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 6 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #63

Jul 192009

Explorer 3.2L V.6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles


woke up this morning and started my car to go to the store. i took my key out of the ignition and the ignition ring comes out. someone tried to steal my car this morning. i paid close attention to my ransacked car and said oh well forget it they cant steal it because i have the silencer. well a few hours later i am in Richmond va 109 miles away from home my hubbie goes to put the truck in park and the whole fu%$ing gearshift falls off. i went the hell off. had to get home and make a report and then i go on to here and see all the beefs about this part i am pissed. and i owe the hubbie an apology for cussing ine the first places i hate my damn truck too many damn problems

- , Washington, DC, USA

problem #62

Aug 032009

Explorer Eddie Bauier V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

Good bye Ford! never would i bye an American car AGAIN! went to work, put in key, engine started, put it in drive and gear shift just fell off? im like what the F_ _ _ ! i just spent 4000$ on new transmission. now THIS! you got to be kidding me. ford ask why Americans don't want to buy ford car? hhhmmmm? BECAUSE YOU TREAT YOUR CUSTOMERS LIKE GARBAGE AND DONT STAND BEHIND YOUR CARS! the more people email ford about this they might do a recall even though ford only does recall if people DIE! TOYOTA I LOVE YOU! had my Tacoma for 5 years and never done anything to it but oil change. had five recalls but the japs stand behind there car and care about Americans more than ford. F_ _ _ ! FORD!

- , Dover, NH, USA

problem #61

Mar 112008

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,234 miles

I had the part that breaks redesigned, made of steel and modified to be replaced without having to remove the steering column. I'm also having it patented. It works better than factory and it does not break any more. If any body wants one don't hesitate to communicate with me at They also fit on other ford cars and trucks.

- , San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico

problem #60

Jun 052009

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,365 miles


My fiance was in Santa fe when he went to put the explorer in park and the shifter broke off in reverse and locked the keys in the transmission. We got it towed to the dealership up there where they said that the whole column needed replacing. The part where the shifter connects in the column was stripped.... 70.00 for the shifter... 1400.00 for the column.... The rest was labor. I had never heard of this happening until i found this web site. All of the complaints that I have read are all too familiar... We are having all these problems! What can we do, if anything? We have almost paid for this vehicle twice with how much it has accumulated in repairs! Not even two weeks after this, we had to have the transmission rebuilt! That cost 3245.00! These SUV's SUCK!!!

- , Rio Rancho, NM, USA

problem #59

Jun 302009

Explorer XLT 4.6L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,500 miles

I was on my lunch break and when I tried to shift from park to drive the gear shift fell off in my hand. I had to have it towed and was told that I have to get a whole new steering column for it ($1265 new). My local Ford dealership ( not where I bought this one ) told me that on the older ones you could replace the part itself and then they decided to make it so you have to buy the whole steering column.

Update from Jul 5, 2009: The piece that breaks in this situation is replaceable, however you have to buy the whole steering column to get the piece you need. I bought a used steering column for $75 and with the towing and labor charges the total was $220. This is a lot better than the $1265 the dealership quoted me for the steering column alone without labor.

- , Swanzey, NH, USA

problem #58

May 132009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

How does a gearshift fall off? my mechanic tried to say I was too strong or forceful, I was dropping my son off at school and just tried putting it in Drive. The whole thing broke off and my keys were stuck in the ignition. After the full replacement of my steering column, I have had it lock up 4 more times and the last time I was stranded up in the mountains and had to walk 7 miles to get service on my phone for someone to come help. they winched it forward to release the pressure but I am really getting tired of this and having to spend so much money on one vehicle. I have spent over 3500 in the last 3 months. wondering if it was worth it:( why isnt this a recall??????????? if anyone knows of a solution, please let us know.

- , Superior, MT, USA

problem #57

Jun 012007

Explorer LXT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


Gearshift lever snapped off in my hand....cost $800 to fix. Due to shoddy parts and manufacturing.

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #56

May 222009

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

This is an outrage, my daughter got in her car to go to school and the gear shift broke off in her hand. Built Ford Tough, yea right. Trying to locate a used part. Any help would be appreciated.

- , Carlsbad, NM, USA

problem #55

May 162009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,102 miles

Ford used a motto "Quality Goes in Before the Name Goes On" and that is certainly not true. I have owned Fords for most of my life and currently have two, neither of which I am satisfied with as they have had numerous maintenance problems beyond simple wear and tear issues. My 2002 Explorer was parked on a slight incline and when an attempt was made to shift it from Park to Reverse, the entire shift lever broke and fell out of the steering column. A quick inspection revealed that the cast pot metal assembly holding in the plunger spring had a uniform crack and the entire top of the assembly had broken off. From my inspection, it appeared that this assembly alone could be easily replaced and that the break was from either a bad casting or simply poor workmanship. After towing the car to the local Ford dealer, I was informed that they could not simply replace this assembly, but had to replace the entire steering column at an estimated cost of $1700.00!

This is not only absurd, but I find it hard to believe that such an integral component of a vehicles safety and operation receives ABSOLUTELY NO ATTENTION FROM FORD MOTOR CO, INC. I've probably owned over 20 Fords in my life, but never again. I will not buy from a company that fails to admit responsibility for poor workmanship. THIS IS A SAFETY ISSUE AND SOMEONE IN THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO HOLD FORD ACCOUNTABLE as evidenced by the numerous complaints on this site about the same problem. Quality doesn't go into Ford before the name goes on .... B.S. and a lack of customer loyalty does. Buick is gone, Chrysler is going .... Ford you are next! No wonder our economy is suffering. I'll buy an import next time.

- , Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #54

May 082009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

So like most of you people on here, I had the same problem. I decided to go grocery shopping and I went to put my car in reverse and the whole gear shift lever broke off out of the steering column. Total repair job with labor $1,638.60 what a bunch of bull** for a lousy $30.00 part. Well I have contacted the Attorney General in my area and we will have to see what happens. Ford definitely should have a recall on the these vehicles.

- , Latham, NY, USA

problem #53

Oct 082008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles


Long list of problems associated with this 2002 Ford Explorer.

- , Tahlequah, OK, USA

problem #52

Apr 062009

Explorer Limited 5.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I'm a Diva in Orange County. Driving my Explorer and texting on my Iphone with my Dash as a backup phone. As I went to park my car; the lever completely snapped off. My husband Mr. Nine blames me for breaking his car. I furious and will do some damage at South Coast Plaza this weekend.


- , Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #51

Mar 292009

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Wonderful News! It's great when you try to put The 2002 Ford Explorer into gear, you know.... because you want to drive it, and the gear shift brakes off! That is freekin' Awesome. I recommend everyone go out and buy an Explorer A.S.A.P

I AM NOT SO HAPPY. If there are others out there who have had this problem, I am sorry to hear it, but if you could email me the easiest way to get this fixed I would love to hear it. Yes I know, have the junk yard come pick it up, but I mean REALLY fix it, I would appreciate any advice.

Thank You.

- , Riverside, CA, USA

problem #50

Mar 192009

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 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

The gear shifter broke off right after backing out out of the garage.

The car was left in the driveway with no way to get it moving and the keys locked in the ignition.

This looks like a very dangerous and under reported issue.

Please report it to here and to the DOT:

PICS attached.

No wonder people don't buy American cars!

At LEAST take responsibility and fix it for a low or no cost!!!!

It's all about the customer service.

- , Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #49

Dec 082008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,500 miles

So I work in Tempe, but currently am living 30+ miles away from work in remote Fountain Hills. I have somehow landed a pretty cool new job, even during these economic downturns but must commute to work over 60 mi a day. I recently arrived in Arizona this last month and when I got here I did all my bakes, having to invest the cash and replace all 4 rotors as well ($60/ea), due to their age. Also had to replace a front wheel bearing (but I guess that nightmare should go into another complaint) which cost $200 for the part alone, because it is a sealed hub/bearing assembly. I also had to get the SUV re-aligned ($69), and change the oil. I only mention the other repairs and maintenance because I was sure to do my part to check things over, do any needed repairs, and maintenance before starting to look for work in the new city, or start commuting for work. So after finally landing a new gig,and about 3.5 weeks on the job; the SUV is running great, the commute is tolerable if not pleasant, and Gas prices have been dropping like a rock I get up a tid bit late on Monday morning, ready for another week, but running a little late. I get in the car turn the key, grab the shift lever, then SNAP! I, sit there quite puzzled at what has just happened, and stare at the broken-limp lever for minute. Turn off the engine, unscrew the plastic steering column cover and rubber covers, and find that same metal (what seems to be graphite) piece snapped which almost all of these 20+ complaints are regarding. I was at a loss for what to do to get it to go into gear. Luckily there is a local mechanic here in town, who I had used for the alignment. He is a knowledgeable mechanic, an was able to shift it into gear underneath the car, on the transmission itself, while I was stepping on the brake (not a one-man job). I then drove it to the mechanics shop, where again I held the brake, and he shifted it into Park on the transmission. I called the new boss with an update (I had left a message earlier, when the shifter broke off). My new boss asked when I would be in, and told me to get a cab. I in turn realized that my attendance was mandatory, and proceeded to find a local car rental agency and rent a car ($33/day). I get the call from the mechanic, later in the day that this broken piece of metal that we both thought would be order-able though Ford, is actually part of the steering column, and the entire column must be replaced, WTF!?!?!? I almost don't want to believe my mechanic when he said this, but know him as very honest and knowledgeable. He tells me Ford wants $900 for a new one. Again, WTF!?!?!? This S@#$ is ridiculous! My mechanic then tells me that he has found a Used (but in great condition) steering column for $250. That doesn't sound so bad to me, so I give the thumbs up, and he get's it sent over, and installed. He calls me back and says that the car is now driveable, but there is a problem. The used steering column he found apparently is about .5 an inch shorter than my original, and because of that the steering wheel doesn't fit on right, and won't mount correctly, so for now the return spring, the horn, and THE AIRBAG don't work!! The used steering column he found supposedly came out of the same year/model explorer. My mechanic is now on the hunt for a correct steering column, but I have shelled out $500 today, and the car is still F#$^%@ up!

I am obviously not the first to go through this and some of those on here TWICE, WTF!?!? Ford obviously made a huge flaw in this one cheap piece of unreliable, but critical metal, it should either provide a solution after-the-fact, or warranty/replace each broken steering column or their dime. How dare they make this faulty part, then when the part breaks, sell me the same faulty part (likely to eventually fail in the same manner) for $900? That is just criminal! I will not pay Ford $900 for another faulty part! I at least can drive for the moment, Every Dealership and Ford Parts center in the Greater Phoenix area is going to here about this issue!

I AM FURIOUS!! I WILL NOT PAY FORD $1200 or even $900!! F!@# this!!

- , Tempe, AZ, USA

problem #48

Feb 282009

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

It's Saturday morning. So the wife finishes loading groceries into the Explorer. She then tries to start the car and put the thing in reverse when the gear shift breaks off! She calls me and I call a local mechanic to come out with not one, but two tow trucks because they need a special tow truck for the all wheel drive. Mechanic says, "I've never seen anything like this before in my life." Translation: Ka ching! Tells me it's going to cost $1000.00 for a brand new steering column from Ford. We decide to go the junkyard route. $350.00 for a junk column so the mechanic could fish out a $10.00 part. Basically, it looked like a cast aluminum or zinc collar that just plain sheared off! I asked if this kind of thing was subject to a recall and the mechanic said no. He was honest enough to tell me that he didn't want to charge me 1000 bucks for a ten dollar part, so we had the work done. He had to bring in a locksmith to basically bastardize the lock and program the thing into the car's computer so that my key would still work with the truck. Total cost of the job: Approximately $613.00 which I didn't really have (BTW, thanks dad for the loan!). Add to that $325.00 for the rental of a Kia Rio from Enterprise for a week (which I paid for myself). All for a very cheap, poorly made/cast part. I wish there were some way we could contact Ford and let them know that this kind of situation is intolerable, and that forcing mechanics to buy the whole steering column for one lousy part is completely inexcusable! Ol' Henry should be spinning 'round in his grave for such an atrocity!

- , Bensalem, PA, USA

problem #47

Feb 282009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I am a 40 year old male who has owned at least 10 cars and I've never experienced this problem. Last night as I was shifting my gear from reverse to drive the gear shift came off. I couldn't believe it!!!! After reading all the other complaints maybe I should believe it. I can't believe Ford has not stepped up to the plate and addressed this problem. According to the tow truck driver that towed our car he has picked up at least 6 or 7 other Explorers in the San Antonio area with the same problem in the last 6 months. This appears to be a systemic problem. This is our only car and it looks like I will need to pay $1000 that I can't spare to fix this problem. Ford Explorers owner BEWARE!!!!

- , San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #46

Feb 112009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

This evening I tried to put my car in reverse, when the friggin gear shift broke, snapped off while in reverse. It remained in reverse for several minutes until I was able to "jimmy" the gear into park. I was not forcing it into reverse, merely switching gears. My key will not come out of the ignition. Thank God for automatic locks, that can be engaged with the remote. After reading complaint #7, I totally thought it was my husband writing in about our situation. It is exactly what we have experienced. Last year in March I had to replace my entire transmission, which cost $3800 at AAMCO, when the dealer wanted to charge me $4600. I have never had as many problems with any other vehicle as I have with my 2002 Ford Explorer. I will never buy another Ford again. Their customer service sucks as well.

- , Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #45

Feb 252009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

So I hopped in the car today to get to work and my gear selector broke off as I was pulling it from Park to Drive... pretty sweet! The car was basically stuck in neutral, and I wasn't able to get my key out, so I needed to call AAA to have them come and tow me to a body shop.

A quick Google search has revealed to me that this is an incredibly common problem with this year of the explorer - so I'm curious if anyone has had success in getting Ford to acknowledge the problem or replace the faulty component. I literally just got back (walked..) from the garage, so I haven't heard from them about the repair cost yet, but I based on what I've read here and other places, it would seem that I am in for one ridiculously expensive reaming. I'm in San Francisco, where everything seems to be 20% more expensive than it should be, so we'll see how much this costs me.

It seems that with a problem like this, which has proven extremely common, should be addressed with a recall. If anyone hears of such a thing, please let me know.

- , San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #44

Jan 302009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

This is the second time I have to replace the gear shifter on my car. I also had a "bumper to bumper" warranty that I purchased to cover my car when the dealership warranty ran out. When I brought my car into the dealership to have it repaired the first time, they took it apart and told me the repair bill would be over $800. I then told them that I had that "bumper to bumper" warranty (what a joke) and was told that the policy that I purchased didn't cover that problem. I then asked which policy that they offered, did cover this problem and was told that none of them cover the gear shifter snapping off in ones hand. The service dept. told me he had NEVER heard of this happening before.

I was able to locate a steering column from an auto yard (never thinking that this is a chronic problem) and for about $300 had the whole thing repaired.

2 nights ago, while rushing to the emergency room to be with my 2 yr old granddaughter, I stopped to get a little gas so as not to run out on the highway. Guess what snapped off in my hand when I tried to start the car? First, the key would not turn and the wheel was locked, so I attempted to move the shifter and that's when it snapped off in my hand. Ford has a real problem with the strength and reliability of the metals that they use or used in the creation of the gear shifter.

- , Amsterdam, NY, US

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