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:
93,936 miles
Total Complaints:
435 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replaced with rebuilt transmission (112 reports)
  2. replace transmission (86 reports)
  3. transmission needs to be recalled (81 reports)
  4. call Ford customer service and complain 800-392-3673 (63 reports)
  5. not sure (37 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 21 of 22)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #35

Jan 192007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V8

  • Manual transmission
  • 97,000 miles


A week and a half ago I was coming home from work and the car would rev very high, and not want to shift into the next gear. Then after a "Clunk", it would chuck and then go to a higher speed. Shortly after that the OD light came on and blinked on and off rapidly. Then the Service Engine light came on. I went to our mechanic (does not work for Ford and is trustworthy), and he said the transmission needs to be replaced. He said it was in bad shape.

So, a few days later, took a vacation day from work and went to the Ford dealership with my husband. I have read what is happening, and am aware that Ford is experiencing all kinds of problems with this truck and the transmissions. The dealership is in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I wanted to trade the truck on a car, as I really feel statistically even if I fix it, the problems are far from over. They would only offer $8,900 Canadian towards another vehicle. In 2002 when I purchased the truck brand new it was listed at $43,000. In the local auto traders they are selling (that year and with all of the options that I have) for $13,900. While dealing with the salesman, someone from the shop took it for a ride and confirmed that it really was the transmission, so they actually changed the numbers so that they would give us less then $8,900 for the vehicle. I was already upset that we were getting so little for it. When I declined the now $6,900 offer, they offered to fix it for me. They would not take any responsibility for the transmission cost, and kept telling us that the value was poor because the transmission was done. Needless to say I declined their offer to fix it, and drove if off of the lot again.

So I drove it home - blinking lights, chucking in all the low speeds for the half hour trip and dropped it off at our local mechanic. I do not care if it costs a lot more to fix using my own mechanic (although common sense would tell you that anywhere is cheaper to have a vehicle fixed than Kanata Ford, because their mechanics are overworked trying to fix all of their sh*tty vehicle) then what the ford dealership would charge to fix it - I will never ever ever ever ever purchase another Ford, and will never ever ever give them another red cent of my money. What a piece of garbage. I still have two years to go to pay it off. I had purchased an expensive vehicle thinking that it would last a long time as I work full time and have three children. A hard lesson learned.

The best advise I can ever give to anyone is NEVER BUY A FORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , Pakenham, Ontario, Canada

problem #34

Dec 092006

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,632 miles

I have a 2002 Eddie Bauer; I had two new tires an 4-wheel alignment done yesterday. About 1 mile from where I had the work done the transmission made an awful jerk. As I approached a stop light the transmission started an awful whining noise as it tried to down shift. It shifts up through the gears fine, but when I slow down it starts a whining noise and a clunking.

This explorer is on its 3rd rear-end, all new drive shafts, new rear wheel bearings, I could go on and on. I bought it with 37,000 and it know has a little over 49k.

This is by far a lemon... I will never own another FORD in my life. I too will go foreign! I'm in the military stationed at FT. Knox, KY. It's no wonder the plant in Louisville is cutting back. Employees at Ford better start looking for work. One thing is for certain; FORD is at it's low as it should be if they keep making junk. Like an enclosed transmission(5r55w) Please!!!

You can call and complain at Ford with no results. O yea you will, a TSB. Still responsible to fix your own junk though.

I would have never bought this truck ( without researching), but I was in Iraq and my wife found it on Trader. What is a man gonna a do when he has been a way from home for 14 months and his wife wants a pretty Eddie Bauer Explorer. That's about all it is, pretty!!!!

Recall your junky transmission Ford; and repay the victims of your product failure

- , Radcliff, KY, USA

problem #33

Jan 132007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,500 miles

Bought this Explorer at 30K miles and added the Ford Extended Service Plan (ESP) with coverage up to 100K miles (great decision). Took great care of the vehicle with regular oil changes, transmission flush, etc. at recommended intervals. Once or twice a year pulled a light weight trailer of canoes up north. ESP Warranty ran out and it looked like I was doing OK with this vehicle (compared to other complaints below). At 108K bought four new tires w/alignment and transmission flush at the local Ford Dealership. The OverDrive light started to flicker every once in awhile, but the dealer repair shop said it was OK. Month later the OD light started in once again, yet would go away (reset) when you turned off the car and restart. Amazing mailer from the local Ford Dealership (worked on the car for last 2-3 years) came at this same time... $100 off a transmission replacement or gas engine replacement! Vehicle got worse and would not shift into overdrive on the highway, and some jerking between 2nd and 3rd gear. Took it into the Dealership and got the dreaded news... diagnostic test showed a transmission was not responding, problems with 2nd gear and 5th (OD). Quote for a transmission teardown & rebuild = $2200 with only the parts replaced covered by warranty. Complete replacement $3200-3400. Went with complete replacement which includes 3 yrs/36K miles.

- , Saint Paul, MN, US

problem #32

Jan 132007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles


I am a mother with three children. I still have two years left to pay this vehicle off. My husband and I both work full time. I purchased it beacuse I want dependability. It is very important due to our busy lives. When driving home from work, whenever I hit 40 - 50 km per hour speed, it would rev. and seem to switch into neutral. For a few seconds it would seem to coast. It would continue to rev very high and then the vehicle would eventually "jolt" and then jump into gear. Shortly after that the OD light came on and flashed on and off very quickly. I went to our local mechanic, who is a very good friend of my husband and I. I was stunned when he told me that my transmission was done, and it was not safe to drive at all. He estimates the cost at $2500 Canadian.

It is still sitting in our driveway. I cannot afford this plus the monthly payments that I currently have. As well I am hearing that even after fixing, many other owners are still experiencing problems. I wish I never purchased it. We will be contacting Ford immediately to see what type of assitance they will provide to us. Wish me luck.

- , Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada

problem #31

Jan 092007

(reported on)

Explorer XL 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,076 miles

at 31076 miles fords great explorer (ya right) had a transmission failure. called ford they said it was out of warranty. learn by my mistake dont buy a ford!!!!!!!!

- , Oceano, CA, USA

problem #30

Dec 142006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

I have meticulously maintained my Explorer. I have had transmission fluid changed at 30,000 & 60,000 miles. It started clunking & shifting slowly at about 35,000 miles but was intermittent so mechanics did not take it seriously. It did not totally fail until my expensive 75,000 mile warranty expired. So now I have paid for the warranty & rebuilding of the transmission. Now I know why Fords are called "Found On the Road Dead". I have always owned American made vehicles--mostly Fords. My next vehicle will be a Toyota! Can't wait to unload this one!

But I feel a little guilty dumping it on someone else!!! What an expensive & hassle vehicle.

- , Corpus Christi, TX, US

problem #29

Jan 092007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,231 miles


Transmission was rebuilt by dealer at 34,767 and 47,000. Still had problems so had it back at 53,000 for reprogram of ECU. Failed again at 57,231 after three inspections could not pin point the problem. At 53,000 the dealership also replaced the drive shaft, the horn assy. the headlights with water in them, the blower motor and the whistle from the ventilation system when the ac was on. Bonus, they even replaced the rusty running boards. After complaining about a discovered glue covered and tie wrapped O2 sensor electrical connection and add'l transmission problems the dealer sent a certified letter ending their "business relationship" with us. How convenient! Upon towing the vehicle to the next closest dealership at 57,231 the service manager wanted to charge us $760.00 to tear down the trans. again and if covered ??? then would make a determination if the 12/12 Ford Service Warranty would apply. He also said that our aftermarket warranty would cover what their warranty would not. We choose not to trust them and would not approve the tear down charge. Now what? 23,000 miles and three complete rebuilds and transmission converters. OMGoodness. Off to court to prove the dealership broke the electrical connector to the O2 sensor $1,450.00.

- , Howell, MI, USA

problem #28

Jan 032007

(reported on)

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Like most of these poor-quality vehicles, our transmission went out while we were on a trip. It barely made it home. The dealership that we purchased this SUV, (Stayton Ford) could have cared less. They defended Ford saying that; "we were the only customers that had this problem" (yeah right!) They gave us a "discount" although it was still a pretty steep price to replace the ENTIRE TRANNY. Stupid us, we didn't buy the extended warranty because we thought it would run well since it was new and we take good care of our vehicles. My suggestion: DON'T EVER BUY A FORD, AND IF YOU DO, GET THE EXTENDED WARRANTY. I believe that Ford is dishonest and I will never buy an American made car again. Mercedes, Toyota and Honda for me only! Ford should be ashamed of themselves!

Also: go to this website to lodge your complaint so Ford is forced to step up to the plate!

- , Salem, OR, USA

problem #27

Jan 032007

(reported on)

Explorer 4x4 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,724 miles

My tranny went out. I had to put over $3000 on my credit card. I asked Ford to help. They shuffled me around to 4 people and declined. They said if they got more complaints they'd consider a recall. Their # is 800-392-3673. Call them

- , Murrieta, CA, US

problem #26

Jan 012007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

Here's the deal.... on my third transmission.... I've never bought another car, but a Ford... now I know it really does mean "Found On Road Dead". This is the third time I've had to replace it... I'll be getting rid of it and I'll never buy one again.... It's a shame an American manufacturer can't better stand behind its product.

- , Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #25

Dec 182006

(reported on)

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,500 miles


I am single and really depend on my car to travel to business, sometimes up to 125 miles one way and late at night. It is important to me that my car is dependable. I had no notice other than a slight drag in automatic shifting from 1st to second gear at a traffic light stop. Within less than one mile the OD light started flashing and the car was stuck between gears never adjusting. I had to try to pull over in fast traffic, floating, on a dark road. It is the week before Christmas and now this is the second time I have had transmission problems. I had it in in June when I had trouble with the gear shift on the column and they said it was the transmission. Now this. I don't know about the rest of you but my last car ran over 150k miles before I started having any problems with it. I can't believe I paid over 30k for this car with these problems. I won't buy a Ford again! I thought this was the car I would grow old with... now I know it is just aging me fast!

- , Encinitas, CA, USA

problem #24

Dec 272006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

My transmission started slipping. Overdrive light flickering. I took it to the Ford Dealer and they attempted to fix the issue 4 times. It still is not fixed and the dealer is giving me the run around. My warranty expires at 75000 miles so I am not driving it anymore. I just keep taking it back once a week and they still are trying to fix it. I will get my money back by making the dealer fix this over and over... They can't refuse.. Service manager should have been nicer to me. ;-)

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #23

Dec 262006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

Yep, no third gear. A transmission should not fail after 74,000 miles, not in this day and age. I have had Ford Vehicles for over 30 years now, Ford Explorers for over 15 years. I had all the recommended maintenance done, yet the transmission failed. I am reading in the newspaper Fords solution to their financial crises. Shut down plants. What a short term view. Management at Ford does not get it," Make a reliable car and sales will come", more over "They will continue to come". Are you in it for the dollars in your pocket today or the long haul. Transmissions have been around too long for you to be having this issue in this day and age. Take your head out of the sand, all you are doing is suffocating to death

- , Loveland, OH, USA

problem #22

Dec 062006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles

The problem still is not resolved. Ford got involved personally thru their customer care center, yeah right!, then failed to follow through (no return phone calls from the solutions specialist and then he lied by saying that all repairs were satisfactory after speaking with me, HE NEVER SPOKE WITH ME AFTER THE VEHICLE WAS PICKED UP HE SAID HE DID as phone records and a recording of the actual message he left me.

The transmission and converter were rebuilt at 34,000 and again at 47,000 that's right just after the ford service warranty expired. Good thing I didn't buy this piece without an extended warranty included in the purchase price of 31K. To boot the dealership also broke the electrical connector to the O2 sensor and then covered it with JB Weld and tied wrapped it. It also looks like the thing was glued to the sheet metal but did not stay so they tie wrapped it.

They also removed the T flush gasket from my coolant line and sold me a used tire. They replaced it with a new one when I told them that the warranty company paid for the replacement and I paid the deductible for a new one. The reason, I found out later that they had installed a used one was due to the AWD system. Seems that you cannot replace tires in twos or the 4x4 engages due to circumference differences. I had to then buy two more tires at my expense. the old ones had 8/32 left on them. Upon inspection of the new tire I found it to be not balanced and my spare was upside down. Had to return again. And the shift lever was locking up between P & R the day I picked it up. Another return visit. Another dealership that used to service it left the moon roof open while it rained. DUMB F___'S.

The dealer also has repaired the connection to the trans cooling line due to fluid loss on the x way after the second rebuild. This is the current transmission and it lost fluid and has been making noises from the faulty repair. And the last transmission complaint was supposed to be solved with a computer reprogram. That did not solve any of the problems. One guy told me to check into some solenoid shift pack that ford sells? Why didn't they do that.

Ford is now saying that there is no warranty on the vehicle with 56,000 miles. I keep telling them I have a copy of their warranty for service of 12/12,000 and that is still under their warranty. I dont want to take it to any Ford place period. I am trying to find a place that can diagnose the vibration on acceleration and the clunking in R & D from within the trans. It also shrills loudly at the end of an expressway acceleration.

I contacted the after market warranty co. so that they know the problems. I dont want to be forced to take it to a ford dealership again. They urge me to get the transmission inspected while it is still under the service warranty thru ford. They may not cover it if a pre existing condition is present. I have notified the NHTSA, BBB, State of MI and three attorneys. No lemon law here due to the mileage and age.

One last thing, If you have a ford explorer, check the wire harness above the oil filter shroud to be sure it has not been rubbing against the oil drain shroud. Mine had three bare wires showing from the contact with the shroud. A FIRE HAZARD EXISTS DUE TO THE HARNESS BEING COVERED WITH OIL AFTER AN OIL CHANGE. They (dealer) replaced one rear wheel bearing, the differential (nice try, it was the diff. making the noise back there) the horn assembly (horn cut out), front head lights due to water, the blower motor, and the drive shaft. HELLO FORD FIX THE F'ING TRANSMISSION.

- , Howell, MI, USA

problem #21

Nov 282006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

Oh god this 2002 Explorer is the worst the SES light came on now the tranny won't shift from 1st to 2nd gears. The man @ LEE Myles said that he replaced 4 already this year. Why won't FORD or FRAUD recall these trannys?????

- , Ny, NY, USA

problem #20

Nov 212006

(reported on)

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,215 miles

Yet, another 2002 Ford Explorer Transmission Failure. Overdrive light started flashing, lost 2nd gear, had to have a new transmission. Ford needs to own up to this problem and I'm not stopping until I get some results... anybody with me?

- , Louisville, KY, USA

problem #19

Nov 152006

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

My main problem is, that it's been over 2 weeks when I had a complete meltdown of my transmission (it wouldn't even stay put in park - rolled back on an incline). Wasn't close to home, had it towed to the nearest Ford dealer, since I have an extended warranty. That's when all the inconvenience started. Had to rent a car to get home. Luckily, I had another car to use once I got home. I was told that it will take a week to 10 days to get my car back. I couldn't believe it, but there was nothing I could do.

They took it apart, and then informed me that it's covered under the extended warranty, but they're waiting for a part, which takes couple of days to get. Part arrived, but, guess what.. the wrong one! We have to send it back and wait for the new part. At this point I called Ford and asked them why it takes so long to get a spare part, do they have the main warehouse on Mars. How can they send a wrong part, do they have monkeys working there? New part comes, the correct one, but, there is something wrong with it! They fix the something wrong, install it, put the transmission back together, install it and... it will go forward, but not into reverse. They have to take it apart again to find out what's wrong this time.

It has been 17 days now that I have brought the car there and I was just told that I would be lucky to get it in the middle of next week, which makes it additional 7 days. My question is, why does it take that long to get transmission working again and what do other people do when they don't have a car they can drive in the meantime. The warranty covers 28 dollars per day to rent a car and only for FIVE days. Now, I am not talking about a large car, not even a medium car (I own an Explorer because I need a spacious vehicle to get around) but even the smallest car will cost me 45 dollars (after you add all the taxes and fees, I am not getting the extra insurance coverage, that would be another 20 dollars per day). I keep thinking that there has to be something that they should do for me. And why does it take this long to fix a transmission. Any suggestions as to what I can do, where to call, write etc. Thank you for listening.

- , Little Silver, NJ, USA

problem #18

Nov 132006

(reported on)

Explorer Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

This is my first, and LAST American vehicle I am buying!! How shameful of this greedy FORD CEO's to be paid "brazillions" for such piece of junk... We, the consumers need to take action against the less than substandard quality that FORD is practicing! They should not get away with it!

Can't you tell that I am a "little" ticked off? A sealed transmission (5R55W) is a nightmare of a design!!! 3rd gear bands failed! Problem admited in a Ford TSB but not RECALLED??? Ford did hit the bottom, but for them low is not low enough... now they are digging a hole!! I believe that if every FORD owner that had/has this transmission problem will log in in a site like this, it will CRASH it due to multitude of cases I personally know of!! The only way we can wake FORD up is by being militant, do our part and sanction them with out $$$... I am wondering if YUGO engineers are being employed by FORD!

Friends don't let friends buy FORD!!

- , Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #17

Nov 082006

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

All of the sudden, the OD light began flashing and it was driving rough (felt like it was shifting from 1st to 2nd hard. Took to Certified Transmission and they said there was no 3rd gear????? Also said there were band parts in the pan. I called the local Ford service where I bought it and he said I should bring it there for a second opinion. And he would charge me $93 for a diagnostic. We decided to leave it where it is, since they have a good reputation. The Ford service rep said he had not heard of any transmission trouble with this year/model. Like we're stupid!!!!!

- , South Bend, IN, USA

problem #16

Oct 032006

(reported on)

Explorer Limited

  • 109,000 miles

I was on I-40 and my truck just stopped pulling in the middle of the road. I could have been killed. Luckily I as smart enough to immediatly put on my hazards and work my way to the emergency lane. There were no warning signs--NONE!!!!! Something needs to be done to at least help with the cost of a new transmission. I still have a year left to pay on the loan!

- , Browns Summit, NC, USA

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