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:
No data
Average Mileage:
110,106 miles
Total Complaints:
4 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (3 reports)
  2. replace the 4x4 modulator located behind the glove box (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #4

Sep 262015

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 169,000 miles


This truck had the overdrive on and will not come off. Do not know how to get this off.

- , Waterbury, CT, USA

problem #3

Oct 012014

Explorer 4 Door 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 173,423 miles

Bought the 2002 Ford Explorer on Oct 1,14, had the 4 by 4 light comes on for no reason. Along with heavy clunking and jerking from the rear when the light is on. Been like this since day one. Almost had an accident the 2nd day at my daughter's school one morning dropping her off. Almost ran into the school building because of this problem. Could had killed myself, my kids, kids at the school. Any person standing there, the car had jumped the curb. Please, no one purchase a car from these people at J and S Auto Sales in Columbu Ohio.

- , Columbus, OH, US

problem #2

Oct 012008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

My 4 wheel drive kicks in and out while driving down the road constantly. when i need it it wont kick in i had it fixed to find out the it isn't the only problem ! this truck has been a nightmare from day one

- , Batavia, NY, USA

problem #1

May 262006

(reported on)


  • 28,000 miles

I own a 2002 explorer. I am having problems with the auto 4 X 4 switching into 4 wheel drive for no reason. Most of the time it's when going from park to reverse. The 4x4 light flashes and when backing out of the drive it bucks and jerks. It does this every few minutes (flashing lights). An easy fix is to just never use reverse on your truck :) I see all kinds of problems relating to this in different explorer forums. Yes, there is a 4X4 modulator or something behind the glovebox that is the culprit in most instances.

Just to let everyone know, the dealership charges around $90.00 to put your explorer on the computer to find out whats wrong. It sounds like alot of the time it does not even show a code so you just wasted your money. Of course checking into the cost of this its gonna be around $300 dollars for the part.

- , Lima, OH, USA

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