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 3 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #80

Aug 012008

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


Same problem as everyone else. 02 Explorer, rear end is a piece of sh_t!!! whine started at 65,000 miles, has progressively gotten worse. only when accelerating at speeds above 5 MPH!!!!! yes, any speed above 5 MPH!!! will now have to replace rear end on my dime. Ford sucks....but still buy american...go problems

- , Albany, NY, USA

problem #79

Aug 082008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

First the bad wheel bearings, then the transmission slipping and now the whine in the rear end..... From what I see here all of those complainants are common place with Ford Explorer owners, yet Ford refuses to address the issues? I guess Ford Motor Company execs. must think if their cars make it to about 80,000 miles we should be happy?

No more Fords for me....add me to the class action case.

- , Hamilton, VA, USA

problem #78

Feb 272008

Explorer XLT 4,0L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Noticed the whining on a trip to Massachusetts in February for a funeral. Has gotten progressively worse but haven't taken it in for repair yet. Not the first problem I've had with this vehicle, had to have the engine replaced 1 year ago due to a problem with the valvel train.

- , Gahanna, OH, USA

problem #77

Feb 192003

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,000 miles


Same problem again in April 2008.Local dealer rebuilt differential w/ brgs,etc.Started leaking oil 2 days after extended warranty expired on the 10th of July.Another local dealer cobbled in a pinion seal w/ JB weld.Claims seal flange elongated,won't hold seal.Ford says tough sh*t.I'm in the process of suing ford and the first dealer.I was a certified Auto and Truck Tech for thirty years.I never saw such junk.

- , Greencastle, PA, USA

problem #76

Jul 182008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

Yet another problem with our families Explorer. Can't wait to see what's next...

- , Kankakee, IL, USA

problem #75

Jul 012007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,059 miles

After reading all the complaints about the rear end noise in 2002 explorers I resigned myself to the fact that if was a defect , so we drove the vehicle for over a year with the annoying whine. I then decided to inspect the rear end , the oil was very dirty so

I drained it and flushed out the rear end . I replaced the oil with Pensoil 75-140 synthetic oil and also added gm antislip lube to it , presto , whining noise GONE!!

A friend at Piston Ring auto parts suggested this fix and it as worked for me ?

I had it diagnosed by pros I thought , 1200.00 dollar touch to replace the crown and pinion gears anyway hope this helps those out there . remember also those with

transmission problems , change your tranny oil every 60.000 k that is the magic to

saving dollars on costly repairs

- , Winnipeg, MB, Canada

problem #74

Jun 162003

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles


Akins ford rebuilt rear end 78000 miles later had independent rebuild it seems like ford mech. don't know how to work on there stuff also ford needs to do a better job making vehicles.

- , Hoschton, GA, USA

problem #73

May 302008

Explorer Eddie Bauer Edition V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,774 miles

i just bought this 2002 Ford Eddie Bauer edition from a dealer for my wife and had it about two days. i just drove it today and heard the howling sound it stops when you let off the accelerator at around 45 and up. my wife said she hears it all the time just louder the more you accelerate. i looked under it the rear differential seal is leaking i will let you know how i make out at the dealer

- , Hornell, NY, USA

problem #72

May 102008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,500 miles

pain in my ass , was a ford tech for 5 yrs, now manage and wrench at an independent farm and auto repair shop, just replaced all rear diff bearings, races and seals also rebuilt clutch pack. yeah also replaced intermediate band in transmission along with servo piston last week, and now two rear coil springs need replaced i'm still glad am not driving a pos chevrolet or chyrsler product

- , NewBloomington, OH, USA

problem #71

May 122008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

Just want to join the surprisingly large chorus of explorer owners who have had this same problem. This vehicle has a new transmission put in at around 46000 miles and now needs a new rear end.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #70

Aug 272004

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Manual transmission
  • 87,000 miles


yes ford i can not believe the stuff you are putting out there, i've replaced the rear end in this truck twice because of your negligence. now the rear end roars like the differential is about to lock up, let alone the transmission is starting to slip, my god if you do believe in god you better hope my family is safe and that you take responsibility for your mistakes, god forbid its your family riding around in this truck, but you better hope nothing endangers my family. and survive , i will pursue compensation and every thing ford has down to the coffin henry ford is layin in now, i see why henrys brother put the hydrosalator in the vehicles. its a warning that you should heed. we are your customers, you're about to lose millions of customers and dollars......i guess its true that ford means F*#@$ed Over Rebuilt Dodge.

- , Wilson, NC, USA

problem #69

Aug 282007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Like others are saying and continue to say ...This 'whining' noise is quite evident a FORD PROBLEM and they choose to ignore it. Is there any legal way to have them held responsible to remedy their obvious mal-design and or parts?

- , Manchester, NH, USA

problem #68

Sep 172006

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

I ditto most of the complaints already - whirling noise, started at 78,000 miles, warranty expired at 75k and dealer and Ford would not comply. I continued driving and the noise never got worse, it now has 105k on it.

Took it in on 4/14/08, auto shop was not certain it was the ring and pinion. They removed wheels/axles to inspect bearings - never removed them but by rotating the hubs they felt they were going bad. Knowing this was a FE problem I agreed to have them fixed. They called back and said the noise is still there. F!!!!

I am having them proceed with a ring and pinion repair, i'll see what happens. POS Fords.

- , Cameron Park, CA, USA

problem #67

Apr 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

My ex-wife had the car for 4 months after we were divorced and it started to make the whining noise. she took it in and it cost around 500.00 dollars to replace the bearings and seals and they said the diff was empty. Now I have the vehicle back and its starting to do the same thing again, only on the front dif. This is ridiculous.... this is an expensive vehicle already and the cost of the repairs is just as nutssss. They need to recall the diffs and fix what they f#$@ed up in the first place... I will never buy another ford for this matter.....

- , Pleasant Prairie, WI, USA

problem #66

Feb 072007

Explorer XLT 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

roaring noise became increasingly louder while on a trip. when we returned home, visited the dealership and they determined that the front differential and 2 wheel bearings were bad and had to be replaced.

- , Four Oaks, NC, USA

problem #65

Nov 302005

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

I have had many problems with this vehicle from transmission to radiator to drive train.

I had the rear end repaired in late 2005-early 2006. It started making noise about a year later so I took it back in and was told that the differential is vented by a tube that lets water into the differential causing the rear end to go bad. They did not know this at the time I got it fixed the first time NOW I HAVE TO GET IT FIXED AGAIN - FORD WILL NOT BACK THIS OR THE TRANSMISSION THAT WENT OUT AT JUST OVER 65,000.00 miles.

I HAVE WELL OVER $5,000.00 in repairs just on the transmission, radiator, rear end and wheels -


- , Jerome, MI, USA

problem #64

Sep 152006

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

I have been hearing a slight humming noise so I decided to take a look under the SUV. That was when I noticed the differential was wet with oil. A few days later I noticed a couple drops of oil on the floor of my garage then a few days after that it just stopped leaking. I have not checked the level of oil as yet but I see that there are no recalls on this problem and I think that it is madness. The hum is still there though.

Is there a recent fix to this problem? Please help! Any do it yourselfers out there? The dealership is another joke by itself!

- , Farmington, MN, USA

problem #63

Jul 122005

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

Don't ever buy a Ford vehicle. I paid $28,000 (brand new) for this piece of crap in 2002 and it has been nothing trouble. Here a just a few of the issues: Drive train whining noise from rear differential due to a manufacturer�s defect. Cost of repair approx. $2,000. Body trim and interior trim fading and flaking due to inferior materials. This started to occur shortly after 3 years and my Explorer is in a garage at home and at work. Engine idles ruff. Ford has looked at this problem several times out of warranty but was unable to fix. Rear door cracked down the middle exterior panel which I have noticed this trademark on many Explorers I have seen. The rear door hatch struts do not work due to inferior parts. Rear door interior plastic falls off the door. Once again cheap inferior parts. There were other issues that I had repaired while the Explorer was still under warranty but it would take too long to go into detail on all of them but the service was also just as lousy as the vehicle.

At the time I purchased my Explorer, Ford was posting record profits for all the automotive industry. Cheap labor from Mexico and record sales of light trucks, SUV's enabled them to make the big $$$, but guess what those profits were not going back into their products but rather to stock holders and company execs.. My wife been driving a Honda and Acura for the past 15 years and I always encouraged her to by American but she would not listen to me. You know who the dummy is. Ford vehicles are primarily manufactured in Mexico and more recently in China where the labor is even cheaper than Mexico. Honda and Acura are manufactured in the USA. Take a look at consumer reports and see what vehicles have the best customer satisfaction� HONDA and ACURA! I guess I should start listening to my wife.

- , Coconut Creek, FL, USA

problem #62

Feb 172008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,912 miles

Hi all well I to have the same problem as all of you loud whining/grinding noise from rear. Brought it to my mechanic he told me the bearing was shot. He also told me that in 2005 there were 2 bulletins issued in regards to this problem and before he has to fix it for $500 try to have the dealer fix it for free.

I called the first dealer Able ford in Oceanside New York told them of the problem..they told me there was no recall on the truck for this problem. So then I called the dealer I purchased the truck from Hempstead Ford in Hempstead New York, after explaining the problem and giving them the file numbers on the bulletins and asking if they would fix it for free same as a recall they said no problem we would take care of it. I have a appointment in the morning. The File #'s are 05-23-3 of nov. 05 drivetrain rear axle humming and 05-25-8 of Dec. '05 same title. Hope this helps.

- , Oceanside, NY, USA

problem #61

Feb 042008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 204,000 miles

We have always been strong Ford people but over the last year we are questioning our loyalty. Our 02 Ford Explorer was purchased new and serviced faithfully every 3,000 miles by the dealership. At 178,000 miles we began to feel a shudder from the back of the vehicle during low speed turns. While I know this is a lot of miles and reading here, many people have problems much sooner, I still questioned why the dealer did not suggest servicing it on a regular basis. I was told it was a sealed system and did not require service and they said this was a common problem with the clutch pack on 02 and 03 explorers. We paid the $1300+ and moved on.

Now after just 24,000 miles on the rebuild which included clutch packs and ring and pinion gears we are having the same problem. Returning the the dealer we've been told that it once again needs a new clutch pack and ring and pinion and also carrier bearings for an estimate of $1550. After considerable complaining, the dealership said to call the Ford customer service center, which we did. Our frustration after calling customer service was even higher because they seemed to deny, or at least suggest, that they have no knowledge of this problem while our local dealership says they are on at least the 3rd revision of the clutch pack. While we complained to both the dealership and Ford, neither are willing to share in the expense and they say the repair only had a 12,000 mile warranty.

To make matters worse we our 2003 Expedition has started experiencing the same problem and I am sure we are in for a similar repair on it.

Our family with 4 Fords and 3 children driving or approaching driving age is looking serious at moving to anything BUT Ford.

- , Mooresville, IN, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?