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
Crashes / Fires:
16 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
8 / 0
Average Mileage:
75,198 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 25 of 45)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #408

Apr 042008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,200 miles


2002 Ford Explorer with 73K started with O/D light blinking and the check transmission message. Took to dealer and had to have transmission replaced. Truck has been driven by my wife to cart my daughter around, never abused, never towed anything.

- Vallejo, CA, USA

problem #407

Apr 062008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles
No apparent reason.

- Burlington, IA, USA

problem #406

Apr 012008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles
Transmission error codes, overdrive light flickers service engine soon light is on.

- Mattituck, NY, USA

problem #405

Jan 212008


  • miles


2002 Ford Explorer. Pulling out onto major highway and vehicle would not get out of 2nd gear. Vehicle has been maintained and serviced up to factory suggested standards. Taken to Ford dealership and they did nothing except suggest a rebuilt Ford transmission.

- Maineville, OH, USA

problem #404

Apr 012004

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,800 miles
I bought this vehicle with 34,000 miles on it in 2003 and still have it. Before the factory warranty was up at 36,000 miles and had an issue with the transmission and took it in to the dealership. They said there was a problem with the trans and that they would fix it. Within a year later I had the same problem and took it back to the same dealer and they first said they couldn't find anything wrong with it. I couldn't do without a vehicle so I had no choice but to take it back. Once again the problem occurred and I took it back. This time they did a complete rehaul of the trans and said everything should be fine. They wanted to charge me about 900 dollars because there was no more warranty on it and the year warranty they gave me on the first job had expired. Luckily they worked with me and only charged me a deductible of 100. I should have known better that there was a reason a 1 year old car with 34K miles on it was traded in and after this incident I found out. Currently the car has 107,000 miles on it and the same problem still occurs and I just don't want to take it in to see what exactly is the problem because labor alone just to look at it will cost over 100 dollars. I am extremely disappointed in Ford and I just found about this site because I was online looking up a panel for this same vehicle and noticed I am not the only one who has this same problem. Thank you for your time.

- Lisle, IL, USA

problem #403

Mar 252008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles
My transmission has failed due to the torque converter failing catastrophically, sending bits of brass and metal shavings everywhere inside and destroying the assembly. The symptoms of this failure were as follows: Shifting hard between 1st and 2nd gear, and the O/D light flashing very rapidly after 10 to 15 minutes of drive time. Upon an extremely simple investigation (google search), I find that this is a suspiciously common problem with these transmissions, even though my own dealer says he's never heard of it before now, which was also a common thread in these complaints I found online. The corrective action suggested by the dealer is the same as everyone else I've found: New transmission. They say it is totally destroyed inside, the pieces of torque converter have ruined virtually every part of the tranny.

- Milford, MI, USA

problem #402

May 222006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer had initial transmission failure at 101,000 miles. Car was serviced regularly, running fine until O/D indicator light illuminated and the vehicle would not shift into 3rd gear. Rebuilt transmission was installed and now has failed at 151,000 miles. Research concerning this problem shows that many consumers of Ford 2002 Ford Explorer have had similar issues.

- Kennett Square, PA, USA

problem #401

Mar 222008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,500 miles
I just had to purchase my third Ford transmission for my 2002 Ford Explorer at a cost of $3600 to replace a transmission I also had installed by Ford at a cost of $3400 38,500 miles previously.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #400

Mar 102008

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving approximately 45 mph, the od sensor began blinking and the transmission slipped. The contact pulled the vehicle over and read the manual, which stated to immediately have the vehicle assessed for possible repair. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was taken to a specialist and the transmission was rebuilt. The current and failure mileages were 85,000. Updated 07/08/08. Updated

- Millburn, NJ, USA

problem #399

Jan 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
Replace rear end in 2002 Explorer 2 times. Ford vented the differential with a tube that exits around the rear wheel well. This design allows a lot of water to get into the differential and ruins all the workings. I had it fixed and in less than a year later experienced the same problem - I now have to have the tube reworked as well as fix the bearings again. My mechanic says it is very dangerous!

- Jerome, MI, USA

problem #398

Mar 252008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer, stopped at traffic light on 3/25/08 and od light flashed and engine revved up. Would not go when gas pressed, finally got it to limp through the intersection. Stopped in a parking lot and put it in park to see what was wrong and it sounded like something was ripping apart underneath. Doesn't want to go into gear. This vehicle has had the struts replaced and the front headlight replaced twice due to engineering problems on the redesign. Spoke with Ford this morning and they refuse to issue a recall even though they are aware that the redesigned transmissions are known to fail in this model.

- Greenville, NC, USA

problem #397

Mar 242008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles
I drove my 2002 Ford Explorer to work about 445 pm and everything seemed fine on the way there. I left work at 7 pm to go get dinner for me and the other guys working that night and I go out start it up... shift it into reverse and the vehicle doesn't move. I then shift I it into drive and the it still doesn't move. Go to check the tranny fluid and guess what... no dipstick. This vehicle is horrible.

- Rapid City, SD, USA

problem #396

Mar 232008

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles
At 85K miles, under normal driving use/condition, the transmission and rear differential have failed on my 2002 Explorer. There are Ford tsbs that identify and acknowledge these problems as evident in many of their vehicles, yet refuse to absorb any cost of the $3200 it will take to repair them. The wheel bearings also continually fail at a cost of $500 each, and have been repaired at least 3 times at my own expense. The torque converter and bushings need replaced, and the transmission cooler is worn. My mechanic explained these should not wear as quickly as 85K miles, and from the current state of its condition, recommended a complete transmission rebuild/replace, along with a new rear differential gear set. I have come into contact with hundreds of Ford owners, of new and used vehicles alike, with the exact same problem and am seeking all resources available to initiate a suit against Ford for its evident manufacture defects.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #395

Mar 172008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,595 miles
My wife called me to tell the O/D light was flashing and the transmission was slipping. I think it was between 3rd and 4th gear. We took it to our mechanic and it was diagnosed that the transmission needed replaced. After looking at your web site, and other sites, this is a very common and dangerous problem. I also have an issue with the right front wheel that has a serious rubbing noise with a serious vibration and it was diagnosed as a bad wheel bearing. This is another issue with the Explorer that is posted numerous times on your site. Both of the issues should be honored by Ford due to the expense and possible chance of injury.

- Irwin, PA, USA

problem #394

Mar 152008

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,500 miles
Transmission failure 96,000 miles. No apparent warning.

- Lynn Haven, FL, USA

problem #393

Feb 272008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles
Transmission failure.

- Berkley, MA, USA

problem #392

Mar 152008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,330 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The overdrive light flashed and remaind illuminated when the contact stopped the vehicle. The engine revved and the transmission jumped into gear. The failure occurred intermittently and while driving 25 mph. The vehicle has not yet been taken to the dealer. Midas stated that the transmission was failing. The current and failure mileages were 93,330.

- Columbia, MD, USA

problem #391

Mar 012008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,000 miles
O/D light went on then check engine light, lost third and fifth gear.

- Longmont, CO, USA

problem #390

Mar 122008

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Automatic transmission failed at 85K miles.

- Uniontown, OH, USA

problem #389

Feb 082007

Explorer 4WD

  • 55,000 miles
Ford 2002 XLT Explorer 4wheel drive I am on my 3rd transmission at under 100K miles. Luckily I travel close to home when the occurrences happen. But others I have spoke to with same vehicle have had the same problem, looked up also car and too numerous to mention, Ford should have researched this problem and recalled.

- North Ridgeville, OH, USA

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