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 1 of 45)

problem #888

Aug 122013


  • 150,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 40-45 mph, the transmission failed without warning. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 150,000.

- Troy, AL, USA

problem #887

Mar 052014


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the vehicle would suddenly hesitate and the speed would decelerate. The contact indicated that the check transmission sensor light and over drive light had iluminated. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic. The technician diagnosed that the transmission was faulty. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the defect but no solution was offered. The failure mileage was 150,000.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #886

May 272012

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
This is an update to complaint no. 10459987. After looking at the car records, we discovered that during a service of my transmission, Ford factory required the dealership to cut the metal transmission line and installed a rubber line with a filter. If they did not install the filter, then the warranty would have been void. After installing, no one ever inspected or replaced the line or filter. It was simply forgotten. 75,000 miles later the rubber line was resting on the exhaust, which burned a hole and caused transmission fluid to leak and spray onto the catalytic converter and caught fire. We were lucky in that we saw the smoke early and no one was injured. I am concerned there are more cars out there with this retro-fit filter on the transmission that no one is inspecting or maintaining because it is not on an official maintenance schedule.

- Redondo Beach, CA, USA

problem #885

Apr 052012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 109,000 miles


Transmission failure - stupid design doesn't allow you to check fluid level, leak at transfer case seal seems to have caused loss of fluid and cannot be added without some special pump to fill transmission back up because it's a sealed unit. Designed so only Ford dealers can do service and then it just goes out and you're driving 65 mph down the mountain and unable to control speed. Ford needs to recall these piece of crap transmissions yet won't even acknowledge there's a problem although every dealer & tranny mechanic knows of the issues.

- Snowflake, AZ, USA

problem #884

Jan 272012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 187,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the shifter handle fractured while attempting to exit a parking lot. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer and the manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 187,000. Updated 03/05/12 updated 03/06/12

- Goodlettsville, TN, USA

problem #883

Nov 212011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 121,304 miles
4X4 module now the transmission is shifting into 2 gear hard.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #882

May 202009

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


My wife was picking up her mother and she went to put the Explorer into reverse and the shifter broke off in her hand. She could not get the car into gear so we had it towed home. I found the piece holding the shifter was broken off. Ford wanted $1,000 for the piece to fix it.

- Apollo, PA, USA

problem #881

Aug 042011


  • 119,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer that has 120,000 miles on it. I was recently driving back home from a trip in san francisco, California to sacramento, California. Two days after having my car fully serviced and my over drive light came on and as soon as that happened my car started telling me I need to get my transmission checked. I sat there thinking to myself how can this be happening I just spent 800 dollars to have all of my fluids flushed, brakes checked, everything. I took my car back to the auto repair store and they told me I needed a new transmission and after labor it would be around 5000 (I think I was quoted that price because I'm a young female, I was looking online and most people were quoted around 3000). I'm a full time college student paying for my classes with student loans and grants. I don't have a few thousand dollars sitting around at my disposal to fix my car. I also can't have my car in the shop for a long period of time due to the fact if I miss more than 3 classes most of my professors will drop me. I have researched this issue and many other consumers not just myself have had this incident happen to them, I believe Ford is in the wrong for having faulty manufacturing, they have made it so any transmission work has to be done by the dealer, you can't even check your own transmission fluid. I feel as if Ford needs to issue a recall on their transmissions or offer some kind of help to pay for these unacceptable incidents.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #880

Sep 012010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
Transmission failure in 2010, almost caused vehicle accident on the highway; was rebuilt in March 2011, but transmission is slipping again and it is now August 2011. I have been checking several different websites and I received 1 recall letter in the mail but happened to notice there is another recall. If all of these problems are continuing to happen, why is a recall on the entire truck not done? it is obviously a defective vehicle. I have 2 small children, one with a medical issue that has to travel for her doctor visits. These problems are getting out of hand. I can not believe it has gone this long and nothing has been done about it. There is also the issue with the non working air compressor and the bad electrical system as well as the roaring in the back tires. As much as I travel with my children and get from point a to B, im surprised this thing has not fallen apart. I was a sucker for a pretty truck!!

- Owensboro, KY, USA

problem #879

Aug 082011


  • 150,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated while driving 55 mph she noticed smoking in the rear of the vehicle. The contact took the vehicle to a local mechanic who stated there was a minor defect in the transmission. The mechanic repaired the defect and within two weeks the transmission failed. The contact towed the vehicle to her home and notified the manufacturer regarding the transmission failure. The manufacturer stated there was nothing they could since there were no related recalls. The contact stated if the transmission failed while driving on the highway, a crash could occur. The failure mileage was 150,000.

- Eubank, KY, USA

problem #878

Aug 182011


  • 131,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that she was unable to shift the vehicle into reverse. The dealer inspected the vehicle and informed the contact that she needed to replace the transmission. The manufacturer was aware of the failure. No repairs were performed. The current and failure mileages were 131,000.

- Columbus , OH, USA

problem #877

Jul 232011


  • 130,000 miles
Was driving home from getting groceries and the car failed to accelerate. Was at a intersection so it was a unpleasant situation as their was oncoming cars. Pulled the car over and shut off.. checked for transmission fluid.. there was none. Started car and it would only drive about 15 mph the remainder of the trip. The overdrive control on the transmission had failed. 2200 repair.. checked the recalls and there currently is not one even though this specific transmission has thousands of complains (not over exaggerating) this is a dangerous situations considering I could have been on the interstate or a on ramp. This vehicle is sitting in my garage awaiting a recall of when my family gets the financial stability to repair it in a non Ford dealership/repair shop. This SUV gets regular fluid fills/changes at the correct intervals with documentation.. this transmission is "sealed" which means it cannot be checked for fluid loss or bad fluid. "bad engineering" which should require a repair at Ford expense.

- Sioux City, IA, USA

problem #876

Jun 222011


  • 85,300 miles
Transmission has gone out at 85,300 miles, must have it rebuilt.

- Tenn., TN, USA

problem #875

Jul 122011

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer-transmission failure-130,000 miles-July 12, 2011 transmission rebuilt at 119,000 miles on Jan. 13, 2010 by a local Ford dealer- both failures consisted of the transmission slipping in and out of gear during normal driving. In heavy traffic this is a very dangerous situation. The vehicle suddenly loses speed and passengers are subject to rear end impact or sudden surges of speed when the transmission slips back into gear, causing a possible rear end impact with another vehicle. In addition, the transmission sticks in one gear and will not shift. Ford Motor Company has been aware of the problems with this type of transmission since 2002. My local dealer says that fmc figures revealed that 30% of vehicles equipped with this transmission experienced failure of some type. However fmc offered very little relief to its customers. I believe that it is time for an immediate forced recall of this transmission.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #874

Apr 012008


  • 100,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer transmisson slipping gears, hard to shift, and not accelerating in April 2008 at 100K miles. Replaced with a rebuilt transmission and same thing is happening again after only 40K more miles and only 2 months out of warranty for the rebuilt transmission. This is clearly a defective transmission and somebody is going to get seriously hurt.

- Lewisville, TX, USA

problem #873

Jul 092011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • miles
I own a 2002 xplorer, recently the O.D light began blinking and the truck started jerking violently. I did some research and found out there are thousands of people with the same transmission problem.I have an eight year old who was in the truck with me at the time.this is a major safety issue with Ford and should definately be looked into.

- Boston, MA, USA

problem #872

Jul 102011


  • 68,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving, the vehicle would not accelerate more than 20 mph, and the over drive warning light remained illuminated. Due to the type of warning light, the vehicle would not shift into gear, causing the transmission to fail. The dealer was not notified. The manufacturer stated that there were no recalls or warranties, and offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 68,000.

- West Allis, WI, USA

problem #871

Jun 122011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 170,900 miles
My 2002 Ford Explorer's transmission completely stopped working while stopped at a traffic light. That is a major safety hazard and could have caused a major accident. I have read numerous complaints about the transmission in these model and year vehicles. There needs to be some recall for this.

- Cordele, GA, USA

problem #870

Jun 162011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 45,971 miles
When shifting from reverse to park the shift lever broke off in my hand. To research this problem please look at and look under the 2002 Explorer and under the sub heading interior accessories problems. Of the 180 complaints under this sub heading, 126 are for the broken shift lever problem and these were all reported since 2008. Please issue a recall for this safety problem. The problem is clearly due to faulty design and faulty parts.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #869

Jan 072011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 74,797 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the gear shift selector detached from the hinge while the contact was attempting to change gears. The contact was able to shut off the vehicle but the key would not come out of the ignition. The vehicle was repaired once but the failure recurred. The dealer was contacted and told the contact that there were no recalls for the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the issue. The failure mileage was 74,797 and the current mileage is 75,846. Updated 07/27/11

- Purchase, NY, USA

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