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 6 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #36

Apr 182007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 5.9

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


Ford 2002 sealed trannies definitely have issues @ the 50k ish miles... dealer worked it out but it still ended up costing us....

- , Elsobrante, CA, USA

problem #35

Nov 082007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

Just another shmuck reporting the same thing as everyone else and 2 months past warranty. O/D Light Flashing, slipping between gears, recommendation...Rebuild or remove and replace. I'm rebuilding for about $1000 less than replacing and selling ASAP. I bought used from the dealer with 30000 miles on it. The last 32000 (car has 62000 miles) has cost me (after I trade it in, assuming I get blue book) $18,000 to own for 3 years. For the math impaired that's $6000 a year. I am going to lease a BMW and never look back. F^^^ You Ford!!!!!!!!!

- , Norwalk, CT, USA

problem #34

Nov 062007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,700 miles

I just want to add to the complaint I filed on August 3, 2007 (#87). Fortunately for me, I did purchase an extended warranty on my Explorer when the transmission started to fail. I was just about 50 miles shy of my warranty expiration when I took the vehicle to the dealership for repair. I left the truck at the dealership and was placed in a rental without any charge to me. The free rental was included in the extended warranty but only for 3 days. I was told that it would take about 3 days to repair but it was a week. When I picked up the vehicle, I drove it around to run some errands and on my way back home, the truck started bucking like a mechanical horse and making clunking sounds. It sounded like the insides were going to fall out! Also, the OD drive light started doing it's thing. I immediately returned to the dealership. The transmission problem was worse after the repair than before the repair. I was put in a rental again for another week before the problem was fixed. The dealership was great and picked up the tab for the additional days because it was their fault that the vehicle was not fixed the first time. I still don't feel safe in it because I feel that I could still have problems with the transmission later. I only had to pay the $100 deductible for the repair.

- , Springfield, VA, USA

problem #33

Oct 242007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles


My 2002 Ford Explorer with 111,000 miles on it needs a new transmission. Ford needs to recall their transmissions. I see alot of people are having trouble with the the 2002. I also had a 1996 Ford Explorer and the transmission went out at 75,000 miles. I have learned my lesson and will not buy another Ford Explorer.

Angela D.

Ellaville GA

- , Ellaville, GA, USA

problem #32

Aug 272007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

Problem first started about 2 weeks ago when suddenly the exploder would lurch and the RPMs would soar. Sure enough, without warning the whole thing failed. The mechanic said he'd never seen anything this bad in his 27 years servicing Fords. Had to be towed 100 miles to get home, and another 15 miles to get to the mechanic. Couldn't even get it into neutral.

- , Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #31

Aug 292007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

I purchased my Ford Explorer in July of 2003. For the most part it was a great car except for the door ajar alarm randomly not working and Ford breaking my lift gait during the recall. This just happened to me last week. It started with my overdrive light flashing while I was on the freeway. Which went away once I restarted my car and it seemed OK. I didn't have much trouble with the car shifting hard except on a rare occassion. The real problem began when I started hearing a vaccum/metal scraping sound during accelaration of my explorere. the sound never went away but did seem to quite down once I got the car warmed up. I immediately took it to a trusted mechanic who found that my transmission fluid was black and my timing chains in my engine were going bad. The estimate to fix my car completely was between 5,000.00 and 6,000.00. The mechanic warned me that these cars have so many problems with their transmissions and engines that correcting the problem was a bad idea. I owed about 4000.00 on the car and it was only blue booked at 8800.00 if it was in great condition, which was now not the case. Had I fixed it I would have been an idiot since my debt combined with the cost of fixing the vehicle would have resulted in spending more than it was worth. I followed all the rules when it came to car care and it didn't do me one darn bit of good. I would say that 80% of the miles on my car were highway miles. I ended up trading my car in and getting Toyota. I lost a lot financially with my car and emotionally. I will never buy from Ford again. When this percentage of people have a problem with the same aspect of their cars it seems awful that a company leaves them hanging. The least they could do is recall and replace transmission the most would be to give me back the value of my vehicle, that is what I could have sold it for had it not had this problem.

- , Spokane, WA, USA

problem #30

Sep 272007

(reported on)

Explorer LX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


I have had this car in several times about noises in the trans, slipping, late shifting, it just did not feel right... Since 58,000 miles I have been suspicious something was wrong....... So I am 4 hours away from home today and my transmission goes completely out....... I am in not such a great part of a Cit...... The transmission guys tells me that 3rd gear is gone and a total rebuild is needed........ my warranty covers only under 75,000 miles......... well now I have over 100, but have been complaining about it since 58,000 !!!! So here I am 4 hours from home...... I have to leave my car there, get a rental car to get home.., figure a way to come up with almost $3,000. and then have to drive 4 hours to pick it back up in a week......... I am supposed to leave on vacation in 2 days ??? Now no way can I go. I think this should be covered....... especially now that I see how many have had the same problems........ my trans problems were showing at 58,000 miles. The problem has been there a long time...... Ford dealership said they could not find anything wrong but I knew it was there...???

- , Mountain View, AR, USA

problem #29

Sep 192007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,496 miles

I purchased brand new the 2002 Ford Explorer in late '01. The warranty expired and I just paid off the vehicle with less that 69,000 miles on it. The transmission began to slip, the rpm's revved and the transmission would shift or slam into the next gear. Ultimately the Check Engine Light came on and the O/D symbol would flash six times a second. My trusted mechanic said a diagnostic test showed that the third gear was problematic. Estimates $2,500 for a complete overhaul.

Ford has lost another customer. I will drive this for 9 more months while I pay off the transmission fix and then sell it. NEVER again will I purchase a FORD, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo, Mazda or any other piece of crap that Ford associates with. I do not recommend any Fords with automatic transmissions. Good luck and happy driving.

- , The Colony, TX, US

problem #28

Aug 302007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles

At 71,000 miles my transmission was shot. Had it rebuilt by a local reputable mechanic. He showed me the problem and told me he has seen numerous of these types of transmissions having problems. Basically he said that these transmissions were not made too well. And like with my transmission one thing wrong can cause something else in the transmission to wear , break, etc. To be specific it was a hole in the side of the transmission that has a long thing hooked to a filter looking thing (sun something) lol-that goes into the hole. The hole which is made of metal or steel gets bigger (not supposed to but the maker made it cheap), then the long thing that goes into it slips out and it also gets wear on the filter thing as well. So they fix the hole by putting a adapter piece with a new strong hole in it. Ford should have this recalled-We pay between $20,000 -$32,000- mine being $32,000 for the transmission to be shot around 70,000 miles because of them using a cheap ass transmission. There have been to many complaints about the 2002 explorer around the same miles.

- , Marietta, GA, USA

problem #27

Aug 162007

(reported on)

Explorer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Hi from Australia. Transmission started with a noisy torque convertor followed by sluggish shifts Transmission went in for a complete overhaul with a Ford transmission preferred repairer. The first mistake he made was he put the wrong solenoid pack in and there was lots of clunking going on, apparently the excuse was the wrong solenoid was packed in the right packaging box. Since repair, the shifts are harsh between the gears, clunks from park to reverse also from neutral into drive. Now we have a wind noise coming through the drive train somewhere, sound is similar to a wheel bearing wind but it's not coming from there. This repairer also to our disgust put in a quick shift kit!!!! in a 4WD, we weren't even asked if we'd like one fitted, if we had of been asked we would have flat out said NO THANKS, this quick shift gives you whip lash when you least expect it. In fact the first day we drove it repaired our 8 year old son said "what did you just run over?" it was so loud and forceful. We rang the repairer and told him of our above complaints to which he said oh that will all iron out after 800miles or so, it is now over the 800 miles and nothing has improved so we will be taking it back in and definitely asking him to remove the quick shift for starters. Everything else about the car we love it's just the transmission problem. Can Ford find the problem so we can modify it or alter it in some way. Perhaps they might find all their solenoid packs are packed in the wrong box???? They're the ones with the expertise and resources. Ford please give us answers so we are not stabbing in the dark or throwing good money after bad. Thank you.

- , Perth, Western Australia, Australia

problem #26

Jun 052007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


Just for the record this is another complaint I've had besides the crack in the tail gate. The transmission had to be overhauled shortly after buying the vehicle. I'm glad I got the extended warranty but mad I had to use it so quick with it being a certified pre-owned with minimal miles. Back to Toyota I go.

- , Pearland, TX, US

problem #25

Jun 122007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Well, I am the latest victim of a 2002 Explorer transmission failure. All I can say is that Ford is the worst car company that I have ever had to deal with, that includes the after market warranty company Buyer's Choice.

I dropped off my vehicle to Ford on Monday June 4th. O/D light flashing, Check engine light on, transmission not shifting, etc... After a week they finally told me that the transmission needed to be replaced. A band was broken, the transfer case cracked and it was not worth fixing. The adjustor is investigating it to see if they are going to cover it. It is going to cost over $2000 and if the warranty company doesn't pay, who is going to pay? Not Ford. They are responsible for this and they need to take responsibility for bad design and workmanship. You know what the Ford dealer told me, "Well, it does have 80,000 miles!" My Toyota Camry had 180,000 miles and i never even changed the transmission fluid.

Beware to all those considering Ford, DON'T!!!!!! Buy Toyota, or Honda but not FORD!!!

- , Berkshire County, MA, USA

problem #24

Jun 302007

(reported on)

Explorer Limited 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

Car revs to 4000 rpm in first gear, need to let off on throttle to have it shift gears. O/D light flickers, "check transmission" light comes on. I took the car to the Ford dealer--they diagnosed transmission failure with bands broken. Estimate was $4800 for replacement transmission with "upgraded" transmission cooler. I had never heard of transmission failure with a car of this low mileage. I got another estimate from an independent transmission shop for $2500. I don't intend to keep this vehicle for long after repairing it, so I'll go with the cheaper repair. I know that I'll never buy a Ford again. Before buying this Explorer, I owned a Jeep Cherokee that gave me 210,000 miles of trouble-free driving. Back to Chrysler for me!!!!

- , Pacifica, CA, USA

problem #23

Aug 042007

(reported on)

Explorer LX 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

Only got 67000 miles on my 2002 Explorer and the transmission is shot! I frequently change the transmission fluid, but I guess that was a waste of time and money. Don't tow anything, and drive very light! I love the USA, but our car manufacturers suck! It's time Ford steps up and deals with some of these expensive and unsafe problems. I wouldn't sell this Explorer to Osama! If anyone out there is buying one of these pieces of scrap metal be prepared to pay for it about 3 times with all the repair costs.

- , Muskegon, MI, US

problem #22

Jul 252007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

I purchased a used Explorer in May 2006. This July the transmission went. I had ALMOST the same EXACT symptoms as KeSha P., single mother of four in GA.

Service technician states that third gear is missing. Car was owned by one previous owner, who per the car facts reports kept up with routine service dates.

Recommended repairs: Overhaul $2,395 (2 year warranty)

No prior indication of problems. After driving approximately a quarter mile car would not pick up speed. After letting up on the accelerator, I was able to get car going. When approaching 3 rpms car began to jerk and grind. Immediately service engine came on, and overdrive light flashed on and off. Car continued to grind and move hesitantly. Jerking repeated at every effort to shift gears automatically.

Once car was turned off, allowed to cool, and then restarted, everything appeared to be back to normal with the exception of the check engine light (it never went back off). When put into drive the vehicle performed as usual, until again it attempted to shift gears automatically as I picked up speed.

----- The entire situation really sucks, as I am a single mother of two and this car is my sole means of transportation.

I thought Fords were supposed to be some the highest rated vehicles.

- , Massapequa Parkq, NY, USA

problem #21

Jun 042007

(reported on)

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

First transmission went at 33,000, was covered under warranty. Replaced with a rebuild. How do they get away with giving a used transmission for a new car warranty. What a joke. That went at 70,000 (only 37,000 miles later). This one's on me. Dealer went out of business (what a surprise), and talking to Ford is waste of time. Totally unacceptable. Wouldn't drive a Ford if they gave me one.

- , Verona, NJ, USA

problem #20

Apr 292007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 4.0 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

complete transmission rebuild .. towed it to a local ford dealer where I bought the truck .... charged me 98.00 to tell me the transmission had no 3rd gear ...... told them that when I towed it in to them .... has a disscussion about the problem and found out the cost to repair ... was told they would take it apart and replace what needed to be replaced .... well that didnt sit well with me because if you are going to take the transmission out rebuild the whole thing.... was told that they havent had any problems with these transmission and I ask why they would say that the tranmission would not need service until 150000 miles and I hear about all these problems with transmissions..,, so its not the vehical that is the problem its the ford dealerships that will take u for every cent they can ..... so towed it away from the ford dealership and took it to a dot transmission who replaced everything in the transmission with all updated parts and a shift kit.. what a world of differance in attitude between the ford dealership and a independant transmission shop ... would suggest anyone having to pay for this problem out of pocket take it to a transmission shop for excellant service and a better attitude ... have relized that ford dealerships will only fix what needs to be fixed and knowing that it will fail again soon.. U will be back and they will say not covered on warranty

- , Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

problem #19

Aug 042006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles

My 2002 Explorer has 41K miles on it but I have had transmission problems since around 16K miles. At first, I noticed the car shifting hard between 2nd & 3rd gear and then the overdrive light started flashing. Long story short, the transmission was worked on 5 times. The first 4 times they replaced the selenoid pack & valve body and then the flow control valve was replaced once and then during the 5th trip to the dealer, the transmission was overhauled.

Interestingly enough, each time it was fixed (at a couple different dealers) I was told that the 02 Explorers had bad transmissions but Ford wouldn't "allow them" to replace it. I feel like they were just "putting a band-aid" on my transmission to fix it until the warranty ran out because suddenly, they were allowed to replace it or overhaul it. I don't understand why a recall was never issued.

The only reason the cost was so low to overhaul the transmission is because the 4th time I had it to the dealer, they told me that it was definitely fixed and if I had problems shortly after my warranty expired, they'd fix it for free and I held them to their word!

Other problems I have had:

leaking rear differential, 6 disk cd changer that had to be replaced because it would try to eject 2 cds at once and it would give an error and say the slots were empty when they were full and finally the air conditioner stopped working all of a sudden. Right now, I have a groaning noise during tight turns and a clunk when I come to a stop. The dealer isn't sure what that could be and told me to come back when it's worse. So... when I wreck my car, is that considered "worse"?

I will never ever buy another Ford product.

- , Carol Stream, IL, USA

problem #18

Mar 172007

(reported on)

Explorer XL 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

My 2002 Explorer needs a new transmission at 61k. This is my 5th ford. No more.

- , East Dennis, MA, USA

problem #17

Mar 132007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

transmission went out at 60,000. and what is worse is seeing that there is so many problems. I WISH FORD WOULD STAND BEHIND THERE PRODUCT!!!!

- , Platte City, MO, USA

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