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 8 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #23

Jun 182008

Explorer XLS 4.0L Dohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,108 miles


This is the third in a series of failures in this vehicle. The metal in a pressed in piece that connects the shift lever and the shift cam in the steering column broke. The only fix is to replace the entire steering column per Ford. The dealer and many used part dealers say they have heard about many of the same things happening. The Ford customer service people refuse to take any action as is par for them. There is clearly a materials/engineering flaw here. Wrong cast thickness for wrong type of metal.

- , Pueblo West, CO, USA

problem #22

May 062008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,200 miles

this was bull $*!+ it just snapped off going from park to drive

the dealership took 5 days to come up with a solution they even contacted ford in Detroit the solution to replace the steering column parts $731 + tax + labor

the ford mechanic said this is the 3rd ford explorer he had seen and had seen one mercury mountaineer

i have a friend who is a boat mechanic so we found a column for $159 and swaped it out

it took 4 hours

i will never buy a ford again this one is going up for sale just as soon as i can find a new car

- , Mobile, AL, USA

problem #21

Apr 132008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

The gear shift lever broke away from the steering column when I tried to put it in park from drive. It just snapped very easy.

- , Bowie, MD, USA

problem #20

Mar 272008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles


I went to have lunch with my son at school today and was having a pretty good day. Funny how just yesterday some friends of mine and I were standing near my car discussing performance and general likes and dislikes about vehicles. I stated that I have been very happy minus having to replace the brakes and rotors. Figured all was good so far.

After finishing lunch with my son I got in my car to return to work. I started the car and began to put the car in drive when at Neutral the whole shifter lever came off in my hand. I sat there with a look on my face that could be described as stunned. I seriously did not know what had just happened. It was like someone was playing an awful joke on me.

I had one hand reaching for the emergency brake release and the other was holding the shifting lever. I regrouped and decided to call for help when I realized I could not get my key out either since it was stuck in Neutral. I had to get the truck moved since I was parked in the school loading zone and buses would be arriving in an hour or so. 110.00 to tow to the nearest dealer. another 50.00 to get a rental so I could back to work and waiting to hear teh wonderful news on how much a new steering colum is going to cost.

Looking inside at the damage I noticed it is an aluminum piece that had sheared off and I certainly could not go to a parts store and repair this myself. When I was on the phone with the Ford dealer I jokingly asked if he had ever heard of anything like this before. I had not. He said he did not know of this ever happening before but funny how he was certain the parts to fix it were in stock. I used to work for Mazda and I know that parts that do not brake very often are not kept in stock. Now I see that just on this one site I am far from alone in this.

It disgusts me to know that aluminum was used for a part that is used all of the time when operating the vehicle. I hate to say that I would consider buying a foreign car but seeing the level of craftsmanship and dedication to satisfaction that Ford has put into this really leaves me with a choice only a fool would not take.

Ford wake up and treat you customers like you should. This is obviously a gross oversight and needs to be taken care of. It is not like it would be the first recall on explorers. Do the right thing!

- , Herndon, VA, USA

problem #19

Mar 122008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

click to see larger images

gear shift lever fell off gear shift lever fell off

Unbelievable! Left my wife and two small children stranded for hours. AAA tow truck driver and mechanic. I will pursue this with NHTSA as this is clearly a design flaw for which owners should not be responsible.

- , 8 Opdyke Rd., NJ, USA

problem #18

Mar 012008

Explorer XLS 4.6L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

This is like a bad dream I just pulled into a parking spot at a local supermarket,went to put the vehicle in park and the column shifter just broke off in my hand.At first not believing something like this could happen I just looked at the part in my hand, after I came to I tried to put it back some how took off the rubber boot around it and taking a good look at the problem found out the part was not an easy fix.It seems ford got these parts out of a quarter machine cast aluminum its not the way to go for a shifter linkage.Well the truck was stuck in reverse and seemed no way of moving the broken piece into any other gear so I turned the engine off and the key would not come out so I was really screwed but locked it up with the alarm.I have no warranty so aaa towed to local service station where I am at the mercy of some mechanic.He tells me its the third one he has come acrossed in a few months and its easier to replace the steering column I bought a used one for 200.00 I will find out in a few days the labor wish me luck.I will never ever buy a ford again the problem has happened to many vehicles and we are not talking a minor part here Ford has to grow up and take care of the customers that have always bought fords..........I used to be one

- , Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #17

Feb 082008

Explorer LS 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles


Looks like Im not the only one that this has happened to. The shift lever just broke

right off in my hand while I was trying to put it in park. Looks like Ford may need to

do a recall.

- , Rush Springs, OK, USA

problem #16

Feb 092008

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

After having just replaced one wheel hub ($600) and saving money for the remaining three that are ready to fall off the stupid vehicle, we just went to go to the grocery store.

Turned on Ignition. Put car into Drive from Park. Gear Shift lever came off steering column. WTF????!!!!! WHOSE GEAR SHIFT LEVER FALLS OFF THEIR CAR????

Is it any wonder Toyota is showing a profit and Detroit is going down the toilet? I will NEVER, EVER buy a Ford vehicle again.

Did I mention we are a one vehicle family and this is Saturday evening at 5:45 pm? Can it get more inconvenient?

- , Northampton, PA, US

problem #15

Jan 262008

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,460 miles

This is the second time that my gearshhift has snapped off in 4 years. I had mentioned this to the dealership who has now repaired this problem for the second tme,the service agent stated that this was the first time she heard of this, which I find hard to believe. The first time this happened it was covered by the warranty.The second time I had to pay for it.This is clearly a factory defect and ford should step up to the plate and take responsibility for its product. I think the company is doing so bad because of the crappy product it produces to sell to the consumer!

- , Hampton, VA, USA

problem #14

Jan 122008

Explorer Eddie Baurer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

I can't believe I bought an Eddie Bauer 2002 about 3yrs ago and something like this happens. I have never heard of a gear shifter on the column, breaking off when you try to put it in park. unbelievable. What the hell kind of steel or metal do the use on these car's. companies use now a day's.

- , Reading, PA, USA

problem #13

Jul 112007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles


So the saga continues. The dream car we bought in 04 has been in the shop 4 times in 2.5 years and has cost me around $3000 in repairs. Last night my wife called me to come help her as the gear shift lever on the steering column just broke off in her hand. You gotta be kidding . No idea how much this will cost but for a car with under 100,000 miles Ford should be ashamed of their product and expect their customer loyalty from me and everyone I come in contact with to diminish. They are too big for their own good and should consider going into another line of work. You are a bunch of losers FORD unless you count success by how many cars you can put out and not satisfied customers.

I've been a loyal Ford man for 35 years and this is the last Ford I will ever own. But I already know you don't give a crap about your buyin public. Shame on you

- , Leicester, NC, USA

problem #12

Dec 222007

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,191 miles

The gear shift lever broke away from the steering column when I tried to out the vehicle in Reverse from Park. I had it towed to the nearest Ford dealer. I have an extended warranty from CNA and one of the covered items is supposed to be the steering column. The warranty people refused to cover it because they said that the gear shift lever failed, not the column, and that's not a covered part. However, the only fix is to replace the entire column. I have researched it and believe it is a failure of the column, because the gear shift lever didn't break, it broke away from the column.

- , Winter Garden, FL, USA

problem #11

Jan 042010

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

My wife went to her mothers house to pick up our son from a visit and on her way back to the car, she started the ignition and tried to place it in reverse and the gear shift broke off. What a piece of SH*T!

I have had nothing but problems ever since I purchased this vehicle, quote me on this one when I say...never for the rest of my life will I ever buy a FORD again.

I seriously don't know what we are going to do and I have no clue on how much this is gonna cost, and I have no more money.

- , Riceville, TN, USA

problem #10

Dec 282007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Shift lever snapped off when shifting from Park to Reverse.

I've owned probably three dozen cars and trucks over the decades, and have never...NEVER...had a shift knob fall off until now. I figure I'm just lucky it wasn't the steering wheel.

I would say this Explorer is a poorly designed piece of junk, but the fact is, it's a fabulously designed piece of junk. In other words, if I set out to design a worthless vehicle, I'd be hard-pressed to beat this one.

Another entry on this site estimated the repair cost at $1,000. I can guarantee that won't happen. I'll be shifting that piece of ^&%$ with dental floss and a stick before I'll reward that kind of design by throwing any more of my money at Ford. Ever.

- , Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #9

Jul 212007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I'm back at it again, repairs that is. Two weeks ago I got a call from my wife who was stranded in a parking lot after she attempted to put the Exploder into reverse and the gear shift broke off the steering column and was hanging by a wire. Are you kidding me????? Of course Ford says it isn't under warranty and I'm on the hook for another $1000. Why in sam hell does this have to be under warranty for Ford to be a stand up company and stand up for their product. Unbelievable. If I ever treated one of my patients with this kind of arrogance I would lose my professional license. If you think I'm expendable as a customer and want me to go away, then away I'll go, with everyone I know and everyone that will listen.

I happened to see one of Fords new posters the other day something about a rear view mirror and "never looking back" That part they've gotten right............ Leave us stranded Ford and don't look back


Leicester, NC

- , Leicester, NC, USA

problem #8

Jul 232007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

The gear shift (PRNDL) fell off the steering column last week for no apparent reason. Are you kidding me??? Who's gear shifter falls off. Ford tells me it's my problem and they aren't going to fix it. What a piece of garbage this Explorer has turned out to be. The part can't be found and they had to give the order to a vendor. Downtime of around one month and $1000.

Next vehicle won't be American.

- , Leicester, NC, USA

problem #7

Dec 022007

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,677 miles

I was leaving my sisters house and start my car and go to put it in reverse and the shifter just breaks off in my hand. Luckily my brother in law is a mechanic and said just leave it here I will fix it. He said that in the 20+ years he has been a mechanic he has never seen anything like that. That is ridiculous that it would break like that. Luckily the soccer tournament for the day got canceled or I would have been 1 1/2 hours away from home..

- , Mays Landing, NJ, USA

problem #6

Oct 292007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,999 miles

An auto shop gave me info that another 02 explorers shifter broke off - Springside Automotive in Westampton NJ

I also found 3 2003 explorers - who else is out there!!! register for recall.

- , Edgewater Park, NJ, USA

problem #5

Oct 262007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

This just happened last night. So far, dealership is working on a solution and estimates the cost will be about $800. While waiting for dealer to call with availability, I did web search and found this is a fairly common problem. I am shifting by hand, so at least I can drive the vehicle. And, I can use all gears. There's 2 releases that have to be pushed at the same time that will release the key. Or, just leave the key in the ignition and lock the doors.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #4

Oct 242007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

Melissa here in NJ - my shifter just broke off as well- at 51,000 miles. I have the piece that broke off & requested the other half. I have emailed ford corp & have filed a complaint with the Natl Highway... you need to do it at - find complaints in center column - you;ll need vin - I am pushing for a recall & I plan to file a lawsuit to recover the $$ if they don't cover it now. I work in construction & they do metal framing - the word is that they used white metal which is very soft & should not even be used for monkey bars - email me if you want at

- , Edgewater Park, NJ, USA

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