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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:
$2,843.00
Average Mileage:
92,420 miles
Total Complaints:
414 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replaced with rebuilt transmission (103 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 1 of 21)

problem #414

Jan 282010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

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

I purchased this 2002 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer V8 new hoping that it would last a long time. I did all routine maintenance. This transmission failure was the first that I have had in any car excepting another Ford product. This same vehicle had all four wheel bearings fail at 60000 miles and a differential failure at 65000 miles, fluid had been always kept to spec. Twice I've repaired a leaking transfer case.

The last straw was that my daughter's Ford Escape spontaneously caught fire in my garage burning it to the ground. Not surprisingly, neither I nor any of my family will ever buy a Ford product again. If you buy a Ford product for the long term consider over $8000 dollars in out of warranty repairs that I have had to pay during my ownership of this car.

- , Sresmboat Springs, CO, USA

problem #413

Sep 202014

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.8L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

I REPLACED THE FACTORY TRANSMISSION AT ABOUT 75000 MILES AT A COST OF $1,800.00. AT 17 MONTHS THE TRANSMISSION HAS TO BE REPLACED AGAIN. FORD NEEDS TO STEP UP FOR PUTTING OUT AN INFERIOR PRODUCT. THIS IS RIDICULOUS THAT I AM GOING ON THE THIRD TRANSMISSION WITHIN 100,000 MILES.

- , Conyers, GA, USA

problem #412

Oct 312013

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles

First off, shame on Ford for allowing this to happen and not fix THEIR MISTAKES! They know about the transmission problems and continue to ignore it. I bought this vehicle used and I wished so badly I had seen this website before my purchase. Soon after my purchase of this vehicle I noticed it was shifting strange. First gear would shift hard, 2nd to 3rd didn't feel like a good solid shift and 4th was what they called a chatter.If you can imagine your teeth chattering, that's how 4th gear felt. I took it to a reputable tranny shop and they tore it down and found out it was a servo that went out.

Apparently from what I have read about these transmissions 5R55W they tend to get hot.... very hot. I got a rebuilt transmission for the outrageous cost of $3700.00. Fortunately I purchased a warranty for about $700.00 when I bought the Explorer and they covered $1600.00 of that repair.

I also got a 5 year 100,000 mile warranty. I am also going to purchase a transmission cooler so it will hopefully save my transmission in the future. We will see. Everything that has happened with these vehicles is happening to mine 1 thing at a time. I currently have some wheel bearings sitting out in my garage for repair this week sometime. My brother recommended this vehicle to me and I wished he would have just shut up. I was prepared to buy a GMC. Never will I purchase a Ford again.

- , West Valley City, UT, USA

problem #411

Dec 082004

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,014 miles

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

I've taken the vehicle to the dealer several times for the issues & they would never admit there was a problem.

At first it was hard to shift the vehicle into gear and a clunking noise with no apparent routine. Now there is a grinding, rattling , o/d light flashes ,they tell me I need transmission work to the tune of $2400.00, and its out of warranty. There was a warranty when I first noticed the problem.

- , Manassas, VA, USA

problem #410

May 162014

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 159,650 miles

My 2002 Ford Explorer looks badass sitting in the driveway even today, just a day from being picked up for donation ... Undriveable ...

The transmission failure at 160k is such a drag ... The flashing O/D of death thing ... The clear failure of the transmission ,,,,

I hate letting go but with a bent frame (courtesy of my teen age son) and the 2002's remarkably expensive transmission fix options (no realistic option) ... it just doesn't make sense to keep.

Goodbye Dwarves, Iggy Pop, Germs stickers .... Good bye you gas guzzling bitch. I never touched anyone else while driving you -- never an accident. You were a charm. Until you weren't.

And even after my son's close encounter with a grassy knoll, even after your frame was bent and you no longer whispered along the highway, but rather whined along, no longer smooth, you remained perfect from a superficial standpoint -- you looked good on the outside and you continued to roll

But tomorrow you';re gone -- Off to the Humane Society for auction and parts sale ...

- , Lakewood, CA, USA

problem #409

Jul 182014

Explorer LT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

I have only owned Fords but this has me rethinking my next purchase. Every mechanic I have called said this is a known problem. Ford really needs to offer assistance.

- , Lexington, SC, USA

problem #408

Nov 302013

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

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

Disgusting that so many 2002 Explorers are all having the same transmission problems (Trans failure, O/D light coming on, etc) and Ford is not doing anything about it. This is a manufacturer default that we're all stuck with the bill for.

- , Paramus, NJ, USA

problem #407

Mar 062014

Explorer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 163,000 miles

Transmission failed after buying vehicle from dealer in Colorado and driving to New Mexico (550 miles). This was bought to replace a Dodge Dakota which saved my life in a rollover accident in February but the insurance company only paid out so much and I have to make a move to Ohio to start a new job. I was in a hurry to find a replacement vehicle that can tow a trailer and have some utility to it... boy was I wrong. Should have researched it better. I almost bought a 2004 Dodge Durango... but decided against it.... bummer.

ONE DAY LATER, during the drive to New Mexico, to pack and get on the road; the Engine started surging, and the transmission seized. Currently at the Ford dealer seeking a diagnosis.. will not be able to move my new job in Ohio... will most likely cost me my (not even started) new job. Will try to call Ford and complain. The vehicle came with a "3 month or 3000 mile limited warranty" but I am sure they will tell me to pound sand when I call them tomorrow. Will add few other issues I have had within ONE DAY.

- , Monument, CO, USA

problem #406

Dec 022013

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 149,904 miles

THIS TRUCK WAS A GOOD TRUCK, THEN SLOWLY TURNED INTO A F*CKING PIECE OF SH*T THAT CAUSED MANY PROBLEMS GETTING TO WORK ON TIME ANYWAYS. FIRST THE SERVICE ENGINE SOON LIGHT CAME ON FOR EMISSIONS. THEN PAINT STARTED PEELING. THEN THE TRANSMISSION F*CKS UP!!! THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN A RECALL. THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE. I'LL NEVER BUY AN EXPLORER AGAIN!!!! TRADED THAT PIECE OF SH*T IN ON A HONDA ACCORD. BUYERS BEWARE, STAY AWAY FROM ANY EXPLORERS!

- , Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #405

Sep 152013

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles

I had my transmission replaced with a used one 2 years ago for $1500 (bad idea), only for it to go out again last month and the repair is gonna cost me $1900 that I do not have. So, I am now without a vehicle.....again. I've talked to so many others and they too have the same problem, which is transmission slipping (specifically 3rd gear). There are far too many identical problems for this to not be recalled. I will never buy another Ford.

- , Summit, MS, USA

problem #404

Nov 142011

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,523 miles

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

ford has a ongoing problem with transmission failure on explorers mostly in years 02 to 04 and will not acknowledge it or do anything to help with the cost. I have bought ford products for every new car truck i have owned in the past, over 10 brand new vehicles in all. but i WILL NOT BUY ANOTHER FORD PRODUCT.CUSTOMER SERVICE SUCKS. GMC HERE I COME MAKE ME AN OFFER AND I'LL BUY IT. FORD SUCKS.

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #403

May 152012

Explorer Limited 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

This will be the 4th rebuild/replacement of the transmission. Just for kicks I called Ford and made a formal complaint which probably falls on deaf ears. I let them know the differential has also been replaced as well. My 4x4 light blinks non-stop and I've had all the sensors, conversion kits, and upgrades done that Ford has offered.

What are my options now, Ford? I've got none that I know of, so I'll be shelling out $1800 that I would prefer to use for vacation, NOT another transmission repair.

Anyway, instead of everyone bitching on this forum, CALL FORD AND MAKE A FORMAL COMPLAINT!!!!! I can't stress that enough.

PLEASE CALL!!!!!

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #402

Jul 282013

Explorer LXT 4.L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

The transmission problem is very something else without any help from the Ford dealer. I cannot use my Explorer anymore because of this situation and also i do not have any idea about the cost to repair it. I will never buy any other Ford car because I know now the type of support I can get from the Ford dealer.

- , Fort Mitchell, AL, USA

problem #401

Sep 142012

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 199,000 miles

hey hey hey! I was "lucky" to have mine last to 199,000 miles! I should say nanana booo booo to the rest of you! Damn transmissions in these things are junk, along with the wheel bearings, toe links....all of those things repeatedly replaced, I will find a tranny from a wrecked donor car, put it in my explorer and proceed to sell it to the next stupid person I see! Hey do any of you ford loyalists want to buy a great vehicle with an awesome reputation for, well, okay you can haul alot of people in it, 7 I think? I have the lemon, errr, vehicle for you! Thank you Ford for proving my point to my wife which is, if you buy blue oval you walk to work eventually. The bummer of it is, I was driving the Piece of crap at the time of break down! hahahaha She was driving my Chevy because, it rides nicer, it doesnt rattle ( oh yeah this explorer rattled since 54,000 miles when my wife decided to bring this rolling turd home). I will say DAMN the HEATER works like a sum bitch! They should duct the heat to the bumpers so when you push it in the winter your hands won't get too cold! ha heated bumpers! Oh which I have to close with this one, stop me if you heard it already.................................................You know 90% of ALL Fords are still on the road today..........................................................................................................................................................The other 10% actually MADE it home!!!!!! Another fine vehicle ford! Too bad it didnt have your fancy sync and navigation with it! I'd look hella cool looking up a towing service on the side of the road all while listening to a tune downloaded from itunes! Thank you so much Ford for not taking bail out money! hell you dont need to because you make defective parts and dont fix them.....EVER! oh, anyone that has owned a ford taurus SHO MTX or ATX ( I have owned 2, a 90 MTX and a 94 ATX) will back me up on this, FORD makes SLUSH BOXES not transmissions!

- , Muscatine, IA, USA

problem #400

Sep 112012

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,254 miles

I had the same old problem with my 2002 Explorer that seems to plague most the other owners. I also got the blinking O/D light of death and the harsh shifting. So instead of giving up and having a rebuilt transmission put into the truck just to have the same old problem again, I did some research on what exactly is going on. I found out that the servo (on the outside) of the transmission which controls the bands (on the inside) of the transmission create an oblong hole over time. This creates and pressure leak and thus shifting problems. The solution...instead of replacing the transmission with a new or rebuild one just to have the same issue return I had the servo hole re-bored and a brass sleeve installed.(brass is tougher than aluminum case the transmission is made of) Problem solved and it will last a lot longer now. My cost was $1500 thru a local transmission shop. That was the complete cost including parts and labor.

My suggestion to all of the hate/love Explorer owners out there is to research servo bore and ask some shops if they perform this service. I now have 40k more miles on the Explorer and not a single shifting issue.

- , Citrus Heights, CA, USA

problem #399

Mar 292013

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

I wanted to do my small part in helping Americans to keep manufacturing cars in the USA, so I purchased a 2002 Ford Explorer. In 2004, the hatchback/lift gate cracked. When I contacted Ford, they said it would cost me approximately $300 to fix the problem. I believe it is a design flaw and not due to neglect on my part. I have never had it fixed and now there are multiple cracks on the liftgate. Also, in 2004, the "Check Engine Light" permanently came on, despite different mechanics seemingly fixing the issue. In about 2006, the "Over Drive" turned on randomly. Now, in 2013, with 88,000 miles on my Explorer, it was diagnosed to need a transmission. The cost we were quoted by our mechanic to install a new one is $3890. My husband and I contacted Ford and they suggested we take it into a Ford dealer and have it replaced. We have to pay for the transmission if we want an operable vehicle. I am now left with the opinion that my Ford is an INFERIOR auto that lacks the support of the manufacturer. It is Ford's choice to ignore my issues and it is my choice to NEVER again purchase a Ford and I my choice to tell my friends and family my experience with my Ford Explorer.

- , Loveland, CO, USA

problem #398

Mar 292013

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

On the phone today with Ford as my 2009 transmission has now blown up. What the hell? There has to be a limit as to how many of these complaints need to be filed before something happens to FORD regarding this matter. Why do we the consumer have to keep paying for their errors and poor materials. Clearly, I will never buy another Ford.

- , Tappahannock, VA, USA

problem #397

Mar 142012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

Moms explorer went out at 83000 1st time last march. Then only 3 months later needed another one at 86000 and now at 93000 a year later its slamming into reverse and hesitating alot im sure it won't be long before the next one. Can't get rid of it cause we are still in debt from the first 2 trannys and my mom works for a ford dealer. Mine is an 02 as well same car. Only has 66k miles and I cross my fingers when i drive all the time. Mine has had no problems except the one wheel bearing. My moms has been a total f*ck job. Probably 5 different times wheel bearings went. Rear window cracked. A/c went out, and heat then the regulator broke, and now with the 3rd tranny on its way out. the rear end is making noise and i took a look at it, pretty sure it needs rebuilt and a new pinion bearing. Mine has been good but i drive very carefully and i definetly plan to sell it asap

- , york, Pennsylvania, USA

problem #396

Apr 012013

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L 302 V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,360 miles

O/D LIGHT STARTED FLASHING AND CHECK TRANSMISSION CAME ON IN INFORMATION CENTER WHEN OUT OF TOWN, THEN WE HAD STOPPED, CALLED A FORD DEALER AT 11:20 AM, AND WAS TOLD, SORRY NO MECHANICS ON, CALL BACK TOMORROW. I CONFIRMED WHAT I HEARD, THEN WAS TOLD NO ONE HAD TIME TO TALK TO ME TODAY, SO I CALLED A TRANS.SHOP. HE SAID BRING IT IN, STARTED TRUCK BACK UP, HAD NO GEARS WOULDN'T MOVE IN ANY GEAR. HAD TO BE FLATBED TO TRANS. SHOP, WE HAVE PENN WARRANTY COMPANY AS EXT SERVICE, BUT THEY WONT EVEN COVER 1/4 OF THE COST, CALLED FORD, THEY SAID NO RECALLS, AND ITS OUT OF WARRANTY, SORRY CANT HELP YA.

- , Kerhonkson, NY, USA

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

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