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 8 of 14)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #132

Mar 012010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles


Complete transmission failure. Slipping in-and-out of gear, failure to shift between gears, unable to stay at idle without shifting to park. Almost caused a collision when gear slip occurred in the middle of a major intersection.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #131

Dec 212011


  • 160,000 miles
I am a single mother of 4 driving 55mph in heavy traffic on a 4 lane highway, with my children in the vehicle when the O/D light flashed a few times and then the transmission just stopped working, as though the vehicle was in neutral I coasted safely to a stop thank god. I took it to a Ford service center and they said it was caused by the servo boar"???? never herd of this. It used to be a seperate line that could be replaced now it is built into the transmission and the whole transmission has to be replaced. Is what I was told to me by the certified Ford service man and that there was not a problem with the old style lines but he hears of this often with the newer transmissions. Was this changed just for profit by Ford Motor Company" because with this happening without warning someone could get into an accident and be seriously injured or killed depending on the situation. I am very upset that my family was put in this situation but we got lucky. If we were only lucky enough to have the money to fix it now, it is $2,400 for the new transmission and labor.

- Bardstown, KY, USA

problem #130

Dec 132009


  • 94,950 miles
2002 Ford Explorer transmission I was driving down the road and the overdrive light started flashing and I noticed the transmission started to slip. I drove about 10 miles more to make it home and it completely failed and needed to be towed. I took it to a transmission shop and they said it was a common problem in 2002 Explorer. Over $2000 later I thought it was finally fixed and now not even 2 years later the transmission went again. This time it was the overdrive. As a college student I can't afford to get it fixed again. There definitely needs to be a recall on Ford's transmissions for that year. I have been doing research and there is way too many complaints for Ford not to do something about this. I will never buy another Ford again.

- Barnesville, PA, USA

problem #129

Jan 122012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 105,800 miles


The transmission on my 2002 Ford Explorer XLT suddenly began to rev higher than normal. The overdrive light indicator on the dash began to flash and 2nd and 5th gear seemed to have stopped working.

- Fort Drum, NY, USA

problem #128

Dec 282011


  • 143,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while shifting from park to reverse, the gear shifter fractured. A local mechanic inspected the vehicle and located the failure at the gear housing unit. The mechanic advised the contact that the gear shifter housing would need to be replaced.the vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 143,000.

- Laredo , TX, USA

problem #127

Dec 172011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
While driving my car to work, I came to a stop sign at the end of my road, like I do every morning. However, on this morning, as I tried to accelerate from a complete stop, my car bogged down which left me in the road for seconds longer then was safe. There was a car speeding around the curve, and my car would not accelerate like it should. Finally, and thank god, it jammed into gear, and me and my one year old son were not injured. Also, on that same day, my car starting skipping while in first gear, which also was a safety hazard because it was jerking so hard, it was hard to keep in under control, plus it also slowed my progression across highly congested areas down, which also put my safety at risk. We took my car to the shop, and the repairman stated that my transmission was having problems with first gear and overdrive. There had been no previous warning or indicators that something was wrong with my transmission until the day of. We had the fluid checked and the engine checked. Nothing was wrong that we could have prevented.

- Webb, AL, USA

problem #126

Dec 152011


  • miles


My name is[xxx] and I own a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT (V6). I have owned it for almost a year now (will be in Jan 2012) and loved every minute of it until recently. About 4 months ago, I heard a strange loud whining noise. I immediately took it to my mechanic and found that rear wheel bearing was going. I was also told that if I would have took the interstate to work that evening I could have possibly died or caused serious injuries to others on road. Very scary! mind you this bearing went with no warning. Immediately after I heard the noise I took it in. Well the bearing got fixed and I couldn't have been happier. However, about a month ago I was on the interstate with my two year old daughter doing about 70mph when my truck began to shake violently. I assumed I was in the process of having a tire blow-out and began slowly breaking and losing control of the vehicle. Luckily I made it onto the shoulder of the interstate. My tire however was not as lucky. All 5 studs on my right rear tire snapped causing the tire to completely fly off and proceed down the road at a fast speed just passing the turn ramp and missing several other vehicles. In the process of losing the tire, it also caused damage to rear end of my SUV. It looked as if the tire got caught and caused the rear to dent in.replaced studs and everything seemed fine. Today (Dec.15th) not even an entire month later, vehicle started shaking again. Oh how I remembered that scary shake. Examined tire and once again, studs snapped. 2 this time with a third one missing the cap. The tire was only held by 2 studs. Thank the lord I noticed this problem before going onto the interstate and once again having my tire fly off! I have been doing research this evening to find that this is a common problem with the 02-04 Explorer. Please make a recall Ford and others help me to get one made! this is a scary and dangerous situation! it can cause the loss of many lives as it has almost done mine and my daughters. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Newport, DE, USA

problem #125

Dec 082011


  • 54,500 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact was driving approximately 5 mph and attempting a left turn when the engine rpms raced excessively. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where they advised her that she needed to replace the transmission. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 54,500.

- Wyndotte, MI, USA

problem #124

Dec 082011


  • 141,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle was parked and she attempted to shift into reverse, but the gear shift lever detached from the steering column. The vehicle was in the process of being towed to an independent repair shop to be repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure and current mileages were 141,000.

- Fennville, MI, USA

problem #123

Dec 072011


  • 135,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the gear shift lever fractured while trying to shift from park. The vehicle was not inspected by a dealer nor repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure and the current mileages were approximately 135,000.

- Katy , TX, USA

problem #122

Dec 022011


  • 120,000 miles


Rear spring cracked at 100,000 mil transmission failed at 120,000 mil body electrical not sealed well and keeps shorting in different places cruise gets stubborn and scared to use it, im afraid of it getting stuck in cruise.

- Woodmere, NY, USA

problem #121

Dec 052011


  • 110,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the gear shift fractured when he attempted to shift into reverse. The vehicle was not taken to have the failure diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure and the current mileages were 110,000.

- Gulfport, MS, USA

problem #120

Nov 222011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 153,000 miles
Hi I have a 2002 Ford Explorer that I have only had for 7 months and approximately 1 week ago my car started to have problems shifting gears while driving. Not long after that my check engine light came on and my O/D light came on, so I took it to autozone to get the code read and they told me it was a pressure control solenoid B (code-P0775). I went home and started searching on the internet about the code and found what it was and I also saw thousands of people complaining about the same problem. Ford knows about this issue about their faulty transmissions and they refuse to issue any recalls to fix the problem. I think its outrageous that we, the owners, have to pay for this expensive repair when its not our fault. I feel like since the transmissions for this car is faulty and is known to fail at various times and miles, which are too low for a transmission to fail, Ford should be held responsible for this problem because it is definitely a safety issue because the transmission can fail at anytime which have caused many accidents and will cause more accidents and deaths until Ford take responsibility for their actions and recall the transmissions. I have two small kids that are in the car with me on a daily basis and I travel on the highways all the time and this is going to be very dangerous for me to do now. I don't know what to do because I don't have any money to repair or replace the transmission and this car is the only car that we have for transportation. We all need help to get Ford to do a recall.

- Jonesboro, GA, USA

problem #119

Aug 182010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
I own a 2002 Ford Explorer XLS. I have been having transmission problems for a while and Ford dealer told me it was common with the 2002 Explorer. I am now at 100K miles and my transmission is in need of being rebuilt because Ford manufactured a transmission that was two small for the 2nd and 5th gears to shift in which created friction and wear on the transmission. I am a single mother who still owes money on this vehicle and I cannot afford 2000 to "rebuild" this transmission for it to fail on me again like all the rest. I contacted Ford and of course they told me that they couldn't help me. My father being a mechanic told me that I cannot drive this vehicle because the motor was about to blow due to the high rpms this transmission has been putting out for a while. After doing research I found this website where over 350 people are having the same issue with the same year, make, and model vehicle. I could have potentially broke down in the middle of the road with my three year old in the car where anything could have happened. These vehicles are normal bought for family vehicles and I do not see how this is not on the recall list since it is putting many families in danger. Please let me know if there is anything I need to do to get a recall active on this transmission. Thank you.

- Palmetto, FL, USA

problem #118

May 022011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
Transmission failed.

- Coggon, IA, USA

problem #117

Nov 022011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 122,623 miles
This transmission isn't due for it's first service until 150,000 miles. With no way to check fluid levels there is no way for the owner to prevent failure. There has never been any indication of leaks ( no oil spots on driveway). Transmission just quit.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #116

Oct 292011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 169,000 miles
In my 2002 Ford Explorer, the cel came on, along with the O/D off light blinking. It started to make a whining noise, and the next day, the car would not shift into second gear. It would only stay in 1st gear and would only go about 20 mph. I now have to replace the transmission or have it rebuilt.

- Clarkston, MI, USA

problem #115

Jun 232006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 59,900 miles
I had my transmission replaced in June 2006 under my extended warranty, $4000 (brand new Ford built transmission), my cost $100. My Explorer had 59,900 miles. I was somewhat surprised! here it is again, October 2011, at 109,000 and the transmission needs to be replaced again! no more extended warranty! a brand new Ford built transmission has to be replaced after 50,000 miles" I would've never thought in a million years! I contacted Ford Motor Company customer service on Oct. 28th, 2011. I was told that my warranty has expired and Ford has no financial assistance or warranties available. I'm a single parent w/a kid in college. I can not afford to replace the transmission or purchase a new car. I'm barely making my ends meet. Ford Motor Company knows that the transmission in 2002 Ford Explorer is defective and they refuse to conduct a recall! Ford Motor Company is a multi-billion dollar corporation taking advantage of hard working consumers! buyer beware! I will never buy another Ford. You could not give me one for free! what shall I do...? Ford needs to be a shame of themselves! build Ford tough" let's a big fat lie!

- Oak Forest , IL, USA

problem #114

Oct 102011


  • 155,970 miles
The transmission started to slip in may of 2011. I had the transmission serviced and it did not correct the problem. I am unable to check the transmission fluid as it is a sealed unit no dip stick. We drove the vehicle until it no longer moves. The cost to replace the transmission is $2800 plus... there was no reason why this should have happened.

- Rome, NY, USA

problem #113

Oct 212011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 138,000 miles
Transmission (5R55) solenoid pack and servo both went out at same time servo is terrible design. There should be a recall from Ford on these problems on this transmission.

- Summerville, SC, USA

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