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 1 of 22)

problem #435

Nov 192016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles


reverse doesn't work

I just bought this car for my daughters and it test drove fine. Went to back it into the driveway and major FAIL! Of course it isn't covered under a warranty and now trying to figure out how to fix it without spending a fortune.

- , Thornton, CO, USA

problem #434

Oct 102016

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 153,000 miles

My wife wanted to buy 2002 ford explorer. she took it for a test drive, then my mechanic looked the vehicle over from top to bottom and took it for a test ride (I rode with him), and all agreed that the vehicle was sound and worth the purchase price ($3000.00). So, she bought it, as is, without any warranty, from an individual owner. We then had a friend put a dealer plate on it to drive it home from Oswego to Hannibal, NY. Two weeks later we had this friend drive the ford explorer to dmv to register and plate the vehicle, I rode with him and my wife followed. On the way the od light came on, transmission was not shifting into gears properly then a lot of rattling loud grinding noise came from under the ford, all of a sudden as he was going around a bend on co.rt. 45 the ford pulled to the right off to the shoulder of the road and nearly flipped. Quick thinking, I took my seat belt off and threw all my body weigh toward the driver, which perhaps saved us and kept the vehicle from flipping over several times. We were shaken up. But, my wife was in tears, shaking and crying out, "OH MY GOD, I SAW SMOKE COMING OUT FROM UNDER THE VEHICLE THEN STARTED TO FLIP, BOTH LEFT TIRES CAME OFF THE GROUND," CRYING IN TEARS AND TREMBLING AS SHE RAN TO ME THROWING HER ARMS AROUND ME, "I THOUGHT U TWO WERE GOING TO DIE!!!!!!. R U ALL RIGHT?" I hugged and held her tight for what seemed like an infinity, assuring her I was ok, so is Norm (the driver). She was shaking and crying terribly. The ford was still running but wouldn't move in reverse nor drive. Called my mechanic, he came and towed it; a week or so later he called me to inform that the transmission ripped itself apart and was junk, that he would charge $2500.00 to fix it, which included cost of labor and a rebuilt transmission. My wife has had a couple of nightmares since, of the incident, but I (we) weren't so lucky: the ford flipped, rolled over several times and went up in flames, she woke up screaming, crying and shaking, waking me up: I didn't tell her that I have had similar nightmares, only difference is, Norm was unconscious , I was pinned and couldn't get out, we were burnt alive. My wife and I can't afford to sink another $2500.00 into this ford. Other mechanics want over $3000.00 to fix it. I was shocked to read all the similar complaints on 2002 ford explorer transmissions. Obviously, the transmission was poorly designed with many defects. Moreover, I am surprised to find out that ford has not made any recalls and no 1983 class action law suit has been filed against the ford company. Why is that? Were all the Complaintiffs, here, compensated for the repairs? Interested to hear from all. Especially from those who would join me in such a class action law suit.

- , Fulton, NY, USA

problem #433

Nov 032015

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

This is an obvious manufacturer error. This is happening to every Ford Explorer in the early 2000's...Especially the 2002s. I will be jumping on board the class action lawsuit if they will not repair this obvious defect.

- , Stuart, FL, USA

problem #432

Apr 112016

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles


Bad transmission failed transmission suddenly z!!!!!!!!$$$!$$$$$

- , Rockland, NY, USA

problem #431

Aug 012013

Explorer 6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 260,000 miles

Again, my transmission failed me and again I got it fixed,

- , Toltec, USA

problem #430

Oct 092015

Explorer V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Had the vehicle a week (back in 2002) when I had the first problem with it not shifting into 4-wheel drive; then the gear shift would constantly pop out of gear, then there was slippage in the transmission, and now the transfer case destroyed itself -- the vehicle only has 55,000 miles! I use it on bad weather days, and for trips -- that's it.

- , Colorado Springs, CO, US

problem #429

Nov 042015

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 188,000 miles


So i got this 02 explorer form auto nation ford Scottsdale AZ, I put 1900 down in January 2015, starting in late october it started slipping gears and jerking forward. Once i took it to the transmission shop they said it was slipping in all gears and that i need to rebuild and or replace the transmission. anywhere from $950 to $1200.

What really grips me is that i'm still making payments on this vehicle and its my main means for transportation to and from work. How can people simply get a head and provide for there family's when we are hit int the face with repairs for this king of money. i simply don't have it. Thank You ford

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #428

Apr 102011

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

Failure in automatic transmission was no 2nd gear. Got rebuilt transmission installed with extra transmission filter in cooling hose and it's working fine now for 3 years

- , Loretto, MN, US

problem #427

Aug 152015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

Bought a used 2002 Ford Explorer FROM the Ford Dealership in Olympia (Mullinax) and they had all the info from previous repairs and oil changes so thought we were getting a great vehicle. It started pulling and jerking between lower gears and then it completely stopped shifting gears and the O/D light started flashing. We barely got it to a transmission place and were told it needed to be completely replaced so we towed it to the Ford Dealership in Pullman, WA hoping they would at least do it right and would be under warranty. It will cost us $3400 to repair a vehicle we bought for $4500 9 months ago!!!! I am sooooo beyond angry!!! I have read (of course I didn't see all these complaints before I purchased!) all of these complaints saying this is a common issue and I am disgusted that Ford won't own up to the fact that #1 = they make crappy vehicles and #2 = transmission in these early 00's years should be recalled!!! OWN UP TO YOUR FAILURES FORD!!!!! I will NEVER EVER buy a Ford or trust one of their dealers again.

- , Pullman, USA

problem #426

Jan 152013

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

The transmission really needs to be recalled $2500 repair is uncalled for, when the mileage is so low.


problem #425

Jun 012014

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles


I bought mine for $6k out the door in 2013. It lasted me 8 lonnngggg nasty months of doom and gloom and about 4 or 5 long periods of being without it for repairs. I seriously thought this truck was possessed. The transmission had just been rebuilt before I bought it. I had all the paperwork. The night I brought it home I was stranded out of town. Transmission again.

The dealership towed it, and fixed it under warranty in a couple days. Ok, cool, I thought. Let me tell you...The lights would randomly go on and off while I was driving. Constantly. Doors ajar constantly for no reason. The power windows would just stop working, then work again. Weird noises coming from absolutely everywhere. I had to fix something about "coil packs?" (I know nothing about vehicles...) Bangs, dings, grinding...The 4x4 didn't work which I found out in a blizzard.... The doors were grinding and dropping chunks of rust. The running boards were falling off.

So one night it started making the dreaded ticking/banging from the timing chain. The oil pressure was dipping. I didn't have enough time to repair it. BANG.....BANG......BAAAANG....and dead on the highway. I guess the plastic tensioners broke? I ended up selling her to a friend's uncle with a blown motor. I even had a bunch of people look to buy her, as well as my family look at it, and the engine was toast. I sell it.....It started right up for him. They're possessed. Period. Apparently the oil dipstick harness had completely ripped off. Lord knows if it had any oil in it.

Owning one of these is like being that little kid trying to run from hole to hole at a dam sticking his fingers in to save to town from flooding....except it's not fingers, it's money.

- , Triangle, VA, USA

problem #424

Sep 132015

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 143,000 miles

I will never drive a Ford again.This truck has been nothing but problems and my father paid a lot for it in 2004.It also has had power window issues, the crack on rear panel under window and transmission problems. It is a nightmare but a car payment isn't in the budget at this time or this headache would be gone.

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #423

Jun 012013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Ford should be terminated and never be able to make vehicles anymore. They made and sold defective vehicles and won't do anything about it.Put the owner, President of Ford and anyone else responsible for selling defective vehicles in jail! They are crooks. This has cost me more than money, it cost my job, home.. I will never have anything to do with or good to say about Ford unless they recall 2002 thru 2005 Exploders for their junk transmissions and timing chains for the engine...

Update from Aug 11, 2015: ford will not make good on their junk transmissions..i will never have anything to do with ford again! they are thieves.i recomend nobody ever buy anything from ford.

- , Silver Lake Wisconsin, USA

problem #422

Jun 062015

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,274 miles

Our 30 year old daughter is dead because of Ford's faulty transmission. Her 2002 Ford Explorer surged into reverse in her garage on April 1st, 2012 and she was pinned with the driver side door against the wall of her garage and she died while her 2 year old baby was strapped in her car seat. She lay there pinned for quite sometime before she was found.

Ford should take responsibility for our daughter's death. I have emailed Ford many times all I get is a sorry for your loss. Ford needs to step forward and be accountable for our Daughter's death and recall every Ford explorer on the road with this faulty transmission before it happens to someone else. Ford not only took daughter's life, but ruined our family, we have been torn to pieces and will never be put back together.

Be careful everyone with older Ford Explorers, please don't take any chances! Those transmissions are a time bomb waiting to explode. In a split second you life can change forever as we found out the hard way.

- , Fort Sask, AB, Canada

problem #421

Jul 102009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

The family was on the way to the beach for summer vacation. We were 25 miles from our destination when the transmission quit. We had to have it replaced with a rebuilt transmission from Ford. It really threw a huge burden on us during our vacation.

- , Mclean, VA, USA

problem #420

Sep 162012

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

The rebuilt Ford transmission that we had replaced 3 years earlier failed on us. We took it to a Ford dealer and had it replaced again with another transmission

- , Mclean, VA, USA

problem #419

Oct 222013

Explorer LT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles

The transmission on my Explorer went out for the second time at 124,000 miles. Going back to the same transmission repair shop the gave me a great discount for being return customer and gave me the same warranty on the repairs that Ford would have given me for the same repairs. In addition the charge for the repairs was less than half of what the Ford dealership where I had bought this my second Exploder.

>>>> Below is my First Transmission Failure Complaint on this site <<<<

[When I took the Exploder to the dealer they wanted $4,200 to repair the transmission. In speaking to the service rep. he mentioned "off the record" that it was a design flaw in the transmission and that he would never "formally" admit to that fact. At that point not trusting Ford or the dealer I found a reputable repair shop that only does transmission work. The service rep was well aware of the Ford Exploder transmission problem and explained to me that they "... repair several of them each week..." the price was $3200.

Ford needs to step up and show some integrity by standing behind their product and reimburse those who purchased Explorers with flawed transmissions.]

- , Falls Church, VA, USA

problem #418

Jul 142010

Explorer LT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

When I took the Exploder to the dealer they wanted $4,200 to repair the transmission. In speaking to the service rep. he mentioned "off the record" that it was a design flaw in the transmission and that he would never "formally" admit to that fact. At that point not trusting Ford or the dealer I found a reputable repair shop that only does transmission work. The service rep was well aware of the Ford Exploder transmission problem and explained to me that they "... repair several of them each week..." the price was $3200.

Ford needs to step up and show some integrity by standing behind their product and reimburse those who purchased Explorers with flawed transmissions.

- , Falls Church, VA, USA

problem #417

Mar 122012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

2nd Time transmission had to be rebuilt 1500$!!!!! Seriously FORD Wow!

- , Eden, NY, USA

problem #416

Oct 012005

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

This is my first complaint after replacing in 2005 right after purchasing I will be adding 3 more complaints considering I've had to replace transmission 4 times since purchased in 2008.

- , Gainesville, GA, USA

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