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:
88,967 miles
Total Complaints:
136 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. rebuild transmission (66 reports)
  2. transmission overhauled (21 reports)
  3. Ford should comp the damage (17 reports)
  4. issue a recall! (14 reports)
  5. replace transmission (14 reports)
  6. not sure (4 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #116

May 282011

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles


o/d light started blinking rapidly,explorer started to stall shift mostly between 2nd to 3rd and 3rd to 4th gears then after driving about 20 miles that way it started to not shift at all.I am a firm believer in keeping a vehicle in good shape,Ive replaced both rear coil springs,both rear wheel bearings and the power steering lines,Ive owned plenty of vehicles over the years and never have I encountered replacing rear coil springs and wheel bearings!This trans problem absolutely bothers me because when I purchased the vehicle brand new from the dealership the sales team told me that the trans will never have to be checked because it is self contained and there is no need and even in the owners guide it says to basically check the trans fluid if you start to have problems.I have had a 89 mustang and a 93 explorer and loved both vehicles,but with all these problems customers are having with this self concealed trans and sure does seem like ford hasn't done anything about it I would love to join a class action lawsuit to bring attention to this matter!I wonder if ford would change their tune if everyone used every media source to let the public know ford isn't built tough anymore!

- , Streamwood, IL, USA

problem #115

May 262009

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,000 miles

First the engine went, somewhere around 120,000 miles, then the transmission went. Along with all the other problems I've had with this peice of crap I will NEVER buy FORD again. I could of typed much more but I think you get my point.

- , Markleeville, CA, USA

problem #114

Mar 142011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 154,280 miles

This is the last Ford i will buy. Ford knows about the problem an will not recall it because of the amount of money it would cost them so any one that buys a ford explorer need's there head examined. first an last one here.

- , Scio, OH, USA

problem #113

Sep 252008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,435 miles


I purchased this 2002 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer Edition on 9/29/03 and it had low mileage of only 18,000. When the transmission went out in Sept of 2007 I was shocked, because my husbands takes really good care of both our automobiles.I was just lucky that I decided to take out and extended warrantly on the explorer so it only cost me $50.00 plus the inconvenience of not having my car.

This Tuesday 12/21/2010 I was going to my son's home to dog sit and I heard something pop under my car, but no lights came on, so I traveled on a mile or so and the "OD light" started flashing and then the "transmission light needs checking came on" The car would go no further, and a local policeman pulled up behind me because I was blocking traffic and told me he could see transmission fluid on the road a long way back, this was so embarrassing to me. My son and husband came and my son looked under the explorer and the overdrive was popped out and the ring was hanging out.

Now I am afraid that even if they fix my car it is going to continue to happen over and over and I personally do not have an extra 3,000 to rebuild my transmission again.

I began to search the internet and learned that the 2002, 2003 and 2004 had the worst transmission in them and Ford was aware of these transmission problems and they have not recalled to advise the customer that are driving these dangerous vehicles. I could have been stranded at night.

I am so disappointed in Ford and I will never purchase another Ford product.

- , Dunn, NC, USA

problem #112

Nov 032010

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,500 miles

I am now on my 3rd Transmission on this vehicle in less than a month. the Tech at garage say that ford new of the problem several year back, but never recalled. The transmission surged and brakes would barely hold the car back I almost rear ended the car in front of me. When I put into park to avoid everything died, What gives, Why hasn't ford taken action on this problem when they new about it years ago?

- , Bristol, VA, USA

problem #111

Jun 012006

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

Vehicle was purchased new and after 5 years of driving all on road mostly highway driving the transmission started slipping in 2nd and 3rd gears. Had Ford Dealer totally rebuild the transmission. Wow...... Never towed anything with this vehicle. The most upsetting part about this was FORD tauted this vehicle with it's redesign and mechanical advertisements as it was all vetted thoroughly to ensure customers a high satisfaction with the purchase. I am a very upset FORD owner.

- , Stafford, VA, USA

problem #110

Dec 132010

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,604 miles


As a avid Ford owner, I am less than impressed with this problem. I have owned many Fords that lasted forever, Toyota would be impressed with the Fords I have owned. After reading that Ford has switched trannys after my Explorers year because the 2002 had serious problems really grinds me gears. Hey, there is a problem Ford, Fix it! and get on with it. Now is not the time to lose customers. When the tranny shop tells me that I was lucky to get as many years as I did was lucky. Hmm, they know something Ford doesn't.

- , Belleville, Ontario, Canada

problem #109

Nov 092010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

O/D light started blinking really fast. The car's gears started jerking. Would not work in drive had to manually shift from 1 2 3. It sticks and does not want to come out of second. Had a computer hooked up the 2nd and 5th gear which is on the same thing is messed up. The transmission ppl said that they see this ALL the time. This is completely ridiculous. Now have to have it not just rebuilt but also modified b.c when it was manufactured they did not make room for the 2nd and 5th gear. This is where the money is coming into play. They have to cut spots for the new gears to work so it won't cause so much friction and break.Or it will do it again. So we can't just get a used one out of the junk yard b.c it will just do the same thing. Why in the hell has Ford not had to answer for their mistake. Like I have 2 grand to just throw out the window. Ummm NOOOO! They certainly didn't mark down the price when they sold it to make up for the defect! Now I have to pay for another way to work. Get a loan to pay for the trans. and then pay interest on the loan. I fully intend on filing a Class Action lawsuit on Ford. They need to be forced to be held responsible for their mistake. And by the look of all of the people on just this site alone there is a huge MISTAKE that needs to be rectified. We should not have to pay for FORD's mistake and stupidity. I have owned four Ford Explorers and have not had this problem until now with my 02. And I might not win with the lawsuit but I don't think any court can ignore the same thing happening on such a large scale. Really?? I mean it not like everyone here is just making this crap up. Hell I wish I was then I wouldn't be out 2 grand. There is no question on whether or not there is a problem with this transmission. I want JUSTICE!!!!! I will absolutely never in my life buy another FORD. For a problem to be so huge and to be completely overlooked and pushed aside they might as well have told me to kiss their ass. B.c that is what they are telling all of us who have been in the same position. At least Toyota admitted to their problem and provided a fix, Ford is just saying F'you it's your problem not ours. They already have our money what do they care that they made a faulty transmission.

- , Blakely, GA, USA

problem #108

Feb 182008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

This really lit my fire! We only had the vehicle for a couple of years and we had to replace the transmission with rebuilt while on the way home from my mother-in-law's funeral! We were then stuck in Somerset, PA for over a week. (NEVER USE SOMERSET FORD DEALER FOR ANYTHING!!!) We are a military family on a VERY strict budget and when I asked for MILITARY discount they forgot that they had given me an estimate and then turned around and gave me a final price of $350 more than the estimate and that was with a Military discount. I ended up getting him to go down to the estimate but dear Lord what is going on with Ford???? I WISH I COULD REPORT USING THE LEMON LAW!!!

- , Virginia Beach, VA, US

problem #107

Aug 152010

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

I paid a lot of money for this car. I still have 2 more years of car payments & the transmission fails. No indication whatsoever that there was a problem. Now I have to come up with $3,700.00 to repair it. I have spoken to others who have said there trans failed more then once. Do I put that kind of money into something thats going to fail again?

- , Vista, CA, USA

problem #106

Aug 012010

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


mechanic still has it to show if necessary! And this is the second time I've had to have the rear end transmission replaced. First one was the first year I bought it. Luckily, it was under warranty then. This time i had to save money to pay for it myself! It was so loud you had to turn the radio up full blast to just hear the music.

- , Indiahom, OK, USA

problem #105

Sep 252009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,322 miles

I have been a loyal Ford owner for 20 years, but this is the last vehicle I will ever purchase from Ford. I've spent $6,000 repairing/maintaining this vehicle in the last 18 months. After I replaced the transmission last year, I thought I had made the most expensive repair I could face, so I wanted to keep the car a few more years to get a return on my repair investment. Well, the troubles just kept on coming.

The Ford dealership in my town was not helpful. When I told the service manager my sad story and asked if Ford would help cover the cost of my latest repairs, she told me that the repairs I needed (ABS brake module) were considered a "maintenance" item, and Ford would not help me. In fact, when I had my car in for service at this dealership, they usually recommended repairs or maintenance that wasn't necessary.

Most companies that want to maintain a relationship with you will give you some for of compensation when they have treated you badly. Apparently, Ford does not want my business any longer. Good bye and good riddance.

- , Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, US

problem #104

Aug 042010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,589 miles

This car is literally falling apart. This is a BIG problem in a long list of problems being fixed within the last half year that include brake rotors, NEW A/C, Master window control and a long list of smaller problems

- , Sarasota, FL, USA

problem #103

Jul 052010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

2002 ford explorer is the biggest pile of sh*t you could buy since buying this i have invested thousands of dollars in repairs all 4 wheel berings have went out, both rear springs broke, window motors have failed and now the transmission. i am all done. i will never buy a ford again. i know several olther people who also have experienced the same problems. ford should recall these piles of sh*ts and try to right their wrongs

- , Ionia, MI, USA

problem #102

Jun 032010

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

Bought this Explorer used in 2005 with super low milage (14k). U-joints failed and caused massive vibration resulting in a cracked transfer case. This was in 2007. I had to purchase a complete new one. Last week my wife was driving about 60 mph and the thing went into 4 low on its own. Wouldn't come out of 1st gear so she pulled over and put it in park and tried getting it back to 4 auto. It would not come out of 4 low or 1st gear, so she slowly drove it about 10 miles with the flashers on real slow. When she pulled over again I caught up to her and it was still in 4 low. So she went to put it in park but it just made a noise like grinding gears. We went to drive it to the dealer but now no gear would work, it was like they were all neutral.

We had it towed to Ford, after 5 days in the shop they tell me the gears and other parts in the transmission were bad and needed replaced along with the 4 wheel drive sensor box. Cost me 2,158.00. I have to take it back today because now I have a big puddle of oil in my garage! I have a slew of other complaints on this SUV. Terrible vehicle I would not buy or recommend another one.

- , Burley, ID, USA

problem #101

Dec 152009

Explorer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,206 miles

Transmission failed. Transmission shop asked if I wanted the updates from Ford for an extra $1800. I said no, then drove vehicle for 4 weeks and the transmission failed again. Transmission shop rebuilt it again and put in the updates on warranty.

- , Calgary, Alta, Canada

problem #100

Feb 262010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

As I was reading all the complaints and I understand that my problem was the same as everybody else that has a ford exploror I also still owe 3,000 on it. Ford should do a recall and pay us all back. I would not recommend anyone buying a Ford at this time. It looks like they were greedy just like all the rest.

- , Pinson, AL, USA

problem #99

Feb 192010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

Transmission sucks! Died out of no where. Car has always been maintained, just stopped on the way takeing kids to school. glad traffic was lite at 6:30am or making that left on a busy road any other time would have ment T-BONE on my childrens side. Ford offered no remedy and this is my 5th ford. just like the rest, someone has to die to get something fixed. Thanks Ford!

- , West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #98

Jan 292010

Explorer Eddie Baur 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

This is the 3rd transmission since new.

This is the second transmission since I replaced the second one at 41,000 miles,and this one was replaced at 60,000 miles,

So my first replacement only went for less the 20,000 miles.

The two were replaced with Ford remanufactured transmissions at factory dealership.

So, 3 transmissions,average 20,000 miles each....what a sorry lot.

- , Naples, FL, USA

problem #97

Dec 242008

Explorer 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,061 miles

in dec of 08 the o.d light started to blink, that's when i found out about so many problems with the truck. i only had it for one year and had to re-place the transmission. this dec the torque went and had to have it re-placed for $800. I will be getting rid of it in the spring.

- , Ottawa, ON, Canada

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