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 9 of 22)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #275

Dec 182009

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles


transmission failed at 57000 miles, never towed a thing! on the phone with ford right now listeIng to how they do not care. The delership is a complete rip off. they wanted $400 to fix brakes that had already been replaced 5000 miles before with new pads, they just "stumbled upon this brake wear issue" during one of their "inspections" the dealerships near military installtions try and rip off soldiers WAY TO GO FORD!

- , Phenix City, AL, USA

problem #274

Nov 272009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 168,000 miles

I bough my 2002 Explorer a year ago.. never had a problem with it.. until black Friday.. yea that is right.. i have 2 kids i love dearly and on my way xmas shopping for them and my family.. what do u know. my o/d light started blinking a bout 5 mile after i left my house... then it stopped shifting and kept jumping into natural.. as we got further down the road it wouldn't go at all had to have my dad come tow me home.. now i am having to take xmas money and buy a new transmission and have it put in.. looks like xmas this year for a single hard working mom with 2 kids wont be as great as i thought.. Also the person that i am having change the transmission says it looks like this is not the 1st time that transmission has been changed in this car..

- , West Hamlin, WV, USA

problem #273

Aug 102007

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

the usual transmission failure starting with loss of third gear then the o/d light blinking

- , Poland, OH, USA

problem #272

Nov 112009

Explorer EB V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles


My Daughters dream car just had to be a 2002 FORD Exploder! I have been a FORD fan (owned a '68 Ford Van, '76 Mustang Cobra, '91 Explorer, '98 Expedition, '01 Excursion)...and now an '02 Explorer. Ford Company, this is the last time I will visit your car lot or service group. It's absolutely shameful that you know of big serious dangerous and expensive problems like the 2002 transmission on the FORD Explorer...and your dealership allowed my 18 year old daughter to drive it off the lot. My daughter (I co-signed the loan) saved for a down payment & insurance...had a picture out of a magazine on her desk. Eddie Bauer, loaded, sleek looking, comfortable, sounds good...but you knew that the transmission would probably break real soon (I see many complaints posted with similar issues). She's had it 4 months...only 4 months! Sure as heck, 2nd gear is gone and it shifts like a kick in the ass going into od. Catastrophic PO733 & PO745...and according to the hundreds of inquiries I have performed over the last week, the only real fix is a rebuilt transmission at over 4000 dollars. Any attempt to do the individual part replacement will only prolong the next portion of the degrading transmission's week or 3 months down the road. And, the new tranny probably won't make it past 80,000 miles...what kind of product is this? I can't let my daughter pull out into traffic with that uncertainty in the drive train. I'll pay the bill (at a local shop) because that's what dads do when needed. FORD has lost my future business...and I'm sure my kids won't step foot on your car lots either.

- , Port Orchard, WA, USA

problem #271

Apr 162006

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

when we first test drove the explorer we noticed the shifting was harsh and mentioned to the sales rep. that if we were to buy the truck the transmission needed to be fixed or replaced he told us he would get it in their shop and see about it. A couple of days later we were looking at a Durango and i received a call from the ford dealership they said that was normal for that transmission and there were no problems with so we went and with it and it was the worst choice of my damn life that truck has been nothing but a pile of sh*t since the first month we owned it. Now we are out of a vehicle and my wife is a rural mail carrier and is having to depend on my family or hers to supply a vehicle to us when she works until we can afford an expensive piece of sh*t transmission that ford apparently didn't pay attention as to what the hell they were doing. Bottom line I will never give ford another red penny from my damn pocket but of course they already have all of them.

- , Westpoint, IN, USA

problem #270

Dec 152008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

This car should be called the Ford ExploDer! This car has horrible transmission problems. the car makes clanking noises when shifting gears. I am Never buying a ford ever again! I had to get the transmission fixed three times!! I have a car note on this truck.The first time I brought it to Ford's attention, my warranty had just expired the month before. They said they could not do anything to help me and that I should look at their inventory and buy another one of their cars!! Are they crazy!! why would I buy another Ford after what they did to me!!!

- , Jamaica, NY, USA

problem #269

Oct 152009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


Im another sad story of a 2002 Explorer.The transmission started slipping,clunking and the o/d light is flashing.Just paid this piece of junk off and now waiting to here from the dealer where we bought it for that oh familiar quote of 4000 to fix. Transfer case of me 58000 mile F250 puked along with my ford Taurus transmission that was replaced just 2 months ago.Why cant ford build a decent transmission! My Explorer is my last Ford i will buy

- , Mechanicsburg, PA, USA

problem #268

Dec 012008

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I have read thousands of complaints about this issue and did some investigation. I called Fords main office and gave the lady on the phone my information. I asked about issuing a recall and she told me that I needed to go through National Traffic and Safety Administration to file a complaint. If anyone wants this issue to become a recall, I urge you to call Fords head office (800-392-3673), and then go to and fill out the online form. it takes about 10 minutes.

- , Kenly, NC, USA

problem #267

May 012009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Can't believe that Ford has had thousands of complaints about this problem and hasn't taken an action to make owners whole

- , Middletown, NY, US

problem #266

May 082006

Explorer Sport

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I don't think I can add much more to the words already posted about the 2002 Explorer. The transmission was replaced at 45,000 miles and had a 2 year warranty but of course it expired just before the transmission went out AGAIN! This time I have an estimate of approximately $2400.00, or $2650.00 will include a one year warranty, to get the transmission repaired. Overall I'm very disappointed in the quality of the Ford Motor Company. At 90,000 miles now, the truck should have a lot of life left and should be recalled. I am leary about purchasing another Ford at all at this point.

- , Arlington, TX, USA

problem #265

Aug 292009

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles


same as everybody else. I was driving down interstate and o/d light started to blink. I stopped cut ignition off and started again.Transmission started to slip until I would have to pull over several times and cut car off and restart. It was a terrible experiance being that I was alone and several miles from home. I managed to make it home but have not attempted to move it since.From the looks of this site I will not be able to financially be able to move it for a while.If anyone comes up with a way we can get ford to make this right count me in!

- , Staunton, VA, USA

problem #264

Jan 152009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Problems started right away. We've owned the truck for just about 3 years now. Bought it with a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty.

1. Passenger Door completely off track - wouldn't close - covered under warranty. 2. 4X4 failed. Loud creaking noises when turned on 4X4 high - covered under warranty. 3. 1st Spark plug spit out of engine - not covered under warranty. Didn't have Ford replace due to high cost - found effective spark plug rethreader kit at auto part store that worked - total cost to fix $250. 4. Wouldn't stay on - problem with the accelerator - which caused us to drive the truck like a 5 speed, with a foot on the gas and the break at the same time. Found a simple solution - banging a wrench on it worked! Something was junking up in there and needed to be pushed along - however, the shop wanted to charge me about $500 to fix!

5. 2nd Spark plug spit out of engine - not covered under warranty. Didn't have Ford replace due to high cost - found effective spark plug rethreader kit at auto part store that worked - total cost to fix $250. 6. 3rd Spark plug spit out of engine - not covered under warranty. Didn't have Ford replace due to high cost - found effective spark plug rethreader kit at auto part store that worked - total cost to fix $250. 7. 4th Spark plug spit out of engine - not covered under warranty. Didn't have Ford replace due to high cost - found effective spark plug rethreader kit at auto part store that worked - total cost to fix $250. 8. O/D Light started blinking - then trouble switching gears - then trouble going in reverse - transmission failed - not covered by warranty - total cost for a Rebuilt transmission - $1300.00 9. 5th Spark plug spit out of engine - not covered under warranty. Didn't have Ford replace due to high cost - found effective spark plug rethreader kit at auto part store that worked - total cost to fix $250. 10. Rocking noise heard after correcting 5th sparkplug incident. (Currently at 118,000 miles) Found out that Piston Arm was bent and would cost thousands to replace - so, NEW ENGINE (one with 72,000 miles) was purchased. Total cost - $1750.00 (This is currently being worked on)

Lucky for us - a very good friend is our mechanic and does the majority of the work for us - with the exception of rebuilding the tranny. He warned us at the beginning to get rid of the truck - but owing so much on it, there was no way to do so. When the tranny was going, we looked into trading it in and the most we could get was about $3000 - considering we owed $7,500 at the time - it was impossible - now, we owe about $6,200 so, it's still not an option. Hopefully with the new engine - we'll be in the clear for a while.

- , Lawrence, MA, USA

problem #263

Apr 022008

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

What a crappy product. Absolutely hate this car and Ford altogether. Never will buy Ford!!! Tried to support the economy and bought American, WTF! I wish I've seen this page before I bought this crap. Like all the other hundreds and thousands of unlucky Explorer owners, my transmission has problems switching to 3rd gear. Will cost several thousand dollars. Have been delaying the work for a year. One day, I guess I might just die on the road. But what can i do until I have extra thousands to spare? Seeing this many number of complaints, Ford should really consider recalling/exchanging. Surprised that no one started a legal complaint. Wish I knew anything about law.

- , Durham, NC, USA

problem #262

Jun 142009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,116 miles

My brother in law has the same car and has had the same exact problem, now researching it there are hundreds of people with this problem. Obviously something is wrong with the the quality of workmanship, and Ford needs to step up and assume responsibility. I will never BUY FORD again!!!!! There is no reason a car with only 60K miles on it should need an entire transmission rebuilt or replaced!

- , Bethel Park, PA, USA

problem #261

Jun 012005

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

After replacing the transmission, luckily while under extended warranty, after 50,000 more miles the transmission has failed again. I am beyond pissed. when you pay for a vehicle you expect it to be worth the money. I can say when I trade this vehicle I will never own another Ford

- , Canton, NC, USA

problem #260

May 272009

Explorer LXT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

This transmission should be recalled - this is the second time it has failed (first at 58,000 miles). Ford will never get any of our money ever again....FYI, my husband has owned Ford trucks since 1975. Ford's CEO was on NBC's Today show this morning praising the company and crediting Ford's success to the 'quality of the vehicles it builds'. As a long time customer this is my analysis of their 'success: Ford profits by putting cheap, poorly manufactured, outsourced parts in their vehicles, and then walking away from their product. Their dealerships profit from selling, repairing and replacing these less than industry standard parts. The hard working American customer is left footing the bill. FYI, in addition to the transmission we have replaced all 4 wheel bearings, CV joints, rear differential and oh yes.......the gearshift lever snapped off in my hand. this what you are calling a 'quality product'?

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #259

Dec 112007

Explorer LXT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

Never buy a Ford....ever, unless you want to be stuck with a piece of junk that will fail as soon as warranty has expired. At 58,000 miles the transmission on my 2002 explorer failed (hard upshifts, hesitation-particularly when shifting into reverse, slippage, have to let foot off gas to make it shift into third....then total failure, unable to shift into any gear). Cost $1700 to replace the third band. Two years and 30,000 miles later........transmission has failed again (same symptoms with O/D light flickering on/off)........this time we have to replace the third band and the servo. Despite same symptoms leading up to failure, dealer says it is a 'different' problem. Ford will not do anything b/c it is out of warranty. Dealer finally said they would take $200 off the 2nd repair costs....come to find out they took this from the mechanic's paycheck! FYI, between 58,000 and 80,000 miles we have also replaced all 4 wheel bearings, CV joints, the gearshift lever snapped off ($800 to replace the entire steering column) and the rear differential (as well as numerous other drivetrain parts that I cannot name). Ford is making money by using cheap, sub standard parts from China, and then refusing to take responsibility for parts that do not conform to industry standards. Dealers are making profiting from selling and repairing these sub standard vehicles. My father owns a Toyota Celica with 250,000 miles...he has only had to replace the brakes & tires (ever!)....this is a truly American car, made to the standards we expect, with parts actually made in America. Please forgive me, if as an American consumer , if I say that Ford no longer deserves the name 'American Pride'....we can officially confer that honor to Toyota and Honda.

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #258

Jul 192007

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

What a horrible experience. I have only driven Toyotas. My wife wanted a Ford Explorer. She is driving it, not me, so we purchase a new 2002 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer edition. I purchase the extended warranty, because I want to be safe, not sorry and in the back of my mind, it is a Ford. The transmission completely fails in July, 2007 at 55,000 miles and 2 months after my extended warranty expires. Ford says, too bad, so sorry. We paid $3,600 for a rebuilt trans. It just failed again on June 7th, 2009. I think I have at least a 2 year warranty from the dealer on this, so they will be seeing my very angry face tomorrow. So sorry we purchased this vehicle. NEVER again!!!!

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #257

Jun 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

Add me to the list of unhappy 2002 Explorer owners. Bought the car for my son 1 year ago. As a new driver, I wanted to put him in a bigger, more reliable car for safety. Needless to say, he comes home yesterday and says his transmission light is on. Took it to a local mechanic whom I trust (those are hard to find these days) who told me the transmission is shot and needs to be replaced at a cost of $2700. So we decide we aren't going to put the money into the piece of crap car, so we go to look at buying a replacement car thinking we may be able to trade this one in. Our BEST trade-in offer...$800. Hell, the tires are worth more than that. And they wonder why people don't buy American. I have a 2000 Lexus that I just rolled 120000 miles on and have only had to put front and back brakes on once. Solid as a rock and expecting another 120000.

I will NEVER buy another Ford. Ford needs to man up and recall these transmissions before they find themselves in the say predicament as Chrysler and GM.

- , South Bend, IN, US

problem #256

Apr 292009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,300 miles

I purchased my 2002 new. At 39900 miles May of 06 the transmission went out and needed to be completely replaced. I had an extended warranty so painless for me basically. The new transmission warranty is 3 year 36,000 mile. I am within the time limit but 2,000 miles over the warranty miles and they will do nothing. The last time I checked it did not seem like normal wear and tear for the transmission to be replaced every 39,000 miles.

When I asked the Ford service jerk, all he said is these things happen and my car is at the end of its life. Really! I guess so if you drive a Ford. I will not accept this kind of service. If I have to go to court, these idiots will do their part in getting my car back on the road. The bummer is I really love my car. I am not asking for something for nothing and I just do not see how Ford and their dealers can turn away when there are so many problems. From day one I have taken my car to the dealer for service and have taken good care of my car. This is bull!!!

Please people we must do something. We can not let them get away with this. My next car will be a Honda.

- , San Jose, CA, USA

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