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 5 of 22)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #355

May 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles


I'm still paying on a vehicle that doesn't move forward or backwards! With making payments on the loan I can't afford $2,000 for a new transmission. Called Ford, they said not enough people have made them aware of the problem so they don't have it listed as needing recall!!!!!

- , Coggon, IA, USA

problem #354

Oct 252011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 258,789 miles

I took my ford to a local Transmission shop. The owner stated this was a common problem on this make and model. He then gave me a quote and then called me in a couple of days and naturally it needed more work and money.

- , San Angelo, TX, USA

problem #353

Nov 022011

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,623 miles

This is a sealed transmission. The transmission isn't due for it's first service until 150,000 miles. Have never had any indications of a leak, so I assume the transmission is full, but can't check due to not having a dipstick.

- , Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #352

Nov 012011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 215,000 miles


Truck sitting in the drive way won't go in drive, won't go in reverse, I have seen THOUSANDS of the same complaints, it is a crime that Ford won't own up to their mistake. single mother of 3 children, what am I supposed to do? This beyond sucks.

- , Braggadocio, MO, USA

problem #351

Jul 132011

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

I purchased the Explorer from a long time Ford dealership mechanic. He told me that the transmission was rebuilt at the dealership in Jan/2010. I thought that was great. A "fresh transmission" a little more than a year old.

The vehicle was purchased at 8:00 pm on Tueaday, July 12, 2011. I drove it home, no problems. Wednesday morning I had $600 worth of new tiers put on it. My wife and daughter went shopping in it Wednesday afternoon. She called me at 2:30 to tell me that something was wrong with the transmission. I had them stop and pull over. I went to meet them ad drove the vehicle. The transmission shifted very hard from first into second gear, then stuck in second and would not shift again. The Overdrive light and check engine light were flashing on the dashboard. So less than 20 hours after purchasing the vehicle, I am having to spend another $3,500 to replace the transmission.


- , Orlando, FL, USA

problem #350

Oct 222011

Explorer XLT 4.01

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,000 miles

The problem of the OD indicator light blinking and it associated problem of transmission failure is no secret to Ford. Ford's " anything but assume responsibility for it's defective products. Ford is still making and selling Pintos - just new names and sizes.

- , Buffalo Grove, IL, USA

problem #349

Apr 012008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles


2002 Transmission failed in April 2008 was slipping gears, hard to shift gears, and went into gear with a big clunking sound. Did research and found this was a lemon transmission. I was out of warranty and I replaced with a Ford Dealer installed rebuilt transmission that I was told would not have the same problem, because for released another transmission. Well here am 40,000 miles later and the same thing happen and my 3 year/100,000 mile warranty for the rebuilt transmission is out of date by 2 months. Taking this complaint to the top, because I am not paying for this a second time!!!! Very disappointed that Ford has not recalled this transmission. I am also concerned about reports of the 2002 explorer moving while in park, I have 2 young kids and this is a real concern. FORD MAKE THIS RIGHT!

- , Lewisville, TX, USA

problem #348

May 012010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I, too, am fed up with Ford. I keep only because it is paid for and I don't want to take on any more payments. At a cost of around $36,000 new, you would think Ford would pay a little more attention to the drive train.

- , Canon, GA, USA

problem #347

Oct 102011

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,033 miles

I'm an international student at US. My parents together earn around 400 if calculated into USDs every month, and they gave me 5000 to buy this SUV for school commute.

I'm a very careful driver and the car kept running good till Monday night, just in a sudden the odo meter overshoot 3000 all the time and letting go of gas pedal won't help. Sometimes it struggled and made it to gear up, and it feel like someone kicking really hard at the back of my car.

Though it was random to happen on a modestly operated vehicle and internet tell me oh it's not random. Local mechanic reports over $2000 bill to either rebuild or find a replacement from junk yard. And personally they advised me to just salvage it and buy another car.

What am I supposed to do? I live on a $1100+ monthly university scholarship, no other income, illegal to work off campus, pay heavier taxes to federal and state governments than US citizens for this scholarship income, yeah and our school registration fee raised to compensate the damn bad economy, being thrifty all the time and buck by buck saved a total of $800. Someone tell me how am I supposed to get this fixed.

So yes, I'm broken, not by economical depression, not by disabling injury, nor by stock market mis-investment, but by a poorly designed car with a not-makers-business defect in the richest country of the world.

- , Auburn, AL, USA

problem #346

Sep 172011

Explorer EB 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles


- , Yakima, WA, USA

problem #345

Jan 052005

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


1st Ford ever and LAST! Ford would not stand behind this car despite admitting it was a premature failure. How many of us out there have had transmission problems with the '02 Explorers? I think we should do a class action lawsuit. No wonder my mechanic calls them "Exploders"!!!

- , Plymouth Meeting, PA, USA

problem #344

Dec 182008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,054 miles

This transmission gave out in less than 36,000 miles and in only 18 month after the last replacement. Please call ford to complain so they will issue a recall at 800-392-3673. If we don't stand united and force them to recall, you and thousands more will waste your hard earned money.

- , Redlands, CA, US

problem #343

Feb 082007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,383 miles

Please call ford at 800-392-3673. The more complaints the better results and hopefully a recall. But you have to call ford to complain or they will never issue the recall. Please call them.

- , Redlands, CA, US

problem #342

May 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

This is the 6th time I had to repair the transmission. The first 3 times were under warranty since when my new explorer had 3000 miles the transmission stop working, had to be replaced. It happends for 2 more times after that. I called the Ford offices and called DACO and I couldn't do anything since nobody helped me with the problem. Since that time I had to change the tranmission 3 more times. It is almost once per year. That is why it cost me around 18000 since everytime I had to replace with a new transmission.

- , San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico

problem #341

Mar 162011

Explorer 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

I was told by several mechanics that this is a common problem with this year make and model. The new one should last about two years before it has to be replaced again! That is really something I look forward to! If Ford knows about this, and I don't see how they can't, why don't they fix it. I will never ever buy another Ford product!!

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #340

Jun 222011

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,738 miles

This is absolutely ridiculous. Why won't Ford recall these damn things if they know they've produced a defective transmission? It failed without any warning. Not to mention the idea of a sealed transmission (in an SUV) is stupid in itself. How do I know the fluid level? How do I know if it's burnt/needs replacement? My vehicle has been regularly maintained in and out. It still failed. Now I need to find a source of RELIABLE transportation. FORD- IF YOU'RE READING THIS, I'D FIX THIS ISSUE IF I WERE YOU, AND AVOID THE CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT.

Update from Jul 5, 2011: * Also* After the removal and dis-assembly of transmission, with re-use of components salvagable, the cost is $3440.21 (For replacement of defective components, broken components, and updated components, with labor alone at $1147). Serviced at AAMCO Transmission.

- , Middleburg, FL, USA

problem #339

Jun 012011

Explorer LXS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

This is the damn 3rd trans I have put in this car. I just spent 1,700 on a rebuilt. I have called Ford but they refuse to do anything about it.





- , Roswell, GA, USA

problem #338

Jun 072011

Explorer LXT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

After having my 2002 Ford Explorer for 1 year, it began to make loud clunking noise when shifting gears. I was not able to repair at that time. Within 6 more months, it would not shift after second gear. So, I put the car in a local repair shop and had the transmission rebuilt for $1800. That was a year ago, now my transmission has is going in out. This is ridiculous and i will NEVER buy FORD again!

- , Cordele, GA, USA

problem #337

Mar 312011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,954 miles

You gotta love the internet...if ever there was a force that could bring people together with common problems and let them know they were not alone, its the internet. Im sitting here reading these complaints and laughing to myself because ive experienced the same things... transmission failure, crack in the plastic piece on the tail gate. I know my little rant probably wont get ford to change anything anyway, but here goes.

I was a new father and I was driving in a snow storm in early 2005 with my daughter and it was so bad that I vowed to myself if we lived thru this I would get a four wheel drive. I was always a BMW guy but I thought, forget it... I thought "Im a father now so I need something more dependable". So I thought... why not buy a ford explorer. I gave Ford the benefit of the doubt since they redesigned the 2002 Explorer to get over that pesky tipping over problem, which they did a nice job of blaming firestone anyway. I figured, domestic cars arent sexy but they will be dependable.

Well obviously Im an idiot. I bought Fords "quality" schtick... The transmission never sounded right but two and a half years after I bought it, with 160kms (100 miles on it) the thing just crapped out. It would go in first gear but would not switch out of it. I went to have the tranny fluid replaced at a lube shop and they told me that Fords they couldnt do because there is no dipstick. So I take it to the local Ford dealership (terrance ford in burlington,ontario...yeah i named them, they can sue me), and they proceed to change the tranny fluid (thats 250 bucks) but then tell me that the tranny is toast. So I ask, "wouldnt you have known before you charged me 250 bucks that you were replacing fluid in a Piece of Sh*t (henceforth POS) tranny"? The gal I talked to from the dealership tells me "yeah, that doesnt sound right" and said she would call me back. You guessed it, never got a call back.

So then I take my POS Explorer to an independent shop (after the dealer tells me that in addition to ripping me off for the $250 tranny fluid job, they now want 5 grand for a factory built tranny... before labor). So the independent takes it apart and tells me that my first problem was the tranny fluid level was to low... the same tranny fluid that just got replaced by the Ford dealer that is supposed to know their asses from a hole in the ground! It makes me wonder whether they actually ever changed the fluid. So this guy tells me its going to be 3800 bucks. So i basicallly eat it, pay the guy and hope for the best. This was 2008.

So here we are not even three years and less than 25K kms later, and the thing craps out on me. Same thing that happened last time and that everyone on this site has said ... OD light starts blinking, Check transmission light goes off and the POS will not get out of 2nd gear. I take it to another shop, and lo and behold, it needs another rebuild. Now I wonder today, whether its worth it to put another 3500 bucks into a truck that isnt even worth 3500 bucks. I do ok for a living, but I dont make enough to keep up with the problems with the ford explorer POS. I expect certain problems to creep up with any car.... and most of them I will live with. Heated seats dont work, CD player is shot, power window track breaks... i can deal with all that. If its important enough, i have it fixed. If not, I live with it. I take a commuter train into work so I really just need a car to go about 8kms a day. But this POS cant even handle that task. I wanted a car for my wife that had 4wd for those snowy days... sadly the POS explorer isnt reliable enough to trust my family with.

I agree that the transmission problem should be addressed as a recall item for Ford. I think there should be a class action on this. And Im sure there are alot more people out there with these same problems but just have not found this site or are just too busy with their lives to really make Ford stand up for its product. Im hopeful, but I think its highly unlikely. Ford could really give a sh*t about the vehicles that they have already swindled people into buying. They are having enough problems getting people to buy into the current years vehicles. Yes, they are in better shape than GM or Chrysler, but you have to ask yourself what corners are they cutting that made them be in better shape than those companies.

At the end of the day, Im probably to blame for my mistake buying the Ford "Quality is job 1" line.... my 2002 Ford Explorer POS was made at a time when Ford was probably making more money from financing vehicles, than from actually making them. Now if u make more money financing them, why would you give a flying f*ck about the quality of the product you put on the road. And if they didnt give a sh*t about their products then...they sure as hell arent going to give a sh*t about them 8 years later.

Incidentally, I found my error almost reaching a level of comedy when I looked at this website different sections and how often the Ford Explorer was there...

Current Problem Trends, last 90 days - Ford Explorer is mentioned 5 times in the top 10

Worst Vehicles - 3 of the top 10 worst are Ford Explorers, with the dubious distinction of #1 going to... you guessed it, the 2002 Ford POS Explorer.

Most Problematic Vehichles - 3 of the top 5 are Explorers, again #1 to the 2002 Explorer

Worst Complaints - another 3 Explorers in the top 10, all tranny problems.

20 most often reported complaints - 5 of the top 10 are Ford Explorers... wow! way to own the podium guys!

Well, I guess we Ford POS Explorer owners should take some comfort in that when we made a mistake, we do it BIG, buying possibly the worst thing to come out of Detroit since the Edsel.

As you may have guessed, I wont be buying another explorer. I wont be buying another Ford. I dont think I will be buying another domestic (or at least anything made by UAW membership). I have also took pleasure in informing anyone who asks, the continuous issues and expense we have faced with our Ford Exploder, at every chance i get. When we needed a new car I bought my wife a 2009 Hyundai Sonata... Its not very sexy, but it is extremely reliable, easy on gas, and is not too bad in the snow either.

Im not sure if this site was around back in 2005 when I made my error in judgement, but Im glad its around to caution others, and to help in making firms more accountable for their products. I think this site must be consulted first for anyone who is thinking about buying a used car. This site can offer real stories from actual owners of vehicles to stay away from, as opposed to the limited data offered by say, a Consumer Reports. If I may make a suggestion, this site should also have section that shows the opposite... the best vehichles, with the least complaints, and the fewest issues. This would help to highlight the companies that are making the very best vehicles out there, and who actually care about their name.

It would be nice to see some lists that Ford didnt make!

- , Burlington, Ontario, canada

problem #336

Feb 012011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

If Ford knew there were issues with the transmissions, even though not necessarily a safety issue, a customer service letter offering discount/free parts to owners would go along way towards building customer support and rapport.

- , Franklin, TN, USA

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