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CarComplaints.com 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.

10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
73,174 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 1 of 3)

problem #44

Jul 292014

Explorer

  • 140,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while parking, the shift selector fractured while attempting to shift from drive to park. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 140,000.

- Provo, UT, USA

problem #43

Feb 152012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 146,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while parked, it became difficult to shift gears. The vehicle was also slipping gears while driving at any speed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing three different times. The technicians were unable to diagnose the failure. There was an investigation under NHTSA action number: EA09013 (power train: Automatic transmission: Lever and linkage: Column shift steering: Column steering: Column locking: Anti-theft device power train: Automatic transmission: Gear position indication (prndl)) that may be related to the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 146,000. Updated 11/28/12

- Cottageville, SC, USA

problem #42

Mar 012012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 228,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While attempting to shift from park to the reverse, the contact noticed that the column shifter had separated from the steering column. The vehicle had not been diagnosed or repaired. The current and the failure mileage was 228,000. Updated 04/11/12 the hear shifter broke and the key would not come out of the ignition. The serpentine belt was cracked and had to be replaced. Updated 04/20/12

- Ponchatoula, LA, USA

problem #41

Oct 112011

Explorer

  • 112,300 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

While shifting from drive into park, the gear shift broke off in my hand and was stuck in reverse. I had to have my car towed as we couldn't get the car to go into park.

- Watkinsville, GA, USA

problem #40

May 152011

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 151,957 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while shifting into park, the gear shifter fractured. The contact was unable to maneuver the shifter so the contact towed the vehicle to the dealer where the dealer replaced the entire steering column. The failure mileage was 151,957. Updated 11/03/11 the consumer stated the shift lever broke off. The dealer stated the steering column where the shifter attached and ignition lock cylinder came apart. The steering column had to be replaced. Updated 03/08/12

- Carlsbad, CA, USA

problem #39

May 292011

Explorer

  • 108,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated the gear selector lever fractured when shifting from park into drive. There was no prior warning. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer for diagnosis and repair. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 108,000.

- Lenexa, KS, USA

problem #38

Apr 122011

Explorer

  • 148,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While the vehicle was parked the contact stated that the gear shift broke off while switching gears from drive to park. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer or a mechanic since the contact was unable to be drive it. The approximate failure mileage was 148,000.

- South Haven, MS, USA

problem #37

Oct 112010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer eddie bauer. While driving in reverse 5 mph the gear shift came apart from the column and fell in his lap while the engine was running. The vehicle was towed to the dealer who stated that it would cost $1,500 to replace the steering column. There were no warranties related to the failure. The VIN was unavailable. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 77,000. Updated 02/07/11 updated 04/20/11

- Boise, ID, USA

problem #36

Oct 072010

Explorer

  • 114,444 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the gear shift suddenly broke off. She previously noticed that the shift had been difficult to move. The vehicle had not been inspected or repaired. The manufacturer had not been notified. The current and failure mileages were 114,444.

- Benton, KY, USA

problem #35

Aug 162010

Explorer

  • 117,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The ignition was started and the gear selector would not shift out of park. The contact stated the gear shift lever fractured inside of the steering column. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer where they informed the contact that the steering column assembly would need to be replaced. The part was unavailable and the dealer was in the process of locating the part for repair. The vehicle was not. The failure mileage was approximately 117,000.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #34

Aug 122010

Explorer

  • 136,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While attempting to shift the vehicle from drive to park, the gear shift lever suddenly fractured into the contacts hand. There where no prior warnings of the failure. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The current and failure mileage was 136,000.

- Vearden, AR, USA

problem #33

Jul 042010

Explorer

  • 122,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated while attempting to shift from park to reverse, the gear shift lever fractured in her hand. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. There were no prior warnings of the failure. The current and failure mileages were 122,000.

- Manchester, CT, USA

problem #32

Apr 192010

Explorer

  • 113,997 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving at approximately 75 mph, the vehicle stopped moving forward. The vehicle was towed to an independent repair shop where the transmission was replaced. The failure had not occurred since the repair. The contact also stated that while attempting to shift the vehicle into park, the gear shifter broke off of the steering column. The vehicle was towed to an independent repair shop where the contact was informed this was a known problem with that model. The vehicle was in the process of having the steering column replaced. The failure mileage was 113,997. The current mileage was unavailable.

- Williamsport, PA, USA

problem #31

May 292010

Explorer

  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while shifting the vehicle into reverse, the gear shift selector broke off from the steering column. The vehicle was not taken in to be examined and there were no repairs. The failure and current mileages were unavailable.

- Picayune, MS, USA

problem #30

Feb 102010

Explorer

  • 89,930 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while shifting into reverse, the gear shift broke off. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealership where the dealer repaired the steering column. The current and failure mileages were 89,930.

- West Chester, CA, USA

problem #29

Apr 152010

Explorer

  • 92,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The vehicle was parked when the gear shift suddenly broke off in the contacts hand and the vehicle became stuck between park and reverse. The vehicle was towed to his residence. The dealer informed the contact that the gear shift lever replacement kit would repair the failure or the steering column would have to be replaced. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic who confirmed that the steering column needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified and did not offer any assistance. The vehicle had not been repaired when the complaint was filed. The VIN was not available. The current and failure mileages were approximately 92,000.

- Santa Barbara, CA, USA

problem #28

Apr 222008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,947 miles
Drove into the carwash went to put the car in park and the gearshift got stuck and broke off in reverse, had to back car out of carwash with many cars behind me towed the car to dealership was told the steering column had to be replaced which cost $1,200 after research today I see that alot of Explorer owners have had this happen and I consider this to be a very dangerous defect in the car that Ford should have paid to have fixed and recalled so that this does not happen to others.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #27

Mar 122008

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles
Pulled in the drive way went to put the car in park and the shifter feel off called on the part you cant just by the part you have to by the whole column at a price of $600 just for the part now I am a welder and mechanic by trade and have been for 20 years and I have never seen this before the Explorer they make this very important piece out of pot metal this is a very poor quality of metal die cast junk used to make toys there is no reason why I should not be able to by this part other than Ford just wants to make more money and force the public into buying the whole thing this is not right or fair and to me this is a safety issue because when this happens you can not get the car back into the park position.

- Pawtucket, RI, USA

problem #26

Mar 122008

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,300 miles
Started vehicle. Depressed brake and released parking brake. Shifted from park and gear shift, including cover, simply fell off the steering column. Pictures of defect are available. Car had to be towed and estimate is for $1000 to repair gear shift and assembly.

- Frenchtown, NJ, USA

problem #25

Aug 222007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles
Shifter broke from the steering column when my truck was in park and I went to put it in reverse and it snapped. After only six months and one week it happened again on 03-04-2008.

- Hoover, AL, USA

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