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:
108,645 miles
Total Complaints:
14 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (10 reports)
  2. not sure (4 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #14

Nov 062010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,300 miles


Transmission loses 3rd gear. Had to replace. I did that with another used one, same deal both lemons still skips gears.

- , Joliet, IL, USA

problem #13

Jan 142011

Explorer LX 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,900 miles

I did all scheduled maintenance and never saw this coming. The SUV skipped the second gear. I am going to get it fixed and sell it . I will buy another vehicle and it won't be a Ford.

- , Eastpointe, MI, USA

problem #12

Jun 262010

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

This was just the icing on the cake for me,,as I replaced the bearings in this truck three times already,,new brakes etc,,which I can expect to replace breaks,,,then my shifter broke right off while putting into park one day,,,and had to search for two months online to find,,at a high cost of 800.00 for a used one! Now with this issue,I am a single mother of two kids,,and thought by buying this truck we would be safe in the snow,,and I wouldn't be dumping money I don't have into this,,well...I was never so wrong! I have done some research and it looks to me like this should be a recall....I will never..NEVER buy a ford ever again!

- , Waterboro, ME, USA

problem #11

Nov 142010

Explorer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles


got at lou fusz and they failed to mention that it had transmission issue. they tried to say it was the power steering whining when it was transmission.

- , St. Charles, MO, USA

problem #10

Sep 182010

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles

A loss of 2nd gear and overdrive on my transmission and the impending total failure has caused me to purchase another car. The cost of the repair is beyond the value of the car, particularly being that I do not trust it to run without another major repair long enough to make the repair a good choice.

- , Richmond, VA, USA

problem #9

Aug 062010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,700 miles

No wonder all my friends drive Toyotas and even Hyundais. I spent my whole life "Buying made in america" but no more.

Only 120000 and transmission fails---just out of warranty. Worst was the Ford dealer did not want to take it in----they just want to sell new cars.

Lost american buyer forever---and i will tell everyone I know.

- , Mt Pleasant, SC, USA

problem #8

Apr 082009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


Vehicle's OD light started flashing the wife noticed vehicle would skip 2nd and fifth gear all the time. Transmission is a 5R55w which I understand Ford knew about and did nothing. Pretty lousy. Why would I rebuild or replace and go through the same sh*t again. Ford should come up with a repair or be forced to fix these vehicles, I don't care how old or how many miles. Vehicle runs awesome and I take care of my vehicles, virtually spotless including body, it's a damn shame trans. sucks

- , East Falmouth, MA, USA

problem #7

Mar 282010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,124 miles

I bought this truck from the local Ford dealer when I reported to Guam active duty in 2007; the truck had 68k miles on it. The problems thus so far have been;

1 A/C never blew cold air but sounded like a typhoon, factory rag in the intake side of the fan blocked the air flow. 2. Rear differential bearings. 3. Both upper control arm bushings. 4. All lower ball joints. 5. Rear windows seized, both sides. 6. Rear & front sway bar link bushings disintegrated. 7. Rear window stopped working on the tailgate. 8. Alternator. 9. Cruise control stopped working. 10. Transmission fried on me today @ 94k!

I am a mechanic & have properly maintain this vehicle but these problems all fell in the 2.5 years me being on Guam! I own nothing but Ford trucks and this truck is a monstrous! Now the truck is @ the dealer and I have to wait now for the bomb on the TRANNY replacement cost! I was ready to sell the truck due to orders back to the states! Great timing! My down deposit for a home is now a transmission for a pizza truck! Pizza crap! Ford should help us out due to the number of failed transmissions out there; this would be a short term loss of money but end results would be customer satisfaction that would bring folks back into the drivers seat of a Ford product again! Trust!!


- , Santa Rita, Gaum, USA

problem #6

Feb 282010

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

i have had this vehicle for approx. one month. two weeks ago i had to get a new starter put in, then my anit-theft was tripped, so my vehicle wouldn't start. my dad tried EVERYTHING possible to fix it, but nope, had to get it towed to a ford dealership. Now, my transmission is acting funny, ex: i press on the gas, the RPMs go up and it takes a couple seconds then jumps into gear-this started yesterday. i bought transmission fluid, but could not find the hole to put it in. 2002 (POS) ford explorers need to be taken in to a dealership to get transmission fluid put in-of course. Trying to take the cheap way out and BARELY made it to Walmart(2 miles away with it revving a clunking the whole way). they cant help me and said im leaking trans fluid. now i have to leave this (POS) at work and try and find sometime to fix this issue-it is NOT DRIVABLE!! if anyone can has any suggestions on how to fix this CHEAP-please email me at as soon as it is fixed, it is being sold!!! along with the starter, anti theft and transmission, my drivers door doesn't click shut(door comes open when i turn corners!)when i unlock my doors, the back window hatch pops open, etc. my dad has always been a ford man, he was so mad at me for buying a ML430, but with all the issues that i am having with this American made wonder people buy foreign. Eight years later and this is still an ongoing issue with ford. they need to man up and take care of all of us that are buying their vehicles!!!! nvr again.

- , Lansing, MI, USA

problem #5

Jun 242009

Explorer XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

Ford you suck at making cars. Maybe you should learn how to make a real car by Toyota because their cars last forever.

- , Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #4

Jun 102009

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles


I bought my "Exploder" and always noticed something wasn't right, there would be a "thunk" when going from 3rd to 4th gear. It has 77000 miles and two weeks ago got stuck in 3rd gear, of course one year after the warranty goes out. So I took it to the mechanic and had to get a new transmission for $1900. That is among other things I've had to pay for at low mileage, ball bearings, radiator hose replaced, luggage rack coating is peeling off. I will never buy another Ford after this. I intend to drive it until it dies but sounds like it may be coming sooner than later!!! When I went to pick up my car, I drove it for about 2 miles, with the new transmission, and then the O/D light started flashing and it said Check Transmission. It's back at the shop again!!

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #3

Jan 012008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Well I suppose Iíll join the fray here. Perhaps if enough of us show our disgust with Ford and their crap transmission, they will do something (donít hold your breath). I have pretty much the same story as everybody else, buy a used Explorer which works fine, then one day out the freaking blue, I get the blinking o/d of death. I lose 4th and 5th gear, so I shut the damn truck off and restart; problem solved, or so I thought. It was rather intermittent at first but then, eventually, every single time I drove the damn thing. I tried preemptively turning the overdrive off but even that doesnít work...that damn light flashes and I lose 4th and 5th.

- , Windsor, CO, USA

problem #2

Aug 312008

Explorer LX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

This is some straight bull. Here I am a with a disabled child, and can not work because I have to stay home with her. I have a four year old in dance, and softball. Purchased this POS last year! BIG MISTAKE!! On the way to my cousins 2nd birthday party, I take off at a red light, and when I hit about 25-30 MPH, the RPM's shoot sky high, and the car acts like its in neutral. Naturally I let off the gas, and there is a hard kick, and then it goes! So, every since then, when you hit 2nd gear, it takes an act of congress to get going again, PAIN IN THE ASS! So, now somehow I am going to have to pull $3000.00 out of my ass, imagine that! I don't understand, if sooooo many people are having the same trouble, why do they not do a recall??? Not all of us have the money that the FORD people have!! So........NEVER WILL I GET ANOTHER FORD! And, have no fear, I have four friends with Explorers and they are all taking theirs and trading them in. So, since ford wants to screw everybody, I will do my best to make sure none of my family or friends buy another ford, EVER!

- , Asheville, NC, USA

problem #1

Jul 202007

Explorer 4.Ol V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I bought my truck new...straight off the showroom floor. I didn't "dog" my vehicle while driving it and I kept up with the maintenance. One day I had a problem speeding up. It felt like a bike's chain slipping. Eventually i wasn't able to drive over 30mph. I took it to the dealer, who said the 1st and 5th gear broke off and fell into the transmission! I asked how could something like that happen; but they would not or could not give me an answer. I looked online and found that ford have had major problems with their transmissions and refuse to recall them. It cost me $2,000 to fix! Also, when I accelerate the air conditioner will stop working until I eas off the gas. Now i'm hearing a rattling noise as if there is no oil. I was told by the mechanic that the timing belt broke; the malfunctioning air is a sign for it and it's going to cost my $1600 to fix! I'M MAD AND BROKE!!

- , Oceanside, CA, USA

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