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 5 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #56

Aug 142007

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles


Well first the motor went bad, We had to replace it. Got the vehicle back one week later the tranny goes out. After just spending $3000 for a motor. Need I say I may have been a little PO,d

- , Olney, IL, USA

problem #55

Apr 092008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,001 miles

Bought this vehicle new at the end of 2001 and took veh into Ford for any and all servicing. Even went as far as to purchase the Ford ESP up to 100K miles. As soon as this vehicle hit the 100K mile mark it seemed to trigger a breakdown switch. Currently I noticed a small leak on the garage floor which led me to take it into dealer who adv that diagnostic code indicated the trany was over temp. The leak was coming out of the vent on top of the trany. Recommendation was full replacement for $3500.00, decided to go w/ rebuild for half of that expense. Expecting to need a seal and to have this happen was a shock. Blue Oval My A$$. No reason these transmissions are not recalled- obviously FORD is aware of the issue and does not care. I look forward to trading this veh in after repairs, and will NOT be buying another FORD anytime soon. Inexcusable why you cannot advise your loyal customers about these situations and do some damage control before the transmission goes. Congrats Ford you just lost another one to the imports, sleep well, no surprise why your sales are decreasing.

- , LeRoy, IL, USA

problem #54

Feb 082007

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles


- , Romeo, MI, USA

problem #53

Apr 012008

Explorer XLT 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles


Had an appointment to have "sealed" transmission serviced next week. Leaving shopping center, transmission slipped while shifting from 2nd to 3rd. At next light, would not shift from 2nd to 3rd until I took my foot off the gas. At the next light (about 1/2 mile total), vehicle felt like it left the ground as it attempted to shift from 2nd to 3rd. Noticed OD/Off light flashing. Ironically, I was only 1 block from the dealership where I had the service scheduled. Official diagnosis - "transmission trashed". Solution: rebuild for $2900 or replace with new for $3700. I opted for the rebuild, which comes with a 12 month/12K mile warranty.

- , Four Oaks, NC, USA

problem #52

Feb 122008

Explorer XLT V6 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!=====FORD EXPLO"D"ER======!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!We just replaced our transmission for the SECOND time in three years. We called Ford and they said that there was nothing they could do but to record our information. O/D light flashed for seconds before trany going out. Thanks for the WARNING Ford. Now I am giving you'll a WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DO NOT BUY A FORD Explo"D"er because it will burn you... I wish I would have had the same advise because I am out about $5000.00 in total repairs. NOT One but TWO tranys, Two wheel bearings, Power Window motors, Air Bag Light (NO REASON??), Rear end rebuild, Emission sensor (Again? NO REASON??) Reverse warning sensors OUT, Dash lights (mileage) still out, oil pressure sending unit and there is probably MORE to come?????????????

- , Fairdale, KY, USA

problem #51

Feb 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Bought my exploder in August and overhauled the transmission in January. Not real happy about the whole situation. If I had known about all the negative reports on this make and model of car, I absolutely would have never purchased it! I believe this vehicle should have a total recall and the owners of this make and model should be given a refund by the Ford Motor Company!

- , Madelia, MN, USA

problem #50

Feb 182008

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles


I am a housewife who drives her POS around town. We have had problems from the start, everytime (3) we took it to a dealership they retarded the engine. A week before Christmas we spent almost 4,000 dollars for a new trans. 2 weeks later another new trans, it will be going back in the shop this week, because it still is not right. When I called ford all they ask me was what I wanted them to do(pay for it) they said if I had taken it back to a ford dealership for repair they MIGHT be able to help me. Why would I want my transmission retarded yet another time. Check your door panel, my transmission was made in FRANCE (oh by the way my husband works for a transmission plant in sharonville Ohio ( I'm so %#*& proud and so is he).

- , Loveland, OH, USA

problem #49

Feb 162008

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,207 miles

I have always had firm solid belief in Ford quality, until,,, My 2002 explorer XLS had its transmission go belly up in a matter of minutes,, It started slipping and not upshifting only when going around left corners,, went to check fluid level,, No dipstick!!! WTF??

I found that these were a "sealed transmission",, nice,, but what if it sprung a leak or something?? Come on Ford,, Get your heads out of your asses!! I'VE ALWAYS bragged you up after seeing what happens in other domestic (and foreign) manufacturers when/while owning them all,, Now you want to sh*t on us?? The people that support you? GMAFB,, I'd be going off a hell of a lot more if i'd not been impressed with your past quality control issues,, Thank God I have a good friend with an auto service center that steered me in the right direction as far as a service person goes,,,this is the last automatic transmission i'll ever own!!,, back to the manual for me

- , Flint, MI, USA

problem #48

Feb 112008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles

I think Ford has disgraced the American auto worker by building and selling such a piece of junk, I could of had a Chevy. I think they need to be accountable for expenses that the consumer has occurred. A $42.00 O/D SERVO is what failed causing such a great amount of damage. At this time I would strongly recommend against anyone buying FORD. It just happened that I only owed 1600.00 it, huh go figure. I got one word for the Ford Motor Company, TOYOTA!!!

- , Pgh, PA, USA

problem #47

Aug 182007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

I won't even bother boring anyone with my personal -Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 2002 - horror story. I can only thank God that I found this site. I felt I could not trust the dealership and now I know I was right. The dealership mechanic merely drove the car one block and stated that I needed a new tranny - to the tune of $3800 - not including the $400 diagnostic cost.!! I laughed at them and I asked for my truck to be returned untouched, and it has been parked for three months. Suffice it to say I experienced the very same malfunctions as all the posters.

I am going to follow through and file a complaint with all the recommended resources posted on this site. However I would like to get my truck fixed at a trustworthy transmission specialist - for less than the mortgage payment I was quoted above.

I am in the NY tristate area - prefer someplace in NYC 5 boroughs or New Jersey... Any recommendations?

- , Jersey City, NJ, USA

problem #46

May 192007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles


This is my fifth and final Ford product I will ever buy again. I have not had anything but problems with this vehicle. I have always purchased my autos new and treated them like show cars. A total transmission overhaul at 62,000 at a cost of $2,500 is totally unreasonable. Good Bye Ford...

- , Old Hickory, TN, US

problem #45

Oct 012007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Hard shifting started way back at 40K miles, but I didn't realize what was happening. Last Fall started getting the "O/D Off" light, which would only go away if I turned off the ignition. But a computer "check" showed no problem. Soon the transmission was obviously slipping and the MPG dropped off about 25%. The Ford dealer was quick to ID the problem, and Ford has rebuilts ready with "improved parts". They know what's going on.

Really it would be better if they took care of their customers.

- , Seattle, WA, USA

problem #44

Jan 112008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles

I just cannot believe this crap. I had the transmission rebuilt a year ago for no 3d gear. Now, will not go into gear in the morning when cold. Once warmed up works fine. Turned the vehicle back in and now it needs a bushing from FORD. Well there is a national back order on the bushing. Can you believe it, a NATIONAL back order on FORD part. Still, FORD does not recognize a problem. The next higher assembly is a valve body, I asked for the next higher assembly, they offered me a loaner car. What the hell do you think that says, 1. We don't know when the bushing will arrive because of national back order and 2. Won't replace next higher assembly which is available. DUH, It is no wonder foreign cars are selling like hot cakes. I wish to take this opportunity to thank all the accountants, lawyers and those who could care less at FORD. You need to pay attention to your OEM parts back order logs and meet the need.

- , Oklahoma City, OK, USA

problem #43

Nov 242006

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

The sealed transmission is just a bad idea. Not being able to add fluid or check the fluid easily just isn't smart. I love all the other features on the car, but this one has me a little leery to buy another, and I bleed for blue.

- , Highlands Ranc, CO, USA

problem #42

Dec 292007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

Purchased brand new in '02. And although I generally liked the car, I had the usual run-of-the-mill problems, i.e. rear window falling off on me (finally recalled after 17 visits to dealership for this problem), window motors going out and a strange "wind noise" from rear passenger door, the tranny didn't go out on me until recently. The O/D Off started flashing and "check transmission" came on. But, after about 20 miles, went off and never came back. I thought, "just a sensor." Ooops. I was in the middle of the frickin CA desert over a holiday weekend when the gears started slipping. Finally the car just stopped. Had to get towed to a Ford dealership who wanted $4K to fix it! I took it to a local transmission guy - who laughed when I called with the problem (he said Fords are his biggest moneymakers) and he charged me $3,200! Now looking to sell the car with a new transmission. Any buyers? Got myself a nice Nissan Murano. Ford can go f*ck themselves; they know about this problem and are just going to let it happen forever. Now we know why everyone hates American car manufacturers. I'll never buy another American car.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #41

Nov 192007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


OK, so we all know the problem with the damn transmission, so I don't have to go into to too much detail. The short of it is that my transmission died exactly 1-month to the day I purchased the vehicle! I bought it in June of 2004 with only 40000+ miles on it, making the hunk of crap only 2 years old at the time. I decided to take my nice semi-new XLT on a road trip from California to Phoenix, AZ, roughly about a 6 hour drive.

Made it there, and ALMOST back! I pulled into a gas station must after crossing the California border and my truck would not shift gears! I wouldn't go into drive, reverse nothing. Here I am stuck at a damn gas pump in the middle of nowhere, not knowing what the heck was going on.

THERE WAS NO WARNING, NO SLIPPAGE, NOTHING! I came to a complete stop and the truck would not go into gear after that. So, luckily for AAA, I had the hunk of crapp towed back to the dealer where a I bought. HAHAHA, jokes on me, since I was over 30-days by about 2 weeks, I had t let the warranty deal with it. OK fine, I was smart enough to purchase an extended warranty and got the damn thing fixed, with a $200 deductible.

In November of '06 I moved from California to Oklahoma, taking my lovely XLT once again on the road. No problems, it made just fine. I put the vehicle in storage as I wasn't sure if I was going to become a resident of the state, and hadn't renewed my tags from California, that had expired in January '07. So my truck sat from Dec '06 until approximately May '07, that's 5 freaking months of NO driving, except for the weekly spin around the block to keep the motor and battery healthy!

Once I decided I would become a resident of the state of Oklahoma, I legitimized my vehicle with proper registration, got an oil change and tune know, the basic requirements for a vehicle that has been sitting for awhile.

Well here it is Nov' 07, (December now, but problem occurred last month), and I'm on the highway and I GOT A WARNING THIS TIME! The damn thing starts to slip, the O/D light starts flickering on and off, and the Service Engine light comes out. I'm thinking to myself, oh hell no!

Having some history and general knowledge of cars, I knew it was the damn transmission...AGAIN! Take it to a specialist for diagnostics, and low and behold it requires yet another OVERHAUL! That's twice in less than 3 f*cking years! I have to say less than 3 years, bearing in mind I didn't drive the car for almost 6 months.

I called the original dealer that did the firs repair in California, and of course he blew me off saying well, it's way out of warranty nothing I can do.

Somebody tell me how can a vehicle with less than 100,000 miles, just over 4 year old, well maintained, not harshly driven, required a f*cking transmission overhaul twice! This is bullshit, and as I stated at the opening, I'M PISSED!

- , Oklahoma City, OK, US

problem #40

May 142007

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

On my 2002 Ford Explorer XLS, the trans has to be fixed in May. Took it to Ford, they told me $3800, and told me it needed to be started on today to prevent further damage. Gotr a 2'nd opinion, took it to AAmco, they charged me the "FREE" $49.99 fee to look at it, and told me it was not bad enough yet to measure on the chart, but they also told me that it would cost me around $2300 just for them to look around inside the pulled out transmission, and they would replace any bands and seals needed. I asked them if that would fix the problem for the $2300, and they said the standard B...S... answer of "it all depends on what we find when we are in there." I asked them if this was the very first transmission they had ever repaired, they said no, then I told the guy that he should know how much it costs, on the worst case scenario. He then told me probably another $1,000 at the most, totalling $3300. WOW!!! By the way, the radio ad stating that AAmco will diagnose for FREE the "Check Engine" Iight, but ONLY if you have them do the work and let them "look around."

I then searched and found a local independent shop that would do it for around $1900. I went with that. VERY BAD DECISION. It is now Dec 24, 2007, and my truck transmission is out as we speak, right now!!! On Christmas Eve 2007. It will not go into gear after driving it for more than 15 minutes and parking it.

The first time in May 2007, it was very clunky when changing gears, the OD light flashed like crazy, and the Check Engine light came on. I was on my way back from Greenville sc headed home to Atlanta GA. I took it to my local mechanic, he got me the error code of "P0775 Pressure Control Selonid Valve Problem." He told me he could not fix it, recommended I take it to Ford. I did, Too expensive. AAmco, expensive and shaky, then I took it to the local guy for $1900.

He overhauled the trans, I paid him $1900, and I drove off in mid May 2007. Around Labor Day 2007, same thing started happenning, with OD light flashing and Check Engine light on. I was pissed. I took the 2002 Explorer back to the local guy, and he told me that these Explorers are notorious for having the same problem come up again after 5,000 miles or so after an overhaul. He fixed at no charge, and off I went. Last week, same thing, but with very loud clunking noises at low speeds, OD light flashing, and Check Engine light on. I took it back to local guy, and he said he fixed it, and that he did something extra that he did not do the last 2 times, so I should be OK for now. I drove it to the mall, and towards home, stopped to get gas, and it would not go into gear. In Reverse and in Drive, it seems like it is in neutral. Got it towed back to the local guy for $70 fee. The next day, he said he cranked it up, put in reverse, OK, and in Drive, OK, and drove it for a few miles and brought it back to the shop. Told me to come get it since no problem found. I drove it home, no problem, parked it in my driveway. Then about 2 hours later, I go to leave to get pizza and gas, and it seems to be in Neutral when I put it in Drive and/or Reverse. I am really pissed. I call the local guy, and he tells me that when he fixes it this time, for me to trade it in, since this will continue with the sorry ass transmission from Ford. He blamed Ford. He asked me why I bought a Ford Explorer. 2 days ago, I looked around in his shop, and I saw 4 other 2002 Ford Explorers there.

Enough said.


- , Snellville, GA, USA

problem #39

Jul 142005

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Had to have the transmission rebuilt at 52,000....and would you believe it, again at 82000!!! When is Ford going to do something? Definitely the last Ford I'll EVER own!!

- , Flushing, MI, USA

problem #38

May 222007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

First off I would like to say, I wish I would have found this site when I first bought this POS.

I recently had to get my transmission rebuilt at 60000 miles. I am with everyone else on this post, if I would have had a way to check the trans fluid I may not be in the mess I am now. Typical automotive engineering, try something new, it doesn't work, and tell the consumer "sorry, we F#@%ed up" and "oh yea, we will not fix it either" I just can't wait to get this loan paid down so I can get rid of this hunk of crap. Its pretty sad when a company knows it screwed up and then doesn't take responsibility to look out for the consumer.

Update from Feb 28, 2011: Well had the transmission overhaul done, and now 3 years later gonna go in and have another one done. If I didnt have financial problems right now this POS would be gone and done with, but as it is, I have to pay another 1500-2500 dollars just to have a means of transportation. I bet these big shot car executives dont have to worry about this typw of crap, they have such wonderful and righteous lives.

- , Fort Smith, AR, USA

problem #37

Oct 012007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

I have owned 6 Explorers, and other than normal wear and tear - NEVER - had a problem....UP UNTIL NOW. Being familiar with the product over the years, I am meticulous about service. Oil changes, all fluids, etc. Imagine my dismay to see my OD light flashing and the check transmission light appear? I took it to 3 different places in Indianapolis. The first was the dealer, Bill Estes Ford. They hooked it up to their computer and confirmed that 5th gear would not stay engaged. I decided to leave the car with them, only to be told I would need an appointment. I made the appointment for the next day, arrived 15 minutes prior actually - only to be told that the mechanic's wife was in labor and could I wait until next week. I refused, of which the service advisor explained that transmission problems for the 02 version of the Explorer were QUITE common. Momentarily, I played with the idea of trading it in for another one. Let me explain it this way, FORD DOES NOT WANT THESE BACK. Although I had purchased 4 vehicles from this dealership in 8 years, they LOWBALLED me an offer would not budge. To make a long story short, I had the transmission rebuilt and will pick it up today. I can assure you that I WILL NEVER PURCHASE or RECOMMEND a FORD product EVER again in my life. The dealership in Brownsburg, IN sucks - their service advisors suck - and FORD sucks!!

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

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