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CarComplaints.com 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:
92,334 miles
Total Complaints:
408 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replaced with rebuilt transmission (102 reports)
  2. replace transmission (79 reports)
  3. transmission needs to be recalled (79 reports)
  4. call Ford customer service and complain 800-392-3673 (63 reports)
  5. not sure (34 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 21)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #328

Mar 142011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 230,000 miles


This is the THIRD time we've had problems with the transmission and the mechanic says forget it - not worth the time or money. This is beyond a doubt the absolute worst vehicle we have ever owned and we are making it a point to tell everyone we know (and even those we don't) NEVER BUY A FORD EXPLORER!!!!

- , Harrisonville, MO, USA

problem #327

Mar 012011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 195,000 miles

I am now at 195,000 miles as of March 1, 2011 and the transmission is slipping again. This is the second time that this problem has occurred with this vehicle (My wife and I are the original owners). This is absolutely insane to have a vehicle that was purchased brand new to have two major transmission issues (1st time had the Transmission completely rebuilt) at a reputable Ford Dealer in Woodbridge, VA and now 5 years later the transmission is slipping again. I am not sure what I am going to do yet. I am so pissed off at FORD, I have not called FORD yet but I intend on contacting FORD. This is totally unacceptable. Again, this vehicle has the original tow package and has never been used.

- , Stafford, VA, USA

problem #326

Feb 022010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

failure of 2002 ford explorer transmissions is one of the most common and expensive issues that ford motor company chooses to ignore and loose customers through.

- , Guilford, CT, USA

problem #325

Dec 302010

Explorer LTD 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,662 miles


My complaint is similar to the other complaints typical for the transmission with this truck. O/D light starting blinking and a "CHECK TRANSMISSION" warning appear in the message center. Light stopped blinking and warning message disappeared after the vehicle was turned off and then restarted and I haven't seen either since. I took the vehicle into a Ford dealership to have it diagnosed and was informed that 3rd gear wasn't working and that the transmission would require replacement. Labor and parts quoted at $5,500.

Took it to a transmission shop and they said the 3rd gear clutch was actually slipping when the transmission was warm. Quoted $3500 to $3800 for rebuilding the transmission. I've decided to wait until a completely loose 3rd gear before I making the repair, since these transmissions seem to have a life of about 100k miles anyway. Keeping the vehicle for short trips only wihtin the city in the meantime.

I've also called Ford Canada to ask for assistance as this would be the 3rd transmission replacement required in 4 Ford Explorers that our family has owned but this proved unfruitful.

This certainly seems to be a huge problem right across Ford Explorer owners so I will be discussing with a buddy who works at a law firm specializing in class action lawsuits. If there's one out there already or if he deems this a worthwhile venture I'll certainly be throwing my name in.

Incidentally, the mechanic at the transmission shop said that Ford's Explorer is putting his kid through college - sadly, I don't think he was joking.

- , Calgary, AB, canada

problem #324

Feb 052004

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

transmission failure at 45000 miles i bought the ford explorer 2002 with 28000 miles on it the car dealer said their was no warranty on the ford explorer so i paid $2500 out of my pocket for a transmission repair

- , Southholland, Illinios, USA

problem #323

Jan 192011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

When is this company going to stand up and assume responsibility for this trans issue. I've been a Ford owner for years and was impressed at how well they managed to stay afloat through the recent recession as opposed to other U.S. companies and am now having my doubts.

I too, am experiencing transmission problems on my '02 Explorer... O/D light blinking, slipping, not shifting, etc. Had a few quotes for an overhaul ranging from $2000-$2500.

Extended warranty gone and, to my knowledge, Ford is not helping out in any way with these issues. Fortunately, when I had the dreaded rear wheel bearings replaced, as I'm sure most of you had, that was covered at the time. Oh yeah, how's everybody loving that beautiful crack on the rear hatch?

- , Roscoe, Illinois, USA

problem #322

Jan 312011

Explorer Eddy Bauer 4.6lV8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,001 miles


¨ It was one week that I had not used my truck. Monday, January 31 in the morning I started then engaged but nothing happened. I heard the sound of a liquid, I stopped the engine and saw below a large loss of transmission oil . I was towed to ford dealer and he told me that the transmission cover cracked and broken piston , 103,000 km and I've always made my periodic maintenance at the dealership Ford.it's not normal I had to pay $ 4,200.00 to repair the vehicle with a reconditioned transmission (I had no choice in the vehicle was stationary) Excuse the translation I'm not very good in English

Update from Feb 11, 2011: I contacted Ford Canada and the attendant told me that since I had that repaired and paid for Ford Canada could not do anything for me! IT would not take me to pay! Ooch!?!?

When I called the dealership and they tell me that there already had an extended warranty but it is over and there is nothing to do! No goodwill repair nothing.....

Ford never for me, my friends, my family ...for ever

- , St-constant, Quebec, Canada

problem #321

Dec 102010

Explorer XLS 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

well i had my suv for a yr and half wasnt even paid off. the tranny went. and the back seatbelts broke and dummy lights always on. other then the trainy going i loved the car . looking for another yr as im not fixing a trainy.

- , oil city, pa, USA

problem #320

Jan 312011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 182,622 miles

Bought the car used last summer from a guy who had the transmission repaired a year ago, Feb 10. Thought it would be good for a long time. I was driving home and the vehicle started to not respond, engine was revving but nothing was catching. I pulled over and called a tow truck. It is at an AAMCO as we call Ford and do research on whether to cut our losses or repair.

- , Round Rock, Texas, USA

problem #319

Mar 092009

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

I wish Ford would do the F**in right thing ! They know they have built a POS that they will only give you 1500 on a trade in on it cause they dont want it! My truck was bought after my mom passed away with the life insurance money that my stepdad got he bout it for me... Im kinda emontionaly attached to this POS I dont want to get rid of it but my good how may time can you put the truck in the shop? Ford needs to send a recall out on this transmission it is a safety hazzard if it goes out on the freeway ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh it could be bad. If they would send me a new tranny I would even pay to have it put in!!!!!!

- , ALvin, TX, USA

problem #318

Jan 102011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,323 miles


i bought my 2002 explorer from a dealer aug 2010, its now jan 2011 and my trans went. I am a single mother of 3 i work two jobs, and now i have no car..I am about to not have my two jobs.thanks alot FORDS. you sure know how to screw the little people.

- , Westland, MI, USA

problem #317

Apr 292010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

Ford should be made to pay for these failing transmissions.

- , Swedesboro, NJ, USA

problem #316

Nov 262010

Explorer 4.0L V-6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,500 miles

Not only did the transmission go, but the 4 wheel drive has not worked since I've had it. I feel this transmission problem should be recalled & people should be reimbursed for their expenses. This was very aggravating as it happened as I was halfway to Louisville to visit mt daughter & her family over the Thanksgiving holiday. I am a Millwright employed by Ford & it makes me very ashamed of the way Ford is treating their customers, (& employees). I'm hoping this will lead to a class action suit.

Ford needs to take these complaints a little more seriously. Something needs to be done about this.

- , Lorain, OH, USA

problem #315

Apr 052010

Explorer XLT

  • 65,000 miles

I am very disappointed with FORD Explorer! I purchased this car brand new 02’ and bought it instead of a BMW thinking I would save money on repairs. Well my piece of junk Ford Explorer XLT 02 has had problems since day one. Yes, I had a extended warranty but all the issues it has had from day one was never fixed because the mechanics from Fords said the “computer” could never diagnose the problems so dealership said they could not send the parts to FORD( back east main office) to get paid for them if they found nothing wrong with it!! What?? You mean to tell me we take our cars in for service when it’s under warranty and to get repairs done and if the computer doesn’t diagnose what he issues are the dealership will not get paid for the repairs or parts used?? There is clearly a problem with the car and the Ford mechanic says there an issue but the computer can’t figure out the part, so the service department will not repair it because they will not get paid from FORD!!!????

Now 1/3/2011 This 7”crack appeared on the panel below in my rear tail gate window is just disgusting and after doing a search on complaints with this issue which I should have done first before accusing my husband that he did it when he took the car to work! I felt horrible and thought you know maybe since I had already issues with it maybe I should check if I am the only one that this happened to then to blame him….. What a discovery after doing the research, sure enough I am not the only one that this problem has appeared out of the blue!!!! IT should be replaced by FORD Along with the other panels that I had already replaced because of peeling paint etc. This 7” crack that is on the rear tail gate probably will not be fixed by FORD since they do not honor there warranties when they are paid for and will wait till they expire to have you pay for the repairs!! WHAT A RIP OFF!! I was actually appalled when a Ford Service manager said you need to buy another FORD instead of fixing the problem because FORD back east will not honor the warranty!

I have had transmission problems, electrical etc and the service dept will not fix the problems!! When under warranty telling me to come back when the issue(s) is always there and not intermittent?? What a joke! Mind you my car had issues and it doesn't even have 80miles on it! The transmission will cost me $3000.00 per Ford service to replace; I have all ready spent replacing the gear shifter that broke on the freeway and the main steering will column on the car!!! Oh Yes also the front suspension ball joint!! Yes it cost me a pretty penny Total $4000.00 + WHAT A RIP OFF! Now add in the $3000.00 Transmission that I am waiting for it to completely go out of wack ( per FORD service dept) before they fix it!! That is a down payment $7000.00 for a brand new car that I have spent in the last year 2010 of owning the SUV!!! I will never buy this kind of SUV or ANY PRODUCT that FORD makes. They do not take care for there customers.

Oh! for you Ford owners there is an attorney in New Jersey who is doing a class action law suit to recall the ford 2002 Explorer as FORD is aware of a design defect regarding the transmission design and now the new ones have the corrected transmissions in them.. Any suggestions on the cracked panel on the rear tail gate window would be great appreciated. Oh don’t worry I am going to contact that attorney again to tell them what just happened. NEVER BUY A FORD !!

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #314

Dec 162010

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

O/D light started blinking at about 95,000 miles. I would pull over turn off the car & restart it and it would be fine. Then a week before it completely died it would not go into gear. I revved up the motor, it engaged and it was fine for a week. Then we were leaving one day and it died in the driveway. It had been slipping for a year and finally died. I met a guy with a 2002 V8 Merc. Mountaineer last month that had his trans replaced at about 68,000 mi. My brother has an 02 V8 Explorer and his went out last year at 96,000. My nephew has a 03 with low miles (63,000) he is planning on selling it within a year before it is his turn. We have had as many as 12 Fords in the family. Now people are starting to by other brands as they get new cars. I have a 92 Explorer with a standard trans & 204,000 mi.. Other than normal repairs it is great. I also have 93 Tracer that lost its transmission at 118,000. Maybe ford should stick with just standard transmissions. Ford does many of things right, just not standing behind their Trans.

- , Salt Lake, UT, USA

problem #313

Dec 122010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

I have a 2002 Ford Explorer and the Transmission just went out on it. I will tell the story from the beginning. Ok so I was about 30 mins away from my home and driving on the freeway back home when the OD light started blinking very fast. Then I get off the freeway and stop and the red light then when i started to go the transmission started doing all sorts of crazy sh*t it was changing gears like crazy and finally settle out. Then right before i turn in my drive the transmission just QUITS! it just STOPPED! i put it in park then drive and nothing...no sound.. no movement it would just roll backwards. so now it sitting on the side of the road where i pushed it to. ALL OF THIS HAPPENED IN 30 MINS! Nothing was wrong before this happened.!!!! Please someone help and lets get this to be recalled!

- , Fort Leonard Wood, MO, MO, USA

problem #312

Nov 092009

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

This was the first time i had the tranny rebuilt i would be driving and everything was fine and then when i was coming to a stop my truck would die, and i couldn't drive i could only go in reverse.

- , Newark, OH, USA

problem #311

Oct 012010

Explorer XLS 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,500 miles

i have a 2002 ford exploder which i only have a month left to pay it. owned the vehicle for 4 yrs. on the first year, master switch (window) replaced, window regulator driver side front and rear went out, followed by pass. side rear window kit not to mention rear panel w/c we sould know pretty common. before deployment, master cylinder replaced, when i got back, transmission replaced, rear shocks replaced and they're out again with some knocking sound on the rear end!!!! when is it gnna end?! geeeez! selling this vehicle is not even worth the money i already put in it. so i might as well keep it, hoping for a recall! oh, i forgot to mention some minor defficiencies and i just hope my transfer case would not give up on me.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #310

Nov 092010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6 V-8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

I feel like Ford should change there name to SEONTA ( screw every one in the ASS! ) there Transmissions are straight up JUNK! They have been for years the old E4OD electronic four speeds over drive. And I guess their new ones are Junk too. They know they have issues and they do nothing to help people. Well let me tell you something, Karma is a bitch. They will get theirs.

- , St Peters, MO, USA

problem #309

Jul 012006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Ford sucks! They have lost a really good customer! Not only one, but many! Ford knew the transmission was a major issue with the 2002 Ford Explorer's and did nothing about it! This should be a Major Recall! We will never purchase another Ford product! They are all Lemons and Ford will not back them up! We will only purchase from reputable companies!

- , Dana Point, CA, USA

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