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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
93,770 miles
Total Complaints:
433 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replaced with rebuilt transmission (112 reports)
  2. replace transmission (85 reports)
  3. transmission needs to be recalled (81 reports)
  4. call Ford customer service and complain 800-392-3673 (63 reports)
  5. not sure (36 reports)
  6. local mechanic fixed, not giving dealer any more business (18 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 13 of 22)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #193

Jul 142008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


Hey everyone, i bought a 2002 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L, about 4 months ago and have had nothing but problems with the tranny. First i tok my truck to Ford for the torque converter noise and was told that there is nothing wrong with it, i mean i didn't even want to stop at a stop light because the noise was so loud, but Ford told me that it was "Operating as designed" WTF do you mean "operating as designed"? So i argued with the service manager, which as you all know doesn't get you anywhere. Anyways i was so pissed off i just left. The next week i went in for the same problem but spoke to the manager of the dealership. He told me he would look into it so i left my truck there for the day. They called me right before they were about to close and told me the truck is " Operating as designed".

I bought a 3 year extended power train warranty with it so i have had the tranny rebuilt but 3 weeks later it is still sliping and starting to make more noise. Come on now you would think that Ford would see this problem and fix it but i guess that would cost too much. I guess 500 complaints are not enough.

- , Colorado Spgs, CO, USA

problem #192

Jul 212008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I took another's advice and emailed Ford about this. The following is my initial complaint, Fords response, and my rebuttal:

I am thoroughly disgusted with Fords ignorance of a very prevalent problem, primarily with the 2002 Explorer. The transmission has failed on countless models right around 80,000 miles or less (needless to say, mine has also failed). Several people have complained to Ford and are basically told something to the effect of "that's just too bad". If you think I'm full of it then check it out yourself at and you'll see what a problem this is. This is just ONE website that can in no way reflect all actual failures out there. A bad word travels further than a good one, and I'll certainly support that cause at this point. I'm frustrated and tired of this. I grew up around Fords and have never owned anything other than Fords but after I get this lemon out of my way, I'll never buy another ford again.

Dear Kirk, Thank you for contacting the Ford Motor Company Customer Relationship Center regarding your email. Feedback such as yours allows us to examine our practices and policies to ensure that we meet or exceed the expectations of our customers in the future. We regret that you have not had a favorable experience, and appreciate the time you have taken to write us. If you have any other inquiries, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to address them for you.

Sincerely, Marie Customer Relationship Center Ford Motor Company

Marie, Ok so Fords idea of "addressing the problem" is your politically correct way of saying "too bad, so sad". Rest assured that your ignorant response will be forwarded out to anyone I can think of who can fog a mirror, and all of the facts posted on every vehicle forum list I can come up with.

Good riddance.

- , Mesa, AZ, USA

problem #191

Jul 172008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

This al started with a rattle that seemed to come from the torque converter area. I took it into several shops that couldn't find anything wrong with it. They all said ignore the noise because the vehicle drives and functions perfectly. Well, the tranny took a dump on me last night. I backed out of a parking lot and went to drive and it just reved. Went to 1st, no dice. Back to reverse, dead as a doornail. Had to have the POS towed home. All you have to do is google explorer transmission failure and more $* comes up than you'll have time to ever look at. I've actually heard two other Exploders with the same damn noise just in passing traffic! This transmission is obviously a problem but it looks like Ford is never going to address the problem. This site reports 190 failures but do you really this this can account for even a fraction of them? I say we all sue the crap out of ford!

- , Mesa, AZ, USA

problem #190

Jul 142008

Explorer Eddie Bower

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


65000 miles transmission went out.....needs a recall.

- , Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #189

Jul 072008

Explorer ES

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115 miles

I hate ford! How can a 6 year old car break the transmission? that is just crazy!

Please don't buy ford for you or your family specially to your wife that caries all the kids!

That is a pain!

- , Bellevue, WA, USA

problem #188

Oct 272007

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

I know this is the same old sob story, but I want anyone who owns this dreadful car or may buy one used to know that this is a really dangerous car to own. I have had problems with this car from day one, and I bought it brand new with only 92 miles on it. Where to start? An electrical problem started almost immediately that caused the car to turn off WHILE DRIVING. I had to bring it into Ford THREE times before they fixed this one. And they actually accused me of turning the car off on my own for a "thrill." I was 8 months pregnant at the time and I almost killed the mechanic who said my "hormones" were affecting my driving capabilities. Then two years later the transmission in I cannot shift gears and I am about to be rear-ended. That was at a whopping 54,000 miles. I have complained verbally and wrote a letter of complaint, and all I got was a certificate for a free oil change (which they claim costs 50 bucks when most places will do it for under 20 dollars). Constant rip-off!

My advice? Don't buy Ford. Ever. And when you buy a new car that is not a Ford, send a copy of the bill of sale for your new Chevy, Toyota, etc. to the Ford Headquarters, and let them know that not only will you never buy a Ford again, but you will also tell all 170 of your friends not to but one either. Lawyers won't work on this one. But word of mouth, and putting them slowly out of business, just might.

- , Lake Forest, CA, USA

problem #187

Oct 092006

Explorer Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles


Like everyone else I have had an AWFUL experience with Ford. After the vehicle reached 36,000 of course conveniently after warranty went up, the transmission went. I had to pay $3,800 at Ford to have it replaced, when I contacted Ford about this problem they said that there was nothing that they could do. I would think that after all of these complaints Ford would own up to their problem but of course that would cost them too much money. I will never purchase another vehicle from Ford again.

- , Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #186

Mar 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

We bought our Explorer in July of 07 loved it only had 65000 miles on it, great family car with the third row seat, then the o/d light started flashing and the check transmission message came on. At first it would still shift from 2nd to 3rd if you let up on the gas, now third gear is out completely, and we need a new transmission that is going to cost at least 2000 dollars. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't know that so many people have this same problem and Ford obviously needs to recall something. I called Ford and they told me they would document my problem and told me thanks. Now we have an explorer we are making payments on but we can't drive it.

- , Triadelphia, WV, USA

problem #185

Jun 232008

Explorer Eddie B

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

First the O/D light started flashing and it was having trouble figuring out if it should shift into overdrive... then it started to happen in the other gears. Mechanic said it was the bands due to a poor design.

- , Newport Beach, CA, USA

problem #184

Jun 182008

Explorer XLT 4.0L Sohc V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Just like the hundreds of other Ford Explorer 2002 owners, my transmission failed.

I have always liked the Ford Explorer´┐Żs but this is enough to make me buy something else (between mechanical/electrical failures and the dealership playing "dumb" about everything).

I am thoroughly surprised there has never been a class action lawsuit on this issue with this model/year.

It is rated the worst vehicle since 1998 and knowing the only thing I can do is stare at my bank account and shake my head.

- , Killen, AL, USA

problem #183

Jun 172008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles


like everyone else here, the tranny went on my 02 explorer. no advanced warning. $3500 to fix at the dealer. Hoping for a recall.

- , Waxhaw, NC, USA

problem #182

May 312007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

My husband had purchased a 2002 Ford Explorer as a surprise gift for me. Boy, was I surprised. This vehicle has been a headache since we've had it. It took the cake when my O/D light started flashing at about 77,000 miles and I was told it was my transmission. After reading all these complaints, I am surprised that something has not been done about this. There are so many people speaking out about these problems and no one seems to care. Ford company fails to realize when we purchase their vehicles we are looking for dependable transportation. I have always heard that Ford stands for FOUND ON ROAD DEAD. Now I am a firm believer in that. If I do not do anything else, I will never buy another FORD.

- , Easley, SC, USA

problem #181

Jul 032007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,602 miles

Well I see that I have a long line of individuals here that have forked out nearly the same or more than I am going to in order to fix my Exploder. Started with the engine revving (sp) and not seeming to shift b/w 2nd and 3rd. I took it to a local shop pretty soon after noticing the problem. (I drove it home that day and then to the shop the following morning). They kept it all of yesterday and called me with the lovely news this morning. I was hoping it would be a solenoid (sp)... but I must say I was very disappointed. Their price quote to replace with another transmission 12 month/12,000 mile warranty is around 1870$. The mechanic told me that the clutch was burned out between 2nd and 3rd. I'm just astonished at the number of complaints as well as the mileage these transmissions seem to be failing at. I must say I've driven Fords as long as I could drive and I have been sorely disappointed over the years in the lack of quality.

- , College Station, TX, USA

problem #180

May 242008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 149,288 miles

So we had my sister-in-law in town for a visit and were in Seattle before going to a family BBQ. At Pike Place Market the d#$m Explorer starts slipping after we stop at lights. I say "well, better get it into the shop this week and have it looked at". When we get to the parking lot it makes a horrible grinding noise and won't move. Yes, the O/D light began blinking too. We go in and figure maybe letting it sit for a while might help. When we get back the wife drives and it seems to be working again...for about a mile. Then it won't go higher than first and we try to limp to a shop. We make another mile by stopping and starting again but then it gives up the ghost. After trying to find a transmission shop open on MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND and failing miserably, we get a tow place who works with a shop to come collect the POS. We also call my in-laws to pick up the wife, sister-in-law, and kids. A few hours later the flatbed arrives and hauls the old lump of crap away.

The transmission shop calls on Tuesday and says it's looks gone. Would we like them to open it up and see exact cause? Of course we would! Today we find that it's a total failure and will require a full rebuild. Cost? Just shy of $3200USD with tax. The mechanic said they did a full inspection and everything had been maintained well. I keep my vehicles kept up. This was just a catastrophic sudden failure.

We tried to call FoMoCo Customer Service. Or what might pass for it somewhere. We were basically told "good luck, not our issue" by the CSR as there are no recalls on file for our problem. No good faith assistance or anything. Nice. We told them of the number of sites that show the number of complaints related to the transmission, specifically the 2002 model year. We will go ahead with the rebuild as we will need a vehicle but will be purchasing another in the near future. This came at a bad time as we are in the process of buying a house as well. Needless to say we will never own another Ford or Ford-related product again. It's a shame as we originally had a 99 Expedition and had little to no problems and have a friend in another state who is a Ford Service Manager. He will be hearing this story too.

To reiterate, I will never buy another product from this company again and will go out of my to advise anyone against a purchase if they are thinking of one. If there is ever a class-action suit, I would be most happy to join. I will drive this piece of refuse only as long as it takes to replace it with something else.

- , Gig Harbor, WA, USA

problem #179

Aug 162007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,623 miles

I thought my bought my wife the deal of a lifetime... a 2002 Explorer XLT with leather, the works... on the basis it had a "slight transmission problem". Being a 30+ year certified and respected technician in the "aftermarket" vehicle repair industry, I thought a simple transmission diagnosis with corrective measures/parts, or at worst, a transmission replacement was on the horizon. No. "Old school" component replacement or repairs aren't an option anymore. My $8,000.00 scanner can't read or reprogram the codes the dealer equipment can, and I can't buy dealer service equipment to do so at any cost. I live on an island in remote arctic Canada, so there are no dealers "just around the corner" to take the vehicles Ford dealers knew the vehicles they sold were being marine shipped to. Places that don't have dealer support. I sincerely hope my submission is not deemed "inappropriate", as there are remote areas not serviced by roads all over North America, that are affected by much the same problems.

An example of Manufacturer's admission and subsequent balking to "pay the bill": In late 1999, a charter bank here had an electronic "passlock" issue with a brand new Ford they bought and had shipped here. I diagnosed the problem as being a piece of dealer service equipment being required to reprogram the passlock system to allow the engine crank sensor to relearn. The manufacturer's call center representative told me to tow the vehicle to the closest dealer. I argued we were unable to tow vehicles to a dealer, and asked the name of the person telling me to do this. I also stated shipping out of here is cost prohibitive, which mattered not to the call center person. So... I did. I towed the new model year vehicle to the airport, and watched it being loaded onto a Boeing 737. It arrived at the dealer later, with my diagnostic envelope on the driver's visor, dealer confirming my diagnosis was correct. It took 15 minutes to reprogram the passlock, and all was done. The dealer drives the vehicle back to the airport, it's loaded it on another aircraft to be shipped back here. Dealer cost? Labor rate of $87.00 per hour with 15 minutes admittedly spent. (I had replaced engine oil and spark plugs prior to it being sent to the dealer) Ford cost? Airline bill: $13,000.00 return, cargo class. It took Ford 2 years to pay... but they eventually did. Yet they don't afford the option of purchasing dealer service equipment to this day. Their representative said: "We won't sell this equipment to anybody, to counter auto theft". Like somebody could leave an island.....

Perhaps this could be broken up, and posted eslewhere on this site. If not, please excuse me. This is my first attempt to get the truth posted.

- , Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada

problem #178

May 122008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

I see very similar situations as mine. With no lights, no problems, Explorer just stopped working. We got it to a transmission shop by driving very slowly and stopping every few hundred feet, turning the engine off then turning it back on. It would go for a few hundred more feet before stopping again. The guy at the transmission place said that the whole thing was just worn out. He showed us the transmission and the bands that had all broken. He said it probably started with one band breaking, then the stress that put on the other bands caused them to break too. The cost of a rebuilt transmission was $2,100. The majority of this cost is labor. I was without a car for five days while it was being repaired.

- , Statesboro, GA, USA

problem #177

May 082008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Ford Sucks! Only 55,000 miles and the transmission is shot. This is the 3rd Ford Transmission I have had to replace. The first two were on Aerostar minivans. I will never buy a Ford again! I'm thinking of taking a look at Dodge!

- , Frankfort, KY, USA

problem #176

May 022008

Explorer Eddy Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

This is my second rebuilt tranny with 104,000 miles. I had to eat both of them. Ya think I will ever buy another Ford? It is no surprise that the company is losing billions of dollars every year and their market share is dropping faster than the titanic. Maybe it's time to get some management that wants a quality product. What a disappointment.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #175

Apr 142008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,500 miles

Without warning, the transmission simply failed. There were no indicators on the dash,nothing. The car simply began revving but not going and suddenly shifting with a huge lunge and clunk. Initially took to Ford to inspect and told 3rd gear gone and intermediate bands broken. They would gladly replace with a re manufactured trans along with a 3 yr 100k warranty for $3500.00 I asked the service guy why won't Ford offer that warranty upfront at the initial time of purchase. No answer. Purchased this vehicle new and it has always acted quirky with shifting on occasion. Reading the complaints, I see I am not alone. Ford has got a problem and they need to recognize it. Never again will I purchase a Ford. Sorry Henry, the quality is not there!

- , Alabaster, AL, USA

problem #174

Aug 192006

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I'd like to echo several posts. Blinking O\D light, transmission will only shift into overdrive under no load, late and hard shift from 1st to 2nd (or accelerate to about 20 mph then back off to minimize jar to drive line components), and 4-wheel drive will not engage. From the day I bought this Explorer new, the transmission shifted later and harder than I though appropriate. Then at about 80 to 85k miles the OD and 4-wheel drive stopped working and shifts btwn 1st to 3rd became much worse. The torque converter lock up still seems to be working (can tell when it's running road speed in 3rd gear).

After some research using Ford Shop Manuals, there seems to be direct relationship between 1st to 2nd late/hard shifts and the overdrive problem but I can;t find an official Ford posting or Tech Bulletin to provide details. Internal pressures control the shifting and there are several valves, orifices, solenoids, etc that can cause improper control pressures.

I'm not a professional but I've been an engineer for 30 years and have been racing and working on cars as a hobby since I was 5. I'm not afraid to try corrective maintenance if I can find the proper tools and information such as shop manuals, and current TSBs. I got the Explorer shop manuals but unable to get the emissions manual that provides info to complete troubleshooting.

Ford must know of the problem and truthfully, I think the reliability of the tranny in the IRS Explorer falls well below the public's expectations and should be even farther below Fords acceptance criteria. No wonder they didn't use IRS in their top of the line Ford Mustang. The Shelby or Cobra (always mix it up) has a standard differential. Despite the premature failure, I would probably be content if Ford provided their Explorer owners a detailed description of the failure, developed a long term fix, provided Ford owners some reasonable options to install the parts and/or make the modifications needed for a long term fix (to include self repair as an option), and establish a help desk to assist customers with this extremely high transmission failure rate.

An earlier post hit the nail on the head when they said "I bleed ford blue but this shakes my faith in Detroit. its just plain sad." I too bleed Ford blue. I have 3 Explorers (91, 96, 2002), a '52 F-250, '57 F-150, and a 66' Pony. The least reliable, well the only one that has failed on me, is the 2002 Ford Explorer. This is the car I bought (new) for my wife so she would have reliable transportation as she works and plays soccer mom for our three children. It is sad, very sad. Ford, please take some action!!!!!

- , Tucson, AZ, USA

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