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 3 of 22)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #395

Mar 042009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles


Could not understand why transmission would be problem after on 72k miles and no warning or indication that anything was wrong. On my way home from work yellow od light came on took to AAMCO the same day and was told entire system burnout. They had the car a week and half and 2500 usd later gave it back. Called Ford no response other than they had other complaints but no resolution. They freaking suck so bad.

- , Tappahannock, VA, USA

problem #394

Apr 012012

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,343 miles

Ford transmission slipping from park into reverse. As these cars start to age the problem with the faulty transmission is becoming more and more apparent. Please anyone who has a similar story share it with my family, this is our story....

My name was Kim, I was 30 years old...the mother of 2 little children, Jace 5 and Julie 2. I had a good life and enjoyed it to the fullest, I was a nurse, a teacher, and I was going to the University of Alberta in September to complete my masters in nursing.

On April 1st, 2012 Ford took all of that away from me and took me away from my family when my SUV surged into reverse and killed me in my garage as I was getting ready to take my dog to the park. It destroyed a lot of people. Never thought I would die that way!

Update from Apr 3, 2013: One week prior to the accident my sister was telling me and my family how her car was surging while driving down the highway coming back to Spruce Grove Ab from Banff Ab. If your vehicle is experiencing any of these issues please STOP driving it. Do your research for injuries / deaths related to these vehicles. This is a SERIOUS issue!!

- , Spruce Grove, AB, canada

problem #393

Mar 112013

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

This my second Ford and my last if Ford doesn't belly up and make it right...This 2002 Explorer is nothing but junk!!!

- , Dalton, GA, USA

problem #392

Jan 012013

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


Explorer transmission failure. Same as everybody else.

- , Atl, GA, USA

problem #391

Jan 012013

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

My car alarm goes off when it feels like it, my door open light won't go off, and if parked up hill, it doesn't like to go in to reverse. On flat level, it will go in to reverse just fine but it doesn't want to move in reverse. It feels like it's catching or stuck in the mud...

- , Ketchikan, AK, USA

problem #390

May 222012

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

this car has always has something wrong with it. $4200 for a new trans at 109000 miles is crazy. how can you make a transmission that cannot be serviced. It was designed to be a disposable item. then when you get it back the 4 wheel drive does not work. Webb ford says that is not a related problem even though it worked before the trans was replaced. I guess I should be happy these explorers don't flip and kill you they just bleed you dry.

- , Hammond, IN, USA

problem #389

Dec 232012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles


I am (was) a ford truck guy. I spent most of my summer vacation, as a youth, on my grandfathers farm. Every tractor, and truck was a ford. So naturally when as an adult, it was just ingrained in me, when the time came to buy a a ford. And i did. My wife and I are on our 8th ford vehicle in about 22 yrs. 4 where explorers ( 1991 thru 2002), 2 where p/u (1992 & 1997), 1 was a E150 conv. hi-top ( 2002 ) and the Flex (2009). So i think Ford motor company might consider me a loyal customer !?!?

My issue is with my wife's 02 explorer XLT. The tranny just Sh!T the bed. With 71000k mi. We are the orig. owners and it hasn't haul anything other than a double stroller and the kids. And the tranny is just the last straw with this Suv.

Prior to the 02 explorer, i owned a 98 explorer sport and my wife owned a 2000 explorer xlt. But with the family growing, and me hitting my head on the door jam ever time i strapped Jr. in the car seat, we trade up. That was the beginning of the end.

Within the first yr. it was back to ford for: Interior lights that stayed on, steering column replacement, And though the years a host of annoying things like broken rear strut, window motor, heater coil, water pump, e-brake cable, heater blower switch, rear lift gate strut, and the computer modular for the anti lock brakes. With by the way is another design flaw the ford has turned a blind eye to.

Even with all the problems we had with the 02, i kinda chalked it out to " first model yr flaws", i still went out and bought an 09 Flex.

But if ford doesn't stand behind the product and at least offer a pro rated refund for the replacement.....



problem #388

Sep 152004

Explorer LX 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

At 52,000 miles, had roughly $11,000 in repairs from transmission dropping to stabilizer bar replaced twice, window motors burning out, etc. Only saving grace was purchased extended warranty, but still cost me around $700 in deductible payments. Worst vehicle I've ever purchased. Quality is definitely not "Job 1" with Ford. Never mind the 5 or 6 recalls on this vehicle. I try and tell everyone about this so they don't purchase a Ford.

Update from Dec 18, 2012: Just received ANOTHER recall from Ford.

Update from Feb 1, 2013: Now at 116,201 miles, transmission drops for a SECOND time. That's right, every 5 years a Ford transmission needs to be replaced. NEVER AGAIN. Got rid of this lemon and bought a Toyota. Will never, ever buy Ford again and neither should you. Biggest piece of junk I've ever bought. But remember what Ford says, "Quality is Job 1"

- , Weymouth, MA, USA

problem #387

Aug 082012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,000 miles

Got stuck 100 miles from home when transmission went out on the interstate.. Had to stay at hotel in a small town for the evening. $250 tow to home. Missed a day of work. Not sure how much it will be to fix! Called Ford to complain. No help. Stay tuned as saga continues.

- , Omaha, NE, USA

problem #386

Feb 242012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,818 miles

This is the last straw in trying to keep this vehicle. Since I bought it new I have poured almost $10,000 into repairs. I will never, ever, ever buy another Ford.

- , Dallas, TX, USA

problem #385

Aug 032012

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles


The transmission went out this morning. I have known that it was going for months now, but just tried to baby it. I am very mad at Ford for not recalling these transmissions. It is a definite problem. I will be calling the Ford to complain (for all the good that will do me!!) I am a single mom with 2 kids that just needs a dependable car to get back and forth from work. Is this too much to ask!!??

- , Mt. Juliet, TN, USA

problem #384

Jul 062012

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 230,000 miles

The transmission has been slowly dying for years now. Two years ago the OD light started blinking because the transmission would slip between 4th gear and overdrive. I turned the OD off and ran the vehicle without overdrive. Since then the transmission started slipping between 1st and 2nd gears and a few weeks ago, it stopped working completely. The transmission makes a noise and will only go about two miles before you have to shut off the engine and restart. It will then go another two miles shaking and jerking the whole way. I am replacing the transmission with a new one that has a warranty of 3 years or 100K miles.

Update from Oct 3, 2013: After getting the price to replace the transmission, I decided to sell the Explorer for parts on Craig's List. After being a loyal Explorer fan, I will never purchase an Explorer again.

- , Shelbyville, TN, USA

problem #383

Jul 052012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

Just as all of the other folks have said, This obviously flawed transmission needs to be recalled by Ford. I have owned only Fords my entire life I probably have Ford blue running through my veins and have never had this kind of a problem from any of them. I own 7 Fords, 3 Eddie Bauer Explorers (2002, 92 & 91) and 4 Mustang collector cars... After experiencing this very same transmission problem and then learning of just how many vehicles are effected and how long Ford has been WELL AWARE of all of this crap, my allegiance is over... COME ON FORD stand up for your people and fix this disaster... You are sadly driving all of us over to "the dark side" and will have no one to blame but your greedy selves... Can't blame Firestone for this! I also have all of the rest of the standard issues... Cracked rear hatch, broken coil springs, CD player doesn't work or eject CDs, clicking noise from rear heater fan, broken window regulators and bad wheel bearings! WHAT A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF A LEMON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , Hockessin, DE, USA

problem #382

Jun 112012

Explorer XT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,000 miles

This is my 3rd transmission on this Explorer. I had my transmission go on my previous Explorer at 80Km miles, then traded it in. Now on my the 2002 Explorer I lost the first transmission at 65K and had a brand new one put in. Now again at 138K it goes bad. The transmission specialist I took it to stated that 2002-2008 Explorers had transmission issues that Ford did not know how to fix. Some thrust bearing wears out. They have a fix for it now, but Ford should have taken care of their customers and bellied up to the table. I've bought Fords for me an my family for over 40 years. I just bought my wife a Ford Escape last year, but I'm done with Ford now unless they match the 100K mile power train warranty like their competitors.

- , Sturgis, MI, USA

problem #381

Jun 162012

Explorer XLT 4.6L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Transmission finally failed while my wife was on her way to work yesterday. Vehicle strted jerking then started slipping and the engine reved up before shaking violently and cutting off. She was on the higway and it was all she could do to nurse the vehicle off the highway where she sat for two hours waitng for a tow vehicle to haul the piece of junk off the side of the road. Who in their right mind makes a transmission with no dip stick? I know , FORD !

- , Lexington, NC, USA

problem #380

Nov 252011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

So it seems my complaint is in line with the other 300+ complaints. Transmission went out. Local mechanic has had my car since the end of January, 2012. Yes, we are now at May 9, 2012. That's coming up on four months. A new transmission has been put in, but then the 4WD HI light was coming on. Supposably, that had to do with the computer. I'm told that was fixed, but now it's the O/D light flickering. So now they have ordered something else that they "are almost 100% sure this is the problem". But if this doesn't fix the O/D light, then another transmission would have to be put in. I guess we are talking about another four months without my vehicle. I absolutely will NEVER buy another Ford product and I make it known to everyone I meet the problems that I have had with this vehicle.

- , Gainesville, GA, USA

problem #379

Mar 042010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

My first car that I bought new. Most likely last Ford I will buy. They put out a defective transmission and are not willing to do anything about it. The explorer was a few thousand less than the trail blazer and I wish I would have spent the additional money on the front end since I spent more than the difference before even getting to 100,000. This vehicle is a lemon. Had to replace the rear end at the same time as tranny. I have taken dozens of pictures of the cracked rear window that is also standard failure on all explorers and mountaineers of this era.

- , Colorado Springs, co, USA

problem #378

Apr 142012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Just bought this explorer in August of 2011. Was doing great until this morning. Started of to work and o/d light started blinking really fast and wouldn't shift into 3rd gear. I talked to a mechanic on the phone, he said this is a common problem and expect to pay about $3500 for a new transmission!!! I don't have that kind of money! Why with all the complaints and "it's a common problem" has this POS not been recalled??????

- , Capron, IL, USA

problem #377

May 012007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Rebuilt Transmission 4/07

Replaced Transmission 1/10

Needs another transmission 8/11 -have not fixed

Needless to say my last Ford

- , Clinton, NJ, USA

problem #376

Jan 012011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

Need I say more about having to have a rebuilt tranny put in my Explorer @ 95,000 miles??? This is redicuolus and should be considered a recall. SHAME ON YOU FORD!!! I hope your executives didn't buy a 2002 Explorer

- , Meriden, CT, USA

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