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 4 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #103

Apr 132010

Explorer LX V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 157,000 miles


I prepared to back out of the garage, shifted into reverse, and the gear shift lever was dangling in my hand like a broken arm. I pulled off the rubber gasket, thinking I could use vice grips to get it to the dealer. No such luck; who has ever heard of such a thing? The service manager at the dealership gave me a $900.00 estimate to fix with a used steering column. When I asked how this could happen, all I got was "Well the car does have 157,000 miles." My response: "Puh...leez; there have to be millions of cars in junk yards across America with more miles and more problems to keep them out of service, and I would guess that no more than 4 have had the gear shift lever fall off." the service manager said that he had never heard of this. After reading the posts, I find this hard to believe.

- , Bettendorf, IA, USA

problem #102

Apr 172010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,330 miles

Last night I parked my Explorer at my Dad's place on the street to stop in and say hi. Left the engine running, came back out 5 minutes later, and when I went to shift from Park to Reverse... SNAP. This is the second time I have had to fix this, and the umpteen millionth time I have had to cuss out my Explorer...

The first time this happened was shifting from Reverse to Drive and it snapped and my hand and laid flacidly there like a limp ... You get the idea. This time it fell and rested on the keys...

Ford needs to recall this before they start to really loose customers... Im already plotting the demise of my truck... Tree, Train, Cliff... (Not really) Wishfull thinking... Although the auto parts guy suggested Gas Cans and Road Flares.... Hmmmm.....

Seriously, Ford, Fix it or your gonna loose alot of followers... (Like me for starters)

- , Eugene, OR, USA

problem #101

Feb 132010

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,900 miles

click to see larger images

gear shift lever fell off

On or about February 15, 2010 I was parked at a convenience store. As I was leaving the parking lot I attempted to put the car in gear when the gear shift separated from the steering column. The gear shift completely broke off. I had the car towed to the nearest dealership where I was quoted $1965 to replace the entire column. The dealer then tried to sell me another vehicle (jerks) and when they couldn't do the deal I towed the vehicle to my mechanic who found a used column as a replacement. All total it cost $975 for the part & labor plus $400 for a car rental so I could get to work while the vehicle was being repaired. I believe this is a manufacturer defect and should be investigated as a possible recall. Ford has had problems with its steering columns in the past.

- , Westchester, CA, USA

problem #100

Apr 262010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles


The gear shift just broke off!! It sheared clean, no way to rig a pin or reconnect it. Our daughter and her friends were stranded out in the dark, we had to call for a late night tow truck. The repair shop says the dealership wants $1400 for a new steering column assembly! That is robbery! Does anyone have a source for reliable (verified) parts that we can look up?? Is FORD even looking at this at all??

- , Purdy, MO, USA

problem #99

Apr 162010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

Like everyone else on this string, I couldn't believe the shifter just broke off in my hand. The Explorer had been "a good, solid vehicle" up to that point. Now I wonder what other parts Ford cheaped out on. I'll be selling it as soon as I can. I'm just glad I was only 5 miles from home when it broke and not when I was at 9500 ft. in the Sierras just 2 weeks ago (no tow trucks for 80 miles).

My Ford dealer's service guy said they had never heard of something like it happening, and wanted $110 diagnostic fee to check to see what happened. I told him the shift lever broke off completely... what else did he need to see. I thought maybe the later model Explorers had the problem solved, but I've been finding evidence of the same thing happening on a lot of the newer models. It's just a matter of time before they are filling a complaint string like this one!

- , Santa Barbara, CA, USA

problem #98

Mar 312010

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles

2002 Ford Explorer Shifter fell off, My wife was at work, called me and said the gear shift fell off in her hand, I thought she had been drinking, Never heard of such a thing, Upon arrival I see the gear shift hanging by the wire that goes to the button for O/D. Jacked up the Car had someone sit in it with the brake on and manually put into gear, Got it home and went to the local Ford dealer, Explained the problem they said it was very common, Told me the part listed @ 1400.00 plus labor, I thought the guy was crazy. I went home took the broken part off Very easy, Found part on Internet for 79.00 from a guy in Sweden, Waiting for UPS as we speak, Can't believe there is no recall on explorer, Thank God for this gentlemen in Sweden, How come Ford can't produce this part, Because they would rather sell you the Whole steering Column More MONEY.

Anybody want advice Email me

- , Tolland, CT, USA

problem #97

Dec 162009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


We went to put the truck in reverse and the entire gear shift broke. I believe this should be recalled. When I contacted the ford company they said it was not recalled and basically i am sol now.

- , Tehachapi, CA, US

problem #96

Mar 262010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

The gear shift just broke off as I was putting it into park. Metal part just broke. Ford dealer says it will be about $2000 to rebuild the steering column, $1500 just for the parts! Now I see I am not alone. This is really inexcusable.

- , Beaverton, OR, US

problem #95

Feb 212010

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,104 miles

FORD = FROD!!!! I have read all of the threads. This is some serious BS. this is a definite RECALL. why doesn't ford help its customers? and to think I thought ford was TOUGH! lol I owned TONKA trucks stronger then them. they need to recall! I woke up early to get some milk for my son. thanks to ford my car shifter broke off and my crying son didn't get his milk because daddy was stuck at the store with a broken car. THANK YOU FORD. I'LL MAKE SURE MY NEXT CAR IS NOT A FORD. or should I say FROD!

- , Bakersfield, CA, USA

problem #94

Mar 152010

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,800 miles

Gear shift handle broke clean off trying to shift from park into reverse. Purchased replacement parts (shifter, transceiver and seal) for $110, labor should be about 2 hours. From the number of complaints there seem to be about this problem, Ford really should consider issuing a recall. However, one thing that gave me a little comfort was the parts guy telling me that the part numbers have changed, so maybe the part has been redesigned. Can only hope!

- , Winchester, VA, USA

problem #93

Mar 132010

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles


Saturday night I was in reverse backing out of the parking spot at the corner store, with my seven and two year old in the back seat, and tried to shift into drive when the lever went limp in my hand... stuck in reverse on an descending incline that led to a busy street. Luckily I still had room to maneuver myself parallel to the curb and not block the driveway. I sat in my car with my foot on the brake for 45 minutes (I don't care who tells me it's safe with the emergency brake on, my kids were in the car and I was scared out of my mind) waiting for my cousin to come save me and my by-then restless kids. He somehow maneuvered it into drive so I could drive to my dad's house a block away. When I looked at the problem I was dumbfounded. There was a small round metal peice that looked like it had been sawed in half! I'm five feet tall and really petite and there is no way I could have done it through wear and tear if the peice wasn't just complete junk to begin with. Now I have to get my Explorer towed to the dealership because none of the junk yards on the island have the part and pay a ridiculous amount for parts and labor.

Why hasn't this been recalled? or in the least Ford do the repairs for free? It's obviously just a bad part if it's happened so many times that there's this many complaints on one website about it.

Update from Mar 20, 2010: I had to replace the whole steering column. Altogether, for the parts and labor, it cost me $2275. They said itwas probably due to a faulty brake switch that would have made shifting the gears hard. I never had any problems shifting. So I had to pay to replace the brake switch too. Nice, huh?

- , Agana Heights, Guam, Guam

problem #92

Jun 012009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,187 miles


My 2002 explorer gear shifter linkage broke off When I was trying to put the truck in R, from D and it broke off which got me yell at by my wife because I had to pick up my wife from work. I went to the ford dealership and they said that it would cost me a nice piece of change I don't have. But as I continue to look around, I think I might have found what I needed. Thanks to

- , Clarendon, TX, USA

problem #91

Feb 232010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,057 miles

i guess i just got lucky went to one ford dealership and they were real rude when i went to another ford dealer ship they hooked me up with a junkyard that sold me a steering colum for $100.00 without a key. but by going back to the same dealer ship with the vin from the donor explorer they made me a regular key for $2.50 so i could remove the ignition switch and replace it with mine 2 hours of elbow grease later it was better than new

- , Whiteland, IN, USA

problem #90

Mar 252009

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,419 miles

LEMON is all I can say! Wheel bearings (many); back hatch glass exploding due to faulty hinge assembly; door locking mechanisms which work all by themselves; & a "Service Engine Soon" light which is constantly ON......

The shift lever falling off in my hand was no big surprise! Crappy white metal parts that failed led me to source entire used steering column from scrapyard because Ford quoted $1600 for parts alone!

Really pissed off with this vehicle!

- , St.John's, NL, Canada

problem #89

Feb 052010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles

I was in the middle of a delivery when i had to make a stop and pick up some extra cups

got back into my truck and snap car was stuck in reverse and almost backed into another car. I had to take of steering column cover and find the shifter and use my finger to operate it manually. This has to be a defect I have read hundreds of complaints. This problem is going to get out and ford has to make good. Better to solve it now than let it get out the problem surface the wrong way. Call your local news stations to report the problems if the get enough reports they will research this.

- , Lithonia, GA, US

problem #88

Feb 092010

Explorer XLT 6 cyl Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles

As with other complaints I have read about breaking gear shift levers, I was in "Park" position with my front tires against the curb. I started the engine and tried to shift into reverse, however, the shift lever went limp in my hand and when I released it, it just dangled from the steering/gearshift column. After tearing away the rubber grommet covering the opening into the steering column, I could see that it was a hopeless problem re a quick fix. Up inspection of the area of the lever that broke, it appeared to be a cast part with a very flimsy wall thickness. There appeared to be a roll-pin that held the arm to the interfacing part in the column. I am surprised that it lasted as long as it did. I note that in this section I have the 13th registered complaint. In another section of "Auto Beef", there a upwards of 50 complaints indicating the same problem. My option for a fix did not include going to a "pull parts" yard so I paid full price from an independent repair facility. The cost was over $1800 because Ford said that the entire assembly inside the steering column needed to be replaced. They did not supply the broken part, only. did not think to take pictures at the time because I was so frustrated. My memory is the lever dangling from the steering column by the wires to the overdrive button..

I registered this failure with the FMC Customer Relationship Center. I spoke with a very nice person that gave me a ref. # registering my complaint. The person indicated that she did not see any other similar complaints, and said that there were not recalls regarding this item. I got the number for the FMC CRC from one of the other "Auto Beef" complaints. Sorry, I did not record it. Also, for what it's worth I think I will notify Nat'l. Highway Transp. & Safety Agency @ NHTSA.Gov.

- , Lincoln, CA, USA

problem #87

Feb 182010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,786 miles

In the past I have noticed that the shifting gear was very firm and hard to put in park. I had recently taken my vehicle in to be looked at for the hatchback and had mentioned the shift problem, though was told that it was nothing. Driving to work this morning I pulled in to the parking lot went to put it into park and the shift gear fell off. I had to leave my car in the parking lot not even sure what gear it was in, couldn't get my keys out, so had to leave my car unlocked. I had to walk home which luckily I only live a few miles from my work but when it is only 34 degrees outside it is very inconvenient. I had to wake my family to unlock the door at the house and will now have to call a tow truck and take it in for repair and estimate...

- , Coeur D Alene, ID, US

problem #86

Jan 292010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

I have read all the complaints most similar to mine. Ford needs to recall this item and refund the monies we all spent. I am calling them tomorrow

Update from Feb 20, 2010: I called Ford it is was useless. I am now complaining to NHTSA Headquarters in DC as Ford says they are the ones to really complain to, is this more of pass the buck?

- , Brookfield, CT, USA

problem #85

Jan 222010

Explorer XLT 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 154,879 miles

click to see larger images

gear shift lever fell off gear shift lever fell off gear shift lever fell off gear shift lever fell off gear shift lever fell off

The Lord above was looking out for me when the shifter broke ! I had been in town running around taking care of things, refueled, and headed home. I pulled in the driveway and went to put the shifter in park. As i was pulling back, i felt like a crunch (at that split second, it didn't feel right ), so i continued the motion of pushing up to the park position. The other half of the split second revealed what happened. Something just broke involving the shifter ! It just fell limp ! The vehicle was in neutral. It was around 8:30 pm, on a Friday night and the outside temp was around15 degrees, windy. I just went in the house and thought what the heck just happened ? What the heck am i going to do know ? The next day Saturday, I had to rearrange my garage ( 1 1/2 hr) to make room for my vehicle so that i could investigate the problem. It took me almost 8 hrs, (remove dash board, plastic covers around steering column, remove steering wheel - disconnect power at battery to avoid air bag deployment, disconnect all wiring that comes from under dash to steering column, remove steering column), to determine that the part that broke was not removeable, it was part of the steering column, which had to be removed from the firewall ! It was too late to call around to the parts store. Sunday was playoff;s for AFC champs and NFC champs ! Some things have more priority ! Monday i found a steering column but ran into a problem. There was a ignition in the replacement column that did not have a key. So that had to be destroyed when removed. After that, i was able to start installing the steering column and reconnect everything. Another 8 hrs.. The part that broke, is under continuous spring loaded pressure, which broke at both ends, it is designed to hold the shifter into a slot (gears) (P - R - N - D -2 - 1) . The problem with that design is: the housing that holds the part (cylinder that is spring loaded) should be connected to the steering column with four heavy duty bolts, instead of being molded into the steering column. When the cylinder breaks you will not have to replace the entire column and it would only take about 45 min. to replace ! The current design places alot of continues pressure on a small part ! Thanks for your time !

- , New Franklin, MO, USA

problem #84

Dec 212009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

3 TIMES same problem Gear shift fell off. 2 Time under warranties. Now what should I do? Ford says it's not their problem.

These vehicles need to be recalled.

- , Jersey City, NJ, US

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