010 O/D light flashing again and vehicle jerks when slowing and accelerating.

- Norfolk, VA, USA

problem #736

Apr 022010


  • 107,000 miles
The transmission on my Ford Explorer went out after the od light has been blinking... Ford the to recall the transmission on this Explorer it is really a problem.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #735

Jun 282002

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 1,000 miles
Shifter hangs-up when trying to put car in park. When car was new the dealer said they would have to pull the trans. Apart to fix it but in a few months the burr would wear and it would work fine.(another dealer lie). I think it is getting worse. The car now has only 28,000 miles on it.

- Beech Grove, IN, USA

problem #734

Apr 052010


  • 108,000 miles
O/D light blinking and engine revving like the car was in park. Will not go into reverse.

- Joplin, MO, USA

problem #733

Nov 102008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 108,000 miles
Ford 2002 6 cylinder Explorer XLT O/D off light flashing on dashboard. Transmission problem started with 100,800 mile. Had rebuilt transmission done at 100,800 miles. Now vehicle has 109,900 miles and od/off light flashing again. Was told that transmission is falling apart. Back in transmission shop again. There are thousands of same complaints for the same problem on 2002 Ford Explorer. Ford will not help at all! Ford needs to recall transmission.

- Commack, NY, USA

problem #732

Apr 032010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 120,583 miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLT (4.0L 5R55W) transmission slippage causing near accident as unable to pass through intersection in a timely manner. When shifting between 1st and 2nd gear, transmission would wind before violently engaging. Remedy was to take foot of accelerator and allow rpms to decrease. Increased acceleration time in lower gears a danger when trying to cross lanes of traffic.

- Neptune, NJ, USA

problem #731

Sep 042007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving at speeds of 20 mph the transmission began to slip. The contact believed the failure to be intermittent; however, the failure became progressively worse and the overdrive warning light illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the transmission was replaced. The dealer and manufacturer were contacted but would provide no assistance because the vehicle was outside of the factory warranty. There were no recalls on the vehicle. The failure mileage was approximately 130,000 and the current mileage was approximately 150,000. Updated 5/24/10 updated 07/07/10.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #730

Apr 042010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 157,000 miles
While driving my vehicle when it shifted gears the car slowed down and the rpms went up to 4000 - 5000. After a minute the car shifted into the next gear and it seemed to drive fine. Then the O/D off light began to flash on the dash. This problem has occurred multiple times today. I have seen many instances of the problem listed on the internet for my make, model and year.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #729

Mar 242010


  • 142,000 miles
Transmission shifts hard and the O/D light is starting to blink and by reading up on this several complaints are being made and Ford should address this.

- Springfield, OH, USA

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