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
Crashes / Fires:
5 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
5 / 0
Average Mileage:
105,271 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 11 of 14)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #72

Jun 202010


  • 64,510 miles


2002 Ford Explorer shifter broke while putting vehicle in drive looked at part made out of some type of granulated aluminum. Can't believe such a unsafe metal could be used in a vehicle part will call Ford for estimate read over 50 complaints on couldn't believe that the dot has let this go on for so long. I will be contacting my local news team and other marines who have Ford Explorer and telling everyone that has an Explorer.

- South Boston, VA, USA

problem #71

Jun 142010


  • 142,957 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact was driving at 60 mph when the vehicle began decreasing in speed and become sluggish.the contact was unable to shift into drive or reverse, he coasted into the emergency lane. The vehicle was towed to the dealer who advised having the vehicle diagnosed at the contact's expense. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer would not provide any assistance. The failure and current mileages were 142,957.

- San Pedro, CA, USA

problem #70

Jun 162010


  • 95,000 miles
Went to leave a baseball game and attempted to put my car in reverse only to have the gear shift come loose from the steering column and was just dangling there. Of course customer service at Ford could not help.

- Tidioute, PA, USA

problem #69

Jun 122010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 169,000 miles


I pulled into my driveway and went to put my vehicle into park and the gear shift was like a broken limb in my hand. I checked with several auto part stores and the replacement part is a dealer only part. Ford will not sell the part to customer for personal repair. Plus the cost to repair is very costly. I was seeking information and found several other complaints on autobeef-car Seems like Ford needs to reconsider this as recall.

- Irmo, SC, USA

problem #68

May 282010


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated while driving at speeds of 30 mph, the vehicle began to decrease in speed without warrant. The over drive warning lights were illuminated on the dashboard and the contact was able to drive the vehicle to his residence without incident. The manufacturer was contacted but offered no assistance. The dealer was not contacted and the vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 120,000.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #67

Mar 122010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 116,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT. It has 118,000 miles. About 2 month ago my O/D light start to flash really fast. I took it to aamco and they say its the torque converter clutch with error code P0741 tcc. They want me to fix this with $1700. This has happen to many people. The O/D off light comes on every time I drive my SUV past 40 mph and it doesnt come back off until I turn the car off and than it goes back again after 40 mph.

- Goodlettsville, TN, USA

problem #66

Nov 102008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 108,000 miles


Ford 2002 6 cylinder Explorer XLT O/D off light flashing on dashboard. Transmission problem started with 100,800 mile. Had rebuilt transmission done at 100,800 miles. Now vehicle has 109,900 miles and od/off light flashing again. Was told that transmission is falling apart. Back in transmission shop again. There are thousands of same complaints for the same problem on 2002 Ford Explorer. Ford will not help at all! Ford needs to recall transmission.

- Commack, NY, USA

problem #65

Mar 042010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,923 miles
Stuck throttle on a 2002 Ford Explorer with different automatic transmissions! four wheel drive model. At wide open throttle when release gas pedal throttle will stick at wide open throttle only way to stop is to put transmission in neutral (automatic).

- South Lake Tahoe, CA, USA

problem #64

Feb 252010

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6) 2002 Ford Explorer [xxx] - gear shift lever broke off of steering column while shifting from park into reverse.

- Ft Myers, FL, USA

problem #63

Feb 172010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
On my way to do morning drop off for school, my 2002 2wd, 6cy Ford Explorer transmission gave out, without warning while making a left hand turn with very busy oncoming traffic headed towards my son in the passenger side. Thankfully traffic was alert on this morning and slowed until I was able to cross! now I am toldi need a new trans. And son and I were almost killed in the process! please recall this item and make Ford do good by its customers as I had no luck with them! ps my mileage is only 105,000 for an 8 year old car.

- West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #62

Feb 152010


  • 143,350 miles


I was leaving a friend's house... put the key in the ignition and attempted to shift into reverse and the shifter broke off into my hand; only connected by the rubber and the wire inside. The metal connection actually just snapped in half! I was glad I wasn't stuck in drive or anything I had my 20 month old niece in the car! this could have ended really really bad! if Ford knows that this is a common problem with this model why has nothing been done!?! I got one estimate from the local Ford dealership where I had to have the car towed to; $1795+7% sales tax! I called around and found a place to get a used steering column put in for $1000+tax but I have to have it towed another 40 miles to get it to that shop... something needs to be done before someone dies from this parts failure! it's seems senseless for Ford to sit by and do nothing if they can act now and save lives!

- Galloway, NJ, USA

problem #61

Dec 242009


  • 156,000 miles
Automatic shifter broke off from column during driving.

- Dublin, OH, USA

problem #60

Jan 032010


  • 109,666 miles
Started vehicle put into gear and car will not move won't go in reverse won't go into drive. Will go into gear but will not move forward or backward. I have had various problems with this vehicle just got it out of the shop for $1600 in the middle of November 2009 for wheel bearings, tie rods, and oil change. Now within less than 2mths I am stuck without a vehicle to get to work again. Please help bill collins Ford doesn't seem to give me any help just constant repair work and high costs with no repairs really being done.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #59

Dec 212009


  • 55,000 miles
For the 3rd time 2002 Ford Explorer gear shift falling / breaking off.

- Jersey City, NJ, USA

problem #58

Dec 122009


  • 83,000 miles
While putting vehicle in park the gear shift lever snapped off and fell limp in my hands.

- Ithaca, NY, USA

problem #57

Dec 042009


  • miles
I pulled up to the gas station while on my way to work and as soon as I was about to shift into park the gear shift broke right off in my hand. It was causing some nor difficulties in the past where it would show signs of resistance when shifting gears but never something so serious as this current incident. I called a tow truck which appeared about 40 minutes later and then took me home. I have tried to find a new part but no dealer or parts manufacturer has it in stock.

- Ponce, PR, USA

problem #56

Dec 022002


  • 85,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer gear shift broke completely off when cast aluminum ring failed. I see on "" that this is happening on numerous Explorer of the same year. I believe this is a manufacturing defect that could cause a significant safety issue if someone were to shift up or down while the vehicle is in motion. Fords estimated cost to repair is $2400.

- Port Orchard, WA, USA

problem #55

Dec 052009


  • 120,000 miles
Three months after buying a 2002 Ford Explorer I experienced my O/D off light blinking, and my service engine soon light come on. I'm scared to drive my vehicle now after reading all the horror stories on a website. I have no money and this has happened to me. I absolutely cannot afford to put a transmission in my vehicle. The people we bought it from rebuilt the transmission a year ago and that should have fixed the problem, but it didn't. now it's messed up again. This is dangerous because people's transmissions go out on them. The car jumps in and out of gear. Our families are in these vehicles, doesn't that matter to you guys. What does it take to make Ford responsible for this issue, a death to occur, well then it's too late and there would be more payout on Ford part if a life is lost. I'm sure the family would sue and especially knowing this is an issue with the transmissions in the 2002 Explorer. You are supposed to protect us before a death or accident occurs. You need to step up to the plate and make Ford accountable for their dangerous transmissions. I can tell you I will own the Ford company if something happens to my family. I will also have a copy of this to show the court that I tried to tell you to do something about it before it came to a death or accident. Something needs to be done. Now, not later.

- Capron, VA, USA

problem #54

Oct 012009


  • miles
Im another sad story of a 2002 Explorer. The transmission started slipping, clunking and the O/D light is flashing. Just paid this piece of junk off and now waiting to here from the dealer where we bought it for that oh familiar quote of 3000 to 4000 to fix.

- Columbia, MD, USA

problem #53

Nov 042009


  • 123,699 miles
Recently purchased 2002 Ford Explorer. Shortly after, within one to two days I attempted to exit the vehicle by shifting into park and opening the drivers side door. Although vehicle was at a complete stop when I exited it began to roll backwards causing me to fall beside alongside the driver side with lower right extremities still inside the vehicle. Immediate assistant was available so minimal damage was done. Currently requires caution when shifting into park do to additional maneuvering to shift into park.

- Temple, TX, USA

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