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 1 of 3)

problem #56

Jun 082017

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,074 miles


Would like this fixed by Ford for free. Everything I have read says it's a know issue


problem #55

Dec 262016

Explorer LS 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

12/26/2016 Went to start my 2002 Ford Explore that we have owned for about 13 years. The vehicle would not shift out of park visually but physically it was in drive. Waited a while and let it warm up. This seemed to do the trick(only temporarily I know) but I went ahead and took it to a repair shop today 12/27. During the diagnostic it was found to be pulling a code and they listed off a laundry list of repairs that this Ford needs. One of them is the transmission needs to be replaced/or rebuilt they won't know for certain until they can take it in but either way it's shot and not cheap. I decided not to have the work performed since I also need the timing chain replaced again, but this time it's worse and noisier and un-driveable. It literally sounds like a ticking time bomb. The rear differential needs to be fixed again and this time again it's worse. The repair shop said it's time to take it to the dealers and trade it in since the total to have this car repaired is going to be more than replacing it with a comparable Ford Explorer or SUV. They also offered me a ride home since they said the chain could break any minute and totally destroy the engine. They also said this is the worst sounding Ford they have ever heard.

I could buy a newer vehicle with as much money that we have sunk into this Ford, but not another Ford. That is why the repairs haven't been completed. Not sure why Ford would put plastic timing chain parts know about it and not do anything about it. Rhetorical question really.

- , Boise, ID, USA

problem #54

Sep 022016

Explorer XL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles






- , Louisville, KY, USA

problem #53

Aug 012015

Explorer XLT V6 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 158,000 miles


I have had the car since 2002 with no major issues until last year. It was hard to shift gears, grinding sounds,knocking and hesitation when accelerating. The car started overheating and decide it was not going to move again. I have always taken care of my car and drove it about 30 miles per week ( on a busy week). The car should not have a failing transmission. Ford should be able to guarantee that you won't need a new car before 150,000 miles.

- , Studio City, CA, USA

problem #52

Jan 232015

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Ford knows about this problem. They should take full responsibility of fixing it. Take a look at any for sale by owner website for vehicles and you will see the 2002 Ford Explorers with low miles, all have transmission issues. This is not fair to the hardworking Americans who have given back to Ford over and over for their products. At this time I have purchased from Nissan just because of the warranty itself. Shame on you Ford Motor Company for not taking care of your returning customers.

Buying a vehicle is a big investment for the working class people, and if they're working they need reliable transportation. These transmissions you have put in the Explorers are throw aways.

Several things I have been told by qualified transmission shops, so my first issue is the clutch plates.

- , Farwell, MI, USA

problem #51

Dec 092014

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 138,012 miles

I have a 2002 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer V-8. I really enjoyed this vehicle right up until last week. I now have a transmission problem that is going to cost me over 2000 dollars. I only have 138k miles on this vehicle.

Looking on line everyone who has one also has the same problem. I believe this is unfair to the customers who believed that bought a reliable vehicle then find out they can't go to work because of a failing transmission. I strongly believe that since this tranny problems have persisted through the years with Ford that they should take on the expense to fix them.

The transmission company I spoke with not only let me know that he could rebuild one better then I have since obviously Ford knew from the beginning that they would have these problems.

A new transmission solenoid, new clutch plates, new pump, new brass brushings that won't wear, whatever else goes into the tranny. I see on other sites such as craigslist, ebay, ford forum, ect. people are having the same problems. The even are existing on the newer version of the Ford Explorer.

I say shame on you Ford Motor Company, you are manufacturing vehicles to be replaced, and so you know people at my age were taught to take care of what we have and they would last longer.

I bought this vehicle from an elderly couple and he worked for a Ford Dealer. They always serviced it at a Ford Dealer. Many people out there are in the same situation as I am, so I can tell you this, I will not be purchasing another Ford that is for sure. People can not make payments on Ford vehicles and put 2000 to 3000 into them to get them to work.

- , Farwell, MI, USA

problem #50

Dec 012013

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles


Expensive fix for a car with only 129,000. Plus, it seems that many Explorer owners have the same problem.

- , Helena, AL, USA

problem #49

Sep 012011

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

The Explorer just stopped going in the middle of the road and left me stranded with groceries and two small children. No one could come and get me, I had to hitch a ride with a guy I didn't know just to get home. That vehicle cost me a lot of money.

- , Comer, GA, USA

problem #48

Jan 072014

Explorer 4-0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

The transmission gear ratio in my 2002 Ford Explorer for second and fifth gear is off, the cost to have it rebuilt and fixed is around $2300-. After researching this on-line I found that this transmission is noted for failing. Ford needs to recall this transmission, it is a piece of junk

- , Warne, NC, USA

problem #47

Mar 302012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

02 Explorer,hard shifting into 2nd & 3rd gears/occasionally wont shift-have to do it manually/pull off of the road to avoid getting hit by oncoming vehicles as car stops pulling for few seconds. The Overdrive light is flashing & the "Service engine soon" light stays on.

I am a single mother who works part time doing contract work which requires travel. I am very distraught after doing 2 days of research on Error code PO745 (Advance Auto diagnostic). It seems I am going to have to have the transmission rebuilt. Coupled with another common problem these models have, I would be putting more into the car than its even worth!!! Even worse is I have no way to get the money to fix the car & have just started rebuilding my credit (result of divorce) & don;t make enough to even pay a pyt for another vehicle!!! It seems basically, I am stuck with a piece of worthless junk! I would love to be a part of a class action lawsuit. I will NEVER have another FORD!

- , Prestonsburg, KY, USA

problem #46

Jul 112013

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,100 miles


Transmission on this vehicle is very problematic. Costly repair bill at 132k miles. OD light and Service Engine Soon light remain activated.

- , Clovis, CA, USA

problem #45

May 032012

Explorer LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,316 miles

OD light blinking, hard shifting, transmission needs to be replaced. Rear panel cracked, and water in rear passenger blinker light (?).

I loved this car and drove it everywhere. I kept it in perfect condition and just spent several thousand replacing the struts, brakes and 4 new tires. Always performed oil changes and required maintenance.

After reading about the problems Ford had with this particular type of transmission, and the fact that they will not cover the costs of repairs, leads me to never buy another Ford again. I only buy from companies that are reputable and stand behind their products and clearly Ford is not one of those. My Explorer is just a piece of junk now and no guarantee that the new transmission will be any better than the first one, so I will not be replacing it. Guess I'll be looking for a "foreign" car.

Update from Aug 15, 2013: Fixed the vehicle by replacing the transmission with a "rebuilt" one, for $4000.00. I spent another $1500 on various little things and ended up getting rid of the car. I never felt safe in it again...always wondering if I would make it home from a trip or be stuck on the side of the road. I lost my confidence in this ford product.

I ended up buying a VW Passat diesel. Great gas mileage and very dependable.

- , Santa Rosa, CA, USA

problem #44

May 132013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 153,000 miles

I thought the tranny was crapping out AGAIN. I had already rebuilt that but it was outside of the warranty period. Took it in and they replaced the transmission solenoid pack...not cheap...$650. Ouch.

- , Chardon, OH, USA

problem #43

Mar 162013

Explorer 4.0V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 206,750 miles

people spend the money to buy this suv dnt have extra money to repair this on going problem. this can be a accident waiting to happen bc it wont shift into gears, so lawsuit waiting to be filed will happen soon im sure by someone

- , Pansey, AL, USA

problem #42

May 012008

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Imagine that an Explorer with a Tranny problem.. Hard shifting, slipped this POS is going to the junk yard..

- , Bloomington, IL, USA

problem #41

Oct 262012

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,000 miles

My Ford Explorer is giving me a hard time, driving it is a mess, gears shift, it makes a weird noise, it smells burning inside the car, the mechanics can't find any code indicating failure, the o/d is blinking constantly, gas performance is bad, and it keeps shifting and shifting even in highways. Hare to move from stopped position. I have 2 kids, i am concerned about any safety problem. I am really upset with Ford. I already spent $200 on changing fluids but no change.

- , Clover, SC, USA

problem #40

Jan 032013

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,121 miles

car only has 91000 miles and trans is slipping between 1st and 2nd gear. Also the O/D light keeps blinking. I keep reading that the trans has to be replaced and it cost $3000.

- , Allen Park, MI, US

problem #39

Mar 112012

Explorer Eddie B V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,154 miles

just started today without warning. I drive the truck very easy because I can't afford gas in it if I drive it hard. Today the O/D light and transmission warning came on and started flashing. Truck is parked for now until I can figure out what to do with it

- , North Charleston, SC, USA

problem #38

Jan 142012

Explorer Limited 4.6L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

I'm having the same Transmission problems with my Limited as everyone else. Shifting Hard, OD light Blinking, Shifting In and Out of OD, 4W Drive Not Working.

I've changed the 4W drive shift module three times already.

I have been a loyal Ford buyer for 40 years and Own Ford Stock.

Its time Ford owns up to their Faulty Transmissions.

- , Monroe, MI, USA

problem #37

Nov 152010

Explorer Eddie Bower V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,512 miles

I agree with the others that would never buy a Ford again, because they obviously overlooked much when it comes to the Explorer model. Like others on this forum I have replaced all wheel bearings, engine coil, EGR valve, and now the transmission is slipping and often will not shift into overdrive. Obviously Ford was trying to salvage the Explorer SUV during the roll-over years, with the redesign of the independent real suspension. I have several quotes to fix the bad transmission and personally I do not think it is worth the expense. Name another automatic transmission that does not have a dipstick to check the fluid level? Interesting enough I owned a 96 model Explorer that did not have any of the problems mentioned above. I am wishing I had that one back in exchange for the 02 that for all practical purposes is worthless..."Ford has a better idea"--Not when it comes to the 2002 Explorer!

- , Helena, AL, USA

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