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 4 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #60

Feb 262008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


After talking with several ford service techs, ( I used to work in a ford dealership) Ford is aware of there bearing problems in the rear axles.They have numerous service bulletins Since it is not a safety concern ford will not do anything to help assist in the cost of repairs. Maybe they are waiting for those bearings to seize up at 70 mph and someone dies before they decide to do something. I think their lightbulb is burning out. If there is a class action suit going on please let me know I'm In.

- , Avoca, MI, USA

problem #59

Feb 142005

Explorer XLT 4.6L Vi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles

This problem occurred twice on this SUV! The second time the warranty company asked us if we had changed the oil in the differential, after about 30,000 miles of use. Check with your dealer, they are now suggesting the differential oil be changed more than specified in the owner's manual. Something is seriously wrong with this drivetrain. Fortunately for us, the warranty company paid for the repair.

- , Sugar Land, TX, USA

problem #58

Jan 162008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,798 miles

Un-believable. thats it. thats all. more problems then i can count on two hands have happened with this vehicle.

- , Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, Canada

problem #57

Jan 282008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,600 miles


I just got this vehicle back from my ex-wife and noticed an annoying noise coming from the rear end on acceleration only.I hadn't driven the vehicle in quit some time,the first thing I noticed was that it needed new tires.So I spent $525 on new cooper discoverer nt tires.This helped with the overall ride but the noise is still present.I have also noticed that the noise is mainly present while accelerating from 30-55 mph,but when I'm at a steady 65-75 it's not that noticeable.It is however an annoying noise enough to tell me something isn't right.For this reason I searched the web for a solution and came to this site can only hope that ford does the right thing and recalls for this problem or they will lose alot of potential future buyers!!!

- , Gansevoort, NY, USA

problem #56

May 022007

Explorer XLT 4.8L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

If your reading this its because you own a piece of crap too! I bought this 2002 Explorer thinking I would have a good truck that I wouldn't have to fix all the time. Well, I have put more money into this truck than any car or truck I've ever owned and it still is costing me money. As of today, its a $1200 exhaust system and that's after a new valve head and motor mount and timing chain and timing chain tensioners. But I think I'm more mad at the rear diff. limited clutch pack that is making so loud of a noise I can't drive it any more. Ford knows about the problem and won't help,so I joined the class action law suit against Ford to try and make them fix it. I WILL NEVER BUY A FORD AGAIN THE REST OF MY LIFE NOR IF I CAN HELP IT NO ONE I KNOW WILL BUY A FORD.!!!!!!!!!! I HOPE FORD GOES BELLY UP AND OUT OF BUSINESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , Denver, CO, USA

problem #55

Jan 272008

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,450 miles

Rear differential is leaking, I found this when I noticed a loud whining from the rear end,(sounds like we are in an airplane). I pulled the drain plug and the gear lube came out dark & thick. Definitely doesn't look like the synthetic gear lube that they claim they used. Differential was full. Refilled with synthetic mobile 1, noise is just as loud as before. I don't know what to do from here. After reading complaints I refuse to go to a dealer. Where do I go from here without getting shafted?

- , West Springfield, MA, USA

problem #54

Dec 012007

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles


Just bought an 02 Explorer, had it for 4 months and am encountering the same problem. I'm a legal assistant to a very good attorney. Please email me all your stories around this issue ( I definitely think we definitely have a class action situation on our hands

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #53

May 242007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

At about 50000 miles I noticed a muffled grinding sound in the rearend of my 2002 Eddie Bauer Explorer. I purchased the vehicle new and have owned many an explorer in my past. I had the transmission replaced at 45000 miles but that's a story for another entry. The typical rearend noise all you folks have been complaining about was evident but not too bad. Last week I travelled to Chattanooga from Knoxville and back and the muffled grinding turned into what seemed like the rear wheels were fused together. I had to goose the vehicle to turn out of a parking space from a stand still. The problem was worse when hot. I turned my vehicle in to the local Ford dealer with my extended warranty in hand. They took good care of me and provided a rental car free of charge. I was told that all the parts in the rearend had to be replaced and thank the Lord I have an extended warranty. The bad side is it expires this October so hopefully everything that's going to break will do it before then. I agree that it seems that there are issues with the 2002 drive trains. Ford should do something about it and if someone want's to open a class action suit I'd be happy to join.

- , Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #52

Nov 182007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

I have a roar in the rear end. I take it to the shop and they tell me that my rear differential is going bad. Well that's just great car is almost paid off and rear differential is going out. They also told me that ford is aware of this and they want do anything about it because it's not a safety issue. Well that's bad business if you ask me. I contact ford and this is what they have to say.Ford and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) work together to pro actively identify areas of concern through investigation of consumer and dealer feedback. During an investigation Ford cooperates fully with NHTSA. Ford does not speculate on the outcome of any current investigation or future actions. Due to our rigorous safety standards and constant testing, not all issues result in Field Service Actions or Customer Satisfaction Programs. If a program is announced on a specific component, Ford will notify you by mail. Please keep us informed of any address changes.

However, at this time, there are no warranties, recalls or customer satisfaction programs on your vehicle that would provide assistance for this repair.



Customer Relationship Center

Ford Motor Company

- , Albertville, AL, USA

problem #51

Jun 152005

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles

We got the car used from Plantation Ford in Florida with 30,000 miles, I took it right back and they rebuilt the rear end. The car now has 72,000 miles and the problem is back but is not under warrenty. I will join a class act suit if it will get ford to pay to fix it.

- , Ft.Lauderdale, FL, USA

problem #50

Apr 102007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles


Similar story to everyone else. First I had the sound of a low whistle. It disappeared and became a low grumble. After reading about it here! I took it into the dealership. They had seen it all before and were very nice to deal with. No recall on this yet. It was the pinion bearing. Also he said the axles seals were blown out which caused the pinion problem.

- , Syracuse, NY, USA

problem #49

Dec 012007

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I am starting to sound like a constant complainer but, if Ford wouldn't provide the fuel, I wouldn't have a fire to roast my marshmallows on.....Took my 02 Explorer to a non-Ford mechanic yesterday and they replaced my rear axle seals (since that was what Ford said needed to be fixed) $150 compared to $600.00 thru Ford (PCV valve replacement and seals) and they stated that I need to have the rear differential serviced. Mine too makes the noise and I have less than 50K on it. I too thought it was the tires, but we just Costco'd and got some new tires. Anyhow they didn't go into to much detail since they were afraid I would go elsewhere (since they ran out of time to fix my vehicle and were closing up shop). Their reply, maybe next time. I have a leak somewhere too (MAF) and my check engine light is still on. Something about a P0174 error (last dealership changed out my O2 sensors). When it rains it pours. I have this horrible feeling that I am going to be taken to the cleaners since my vehicle is doing the same things others are writing about and I don't have a warranty. Looking for a different vehicle as I am typing. :0)

- , B, I, USA

problem #48

Nov 222007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

As you can see, my rear differential decided to go on Thanksgiving day. So you can imagine the frustration. It started making a whining noise when I would step on the accelerator above 40 mph. The fluid level was fine, but the mechanic (thankfully one on duty that day) pulled out the magnet plug and there was a lot of metal on the end of it. Had a used differential pulled from a salvage yard.

Add this to my $4,000 transmission overhaul last year, and you'll understand why I am ready to scream.

- , Cedar Grove, NJ, USA

problem #47

Nov 232007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,300 miles

There is no use in describing this "noise" problem from the rear differential as it has been completely described by so many others. I just want to go on record saying that I am fed up and would be more than willing to participate in any class action brought against Ford Motor Co concerning this problem.

- , Fenton, MO, USA

problem #46

Jul 292005

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

02 EXPLORER 4.0, got this vehicle used with 65,000 miles on it.

it made that howling noise oround 60-65mph even when releasing the gas,I read about all this problems with the rear end and decided not to fix the problem as I don't believe there is a solution.I have read how others spend all that money trying to fix it and acouple months later the problem comes back, I now have 105,000 on it an it's now making more of a growling noise, I know is unsafe but I just dont have that kind of money to spend, I'ts paid for now so next vehicle will most-likely not be a Ford!. As for this one I will drive till it pops!!

- , Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #45

Nov 202007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

Update on my problem. I worked out a deal with Ford to get my rear end overhaul for $1100; however, I found out, today, that when they got in there, a bearing had fused to the differential assembly and it was going to cost an additional $600 just for the part. Fortunately the service manager agreed to only charge me $400 for the part and no additional labor. This still brings my total to $1500 for this problem.

RECALL! My rear axle could have seized up and they don't deem it a safety hazard?!

- , Stansbury Park, UT, USA

problem #44

Nov 162007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

Started out as a grinding when turning at slow speeds. Took it to Ford dealership once and they claimed it was due to tire wear; however, I noticed that it wasn't all the time (never in the morning) so I took it in again and now they want to rebuild the entire rear differential for $1329. I only bought this 13 months ago and feel that since there are TSBs on the issue, then they should have covered it before I bought it.

FORD SHOULD ISSUE A RECALL! I love my Explorer but this is ridiculous.

- , Stansbury Park, UT, USA

problem #43

Nov 012007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

We bought our used 2002 Ford Explorer,in the beginning of 2006. This was our 3rd Ford Explorer!! There was a low roaring noise in the rear when we bought it, we thought it was the tires. Eventually this noise got unbearable. We had all new tires put on, still the noise was there. Then we thought maybe the brakes were causing the noise. We did all new brakes, still the noise persisted. We went on line to find out other Ford owners are having the same problems. We called Ford Customer Service only to be told there is no recall on this problem because it is not considered a safety issue. They suggested we have our vehicle diagnosed at a Ford dealer. On 10/20/07, I had my car diagnosed at Ford, for $94.00, and confirmed it was the rear axle differential. I was also told to avoid driving, or drive as little as possible because it could cease up while driving, and can be a safety concern if unit fails.

WHY IS THIS NOT DEEMED A SAFETY ISSUE??? WHY IS THERE NOT A RECALL ON THIS??? This particular Ford dealer said they do about 6 rear end differentials a month on this problem! Ford is aware of this problem, they want us as consumers of their product to fix their problem at our expense!! I am furious!! The cost of this repair is about $1200.00!! If Ford won't willing stand behind their product, step up to the plate and make good on their failed product, the legal system should make them.

- , Gaylordsville, CT, USA

problem #42

Oct 242007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Rear end started whining, brought in for service, dealer stated rear end was bad, should be replaced. Extended warranty company said no, must be rebuilt. Vehicle out of service for a week perhaps more, can't remember. Two days after return I noticed the smell of 90 Wt gear oil and sure enough the rear end was leaking, Back to the dealer to have the repair done again. Vehicle out of service for almost another week. Many problems with this vehicle, will be reported on separate reports.

- , Monroe, CT, USA

problem #41

Oct 152007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

My rear differential failed at only 65,000 miles. This is uncanny because I got an extended warranty up to 60,000 miles. My father has an Explorer and his rear differential failed at around 70,000 miles. Ford tells you that it is lubricated for life and also not to service it until 150,000 miles. There is an obvious problem with ford rear ends and it's annoying that all you can do is eat the cost.

- , 12037, NY, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?