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 30 of 45)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #308

Sep 142007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles


We were driving the car to work, going about 55 mph and the overdrive light came on and then the car just stopped moving. It nearly caused an accident. Now I have been told that I need the transmission replaced or rebuilt. I have had this car for 17 months and there was no indication that there was a problem. It wasn't even at the point to have the transmission flushed, so what is the deal with the inferior equipment that Ford installed? I don't have the money to pay for a transmission and am at a loss as to what to do, other than to have it towed cod to Ford main office for 'display'.

- Dale City, VA, USA

problem #307

Mar 202005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles
Shortly after buying the vehicle (68K miles) the transmission started shuttering and having issues shifting from 1-2 gear. It would also have problems down shifting under load. I would have to release the throttle momentarily to make it shift. Overdrive light would blink, the odometer would blink all 'dashes', and the speedometer would go to 0 mph. I have had the vehicle worked on at a local dealership 3 times and still the problem persists. Now, at 97K miles, my extended warranty has expired and I am left with a vehicle I am still paying for and a bad transmission.

- Rural Hall, NC, USA

problem #306

Feb 052007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,117 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that he had to rebuild his transmission and replace the rear differential bearings. The vehicle failed while driving 70 mph. He stated that the vehicle shut off when he shifted into reverse. He had to wait a few minutes before the vehicle could be restarted. The VIN was unknown. The current mileage was 80,000 and failure mileage was 67,117.

- Shawnee, KS, USA

problem #305

Jun 082005

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,161 miles


We have a 2002 Ford Explorer. We purchased this used in August 2004. On June 2005 we started having trouble with the transmission and took it in to the dealership on June 8, 2005 they had it for 8 days and repaired it under warranty. We took it back on June 24, 2005 for the same problem. They had it for 5 days but said they could not duplicate the problem. On Jan 20, 2006 we had to take it back in to the dealership for transmission problems again. They had it for 7 days this time and repaired the problem under warranty. Then on Feb 10, 2006 we had to take it back to the dealership for transmission problems again. This time they had it for 19 days and again repaired it under warranty. Now we are having transmission problems again and we took it to the dealership for repair but they say it is out of warranty and that there is nothing they can do for us. They say that it has been 1-1/2 years and 40,000 miles since it was last worked on and it is out of warranty. After talking to everyone at the dealership from the service mgr, the general manager and finally the owner's daughter, all they are willing to do for us is to replace the transmission and give us the "employee" discount price which is $ $2641.50. I feel that this is an own going problem and that the transmission is a lemon and they should have to replace the transmission at no charge to us. Also after doing some research on the internet, I am finding that this seems to be a problem with a lot of 2002 Ford Explorer

- Rockmart, GA, USA

problem #304

Aug 182007

Explorer 4WD 24-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles
My transmission has to be replaced which will cost $3800. Plus $500.for the cost of a rental car. 2nd time transmission has to be worked on. The first time the car just stopped in the middle of rush hour. Car is maintained every 3000 miles@a Ford dealership. Check engine light came on with overdrive light blinking.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #303

Nov 262005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,649 miles
Purchased new 2002 Ford Explorer. I had the original transmission replaced at 63,658 miles due to its failure. The rebuilt one that cost $2,974 is now slipping @77,853 miles. It will have to be replaced soon and the company that did the work is now out of business, thus the warranty is worthless and I am probably going to have to junk the vehicle and buy a foreign vehicle.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #302

Jul 132007


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


The overdrive light on the 2002 Ford Explorer is blinking. This was after the 100K miles checkup. I am now being told that the transmission is possibly damaged due to a faulty part that is a know issue with Ford Motor Company.

- Edison, NJ, USA

problem #301

Aug 062007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles
Transmission failed out of the blue in the middle of traffic, had this been a highway, consequences could have been dire. Car had to be towed and new transmission installed. According to research I have done, this has happened to a large number of these vehicles.

- Joliet, IL, USA

problem #300

Jul 122007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,700 miles
Had to replace three wheel bearings at the same time. One went bad while on vacation. Luckily we pulled off the highway for a break and heard a lot of grinding. Took it to a repair shop and they wiggled the tire like a loose tooth. Technician said the wheel was about to come off and could have at highway speeds. With only 67,000 miles on this vehicle this must be a manufacturers defect that could have cost me and my family our lives! now I am told the transmission is failing. Ford needs to do something about this.

- Muskegon, MI, USA

problem #299

Jul 312007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles
Repeat failure of brake light switch, cruise control won't disengage when brake pedal depressed, an unsafe situation. Also intermittent inability to shift out of park and brake lights not operating.

- Glenview, IL, USA

problem #298

Jun 012005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,835 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The dealer informed the contact that the coil spring on the rear passenger side suspension failed. The dealer did not state the cause of the failure. As of August 1, 2007, the vehicle has not been repaired. The contact stated that the coil spring on the rear driver side suspension failed June 2005. He also stated that the transmission failed at 79,835 miles. The current and failure mileages were 79,835. Updated 02-04-08. The consumer discovered he didn't have 3rd gear. Updated

- Stroudsburg, PA, USA

problem #297

Jan 102006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,081 miles
Transmission has to be replaced.

- Somerset, NJ, USA

problem #296

May 102007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,243 miles
The car had no reverse at times. When it shifted into reverse, it was very jerky. Eventually reverse was lost. Grinding noise at approximately 30 miles per hour. Transmission completely rebuilt at a cost of $2700. Car had only 67,000 miles. I still have the grinding noise and occasionally the O/D light comes on due to sensor in 4th gear. Ford should be ashamed.

- Bethel, CT, USA

problem #295

Jul 042007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLT transmission failure. Driving vehicle on highway was easy. Transmission has been regularly maintained. There have been numerous complaints for this specific pr yet no one has taken action suitable to have Ford recall the transmission. Ford dealer says they know it is a defective design but Ford will not take action to correct the problem. It is a pity that someone will have to be severely injured or killed before anything will be done.

- Usaf Academy, CO, USA

problem #294

Jun 272007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving 30 mph, the transmission failed to accelerate and shift into second gear. The dealer stated that the transmission needed to be overhauled. As of June 29, 2007, the vehicle has not been repaired. The current and failure mileages were 54,000.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #293

Sep 012006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles
I own a 2002 Ford exploere and transmissionwas giving me problems. Also, has some vabration in rear end and front end, took it to Ford on waranty, and they said nothing was wrong. Well now I have a transmision problem and out of waranty, and they said there was nothing they could do for me, I would have to pay to get the problem fixed. But they should of look in to this problem when I had the car for a month. Now a year later the transmision was no good.

- Evans, CO, USA

problem #292

May 202007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems. Slips when vehicle starts moving from stopped position. Delay between reverse and drive.

- New London, NC, USA

problem #291

Jun 012007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles
Vibration and grinding at low speed turns. Told by Ford a differential clutch package is needed at a cost of $1,100. Called around to severl different repair shops. Found a Ford dealer to repair for $790 plus tax. Getting the usual 12 month 12,000 mile warranty. Called Ford relations for some relief and they offered none because I am out of warranty. This is clearly a problem experienced by a large number of Explorer owners. Everyone please speak up and post a complaint.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #290

Oct 102005

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles
Transmission broken Ford doesn T care brought it to sam galloway Ford in fort myers at least 20 times they finally refuse to take vehicle into repair with the words there is nothing wrong with it transmission shifting hard from 2-3 gear car is slower then a 4 cylinder no power whining noise from under the hood in the mean time transmission slamming gears still nothing wrong with it hesitating while accelerating grinding noises while accelerating whining from rear end Ford still says nothing wrong transmission went in 1st gear while driving 45 wiped out alomst hit a tree still nothing wrong check engine light is on from time to time error code saying fuel system bank 2 high voltage system too rich brought it to Ford error codes erased came back couple days later Ford says there where no error codes

- Cape Coral, FL, USA

problem #289

May 182007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,800 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving approximately 30 mph, the vehicle began to make an unfamiliar noise. The overdrive indicator flashed repeatedly and the vehicle began to hesitate. The dealer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was taken to a transmission shop who replaced the transmission. The engine size was unknown. The current mileage is 62,000 and failure mileage was 61,800.

- Old Hickory , TN, USA

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