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:
120,110 miles
Total Complaints:
56 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (29 reports)
  2. replace transmission (24 reports)
  3. replace aluminum bushings in tranny with brass ones (2 reports)
  4. automatic transmission solenoid valve (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #36

Mar 142012

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles


After reading everyone else' complaints I am even more convinced that Ford simply does NOT care about their user experience. I love my car but hate the fact that the transmission is so unreliable. This is my first FORD vehicle and will most likely be my last. Shame on FORD for not recalling a failed product and making people spend tons of money on repairs. I am facing a host of issues from grinding and rumbling transmission, to terrifying jerking of the car when stopped at a red light. My mechanic said this will most likely cost between 1500-2300 to repair. I'm furious with the company and will absolutely contact a lawyer to inquire about the possibility of a class action suit. Based on the comments here and elsewhere online, I'm sure many people will get on board.

If you work for FORD and are reading this post, feel free to continue building a positive brand experience for your consumers by actually acknowledging PUBLICLY what the issues are and how you plan on addressing them in the VERY NEAR FUTURE!!!

- , Sherman Oaks, CA, USA

problem #35

Jun 062009

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

My 2002 ford explorer has been a great car up until 09 when I started experiencing my transmission shifting hard in 1st gear and my o/d light blinking on and off. I see that there is a lot of people complaining about this problem and Ford is doing nothing to take care of it. I called Ford Motor Company today to ask them for a good will repair and she told me that there is nothing that they can do for me and that she has not heard anything about 02 explorers having transmission problems. LOL I told her to look online and see the thousands of people begging for ford to call a recall on the problem. I just had to replace my Engine in it, now I am going to have to put another 2500.00 into it. This is BULL. We have bought 9 cars from ford in the past 8yrs and this is how they take care of us? Wow. I mean come on not putting a dipstick tube for the transmission and building the transmission out of basically sheet metal what do they expect was going to happen? BUT THE PRICE WAS STILL 25 TO 30,000 DOLLARS.

- , Lorain, OH, mexico

problem #34

Dec 082011

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Well Ford you have really threw my for a loop! I wanted so bad to always buy American but you have soured me on this.You are basically taking people money and making a sh*tty product. Last week driving home from work out of the blue I am driving on the highway and the O/D light starts flicking on and off, then the truck starts to decelerate. I put on my hazards to get the rest of the way home safely. Then while at a light, it turns green and I pull off and it was like I was driving in neutral because the car was not going anywhere. It continued to do this all the way home. I had it towed to the mechanic and they told me the transmission was gone and would be $3725.10. I told them no thank you and went home. My mom and dad tried to get me to donate the truck to purple heart, but I do not feel comfortable with anyone driving this piece of trash. This was just the last straw for me, the brakes had to be replaced every 3 months, the stopped working all of a sudden and there would be this strange clicking sound. This was just an all out piece of sh*t! Absolutely the worst car I have ever had in my entire life. I will never by another ford again. Even if i am getting severely whipped in the dessert while pulling a horse and buggie on my back and then a lion is approaching to eat me; I will NOT PUT A TOE IN ANOTHER FORD! JUST KILL ME!

- , Pennsauken, NJ, USA

problem #33

Sep 012011

Explorer ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


This is just awful, I called the dealerships service department to get some guidance on this problem (O/D light on and bucks when gears shift) and they were no help. I was given the number to "Ford" and called there and spoke to a rep "dee" who just told me that it was not under a safety recall (which I already knew), and that if a recall came out later, then I could be reimbursed if I kept my receipt for the cost of repairs. I explained I don't have the money to repair and its obviously a DEFECT on the car. She then gave me the number to the "Department of Transportation and Safety" 1-800-424-9393,so I can place a claim with them. Maybe if enough of us call we can get a recall going. Its scary to know you can dump 1800$ to repair a problem that can happen again, the car isn't worth that much, but its all I have.

- , Fontana, CA, US

problem #32

Jun 112011

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


- , Canton, OH, USA

problem #31

Sep 202011

Explorer XL 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

why is ford such a butt head about their trannies?They're pieces of SH*T

- , Coal Run, 17866, USA

problem #30

Sep 022011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles


Since I bought the ford in 2002 (now at 97000miles), I spend at least 1000 every year fixing one thing or the other. I have kept my recommended mtce schedule every single time. This time, the first sign of trouble was the O/D light flickering on and off, following by engine requiring service soon light and then a rattling sound and jerking at a speed of around 25 mph when I knew something had started failing.

I took it to a local ford dealer and lo and behold I was told transmission system needed rebuilding or total replacement - and since they told me the replacement was cheaper than rebuilding, I asked for the rebuild at a cost of 3900 - being such a hapless fool.

I am done with Ford - I gave them a chance but not again!

- , Kennett Square, PA, US

problem #29

Dec 212010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

The od light started blinking and would not shift from second gear. The code that came up was the solenoid b malfunction. Went to have that replaced, and recieved a call from the shop saying that was not the problem and the transmission had to be rebuilt.

- , Daytona Beach, FL, US

problem #28

Apr 142011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Ford Explorer 2002!!!!! I am shocked to see all of the 1000's of same exact complaints as I have with my explorer!!!!! I will NEVER EVER buy from FORD again if they don't recall for this problem. I already spent $2000 to re the transmission less than 6months ago and now the same exact problem is happening again, it's like a NIGHTMARE...The O/D off light starts blinking, the check engine light goes on, the ABS brake system light goes on and the car starts kicking like a wild horse until it eventually doesn't drive anymore. I'm reporting this to HELP ME HOWARD on channel 9 news, maybe exposing them will help us all! I am also filing an official complaint with ford. The info is on...

- , Jackson, NJ, USA

problem #27

Mar 242011

Explorer XLT 8 Cl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

Seems to be a common problem with ford explorers. I just wish i could get some help from ford in fixing the problem

- , North Las Vegas, NV, US

problem #26

Feb 092009

Explorer Limited 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


Don't know why I bought another ford-- My 1995 & 1999 exployer both had more than 1 transmission redone

- , Wind Lake, WI, USA

problem #25

Mar 122011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 180,000 miles


- , Saint Martinville, LA, US

problem #24

Dec 162010

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

we bought the car me and my husband because he wanted me to have something reliable the next week to just started happening and it never stops my husband says i should have never bought a ford. he lost his job and now we don't have the money to fix it. im not sure what i am gonna do if this gets any worse.

- , Marysville Pa, PA, USA

problem #23

Feb 072011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

Well, I would have never thought that this would be a problem. I had the solenoid assembly replaced at approx 60,000 miles and six years ago)( car would not move) afterwards it ran like a champ. Recently I noticed it was occasionally shifting funny but my wife said she did not notice it. most of the time it was fine. Then on my way home one night out of the blue it started to make grinding noise when shifting gears. I took it to the garage that night and just barely made it. The Overdrive light was flashing like a strobe light. I went home and did some research only to discover that

this is a huge problem with this transmission. I love my Explorer and I am very happy with it otherwise BUT feel that because this specific problem is happening to so many of us Explorer owners Ford should offer some kind of recall.

- , Sandy Hook, CT, USA

problem #22

Jan 272011

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles

After reading some of the other complaints looks like I was a little more fortunate to get as many miles on it before I started experiencing this problem with my transmission. My explorer has 131,000 on it when it just started slipping, O/D light starts blinking, and Service engine soon light came on. I called the Ford Customer service and they told me not enough people have complained about the problem to offer a recall but to keep my receipt in case that does happen. So then she re-routed me to a local dealer who she says is the ones who offer any discounts and he estimates it to be about a $3100 fix but can bring it down to about $2800. I have absolutely loved my Ford up until this!

- , Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #21

Oct 062010

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

This is the worst vehicle I have owned and I would never own another Ford as long as I live! I bought it and its been nothing but a lemon. Ford needs to recall this!!

- , Newark, OH, US

problem #20

Apr 142009

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I have already fixed transmission once and now at 150,000 mi it is going out again! I still owe 4000 on this car. I feel that Ford should recall transmission and stand behind their reputation!!!

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #19

Jan 052011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 198,000 miles

I started noticing my vehicle running sluggish a few months ago, but it would not do it everyday, but today when I tried to go over 10 mph, it started sputtering, not getting gas and sounded like I was driving a train. I took it to the shop and they said transmission is gone. I talked with two other shops on the phone and they advised the same thing.

This is my first purchase of a Ford vehicle and the last purchase too and I have so many family members that have retired from there and some still are employed there, but I will not even think about buying another Ford product again.

- , Louisville, KY, USA

problem #18

Dec 102010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

AGAIN!!! I am so PO'd at this POS Ford. This time I was driving when all of a sudden the tranny slipped and had to pull the car over to the shoulder to prevent getting rear ended. This SUV is NOT SAFE!! PERIOD. I would love the CEO of Ford to come take this Explorer and have his family drive around in it. Maybe then they will see how unsafe it is. I get something fixed, start saving again to trade it in and something else goes wrong. I am about to cut my loss and send this POS to the junk yard. I so wish I had not trusted the Ford name when I bought my car. I will never ever drive a Ford after I rid of this hunk o junk. I will never allow my children to drive Fords and I will tell anyone who will listen what a crappy ass company Ford is. Built Ford Tough?? What a JOKE!

- , Perrysburg, OH, USA

problem #17

Jul 162010

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

The transmission problem happened today on my 2002 Ford Explorer Limited 4.6 V8. The O/D light began flashing after a hard shift. Then the check transmission light came on. The engine would rev when I pushed on the gas without the transmission engaging. This first occurred while traveling at about 50 miles per hour. I nursed it back home with many hard shifts.

When I first bought this truck a year ago with 43,000 miles, I knew the torque converter had to be replaced which cost $1,300. I did that and the truck ran perfectly until now. If anyone has experience with this latest problem and the cost they incurred, I would appreciate any help.

- , Redwood City, CA, USA

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