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 7 of 14)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #152

Feb 242012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


I bought my 2002 Ford Explorer XLT and within 1 week the transmission had gone out....have had it repaired and still no good.

- Millington, TN, USA

problem #151

May 022012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 154,000 miles
The O/D light flickers on and off and there appears to be no third gear, according to three mechanical transmission inspections. Researching websites indicates that this is a known prevalent problem for this vehicle. Need to know: 1. was there a recall? 2. what, if anything, Ford is willing to do to fix or compensate for the considerable expense involved to repair this obvious defect.

- Lansing, MI, USA

problem #150

Apr 152012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • miles
Vehicle transmission has suddenly quit at only 120,000 miles. Because of a code P0775 "pressure control solenoid". shopped the fix (which all repair shops say is very common on early 2000 Ford's) and it will need a $2500 rebuild. Did some online research and found more complaints on this than I can account for. I contacted Ford customer support line and was transferred to my local dealer. Local dealer said I fall outside of any customer appreciation programs and there is nothing they can do than fix it for me for $3200. With the amount of complaints on this issue along with the cracked tailgate that I see on all Ford Explorer I drive by, there should be some sort of forced recall.

- Alameda, CA, USA

problem #149

Apr 162012


  • 121,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated the gear shift detached while shifting gears from the park to drive. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and the manufacturer was contacted. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileages were 121,000.

- Savannah, GA, USA

problem #148

Apr 132011


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact was driving 10 mph when the vehicle failed to shift gears properly. The over drive warning light illuminated during the failure. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was confirmed that the first and second gears of the transmission failed and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was contacted. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 100,000 and the current mileage was 120,000.

- Berkeley Heights, NJ, USA

problem #147

Nov 302011


  • 140,000 miles
O/D off light flashing and service engine light on constant. Transmission has a hard time shifting from first to second gear. It had approximately 140,000 miles when it first happened. I am not the original owner so I am unsure if this has happened before.

- Harrisburg, PA, USA

problem #146

Mar 232012


  • 155,550 miles


Out transmission isn't out yet, it's on its way out. When accelerating it stops at 25-35 mph and the RPM rev up to the red limit if you don't take your foot off the gas and it wont switch gears for a minute or so. Sometimes you hear a loud dropping sound and the entire car jerks when it switches gears. This first happened when speeding up on a busy main road near detroit, almost causing us to be rear ended. We took it to a transmission garage and were informed it would be $2,000 or there abouts to fix. Had the other driver not been paying attention or had this happened on a highway myself, my fiance, our four children would have been seriously injured or worse. Apparently the transmission is a recurring problem with this model of vehicle and the manufacturer should be made responsible for this blatantly dangerous defect.

- Portage, MI, USA

problem #145

Apr 072011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 166,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer eb and this car is a piece of crap after I bought the car the tranny is slipping like crazy and its hard to change from park to drive. I have looked it up and there are many people with the same issue and it is a closed tranny so I cant even check the fluid in it but Ford is not doing anything about the issue I will never own a Ford again.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #144

Mar 302012

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 119,483 miles
Been jerky and jumping for 2 years but today the transmission would not upshift when starting out or down-shift when slowing down. The engine went to high RPM with little or no forward progress.all this was preceded by the over-drive light flashing on and off followed next by the check transmission light. Next the check engine light came on. The forums on this vehicle will tell you that this 6 speed automatic transmission on the V-8 engines are just junk. Way to many complaints. Will Ford fix this on an out of warranty vehicle? after pulling.

- Suisun City, CA, USA

problem #143

Mar 272012


  • 117,000 miles
The transmission is having trouble shifting from 2nd to 3rd, engine light and O/D off lights are on. Local mechanic says that the intermediate band on the transmission is broken. This is a sealed unit with no way to service without a rebuild.

- Effort, PA, USA

problem #142

Mar 152012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 148,000 miles


My wife started our Explorer and tried to put the vehicle in reverse and the gear shift handle snapped off in her hand. Only to find out that this problem has happened to many other Ford owners! unbelievable! so now I have to have my vehicle towed to a repair shop to have this "Ford problem" fixed! and also shell out over $1000 dollars just so I can get my Explorer back on the road!!! and when I called the local Ford garage to ask about this defect, they acted as if this problem has never happened before! bs!

- Dalton, OH, USA

problem #141

Aug 152011

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
The transmission is junk. Ford knows this. Rebuilding or replacing the transmission is inevitable...and not just once, because there are known design and manufacturing issues that will only cause the failures to repeat themselves. Unless these failures are dealt with, there are many people on the roads who are at the mercy of luck that the car they are driving or the cars that others are driving near them wont stop dead, stopping them dead. How is this known problem not a public safety issue" have you counted the number of Ford Explorer on the road?" its scary.

- Slippery Rock, PA, USA

problem #140

Mar 232011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer transmission died for the second time after I had the dealership replace it, 75,000 miles ago. I am now sitting at 156000 and it is doing the same things again. This gives me such a bad taste toward Ford, and I have been a die hard Ford guy.

- Arcadia, FM, USA

problem #139

Feb 292012


  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 70 mph, the over drive warning light illuminated as the vehicle started to skip gears. There was an abnormal increase in engine rpms and the vehicle would not shift into gear. The vehicle was taken to a local mechanic but the vehicle was neither diagnosed nor repaired. The failure and the current mileage was unknown.

- Romulum, MI, USA

problem #138

Dec 052011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
Shifter broke off while shifting from park to drive, cannot shift vehicle. I read online there are numerous people that have had the same problem, they were all wondering why there hasn't been a recall on this problem. Has there?

- Glens Falls, NY, USA

problem #137

Feb 272012


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer eddie bauer edition. The contact stated that at engine startup, the gear shifter detached from the vehicle while attempting to shift into gear. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer and the manufacturer was not contacted. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileages were 120,000.

- Spring Valley, NY, USA

problem #136

Feb 012012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
The vehicle began to shift oddly from second to third. The overdrive off light began blinking. Shifting then began to be rough. I promptly took it to my mechanic who found it necessary to replace the transmission with a rebuilt unit. Second gear casing had failed.

- Aurora, CO, USA

problem #135

Feb 162012


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 35 mph, the gear shifter detached from the vehicle. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer and the manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileage was 130,000.

- Loganville , GA, USA

problem #134

Dec 012011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
Aside from continuing transmission problems, the hatch of this Ford Explorer was recalled some years ago. However, the area below the window of the hatch on many Explorer made in or around 2002, has begun to crack and extend to the edge of the hatch area. When closed, this can be a hazard that leads to further cracking, which can further lead to more cracking and then breaking of the area. This can lend itself to material projecting into someone's eye or projecting into a part of the body that requires surgical removal. Please recall or issue a warning. Ford has been contacted via their 1-800 number and this concern was documented. Please recall...

- Waldorf, MD, USA

problem #133

Jan 272012


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact started the ignition and immediately, the 4WD high and 4WD low warning indicators illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact attempted to depress the brake pedal and shift into the neutral gear, as specified in the owner's manual however, the warning indicators failed to disengage. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for diagnosis and the contact was waiting upon a response pertaining to the malfunction. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 60,000. The VIN was not available.

- Bloomfield , ID, USA

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