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.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
127,561 miles
Total Complaints:
8 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (5 reports)
  2. replace transmission (3 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #8

Dec 112014

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,485 miles


For some months now, I noticed that the gear shifting especially from Park to 1st (D) or Park to Reverse was somewhat jerky. The engine revs without any movement, and then it would suddenly engage.

The real problem happened last week, (12/11) the OD light kept blinking, and then suddenly it made a huge noise as if something broke and dragging on the floor, but nothing had come apart externally, but something must be loose or come apart inside the transmission enclosure.

The mechanic said the best option would be to replace it. I searched on the internet and lot of Explorer owners seem to complain about the same thing.

- , Santa Clara, CA, US

problem #7

Nov 302013

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

Nothing different than you have read here hundreds of times already. The 2002 has a faulty transmission system and Ford has not owned up to their manufacturer mistake.

- , Paramus, NJ, USA

problem #6

Jul 042013

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Needed an strong SUV for long weekly travels to and from work that can withstand all year round northeastern weather. WHAT A MISTAKE - dealer did not explain the transmission problems these vehicles come with. Now stuck and from what I see on here, not the only one. Aside from this, there is DRL problems too. FORD should do something about this.

- , Lebanon, PA, USA

problem #5

Oct 182011

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 168,000 miles


I had this truck for years and never had any major problem out of it, but recently my temperature hand has been moving from hot to normal while I'm driving, my rear wheel hubs are making noises as I drive, the engine has to turn over 3 to 4 times before it starts and now my transmission is making noise as well as my overdrive light is blinking. Everything is happening all at once and it is turning to an headache, Ford has made great trucks through the years and now even though the little minor work I have done myself I feel Ford knows but now don't care about the loyal customer who has supported their company and has spoken highly of its vehicles until now. I service my truck regularly maintained everything and today this truck has let me down bigtime. Ford what you gonna do cause I'm thinking about dropping this truck off and buying a Chevy.

- , Jackson, MS, USA

problem #4

Aug 162011

Explorer LTD 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 208,000 miles

Turning corner, trans quit shifting, had limited use of first gear and reverse. Took to trans shop as Local Ford Dealer always took too long for any repairs and we had no warranty. Shop rebuilt trans, Torque Conv., Planetary Gears, Gear Box, etc... got it back and all OK for 1 week and grinding noise was coming from trans pan. Used a small hose to use as a stethoscope checking all over engine ( while running ) from above and then put vehicle on a lift and checked all underneath until we got to the Trans pan, Definite Noise source, took back to Trans shop and they replaced everything again, no noise for a week and it came back. Took back to Trans shop and with mechanic stethoscope we checked the engine and found noise coming from the Firewall side of the Drivers side valve cover, like a timing chain. Trans mechanic said it was common for noise to transmit to different parts of the engine, that everything with the Trans was OK and to address this new problem. Didn't know any vehicle had rear timing chains. NOW, which noise do I pursue, the Trans or the timing chain. FORD, what have you done to the American public???

- , Princeton, TX, USA

problem #3

Dec 012010

Explorer 4WD Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

This is the second time I've had to have this truck in the shop, and I don't have a second car. I'm a single mother. I've already spent $900 and more on transmission problems, $700.00 on a broken gear shift....and it goes on and on, but if you cannot afford a new car, what can you do. Let me clarify 2nd time in the shop for transmission problems!!! I have the receipts just not in my hand that explains exactly what they had to do. Its a shame to have bought a lemon...

- , Nashville, TN, USA

problem #2

Apr 012011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

I will NEVER buy another Ford vehicle. Will definitely be buying a Honda. I have had 3+ Ford vehicles and they are Junk!!! Nothing but problems, transmission and rear end problems from all of them and the gas mileage is terrible. I just spent $2,000 in parts only to fix the rear end in my explorer and now have to fix the transmission. I am not going to be able to sell it for what I have in it. Makes me sick to my stomach! My grandfather is retired from Ford and our entire family has always bought from them, but not now.

- , Taylorsville, KY, US

problem #1

Dec 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

2002 ford explorer making grinding noise. Can't figure out, from what i've read, why FORD won't make a recall on this, since it seems to be a common problem !

- , Fort Madison, IA, USA

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