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:
95,825 miles
Total Complaints:
45 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (25 reports)
  2. replaced part (7 reports)
  3. replaced 4 wheel drive control module (6 reports)
  4. replace transfer case shift module (2 reports)
  5. pull and replace fuses (1 reports)
  6. re wired whole electrical system (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #25

Feb 022010

Explorer LS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


4x4 motor works,but nothing happens when you push the button. im told it may be the 4x4modual behind glovebox. also there is no check engine light.

- , Schwenksville, PA, USA

problem #24

Jan 152010

Explorer 4.0L V-6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

Just another problem with this 2002 Explorer. I hate to tell you the money I've had to spend repairing this car.

springs, ball joints, front-end work, a real lemon!

- , Lorain, OH, USA

problem #23

May 062007

Explorer Sportreck 4.0

  • Manual transmission
  • 65,000 miles

My 4x4 quit working, no light coming on not engaging, nothing. replaced shift control module for transfer case located under kick panel of passengers side. now it works like a charm.

Cost 250.00

Time to install. .5 Hrs (With one beer break)

Sorry for bad spelling

- , Oakland, OR, USA

problem #22

Oct 262009

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,000 miles


I thought it was my fuses, i thought it was the 4x4 button pad, i was told its my entire electrical unit and my whole truck needed to be re-wired!!! I ended up pulling my cd player out one day to hook this bluetooth thing up and when u jiggled the wires around the next time i started my truck...what do you know i had 4x4 for the 1st time in over a year!!! not sure if it still works haven't had to use it yet this year but my light still blinks like a strobe light!!

- , Newark, OH, US

problem #21

Dec 112004

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles

Upon starting vehicle it would either shift into 4x4 high or low or kick out of gear altogether. Eventually you could get it to stay in its regular drive gear. I ended up taking out a fuse under the hood after I got it there and that stopped it from attempting to shift into 4 wheel drive. Not sure of the cost as I had break work done at the same time.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #20

Jun 192009

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

What a pain. 4WD, which I rarely use, went bad on me due to a faulty sensor.

- , Richmond, VA, USA

problem #19

Feb 142008

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


Okay, this one sure bothered me. It seemed every time the Auto-Trac kicked in, the lights would begin flashing and 4WD would not engage. The very cheap solution I found was to look up the 4WD fuses in the manual (the ones under the hood, not in the cab) and pull them all and put them back in WITH the battery CONNECTED. It doesn't prevent the flashing, but it seems to reset it when it happens and 4WD will work until it starts flashing again. Last time I checked, the transfer case was pretty low on fluid, so it could be a warning by design, or just another 02 Exploder issue. Probably is a module, but I prefer to limp it along until it FAILS, and then I can take it in and say "fix that" instead of them trying to duplicate it. This is a real pain, because for all of it's mystery, a transfer case is really not all that complex, and it should just friggin' WORK!

- , Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #18

Oct 142009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,739 miles

Only having 72000 klm and never driving off road. The dealer is telling me the transfer case has to be replace for some $2000.00 cdn. Is this a common problem? If it is will Ford Pay any portion of this replacement?

- , Calgary, AL, Canada

problem #17

Nov 122007

Explorer EB V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,500 miles

I did not think this part should have failed as it is electronic in nature and not used all that much...although I use it more than most on tree farm. No explanation or discount offered from dealer.

- , Virginia Beach, VA, US

problem #16

Dec 182007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

Went to engage the 4x4 and got no response. Found out that the automatic shift motor died. Wow! Can't believe this crap. Wheel bearings gone, then rear end bearings gone and now no 4 wheel drive. All this at about 57,000 miles! Still haven't replaced the $300 plus dollar motor yet.

- , Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #15

Apr 242009

Explorer Limited 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles



- , Schenectady, NY, USA

problem #14

Dec 192009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

Major snow storm tried to engage 4x4 -nothing, Would not engage and indicator light did not come light up on dash.Checked relevant fuses,OK. This happened right after lost 3rd gear & had at ford dealership to check transmission-which needs rebuilt

- , Lancaster, PA, USA

problem #13

Jan 192009

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,500 miles

Ford advisers/mechanics don't know exactly are truthful to their customers, but I know they're very good ripping off money for simple problem. They're all suckers!

- , Vancouver, BC, Canada

problem #12

Jan 272009

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

Had a ice storm mixed with snow, and now i'm realizing after I got stuck in my own driveway, that I only have ONE WHEEL turning! When I try to engage four wheel drive, I hear it switching between 4x4 High and 4x4 Low when I hit the button in neutral. As soon as I let up off of the brake and the truck moves, the light turns off and it disengages. As soon as I come to a complete stop, the light comes back on! I can feel it try to move when I first let off of the brake, but then the 4x4 light turns off and it starts spinning on ONE WHEEL.

- , Lexington, KY, USA

problem #11

Dec 012007

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I have heard that the 4x4 feature in the explorers have had problems and I want to know if there is a recall. This is why Toyota is beating the crap out of Ford. You don't need a bailout, you need better quality control and accountability.

- , Mokena, IL, USA

problem #10

Dec 012008

Explorer XLT 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I just bought this truck just before it first snowed. I had no clue that the 4x4 was trash. That was my whole point of buying the explorer. My sister never gets stuck in the snow, driving a Mazda 3 and I can barely make it out of my driveway on snow in my truck. When i'm stuck, only one of my back tires actually spin ( 1 wheel drive). How stupid! I don't understand why there was never a recall sense i've seen sooo many complaints. To top it off, my rear hub bearing is humming so loud, I know its going to go any minute now. This is the first car I've ever paid cash for and I promise myself to never give Ford my money again.

- , Detroit, MI, USA

problem #9

Mar 192008

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

I own a ford explorer limited V8 and I have a flashing O/D light and my gauges go crazy

every time I cold start. Then the check engine light comes on. I have been going crazy. I checked around - a lot of people have this problem. I changed my transmission, still same problem. So I did some research and I think the problems come from a faulty PCM module. Changing this should fix the problem or having ford reprogram it should fix it also.

- , Kendall Park, NJ, USA

problem #8

Dec 082008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

Among other issues that I will post, my Explorer has about 84000 miles on it. Last week we encountered an issue with what we thought was the transmission. The truck would go into gear but would not drive. Every now and then you could hear a little bit of a whining noise in the gears when we attempted to figure out what the problem was. After taking it to a dealership, it was determined that the rear differential had broken. It's been a week and a half and I still do not have my truck back. They ended up replacing the seals on the transmission, belt, 4X4 gear box and now the ABS. Total cost....$4000.00! This is absolutely crazy! Especially right before Christmas. I take care of my car, oil, fluids, tires, etc. The dealership is now saying that the the ABS is what caused the differential to go out; however, they can't explain how. The ABS and 4X4 lights had been flashing; however, we were told to just unhook the battery and let it reset itself and it would work. It worked all right but I noticed that when the temperature outside would change, the lights would come back on. I'm beginning to think that it was an electrical issue with the lights flashing. $600 to fix the ABS light issue.

Merry Christmas!!!

- , Edmond, OK, USA

problem #7

Nov 172008

Explorer Sport 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Winter in Northeast Ohio nuff said I need 4x4 Just noticed the issue this week when we received more than a foot of snow and now that its needed I don't have it I think it may be an electrical issue will comment later as of repair

- , Uniontown, OH, US

problem #6

May 282008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,042 miles

My 4 x 4 would not engage. This happened after only using it twice. And so it was notice around 50,000 miles. While I was having brakes put on, I asked if they would check it. They did for $140.50 on top of the brakes cost. And they wanted 600.00 to fix, which I declined. And when I asked the service manager what would cause the 4x4 module to quit, he told me " How would I know" If he doesn't, who the h--l would?

- , Eureka, CA, USA

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