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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:
93,066 miles
Total Complaints:
427 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replaced with rebuilt transmission (111 reports)
  2. replace transmission (83 reports)
  3. transmission needs to be recalled (81 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 22)

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

problem #415

Mar 012013

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

3rd rebuilt transmission since 2005, rebuilt in 2005, 2008, 2013 and now just went out again! Ford made a terrible product when they made this year! It's obviously a Ford issue and Ford needs to recall this immediately! This can be dangerous too when it won't go in gear and your driving down the road with many other people around you! Not OK for me as a mother of 2 and one is a child with special needs and I have to drive to many doctors 100 miles away very often!! Something needs to be done!!

- , Gainesville, GA, USA

problem #414

Jan 282010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

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


- , 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

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

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

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