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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.

9.3

really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,832.00
Average Mileage:
92,764 miles
Total Complaints:
422 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replaced with rebuilt transmission (110 reports)
  2. replace transmission (81 reports)
  3. transmission needs to be recalled (79 reports)
  4. call Ford customer service and complain 800-392-3673 (63 reports)
  5. not sure (35 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 #342

May 012011

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

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

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

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.

HOW CAN WE FILE A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT? I'M WILLING TO DO ANYTHING

I CAN BE REACHED AT

MRKBSMITH@GMAIL.COM

6783341016

- , 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

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

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

problem #335

Oct 132010

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

well let me just say that this car is a royal pain in the ass not only did I have to just replace the transmission this is the SECOND ONE SINCE I HAVE owend the car on was 2 and 1/2 years ago. ARE YOU SERIOUS. Ford really need to do something about this issue what a pain in the ass. The o/d light flickerand the dealership says dont worry about only for me to find out when that happens you are not supposed to drive it way to go dealership you just cost me 3,000 dollars are you happen. Just keep screwing the public. I like my explorer but let me tell you next year i will be getting rid of this thing and i PROBABLY WILL NOT BUY ANOTHER FORD........

- , Gilmanton, NH, USA

problem #334

May 012011

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

This is the 2nd time I've had the transmission replaced , it was done also in 07. I will never buy a ford again.

- , Seaford, NY, USA

problem #333

Feb 152011

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

As a member of the Armed Forces, I needed a vehicle that could get me where I need to go, whether it was to get me to training, get home for the holidays, or even just to work. Unfortunately, my 2002 Ford Explorer did not provide the longevity I desired. I loved it too! It looked nice, drove well, and dealt with terrible road conditions like a champ. That is, until the transmission completely failed. Almost 3,000 dollars later, she is up and running again. I will not be making this mistake (buying a Ford) and will continue to talk all those I know looking for a car into avoiding Ford. If they can take responsibility for this OBVIOUS failure, I would happily stay with Ford. Until then, they are useless.

- , Westerly, RI, USA

problem #332

Feb 042011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

After reading many of your complaints im actually happy with the 120,000 miles i got out of my explorer. i bought the suv in 2007 with 57,000 on it. ran great until january of 2011. replaced 1 wheel bearing ($115), 3 motors and regulators in the windows ($600), fuel pump ($550), and now the tranny went out with a quote of $2200 to fix. Saying that, the vehicle ran great and like many of you i had no warning what so ever. it just quite on me. i have always been a fan of ford and loved ford products. i previously owned a 2001 ford f-150 and loved it. no problems. i currently own a 2008 ford fusion and have had no issues. but i would imagine this issue with the transmission would be taken care of by ford via recall!!!!! Thanks ford. and also thanks for making me a CHEVY man now!!!!

- , Dakota City, NE, USA

problem #331

Dec 282010

Explorer LTD V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,500 miles

We had a 1996 Ford Explorer XLT with well over 150,000 miles and NEVER had one problem out of it. So we thought we were making a dependable purchase by buying a 2002 Ford Explorer LTD. WRONG... After whining a bit the OD light started blinking, the service transmission light came on and it is not driveable....at all. After reading all the complaints regarding the early 2000 Explorer transmission problems, why has Ford not had a recall. At least a civil action suit should be filed against Ford on behalf of us disgruntled Ford owners.

- , Kings Mountain, NC, USA

problem #330

Mar 152011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 153,256 miles

MY NAME IS JEFF ,I HAVE 02 EXPLORER ITS BEEN A GREAT SUV ,BUT THE TRANSMISSION IS OUT.AND IVE HAVE LEARNED THAT THIS IS A VERY COMMON PROB.AS A SINGLE DAD RAISING TWO KIDS.MY MONEY FUNDS ARE VERY LOW ,I HAVE TALKED TO MANY MECHANICS.THEY ALL SAY THAT THIS IS A PROBLEM WITH EVERY EXPLORER 02/03.I CAN NOT FIND ONE FOR A FAIR PRICE.NOT ANY WHERE.THIS IS MY ONLY MEANS TO WORK AND I CAN'T AFFORD TO FIX A COMMON PROBLEM THAT THESE EXPLORERS HAVE.I'M SURE AND KNOW I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE THAT HAS COMPLAINED.I THINK ITS BULL THAT THERE IS NO RECALL ON THIS VERY VERY COMMON PROBLEM.I'VE BEEN TOLD THAT THIS IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSMISSION AND THE WORST.HOPE THERE IS SOME HELP OUT THEIR FOR SOMEONE LIKE ME THAT WORKS VERY HARD TO SUPPORT MY FAMILY.

- , advance in 46102, IN, USA

problem #329

Feb 012010

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

I had to buy a whole new transmission this was a little over 10,000 miles after i had just had the transmission rebuilt! Piece of CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!

- , Newark, OH, USA

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, IL, USA

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