Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. 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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
97,444 miles
Total Complaints:
149 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. ford should recall these enclosed transmissions (39 reports)
  2. Replace transmission (37 reports)
  3. not sure (34 reports)
  4. repair transmisson (11 reports)
  5. drop the tranny and bring to a shop for a rebuild (8 reports)
  6. rebuild / replace transmission (7 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2002 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 7 of 8)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #29

Dec 082007

Explorer XLS 4.0L Flex Fuel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles


How these people sleep at night after failure to address a problem as long lasting as this one wonders me. Explorers are great SUV's. Love mine except the STUPID problems. Transmissions have been a problem in these things forever the new computer shifted model is just worse than the rest. Do they do no road or endurance testing on these thing? Mine has been making trouble since 40,000 miles. Would that had I unloaded the thing then. Unfortunately for me loved the ride, the space inside, the maneuverability, the quiet ride etc.

- , Shippensburg, PA, USA

problem #28

Sep 042007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,253 miles

the 2002 ford explorer is a joke i bought it used in 2004 the dealer telling me it was still under warranty i drove it for around a year then the transmission started slipping and making a loud clanking noise when shifting i took it to a ford dealer who said is was not under warranty so now i am stuck paying out of pocket for the piece of junk i will never own a ford again even if it was given to me i would not take it because you are out more money fixing the dumb thing

- , War, WV, USA

problem #27

Nov 232007

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

So im complaint number 25, and now I just had to get back on here and tell you that my tranny is gone on my truck Im mean POS Explorer!!!! Its great not having a vehicle, I didn't even have this thing for a full year.

- , Willmar, MN, USA

problem #26

Nov 202007

Explorer XL 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles


sounds horrible and just downright annoying when you cant drive your kids to school because the truck sounds like its going to blow up because it thinks its hitting the rev limiter, but you are barely moving.

- , Denver, CO, USA

problem #25

Nov 052007

(reported on)

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

We bought this Explorer only because we had a baby, last December, and now not even a year later, the tranny sounds like it is about to go. From park to drive it takes about 5 seconds to kick in, then shifting into second and third, it really clunks and you what almost get a whiplash, okay not that bad but its really pissing me off. I want to take it back up to Miller where I got it and tell them to give my Toyota Celica back. I went up to Ford and all they did was print some sh*t off the computer and gave it to me, so I don't even know where the tranny fluid is, let alone try to find the special tools the papers say you need. I should have just gotten that Navigator instead of this junk-mobile of a Ford. I think Ford should recall all these pieces of junk and give us our money back or give us brand-spank in new ones that actually will work for some years.

- , Willmar, MN, USA

problem #24

Oct 282007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,300 miles

With 57,300 miles my transmission on my 2002 Explorer started slipping when shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear and when placed in reverse. Ford Motor Co. would not pay anything to help fix the problem. The service department at the local Ford dealer said even if my extended warranty was still good he said it would not be covered. My repair bill is 2,300 dollars. I plan on selling this car as soon as I can. I filed a formal complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is the agency that forces a recall. I want all others with the problem to take a few minutes of their time to do the same. Have your vehicle mileage and VIN #.

If we all do this we may be able to push for a class action law suit as well´┐Ż John

- , San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #23

Aug 292007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles


I baby'd this truck. But at 93,000 miles began to hear grinding in rear... turned out to be rear wheel bearings. Short time later foward gear went out in transmission. Had to get all new rear wheel bearings and a remanufactured transmission for $3500. While it was in the shop I went down the street and bought the competing Hummer H3 with 6 yr/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. I'm done with Ford.

- , Eastpointe, MI, USA

problem #22

Oct 132007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

This is the final straw for me with this poorly engineered vehicle. The tranny hesitates and shifts unpredictably from first to second then O/D light starts blinking. After lots of research it appears the most likely cause is worn case bore, where the pin for the 2nd gear and overdrive band servo actuator passes through the case. If the people designing these machines spent even a bit of time in their lives working with their hands on real parts they would know better than to pass a hard steel pin in a wear point fashion through a softer aluminum casting. It is no wonder so many transmissions experience this problem. The shame is most consumers don't get this explained to them so they believe its the fact that these "American" vehicles are built with poor quality that they are problematic when most times its the poor engineering causing the long term reliability problems. Isn't it interesting that so many Japanese engineered vehicles can be built in North America and still remain reliable well into old age? The reasonably responsible thing to do is buy something designed in Japan and built here. Which definitely takes Ford products off the list.

- , Ripon, CA, USA

problem #21

Sep 162007

(reported on)

Explorer 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

recently I was sent a letter notifying me of a recall with the cruise control catching fire, Ford's solution is to put in a fusible link. A fusible link does not fix the problem with the cruise it only keeps the wires from starting a fire past that point. It would be nice if they replaced the cruise itself. Recall # 05s28

- , San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #20

Sep 192007

(reported on)

Explorer EXL 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I was told Ford's specs on 1999-2002 models for torquing the valve body on was too low causing the gaskets to blow out and cause internal leakage. If Ford knows they are wrong, why not a recall??? Repairs call for replacing the gaskets and torquing to current specs. I had the bad experience of having the local garage jerk me around on the actual repairs so I think I am going to pay about $200 more to have it resolved than it should have. I have had it in for the 3rd time and will be picking up the vehicle later today. I'll see if they know what they are talking about. After resolving the problem about a month ago, the same issues came back. Now they said they needed to re-program the computer! Sigh!

- , River Falls, WI, USA

problem #19

Sep 102007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles


Transmission is starting to slip, and clunk felt when it does catch. Slips when going into reverse. Less that 60,000 easy miles on this 2002 Ford Explorer. Scared to find out how much this will cost to repair. This definitely seems like it should be a recall item.....

- , San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #18

Sep 052007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Didn't think I was alone. Have always owned Honda's and Toyota's and went against my gut instinct when buying this car. I liked the looks of it but was leery of buying a FORD (Fix Or Repair Daily).. Put $700 worth of brake work last month and now this.

My OD light had been flashing and then car would not shift into gear, check engine light followed. We took to a FORD dealer and were told it would cost $3500 to replace tranny. Replace the tranny on a car with 70,000 miles on it? They will keep getting away with this until people stand up. CONTACT the company, whatever you have to do. I'm going to do whatever I can. This is complete b. s. . and of course we owe more than the car is worth and are screwed all the way around. Good Luck!

- , Fallbrook, CA, USA

problem #17

Aug 162007

(reported on)

Explorer LS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Well, after reading all the complaints, looks like I am another one trapped with the 2002 Junk Ford Explorer with the OD light flashing, the gears slipping and no Ford answer.

There is my last Ford and maybe the last American car that I will own.

- , Rockville, MD, USA

problem #16

Aug 142007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

Have driven ~1 million miles. 3 vehicles over 250kmi [all mopar], never had a tranny problem and don't change the fluid, etc. Do normal maintenance. This explorer is a pain. Having another used tranny installed. Failure happened 5 hours from home. Rental car and connections with friend got me home. Will replace this junker ASAP. Also, the plastic across rear and below window cracked. Another defect? Never notified of any recalls, although I bought as 2nd owner at 22kmi.

- , Marienville, PA, USA

problem #15

Jun 292007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles


- , Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #14

Jul 222007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

WOW! Thought I was alone on this. My POS Explorer tranny is slipping going 20-30 mph. Driving to work on a Saturday going in the freeway. Luckly less traffic and my tranny starts slipping. I'm like what the f#@! I'm giving gas and my rpm is reving up but speed wasn't. Took the next exit and took small streets. Called a couple buddies for advice then left work and went to a Jiffy Lube to get my tranny fluid serviced. Left Jiffy Lube for home and starts slipping again. WHAT THE F@#!!!!! Worth the try but spent $90 buck for nothing.

Should of listen to my girlfriend, buddies, and family about POS Fords! Should of known the sales rep at Ford doesn't own one either. NEVER again will I buy another ford in my life! Got 1.5 years left on my payments for a truck sitting in my drive way. Too late to trade it now. Just another problem added on to the list for that truck. Gotta drive mom's 97 camry to work that still drives and feels like new off the lot. Now I know why they sell Fords cheaper. They want to make sure you have that extra money to repair it. Payoff $28,000. Repairs $2,800. Seeing look on your own face when the tranny goes out, Priceless.

- , Milwaukie, OR, USA

problem #13

Jul 172007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

This ford sucks. I had an explorers prior to this one and it was great. We had a valve spring in the engine break at 38,000 miles and was told by Ford that it's out of warranty and not their problem. Now we are having tranmission problems for which they issued a technical service bulletin and Ford once again told us that it's not there problem. Are you noticving a trend here, Ford built a bunch of crappie vehicles and won't stand behind them. Well, that's the last Ford will ever see of my money, and I plan to tell everybody about my experience with Ford, so pass the word.

- , Lebanon, PA, USA

problem #12

Jun 222007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

This 2002 Ford Explorer XLT with the 4.6L V8 seemed perfect for our family when we purchased it about 2 and half years ago. It has the off-road package (although the wildest thing it's seen was a little mud) and the towing package (has never towed ANYTHING).

The Explorer showed trouble signs about a month after we purchased it (wouldnt start one morning... sitting in the driveway and the thing wouldnt start... had it towed to the dealership and the problem was fixed under warranty, but thats a different story). A few months after the first problem, the transmission was slipping. This was around 50,000 miles and the warranty fixed it. Well, after that round of issues, we thought we were home free. The Explorer performed flawlessly for about 2 years.

Then the transmission problem started. First it started off small (much like others, around 95,000 miles), a pause between shifting from Park to Drive. As the months went on, the problem got worse. It would seem to take AT LEAST 5 seconds to shift into gear. Well, it came time for me to come home from college (about 150 miles away from home). On the way to pick me up, my mother started having SEVERE problems. The Explorer didnt seem to have enough power to climb these West Virginia hills (it wouldnt downshift) and the O/D Off light was flashing. She finally made it to pick me up and we started home. The Explorer had a very hard time shifting out of first. The rpm's would hit the red and it would suddenly "jerk" into the next gear. I noticed that if I let off of the gas when it "should be shifting", it made the shifting a "little" easier. The drive home took forever, top speed around 60 mph (ridiculous for a V8... I would generally cruise at interstate speeds of 75-80 mph before the problems). Thankfully, we made it home with the O/D Off light flashing and the Service Engine Soon light on.

The Explorer now has around 110,000 miles and we have yet to have it serviced. We still drive it on occasion (only when we HAVE to), at least until I can afford to have it serviced (I was told it needs a pressure modulator pack). I am disappointed with Ford's Automatic transmissions (but I must say, the Explorer is a tough SUV... failing transmission, but it never did leave me stranded on the way home from college.... BUT I figure it's about to lay down and die any day now!). I do agree that Ford needs to issue a recall on these transmissions. How can they even imagine that it's possible for all these problems to just be wear and tear?? Our Explorer was babied and well taken care of and now the transmission is going out... what is up with that?? Come on Ford, get with it. I also have a 1996 Chevy Camaro (beautiful car). This car is much older than the Explorer and I promise you, it's been drive MUCH harder yet it's still running EXCELLENT. Come on Ford, how is it that you can say there is nothing wrong with the auto tranny is the 2002 Ford Explorer? Im a college student working very hard to get through school, and now I will have to find a way to pay to have the tranny serviced. I dont appreciate Ford not offering any help with this. Whatever happened to looking out for your customers? (sorry this is so long... i didnt realize how much complaining i could really do)

- , Marmet, WV, USA

problem #11

Apr 212007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,000 miles

Not even make it to 50k and the f*ckin piece of sh*t transmission slips and would take 5 seconds to go into reverse

Ford = Found On Road Dead

- , Trooper, P. A. 1, USA

problem #10

Mar 262007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

Same story. Junk Transmission. Wheel Bearings go bad constantly, Differential crapped out once. And, to top it all off, I'm upside down on the loan. This will definately be my last Ford unless they decide to step up and offer some kind of assistance for this piece of crap that they dumped on the public. At the very least, they could make a vehicle that will outlast the loan that is paying for it.

- , Leavittsburg, OH, USA

Read the next 9 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?