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:
82,254 miles
Total Complaints:
120 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. rear end overhaul (35 reports)
  2. not sure (34 reports)
  3. Ford should take more pride in their work & fix problems (22 reports)
  4. replace rear differential (18 reports)
  5. replaced rear end oil with 75- 145 synthetic (3 reports)
  6. mention TSBs #05-23-3 and 05-25-8: Drivetrain rear axle humming (2 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2002 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #100

Jan 232007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,088 miles


Annoying whine from the rear diff when accelerating , went to dealer ship 1500.00 dollars to rebuild the rear end , went to a tranny and diff shop 850.00 dollars but also advised to try the fix " drain all the synthetic gear oil out of the diff and then replace with standard h duty 75/145 gear oil . I did just that and also added an 8 oz bottle of gmd antislip additive for positraction systems that are in the diff .

Just did this 4 months ago and NOISE IS GONE worked for me. Lived with the noise problem for some time as was not sure what to do if you are wondering the actual date of the problem

- , Winnipeg, MB, Canada

problem #99

Dec 222006

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

I had a noise from the rear axle aprox 10,000 miles from new. I had my Ford dealer look at this problem and did a drive test, but conveniently he did not here anything, where i could it as loud as a bell in the vehicle. Now at 67000 miles this noise is very loud and of course out of warranty. I called them and they are now interested in fixing my problem, of course, because now they can charge an arm and a leg rip off charge in fixing it.

They even want $136 to change the Differential oil. i can buy the oil and additive for $22 if i were to change it my self, so where is the rest of the money going. What a rip off Ford is, i will never buy a Ford of any kind again as long as i live, they loose, there going out of business anyway, good riddance. I wish i could sue them but i was advised not to.

- , Golden, CO, USA

problem #98

Dec 222006

(reported on)

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

I have been taking my Explorer in for noises for quite some time now - it's always squeaked and creaked. First brakes, then wheel bearings, brakes again, and now an alleged noise in the differential - according to the service advisor. They wanted to do the diagnostic but I declined - I'll have someone else look at it. After looking at this site, though, I am ready to say "screw it" and get rid of the goddamn thing.

- , El Cajon, CA, USA

problem #97

Apr 122009

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,000 miles


My differential was whining for a while and now it's making a loud clunking noise cant drive it. I was looking at it and I found that the sway bar is worn out. Both wheel barrings are bad and I just replaced them last year. This truck is getting to be more of a headache then it is wroth. I like my truck, but it shouldn't wear out so fast. I think Ford should fix it for me.

- , Grand Junction, MI, USA

problem #96

Aug 122008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

I love this Explorer with all my heart. This is my second explorer. Up until now, I've never had a problem with this vehicle. At first I thought it was the tires, so I jacked up the vehicle so all four tires are off the ground. I ran it in drive and the noise is still there. I have seen the costs the others have paid for their repairs. At least when I go to the dealer, I'll have some insight and and can make a point. I must say all the other functions of the vehicle works perfectly. This is what happens when a manufacturer out-sources components to other countries. They don't have the quality control. How could the Ford engineers accept inferior components? Regardless, I will continue to buy American, I will support America and I will buy another Ford.

- , Southfield, MI, USA

problem #95

Oct 232008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


- , Corning, OH, USA

problem #94

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 #93

Mar 162008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

I agree there are way too many issues with this model Explorer. I have already replaced both rear bearings and coil springs. Also had the parking brakes go out (can't figure that one since I never use them). Now I'm getting ready to overhaul the clutch packs in the rear differential. Fortunately I have a mechanic friend that will sell me the parts at cost. I have also had numerous other issues (leaking rear window, 3 rear wiper motors, 4 -wheel drive module (computer), drive belt tensioner, alternator, and power window switch. I'm sure there are others I can't think of right now.

- , Redford, MI, US

problem #92

Nov 142003

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles

I bought this car from the local Ford dealership. Had problems with the clutches in the rear end not switching correctly about 2 weeks after I bought it. Although it was a problem when I bought it, and the extended warranty covered the labor, I had to pay $100 for the fluid because they said that was considered maintenance even though it wouldn't have had to be changed if the gears were working in the first place. Ford said this sort of thing happens infrequently and would probably never happen again. Two years later I had to have it repaired again. Only this time the dealership had no record of ever having worked on it before. I still had the left over fluid in my garage. Now, 2 years after that episode, the car has 113,000 miles on it and the rear end starts making a roaring sound. One shop wouldn't touch it but, said they have had 3 Explorers in the last 3 months with this same problem. It cost me $1200 to have the transfer case replaced. All three times, the car made the same noise, and would sound like it was trying to change gears. Twice they supposedly fixed the rear end differential, now this time they say it was the transfer case. I hope it is truly fixed this time because I have only 3 payments left on it and I can't afford to keep fixing the same stupid problem.

- , Harrison, AR, USA

problem #91

Oct 012008

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

Just started looking into this noise from my 2002 ford explorer rear end. At first I just thought it need new tires, and it did so i replaced them. Noise is getting louder each day. I googled the problem and came across this site and read all the postings. First chance I get im going to look into the Tech svc Bullitins TSB 05-23-3 & 05-25-8 and see what they say, then drain the fluid if there is any left to drain, and try the refill with the pensoil 75-140 synthetic and hope for the best. I show no signs of leaking at this time. I'm also going to look into the class action law suit that was posted on here

Ford Sucks, they have no customer service in this country and they dont care about you once that car leaves their Plant.......NEVER AGAIN will I BUY a ford

- , Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #90

Oct 022006

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles


Whining sound from the rear differential at cruising speed. Very annoying especially to rear passengers.

- , South Lyon, MI, USA

problem #89

Nov 212008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,500 miles

....well. Thanks to this website we just dodged this bullet. 2 days ago I bought an 02 Explorer XLT 4.0 from a reputable dealer in Arlington VA. Having just arrived in the US two weeks ago we were keen to get some wheels and the 02 Explorer fitted the bill....the salesman seemed pretty keen and was willing to negotiate for cash...... especially after I noted to them that the rear diff sounded as if it was on the way out - its been 20 years since I've spent any serious time under a car but I know a diff when its ready to go! Being in a hurry and way too trusting I agreed to an extended warranty period to cover the diff blowing out. Then I got it home and found this website.......... well, one restless night and an email the next morning (which contained some of the downsides of screwing the Diplomatic Community in DC) to the General Manager of the dealership..... and he refunded our money on the spot. From the below it appears that the problem is essentially unrepairable - if it was actually repairable I would have kept the Explorer because cosmetically and functionally it was perfect for us. Thanks to all those below who saved me a hell of an expense, an hopefully this may spur others on to add their stories and warn others to beware................. however, this is not going to save me from the bad engine that is in the 02 Dodge Stratus we purchased from the guy I replaced here in the US.......oil light on solid after two days!!!! .... and the US auto-makers wonder why they are going broke!!!!!!!!!!.........I can't believe honest and hardworking taxpayers are going to bail these guys out. Capitalism is about survival of those that deserve to survive, and definitely not about treating your customers like fools.

- , Laurel, MD, US

problem #88

Nov 042003

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,000 miles

Now at 84000 it needs to be replaced again.

And what about the damn front wheel bearing not taking grease, no wonder they wore out!

- , Newnan, GA, USA

problem #87

Oct 252008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

Same issues as everyone else......numerous wheel bearing/assembly replaced......front calipers replaced.....transmission slips/clunks often ....and now the dreaded rear end humming. I thought it was just another bad wheel bearing but just got the call from mechanic and its the rear differential. Going to have to be rebuilt for 1200 dollars and both rear bearing assembly's should be replaced at 330 dollars each......I thought at time of purchase that was getting good deal 34k miles for 11k in 2005.....I feel quite dumb now.

- , Enumclaw, WA, USA

problem #86

Sep 242006

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6 Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,500 miles

The whining noise coming from the rear end was a precursor to the whole rear end gear having to be replaced. FORD needs to close up shop if they cannot take more pride in their work than this!! I am in the process of registering all problems and I sure hope the server at AutoBeef can handle it!!

- , New Bern, NC, USA

problem #85

Sep 262008

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

This is the second major, unusual problem/defect I have experienced with this vehicle. 9 months ago had the engine spit out a spark plug from the cylinder head...I had never heard of such a thing happening in any vehicle but found out it is quite common with Ford modular V8 engines which I unfortunately have. That was an $800 repair, not covered by Ford who do not even acknowledge there is a problem despite thousands of complaints registered on the internet. Now I have the rear end noise that Ford also does not acknowledge is a problem but many people are reporting with 2002 Explorers. I'm told this is a $1200 repair. The timing is very bad. Ford has a terrible attitude about these things, calls to their Customer care center asking for help result in no satisfaction and just make matters worse due to the frustration caused. What a way to run a company. I have owned probably 10-12 Fords over the years, this is most definitely the last. My next SUV will be a Honda, there's a company you can trust to build quality products.

- , Philadelphia, PA, US

problem #84

Sep 162008

Explorer XLT 4.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,625 miles

I must say that I am very disappointed. I previously owned a Ford f-150 which cost me $2000 in a transmission rebuild at 100k, which the mechanic said was notorious on ford trucks. However I like fords, and figured I could live with that, so I bought this explorer, and six days later noticed the ;barley audible whir which I originally thought to be the All terrain tires. No such luck, It was the rear diff. To make matters worse, the Front diff was checked and is bad as well. Next time.....NO FORDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , Gresham, OR, USA

problem #83

Sep 012008

Explorer Limited 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

My 2002 Explorer is starting with the rear differential humming with 103K miles. I had replace the back bearings already.

I saw a Class action from some lawyers in NJ. See their site:

Have any try them??


- , Winter Garden, FL, USA

problem #82

Sep 052008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

After the second tranny rebuild, and bearing, and 2 brake caliper replacement, we are now told it need a rear end rebuild! Somebody should shoot these mules!

- , Abbotsford, BC, Canada

problem #81

Feb 272008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

I just had my rear and front wheel bearing replaced a few months ago. My car didn't make hardly any noise until 2 weeks ago. After taking it to the shop I have learned that my rear end is going out. They said it's going to cost any where from 800 to 900 dollars to replace after I just spent $1100.00 on it. This is crazy. Ford needs to stand up and realize there cars are pieces of crap.

- , Burns, TN, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?