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:
109,492 miles
Total Complaints:
163 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (67 reports)
  2. replace / rebuild entire steering column (54 reports)
  3. repair / replace shift lever (19 reports)
  4. rigged it so I could drive (4 reports)
  5. goodwill repair and upgrade manufacture of part (3 reports)
  6. new steering column (3 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 3 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #123

Mar 242011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles


Hi, I just wanted to add my complaint about something many of you have already experienced-namely that poorly designed shift linkage coupler that seems to cause the shift lever to break off in everyone's hand when it is not convenient. On 3/24/11 at about 0200 hours, I stopped at a convenience store to get something to eat before I got to work. As I prepared to back up, Snap! Off came the shift lever in my hand with the transmission set between Park and Reverse. Sound familiar? I also pulled the shifter boot off to investigate and found the same ragged metal where the coupler had sheared away. I also called the nearest Ford dealer and was told that this part could not be purchased by itself and that I would have to pay $1480.00 for a whole new steering column assembly not including labor. I was also told by the parts clerk that this failure rarely happened and that there currently was no recall for this. It looks like the shysters at Ford have trained their representatives well at double-speak and selling you something you don't need at an abusive price. I then went the used parts route, but could find no compatible steering columns at the local wrecking yards. If there had been any, they would have cost between $125.00 and $225.00 not including labor. Things seemed hopeless until I checked on eBay and my faith in human decency was restored. I found the replacement part at a super sweet price - just $40.00 which includes shipping! The full name for the part is a long one - "steering column shift linkage coupler lever bracket". This part is made by a company called Dorman and there were some other after market companies listed as well. I couldn't tell from the pictures if this part was made from the same shoddy material that Ford uses, but the price certainly makes this a much better deal than getting hosed for 1 to 2 grand not to mention the labor required to replace a steering column.

I still think that Ford still produces apretty good vehicle, but I don't appreciate being lied to so they can make a buck at our expense and safety! Ford needs to start a recall on this problem now and reimburse those who were tricked into buying parts they didn't need!!

Update from Oct 25, 2011: Hi again, my last complaint in this catagory was # 123 and I said that I had located the part to fix this problem on eBay. Success!!! The part fit and my Explorer is working fine. If you look at my complaint, you will see that the part is made by Dorman Products and I found it for $40.00 including the shipping. I got a co-worker who used to be a mechanic to install it for two Porterhouse steaks and I was all set. He had to grind down the end of the shift lever slightly (not much) to get the mechanism to shift properly and smoothly, but that was a minor detail. The important thing is that this fix is very cheap and works well. Feel free to look at complaint # 123 to see the full name of this part. I just call it a "shift lever coupler". This is definitely a cheaper and better alternative than spending a couple thousand dollars and replacing the steering column when this part can be replaced in 2 to 3 hours and is just as good if not better than the original part. Good luck!!

- , Eagar, AZ, USA

problem #122

Apr 272011

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

was driving in reverse to park car, was attempting to place back in park when the gear shifter broke off steering column in my hand. called ford customer service and the took down VIN # and stated that i was responsible for the repairs

- , Honolulu, HI, USA

problem #121

Jun 202010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

Another one bites the dust. Went to put into reverse and gear shift fell off in my hand. Still have not fixed but driving it by manually changing it with my fingers. Took to a local mechanic and it blew his mind. Only thing they knew to do was replace steering column. I am not paying that much as long as I can continue to drive it as is.

Does anyone have any recent success with the guy from Sweden? Has this part held up? Was it easy to install?

Come on Ford - Do something about this.....

- , Clyde, NC, USA

problem #120

Aug 282009

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles


All I can say is its been one thing right after another with this vehicle,,and after seeing this site and others,,it really pisses me off ford isn't recalling these issues,,,beware to you all,,,after this was repaired I lost reverse and read that too is an ongoing issue with the transmission on this yr as well! Yay,,go ford,,,,,F=F*ck O=our C=customers D=Dearly!!!! That's why I think Ford stands for!

- , Waterboro, ME, USA

problem #119

Dec 112010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Merry Christmas! My gear shift fell limp in my hands and it is stuck in park. Not to mention, the Exploder won't start, after two transmissions and a new four wheel drive. Has anybody had this mess fixed other than thru a dealership? I am so sick of this piece of junk falling apart and I refuse to go to a high dollar dealership for repairs. Why doesn't Ford stand up to their mistake and do a recall? It's so frustrating when big companies don't do what is right! You know what FORD stands for... Fix Or Repair Daily! Last time I will buy a Ford!!!!!

- , Overland Park, KS, USA

problem #118

Dec 022010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Went to the airport at Dulles,Va. to pick up my priest and went to shift into park in front of door #6 and "SNAP" damn shifter was dangling by the wire. Couldn't get keys out and couldn't get it in neutral for a tow. For a 7o'clock pick up, ended up home around mid-nite. Then the dealer calls the next day to say, good news ya know, its going to cost $2148.00 to replace ALL, steering and shifter. I checked the internet to see how common this was and to my is. Has anyone contacted ford about a class action law suit? Has anyone contacted ford and initiated a recall? I don"t know about you all, but I just don"t have that, as extra monies. Has anyone heard of someone, getting re-imbursed by ford for this problem? Thanks, Gary Krichbaum, desperate in Va.

- , ashburn, va, USA

problem #117

Dec 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles


Add me to the list of 2002 Ford Explorer drivers who've had their gear shift fall off....

Went to drop the dogs off at the groomer this morning, pulled into the parking lot, went to stick the car in park and the gear shift just broke off in my hands, like a dangling arm. Waiting on a tow as I type, with the car stuck in between park and reverse. Keys stuck in the ignition.

This is extremely inconvenient right before Christmas :(

From reading other posts on this forum, it sounds like it's going to be quite the expensive ordeal as well.

- , Landrum, SC, USA

problem #116

Nov 252010

Explorer XLT 6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,817 miles

I am just glad that this didn't happen while driving. When I was putting the lever into park , the shift lever just fell off. There is no way it can be driven until it is fixed. Of course it happened on Thanksgiving, no way to have it worked on and no way to go anywhere. It looks like this is a problem with other 2002 Explorers.

If this is happening frequently w/2002's, why hasn't Ford reported it as a problem and sent out a recall notice? This could be a real problem if it happened while on the road and downshifting.

- , Seattle, WA, USA

problem #115

Nov 222010

Explorer XLT v6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,262 miles

Our mechanic called a Ford dealership and they said that they had never heard about this happening. So mechanic found a used steering column for $200 and $150 in labor later was good to go but you'll never guess what happened a couple days later with the used one! OMG Broke off again so went searching online and lo and behold numerous people have had issues with this and the 2002 Ford Explorer. I also cannot believe that Ford does not do something about this. Has anyone else tried the part from the fellow in Sweden? There goes my X-mas club money - siiiiigh - can't get ahead if you want to :(

- , Scarborough, ME, USA

problem #114

Nov 202010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

I stepped on the brake and tried to shift into "R" to back out of the driveway and SNAP! The gear shift was dangling like a broken arm! I was like, WHAAAAAAT! This totally freaked me out. I didn't know what to think, other than this is going to cost this unemployed teacher way too much to fix. It happened Saturday evening in Mom and Dad's driveway so at least it's in a safe place and I won't have to pay for towing twice. I'll have to wait until Monday when my Dad's mechanic shop opens and gets a look at it. Total bummer. Ford.......what's up?

- , Joliet, IL, USA

problem #113

Oct 022010

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles


I went to go put the car into gear and the gear shift broke off.I havent had it chekc out again but i went on here and i see that alot of people are having the same probelm. It should be recalled.

- , Warwick, RI, USA

problem #112

Oct 132010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,345 miles

I pulled into my driveway at the end of a long work day. I stepped on the brake and moved the shift lever to park and it broke off in my hand. I didn't push it hard, I slid it over and it broke off like it was made of butter. This is two months after my wife's 2002 Ford Explorer, Eddie Bauer Edition, did the exact same thing.

This is an obvious case of an item that needs to be designated as a recall item. This is very unsafe. It will cost me 1,500 dollars to have it fixed because they will have to replace the entire steering column.

I am mad as hell and want Ford to repair this at their cost and reimburse me for the 1,500 I had to pay for our other Ford.

- , Murrieta, CA, US

problem #111

Aug 122010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,333 miles

We were on vacation driving in a rainstorm, in a traffic jam, at the top of the Rocky Mountains. I pulled over to the side of the road and put the car in park. I put the car back into drive and the shift lever broke off in my hand. I was shocked. Here we were, at the top of the Rocky Mountains, right at the Continental Divide, in a rainstorm, in a single lane traffic jam and the shift lever broke off. We were in shock. We have been very careful with this car. We called the local Ford dealers and were not able to find anyone who carried the part. I drove it all the way to the West side of Colorado to Rifle, Colorado, where we had hotel reservations. Needless to say, we were VERY upset with this poor engineering. It broke off like it was butter. Unbelievable. I found a good local mechanic who rigged it so we could get home to California...we felt very uncomfortable and unsafe the whole way back. When we got home a local dealership replaced the entire steering column for $1,500.

The story gets worse....I have a 2nd 2002 Ford Explorer, Eddie Bauer Edition...guess what broke off today? Yep, the same piece of garbage that is attached to the steering column with pot metal. Two months later, our 2nd 2002 Ford Explorer shift lever broke off in my driveway.

We have been very careful with this one also. We are in our mid 40's, both teachers, never 4 wheel driving, etc.... We just use them like any other family would.

We are VERY disappointed with the poor manufacturing and engineering of this Ford. I will call Ford tomorrow and tell them what happened. I am hoping to be treated fairly. They should replace this second one at their cost and reimburse us for the first one and make this a recall item. This is VERY unsafe.

- , Murrieta, CA, US

problem #110

Oct 162010

Explorer 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,823 miles

Why is it so acceptable for these companies to overtly and unashamedly cheat us??? This is ridiculous, the entire gear shift lever fell off. I have never had this happen on any vehicle, and to make it worse, they said that the entire steering column must be replaced at exaggerated prices. I am tired of being cheated and ripped off in a society where I can barely afford to live. I am tired of being cheated and being taken advantage of and more than that, I am tired of feeling like there is nothing I can do but to take it. Enough is enough of the games these car manufacturers are playing with consumers. You know, people only do to you what you allow them to do and we have allowed them to do far too much. I work hard for the lil money I get and to be expected to throw it away so easily for parts that they know will break is insane. What can you say and ultimately the real question is who is listening? No one cares because the means justify the end for most people. One thing life has shown me without question is that your happiness will most certainly come at the expense of my own because that's the selfish, arrogant people that are now in control of the world. If it wasn't so, then why and how can so many things that are clearly wrong still be tolerated. Who's worse, they who do wrongs to people or those who sit and look without opening their mouths???

That's my gripe, yell, and rant and guess what I know, NO ONE REALLY CARES how me and my family must suffer because those in control want more than they will ever need to survive in this world. THANKS FORD making my life more difficult. Thank you for taking food out of my children's mouths, thank you for charging ridiculous prices for scrap metal and molded plastic.Looking forward to karma because there is nothing anyone can say that can justify this madness!!!!! While you are sitting with your family in your big luxurious homes I hope you feel good about yourselves. Know this with perfection...what goes up must at some point come down, and you will reap the same seeds that you have sown upon others......

- , Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #109

Aug 152010

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

On August 15th I was pulling my Explorer out of my garage to wash it. When I shifted from reverse to park the shifter broke and was in my hand. I couldn't believe what happened. I went inside and googled the problem and to my surprise it is a common problem.I was pissed and worried, not sure what I was going to do. I have no means to fix it and now me and my wife are shifting it manually. We have no choice. I know there is a part that I can by that replaces the broken part(from Sweden Bob) and it's made out of better aluminum I believe. I just don't have the funds to get it.

This is not right. Ford should recall this since it happens due to the part not being made right not driver error. Come on Ford take care of this issue so you don't have your customers shifting manually and getting stranded due to your part that was made of cast aluminum when it should of been made of steel or better aluminum. A RECALL IS IN ORDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , Ontario, CA, USA

problem #108

Jul 242010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

when i try to put my car in reverse, i cant because the piece what hold the shifter was broke. this happens after a very nice dinner with my friends and everybody went at his houses except my wife my daugther and me because i cant move my explorer . when i went to the dealer the guy tell me i need buy a new steering column for just 1400 dollars plus labor. do you can belive that`s stupid and crazy . ford need make a recall fot this problem in the steering column.

- , Citrus Heights, CA, USA

problem #107

Jun 052010

Explorer LTD 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,000 miles

Had the same problem as the rest of you. As John S.(post 98) said thank god for Robert in Sweden (post 72) I got the part that he makes in his shop. It took about eight days to arrive but it was well worth it. I had already removed the broken part and was using my fingers to operate the shift lever within the column. If it wasn't for this part I would continue to drive it this way. If I'm spending $1500 to $2000 for a repair it will be for something major in the drivetrain, not for something this senseless! If you can remove the old part you can install this. It is not a perfect fit but it does the job. Mine does not feel like it did from the factory due to my impatience with the installation. I also broke the microswitch that operates the key release, but if you just clip the wire the key will release. Should this be recalled? WITHOUT A DOUBT!!!

Update from Sep 26, 2011: This is Tom from post 107. I've been keeping track of these and noticed many of you have been asking about Roberts part from Sweden (post 72). It's been about a year now since I have installed Roberts part and it works fine. His part is made out of a solid aluminum rod, not cast, and he also included a new spring. I have only driven some 6000 miles or so with the new one as we only use the vehicle for winter snows and for towing the boat in the summer. I will say that there are times with the boat trailer hooked up that it can be a very hard shift and the part has held up without a glitch. The initial problem occurred when I was parked on a hill facing down with the boat in tow and I put it in park. Needless to say, it was still in drive with the lever dangling down. Had to shut the engine off and wait for my wife to chock all of the trailer and Explorer tires to be safe. Lucky for me this all happened in front of my house.

- , Fenton, MO, USA

problem #106

Jun 122010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 169,000 miles

Gear Shift falling off like a broken limb.......How can Ford honestly think this is NOT a recall......this is a VERY BIG SAFETY ISSUE that has endangered myself and others. Thank God my precious granddaughter was NOT in the car at the time.

Not to mention since this happened on a Saturday and everything was closed I had to leave the car sitting in my driveway with the key in the ignigation all weekend without being able to put the vehicle in park. How dangerous is that?

This doesn't seem to be just a random complaint as I have seen by several other consumers it has happened to.

FORD I own two of your vehicles......but I thinking about selling them BOTH because of the constant repair and failure that I have experience with your product.


- , Irmo, SC, USA

problem #105

May 272010

Explorer XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Gear shift link broke in half same as everyone else - shifting by hand now until I get pulled over or get a replacement part / steering column. Having a crack on my rear door panel and a broken gear shift lever makes me feel like a real "Explorer".

- , Neptune, NJ, USA

problem #104

May 262010

Explorer Limited 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

Stranded. Need I say more. Ford used a cheap cast aluminum part when steel should have been used. Ford said never heard of problem before but from other posts we know that's not correct. Will get rid of junk when repaired.

- , Arlington, TX, USA

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