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 4 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #76

Dec 052008

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles


This is the 2nd 2002 explorer transmission I had to replace in less than a year. I can't believe that we are now going to bail them out after so many people have been ripped off. I had this vehicle in just before my warranty was up (8 months ago) and told them that I thought the transmission was slipping. They said it was fine. Now 8 months later I had to pay out $2300.00.

- , Hoffman Estates, IL, USA

problem #75

Dec 062008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,300 miles

Had my explorer 6 years 101,300 later.O/D light starts flashing. Took to Ford Dealer. they ran test, and told me I had no third gear.Before flashing light had a very hard time getting truck into REVERSE!. nearly $3000 later. SURE HOPE WE ALL CAN BRING THESE COMPLAINTS TO THE RIGHT PERSON'S ATTENTION!

- , Columbia, MD, US

problem #74

May 012006

Explorer XLT 4.Ol

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I purchased the vehicle used from a ford dealer with 99,000. miles and after about two weeks my transmissions started giving me a problem with the D/D Off light coming on and that makes my Service engine soon light come on as well. I keep going back to ford about the problem and was never able to get any thing done. I was told that they wouldn't cover it because I had no warranty. After while my transmission did not want change. It would haste when I push the gas petal. So I took it to a transmission shop and had it over haul I was giving a one year. at the time I believe that the vehicle had approximately 110,000. Miles and now I am having the same problem with it, My mile on this vehicle is approx. 158,000. miles right now. I believe that the Ford Motor's such have a better transmission for this vehicle because it is a real nice vehicle I believe that they should replace this transmission with a better one. If I keep having this transmission problem I will fine a new company to purchase my new car and I will never buy another ford ever again and I will advise my friend and family member not to purchase a ford product.

- , Brooksville, IL, USA

problem #73

Mar 262007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles


I had a 1993 Explorer and didn't have to replace the transmission until 193,000 miles. I was very disappointed when I had to replace a tranny at 108,000. Second and fourth gear completely came out. It cost $1300.00 to replace. I believe the traction or low traction light kept coming on. This only happened at first while I would slow and go around a turn. So I didn't think much about it til the tranny started slipping. What a joke this Explorer has been. I have always been a faithful Ford fan but this one sure has changed my mind!!!

- , Grantsville, WV, USA

problem #72

Oct 232008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,690 miles

I bought this vehicle new from the dealer. I should have know there would be issues when I found out you could not check the transmission fluid. My wife was driving the car with our kids and it would not shift gears. It would not go over 10 MPH. She made it home that day and the following day I did an internet search and found out that there were many others like me with the same problem and what their fix was. I took the car to a well know transmission shop and the mechanic looked at it. At first he thought it may just be a solenoid pack and he replaced that and it did not fix the problem. I was told that the transmission needed to be completely rebuilt. $2750.00 later and I thought it was fine. Had our first snow of the season and my wife tried to get into 4 wheen drive and now it will not work. Took it back to the transmission mechanic and he said everything he did is fine and that it may be an electrical problem. Know I have to figure out what that problem is. ANyone with any ideas please let me know. I will not buy another Ford product.

- , Honey Brook, PA, USA

problem #71

Nov 112008

Explorer XL 4.3L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Every tranny mechanic I spoke to stated that this is a common defect in Ford Explorer transmissions which usually occurs around 80 to 85k miles. The problem is very expensive and is not covered by Ford. If Ford repairs the vehicle they will attempt to rebuild rather than offer a new tranny. Ford is at fault for not standing behind their vehicles and their workmanship. Anyone with a Ford Explorer might want to think about getting rid of the vehicle ASAP.

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #70

Nov 262008

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,200 miles


Ford should comp for the transmission problems if this is such a problem

- , West Richland, WA, USA

problem #69

Oct 092008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,950 miles

OMG, FORD can go to hell, had no idea ford stood for "fix or repair daily". Jesus. Same transmission problem everyone else is talking about, has to be rebuilt costing a minimum of $1900, then more for whatever is internally wrong with transmission. Luckily for me, I have so many other bills, that instead of fixing, I am claiming bankruptcy! Thanks FORD POS. back to CHEVY i go. had losts of chevys, loved them all.

- , Desoto, KS, USA

problem #68

Oct 052006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

I bought a second hand Explorer from a lovely dealership that I will never go back to. Within the first two months of owning my Explorer, I was driving when all of a sudden, I wasn't. It wouldn't shift out of first gear. I rolled to a transmission place and had to leave it for two days. They had to overhaul the transmission. When I went to pick it up, I started it and heard a new horrible noise. I went right back in and had to leave it for another day because they had to fix what they just fixed. After that, I had to call the transmission place about 3 or 4 more times because it still was acting up. Finally, they fixed the transmission. Ford is not my favorite manufacturer.

- , Clarence Center, NY, USA

problem #67

Aug 052008

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,954 miles

there is enough people complaining about how bad the transmission is to have ford recall and fix them properly! they obviously need to be made stronger!

- , Lewiston, SA, Australia

problem #66

Sep 042008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


I am a ASE certified master truck technician, so I have workedon all kinds of automobiles. My wife's transmission started to slip a little, so I flushed the tranny and converter wich replaces fluid that usually is trapped and does not get replaced. I finished the job, took it for a ride and every thing was great. Two days later I getn the phone call to come and get her and the P.O.S. exploder. So I go and get her and the car. To my surprise when the tranny went it also caused the timing chain to break. To replace the timing chain, the easiest way I found to do it was to pull the engine out. I recommend never buying one of these, if you already made the mistake....SELL IT NOW...QUICK....GET OFF THE COMPUTER AND GO SELL IT

- , Marietta, OH, USA

problem #65

Jun 082007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

After having replaced the solenoid pack, at the dealer, a month after we bought the car, it lasted 2 years when the entire tranny packed it in. Took it to a great shop, and it has behaved well since. However now the rear-end is shot, so on to the next problem...

- , Abbotsford, BC, Canada

problem #64

Sep 012008

Explorer Limited 4.7L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

It really sucks that here we all are with the same problems. Ford must have known they were about to screw a whole lot of people when they came out with the 2002 Explorer.

- , Arlington, VA, USA

problem #63

Jun 142008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles

Problem started just like everyone else - blinking O/D light, than service now light. Transmission was erratic and slipping. Torque converter liner burned up and fifth gear shot. Contacted Ford and they offered NO help and refused to acknowledge that there is a widespread problem. Based on the number of complaints already documented this is an easy-picking class action lawsuit. Any hungry lawyers out there?

Needless to say - Ford will not be on the purchase list ever again.

- , Norfolk, VA, USA

problem #62

Jun 132008

Explorer XLT 4.0L 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

i cant believe all the other complaints i seen here about the same problem, i bought my ford last year never had any problems till out of the blue yesterday driving home from work can get it to shift then finally does o/d light starts flashing at me and then service engine soon light comes on, bring it trans place and as soon as i mention what its doing,by no means was he surprised, he just looks at me and says your in the fail safe mode puts it on computer and comes back looks at me and says got extended warranty i say nope and he says your screwed 3000 to repair , i cant believe ford still wont admit problem please if there is any class action lawsuit against these assholes let me know im in...... think ill go back to Nissan or Toyota again, what asshole company would even consider putting sealed transmissions in a car,, ,my email is please if anyone has any ideas please email me

- , Toms River, NJ, USA

problem #61

May 152008

Explorer XLT 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,600 miles

My 2002 Ford Explorer was a champ until a week in May when suddenly it had a problem shifting from 2nd into 3rd gear. The OD light started flickering and eventually the check engine light came on. I took it to a reputable local transmission garage and they immediately knew this Ford transmission for being very defective. After the diagnostic tests, it was confirmed that severe damage had taken place inside the transmission. Mechanic highly suggested that I just order a new re manufactured tranny from Ford and have it installed (cost around $3000 with 3 yr - 100,000 mile warranty). He said to have it rebuilt in his garage would take much more time and not worth the minor savings.

I next inquired with another Transmission garage service and they wanted to overhaul the transmission (or probably just fix the broken parts as completely over hauled). They wanted about $1800 with out seeing it and admitted more parts would drive the cost higher. They estimated about 4 to 5 days to fix and no loaner car.

Finally, I went to a Ford dealer and asked them simply order a new tranny from Ford and put it in. They said this would cost around $3000 plus another $800 for labor. I was so pissed at Ford for making such a crap transmission that I just wanted them to put a new one in and move on. The garage manager was very nice and convinced me to let them do another diagnostic test, claiming it might be a simple sensor or solenoid. Later that day he called and declared (what I already suspected), that there is some internal damage, but they could do a simple overhaul for about $1500. I told them to go ahead as it would be cheaper than $3000. In the meantime, they gave me (free of charge with a full tank of gas) a 2008 Ford Focus to drive home as a loaner. In about 3 days, they called and said that they found the broken parts and would replace them with new updated parts from Ford. A day or two later, they called and said that Ford sent the wrong parts, so they would have to reorder again. Finally after a week or so, they called for me to pick up the Explorer saying it was almost done and only needed a test drive. I drove the 30 miles to their garage only to hear an apology that the car didn't pass the test drive and something else is still wrong in the tranny. Two days ago they called and said they found the last bad part but an added expense to the tune of about $485. Today, I picked up the Explorer (two weeks after bringing it in) and it seems to run good. Total cost for the tranny rebuild was around $2,230 with only a 12month 12,000 mile warranty ( I sure hope it lasts longer than that). I can say that this Ford dealer was the nicest of all the places I took the vehicle. They even gave me a $25 credit voucher for gas at a local gas station for my Explorer. I guess to make me feel better after paying my bill.

I tried to call Ford Corporation about their junk transmission but only got a round around with automated phone service. The first thing they ask to press one for English. My Ford dealer is very nice and is going to give me a phone number where I can complain directly with a live person.

Bottom line is that I never owned a car that had a transmission go out with 66,000 miles on it. This Explorer XLT has all the options and is in perfect condition, yet a piece of sh*t transmission built by Ford. I'd say Ford now knows it has a problem but could care less since SUV and Truck sales have fallen apart. At a time with high gas prices, now the expensive Explorer is worthless and for some of us a financial burden at a time when you can't get rid of it. Then you have to repair it at the fault of Ford !!!

At least, to save Ford customers, Ford should help defray (if not cover the whole thing as a recall) the costs of this transmission problem. I really love my Explorer, but if gas continues to go up, I will have to change vehicles for better mileage (I still will need all wheel or 4 wheel drive). I've owned at least 4 other Ford vehicles in my lifetime and this might be the last. If American car companies can't make a good reliable vehicle, then maybe it's time to go to a foreign import that does. This is not very American to feel that way, but our American companies seem to give no recourse and will doom themselves out of business.

Parts that needed replaced included: Gasket kit, trans filter, trans bands, clutch plates, 2 pistons and rods, shift solenoid among other items.

- , Huntingdon, PA, USA

problem #60

May 312008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,500 miles

The transmission Over drive light started flashing and then it started slipping between 2nd and 3rd gear and jerking real hard.I took it straight to a certified Ford mechanic.He recommended Cottmans transmission and I drove it straight there.The owner of Cottmans told me this was a common problem with the 2002's and he is starting to get 2003's.He says he has fixed hundreds of them and it's the same problem everytime.He says Ford knows they got a problem their just not letting it out.I had an extended warranty on the car which I bought when I got the car new.I called them and their not going to cover the bill since I didn't call them before I give cottmans the ok to fix it.Another crock of sh*t.Ford needs to do a recall and fix these transmissions and pay the rest of us back that done had ours fixed.65,000 miles and I've never pulled a boat or anything with this vehicle.absolutely pitiful.I got a 1996 S-10 that is a automatic and I have absolutely give it hell.I've pulled everything under the sun with it.225,000 miles and I have never even added a drop of transmission fluid to it.Thats a real vehicle.

- , Taylorsville, KY, US

problem #59

May 202008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 149,000 miles

In the morning, when you first start it, it makes a sound like a vacuum hose is broke or something. Then when you go down the road, it won't shift into 2nd gear. I took it to a mechanic and he said that it needed to be overhauled and that the band around 2nd gear is bad and the same with 5th gear, it was out as well. Not only that, but it wouldn't last very much longer. And sure enough, it's in the shop right now getting the transmission rebuilt. The mechanic said that it was very common in the Explorers for the same problem, the only thing is, they usually go out around 70,000 miles. So, I just wanted everyone to be aware to watch your transmissions around that mileage. It's gonna cost $2200.00, but oh well, what can I do? Let it go back and eat it on my credit? Nope.... But I won't let this happen again to me, I won't buy another Ford. I had to fix all 4 of my wheel bearings which altogether cost me 1300.00 (doing it ourselves). So the repairs cost me $3,500.00! Damn.... Fords are expensive!

- , Wichita, KS, USA

problem #58

May 282008

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,300 miles

I haven't had many problems with this vehicle until now. Only a ruptured A/C hose. This one's a doozie. I was shocked to see how many of these cars have had transmission problems. Ford should definitely reimburse us for some or all of this cost. It's obviously a manufacturing or design error. The Ford dealer's estimate is about $3,000 for the overhaul. That's a lot when you're retired on fixed income.

This failure came on all at once. First, the O/D light started flickering and the check engine light came on. At about the same time it started having trouble going into 3rd gear. I'd have to goose the engine and then let up to get it to down shift.

- , Liberty Hill, TX, USA

problem #57

Apr 042008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

Same issues as I've read here a thousand times. Blinking OD light 2 weeks ago. On restart, went away for a week. Next long drive in the truck, got an 'overheating transmission' error. took it in to my shop (Curry's Falls Church) and nobody was surprised. Transmission had to be rebuilt by Hi-Tech Transmissions. They said this was incredibly common in both the Explorers and Jaguars of this age.

Tidying up the truck this spring (rear passenger window assy is broken as well) and selling it ASAP!

- , Vienna, VA, USA

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