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 34 of 45)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #228

Oct 072006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,900 miles


My 2002 eddie bauer Ford Explorer revved at 30 mph then the O/D light started flashing and the check transmission light came on. Immediately I took it to dealer and was told the 3rd gear was gone. New transmission needed. Very saddened.

- Wrentham, MA, USA

problem #227

Aug 252006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,117 miles
I bought by 2002 Ford Explorer from board Ford on 07/24/2004. It had 57051 miles on it. At 77117 miles the transmission gears went out while I was driving on the 91 fwy. I then had it repaired at cerritos Ford. It once again while I was driving the transmission failed at 92120 miles. It was a frightening experience while driving for your gears to go out on a busy highway. Luckily I was able to pull over both times safely.

- Norwalk, CA, USA

problem #226

Sep 222006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,900 miles
My transmission on my 2002 Explorer is slipping from 2nd to 3rd and making a hissing noise. I understand there has been alot of complaints on these trucks. I want it fixed or replaced. I hope there is a recall on this automobile from Ford.

- Moon Twp, PA, USA

problem #225

Sep 102006

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 99,800 miles


Transmission overdrive light started to flicker. Dealer tells me that 2nd gear is failing and when it fails my transmission will freeze and lock up causing a catastrophic failure which is a dangerous situation.

- Evanston, IL, USA

problem #224

Sep 102006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,480 miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD: I have had problems with my transmission on 5 occasions. Each time the transmission would shift really hard and thump. Ford fixed it and a few months later, the same problem. On the last occasion, I brought it in because it would stutter in 2nd gear like it was slipping (it felt like a stalling vehicle). Ford rebuilt the tranny and I got it 2 days later. It is now 3 days after the fix and it is doing it again. I will never buy another Ford as long as I live.

- El Paso, TX, USA

problem #223

Aug 022004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,820 miles
Beginning late July, 2006 my 2002 Ford Explorer XLT began exhibiting halting or delayed shifting. After a few days, the O/D warning light came on intermittently and the shifting became noticeably worse. A reading the dtcs codes by multiple sources confirmed that the transmission would have to be rebuilt at a cost of $3,400. A month following this complete rebuild, I now have a major failure in the rear end differential and another estimated $1500-$2500 repair. This vehicle has only 82820 miles. Ford is aware of the transmission, driveline and differential component defects on this series of Explorer and has addressed them in multiple tsb's to their dealers and service departments. They have failed to advise individual owners of these problems, and the major driveline components are designed so that they are not user serviceable. I urge all owners of these vehicles to contact the Ford Motor Company customer relationship center and file a complaint with the NHTSA if you have experienced these problems.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #222

Sep 082006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles


Today the transmission began to hang in 1st gear, then slammed into the next gear. It jerks and slips consistently. The overdrive off light is flashing, and the service engine light is on. The car says "check transmission" on the instrument cluster. I called 4 Ford dealers and was told there was nothing they could do. The car is a 2002 Explorer eddie bauer 4X4 with the 6 cylinder. I knew it was out of warranty as it has 68,000 miles on it. However, this is low mileage to have to replace the transmission. It is a known problem for these cars, and Ford doesn't care. I am stuck with the car that cannot be safely driven now. Owners of these cars need help to get Ford to issue a recall.

- Winston Salem, NC, USA

problem #221

Sep 072006

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Transmission failure.

- Troy, IL, USA

problem #220

May 312005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles
At a complete stop vehicle surges (accelerates). Have to place in neutral at standing stops to prevent an accident. Driver's side power window switch failed, had replaced, also the window whines when rolling up. Passenger's side power window regulator(cable) snapped?? when rear windows are down at a speed of 20 mph+ it sounds like a helicopter is in the back seat(actually physically hurts your ears!!!) <<<auto and auto>high. Can not pin point problem. That about wraps up my lovely experience with this vehicle. I am a married father of two and the only one working on a limited income. I bought this truck with very low miles thinking it would be dependable not unaffordable.

- Pelham, NH, USA

problem #219

Aug 242006

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer 71,000 miles....transmission shifts hard and whining from rear end with some vibration....Ford should recall as I have read many others have same problems.

- Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #218

Aug 182006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


I bought this vehicle with 60,000 thousand miles on it and now I am finding out that it may be junk. It is experiencing many of the problems you read about that are associated with this vehicle. It shifts really hard into 3rd and the rear end makes a whining noise/grinding type noise.

- Bristol , TN, USA

problem #217

Jun 292006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I purchased my 02 Ford Explorer 4X4 in Oct 2005. This vehicle has a clean title and 71K miles. In June of this year, I was driving home from work and noticed that my overdrive light was flashing and check engine light was on. I noticed at the same time that my Explorer was having difficulty shifting gears. When traffic would come to a stop, it would shift into 3rd, then 1st, then 4th and back to 2nd. Never before had I experienced such a bizarre act with any previous vehicle. My Explorer was in the shop for the next 45 days and come to find out that not even a local authorized Ford dealership could figure out what was going on. Finally the private shop that I took it to fixed it after rebuilding the transmission 2 times. Very disappointing, since in the past I have driven several vehicles past 200K miles and oil changes and tires were required. Once I received the vehicle back after 2 transmission rebuilds, new torque converter and new egr value, the Explorer check engine light came on after only 1 day or normal driving. Ridiculous. Come to find out after doing some research to see if Ford had any recalls on the transmission, I discover that not only does Ford not have any recalls for this problem, but they are aware of the situation and have yet to issue a recall. I came across several websites that had 100's of complaints about the very same thing going on with my vehicle. Apparently, Ford is aware of the faulty 3rd gear shift failure and has refused to issue a recall. My husband found a CEO's number to Ford, left her a message and has not heard back from anyone. Now after $3K in total repairs, we are faced with the decision to try and trade the vehicle and eat our losses. Needless to say, I will not be buying another Ford built vehicle. Please help all of us in finding out why Ford is ignoring this costly and disappointing issue. Please help others out and get Ford to face the fact and issue a recall. Thank you for reading and your time.

- Cedar Park, TX, USA

problem #216

May 082006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT, I bought it on Nov. 29 2005. After I bought it I noticed that when I would put the transmission in reverse there would be a delay and then a loud bang or clunk. I took it to a transmission place and I was told that they got a lot of Explorer with that same problem. So I had it repaired and the total came to $ $3,855.13. The car had a warranty but it didn't cover everything, so I had to pay $ $1,800 for the repairs. They had to change the master kit/pistons, filter, O/D drive band, 2nd band, bypass value, solenoid pack, reverse band, O/D servo,2nd serve, sonnax updates, whole case, recondition valve body, rb converter, fluid and flush the cooler system.

- Maybrrok, NY, USA

problem #215

Aug 152006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • miles
The overdrive warning light started flashing and the engine was whining and running between 3K to 5K RPM. The transmission band broke and caused a systematic failure.

- Livonia, MI, USA

problem #214

Aug 012005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 53,000 miles
: the contact stated the vehicle's automatic transmission was slipping and slipped between gears. The vehicle had transmission problems since the contact acquired the vehicle, at 53000 miles. The vehicle was not taken to a service dealer. Updated 9/15/2006 -

- Erie, PA, USA

problem #213

Jul 202006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,013 miles
I own a 2002 Ford Explorer the miles on it are 69,013. The transmission went. I had to have it rebuilt for $2129.60. When I brought it in for service the mechanic said that this has been a problem with this model and that nothing has been done. Could someone check into this. I find it very hard to believe for a vehicle with such low miles to have transmission problems.

- Auburn, NH, USA

problem #212

Jun 302002

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,900 miles
We have 2002 Ford Explorer SUV with only 68K miles and we had to have an entirely new transmission put in it, just a year and a half earlier with less than 59K miles we had a new shift solenoid replaced. A year and a half later the transmission started doing the same thing again which prompted the new the transmission shop we were informed that they have done numerous complete transmission overhauls on these Explorer and jags, with very low miles, just in the last six months. This Explorer has been well maintained and not driven that much that it would have needed such a major undertaking with such low miles. We have been checking around and transmission shops have told us they have seen alot of the Explorer like ours with low mileage needing complete replacements don't know what it takes to get a recall into effect but I am hoping this might be a step that needs to be taken by individuals. We have spent over $3500 in the last year and a half on our eddie bauer and regret the day we purchased it. Our 1986 Chevy wagon with 133K never has given us any problem this big.

- Indpls, IN, USA

problem #211

Jul 232006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles
Bought 2002 Explorer in 2003 with 12,000 miles. Servicng dealer replaced transmission and torque converter under warranty @ 32,000 miles after O/D light started flashing. Now needs another transmission @ 54,000 miles. Car has always been serviced, driven lightly, never towed, never abused. Dealer will not pay or help out one bit. Ford knows 2002 Explorer have defective transmissions and rear ends, is ignoring problem, leaving consumer to absorb cost! have also had to replace timing chain tensioner, rear windshield wiper assembly, air conditioning unit under warranty. Front and rear wheel bearings needed replacing- out of warranty. Rear end is making classic "humming" sound that Ford is also ignoring-pinion gears.

- Marcellus, NY, USA

problem #210

Jul 212006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
Persistent quality problems: Engine, transmission, power steering, air compressor, and related safety hazards such as defective rear hinge.

- Cary, IL, USA

problem #209

Jul 112006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer w about 65000 miles. Just had the transmission serviced, the next day overdrive light it home, call Ford dealer take it in.. have to replace transmission @ $3500. Seems to be a pretty common problem with these 2002's

- Enid, OK, USA

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