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 5 of 45)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #808

Aug 272010


  • 101,000 miles


O/D light is blinking and transmission might be going out.

- Waynesboro, PA, USA

problem #807

Feb 132007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles
2002 Explorer XLT 2wd (47,000 miles) automatic transmission would not shift to 3rd gear while driving 35 mph in rush hour traffic. The engine revved so I rolled to a stop luckily on a grass shoulder with no one hitting my vehicle. Ford rebuilt the trans for $2500. The district Ford rep would not pay for the repair eventhough I knew of the problem occurring in cincinnati and Ford paid. Research shows this is a common problem with this model of transmission. The fix is a $20 seal but they will only rebuild or replace the transmission.

- Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #806

Aug 272010


  • 154,000 miles
It has been an ongoing issue for years about the transmission failure in the 2002 Ford Explorer yet Ford doesn't wish to address this issue by calling the vehicle back. I have my transmission now gone after only 150000 miles. This issue needs to be addressed by Ford taking responsibility for a faulty transmission.

- St. John's, 00, USA

problem #805

Oct 142009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 57,424 miles


1. repeated transmission problems. O/D light blinking, expensive service, repeats every 12 months or so. 2. approximately every 12 months. The vehicle requires service each time. The service runs from $300 - $1100. 3A. 01/07/05 57,424 miles: O/D light lite. No code when serviced. Changed $88. 3B. 02/02/09 159,777 miles: Code P0796. O/D light blinks. Required service. Replace shift solenoid body, fluid and filter ($1,179.85). 3C. 10/13/09 172,769 miles: O/D light blinks. Required service.replaced servo. $366.40. 3D. 10/14/2010 172,779: Check engine light. Required service. O2 sensor was unplugged during previous service. $00.

- Manassas, VA, USA

problem #804

Jun 032010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 64,800 miles
I have had many problems with my 2002 Ford Explorer. I started getting the crack in my hatch by the rear window in 2005. It has spread and gotten worse and I still have not fixed it. Last year in 2009 our ABS light has been coming on and off and when I go to brake at times it feels like they kick on at irregular times, but I also feel I do not have the braking power I should. In June 2010 I was driving the Explorer and the O/D light starting blinking and the Explorer was shifting out of control. We had to have the transmission replace and the U-joints and the rear axle fixed for around $2900. We also had to replace the battery in July 2010. I called Ford Motor Company and told them all of my issues and they told me that since they did not have enough complaints they could not do anything about it. To this point I was aggravated and couldn't believe the way they had treated me and let alone others who I am sure made the same call. I feel this is a safety issue because even now when it is in gear in park the car seems to move back and forth.

- Great Falls, MT, USA

problem #803

Aug 242010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 112,000 miles
Transmission failure with no warning, engine reved instead of accelerating, resulting in near accident while pulling off an interstate ramp. Had to have vehicle towed. Estimate to repair is approx $4000. Vehicle only has 112K miles on it!

- Mount Jackson, VA, USA

problem #802

Aug 232010


  • 111,117 miles


O/D light started to blink while accelerating. Transmission starts to slip. This a permanent failure. Took to Ford service and without inspecting the vehicle, I was told that the transmission needs to be replaced.

- Bound Brook, NJ, USA

problem #801

Aug 012009


  • miles
My 2002 Ford eddie bauer Explorer is malfunctioning. The transmission appears to be failing as it will not accelerate properly after being in a stopped position, for example at a traffic light. This is becoming a safety issue in that in an intersection should my vehicle not accelerate properly I may be hit by another car! I have attempted to have my car repaired twice by two different mechanics in a period of one year and has cost me $1400. The repairs seem to work for a brief period of time then the same symptoms occur! I can not afford to invest any more money on this vehicle for repairs. I feel Ford Motor Company should recall this faulty transmission, for the good of their name, and more importantly for the safety of their customers and the families that rely on their vehicles!

- Felda, FL, USA

problem #800

Aug 152010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 94,000 miles
We own a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT with the 4.0 V6 4X4, the transmission we believe has a major safety hazard to occupants and pedestrians with vehicle serge from a long delay engaging the transmission ether forward or reverse possibly causing injury to driver/passengers and /or nearby objects/persons and or runaway vehicle from the transmission not disengaged from gear or from a sudden vehicle launch if the driver is attempting to accelerate thinking the transmission "is' in gear, Ford has taken a blind eye to the problem in our opinion for fear of public backlash/ public relations and or dislike for there trucks/SUV's. Ford is not doing enough to ensure public safety from accidents this common transmission issue can cause and I understand from researching complaint forums, Ford has been aware of the problem for years.

- Mooresville, NC, USA

problem #799

Aug 172010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 179,000 miles
Purchased 2002 Explorer XLT V6 4.0L already transmission slipping solenoid or whatever out.. I have read reports and wonder why this transmission is not recalled? I have it in shop now having to have it rebuilt and everything changed. Also right wheel bearings bad, upper and lower ball joints bad, suspension shot. And the records show the previous owners maintained everything well. But also had transmission replaced and had problems at 99,000miles. Please doing something for all of us out here. Also coolant leak, engine leak, power seat failure, and on.

- Asheville, NC, USA

problem #798

Aug 162010


  • 38,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer transmission failure. The transmission kept slipping, wouldn't shift, and the O/D light kept coming on. I took it to the Ford dealer in wasilla, ak three times and each time they kept it for 3-4 weeks while "repairing" it. The fourth time it went out (May 2008), it was out of warranty, so I had to purchase a rebuilt transmission. In August 2012, the transmission went out again; it simply wouldn't engage in any gear. This could have been extremely dangerous had I been stranded (1) in the dead of winter (which, in Alaska, can be 35 below and life&death situation) or (2) in heavy traffic, causing an accident. I have now been informed that coolant got into the transmission (which is supposedly sealed?) and the transmission must be replaced again; but the warranty is void. I see hundreds of complaints on this transmission. Why hasn't anything been done - a recall??

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #797

Aug 122010


  • 121,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer with 120,000 miles. Transmission began to slip 3rd gear. Stalling in traffic. Ford dealer could not look at it for 2 days so went to independent shop who knew the problem well. Not only had to replace solenoid valves, but also torque converter and rebuild. Had to drill out one port and install stronger linkage part Ford offered since 2006.

- Mount Pleasant, SC, USA

problem #796

Aug 132010


  • 11,250 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT. The contact stated when driving at various speeds, the vehicle would fail to engage in third and fourth gears. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed that the transmission would need to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer advised that the vehicle was not under recall and would not provide any further assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 11,250 and the current mileage was approximately 11,300.

- Laurens, SC, USA

problem #795

Jan 102008


  • miles
Od off light flashing, causing the 02 Ford Explorer not to shift properly, replaced transmission 3 times and the light is still flashing. Ford needs to recall this junk.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #794

Aug 132010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 149,000 miles
Hello, I am complaining about a problem with my 2002 for Explorer. Me and my family were driving and getting ready to merge onto the highway and suddenly the car jerked and the overdrive light started blinking. Then the RPM's went up to about 5000. I then had to run off the road to avoid a semi running us over. I have 5 children and we were lucky. I don't want this to happen to other families. This needs to be a recall! thank you

- Catoosa, OK, USA

problem #793

Feb 012010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 105,342 miles
Major transmission problems at 106K miles on my Ford Explorer XLT 4.0L. This was not due to poor maintenance or up keep! shifting into neutral going 75 miles an hr down the freeway, shifting out of place, rough, scary shifts, shimming from the transmission jumping allover the place is just the beginning. After 5 trips to the mechanic, first I did wires, then plugs, then updated computer, full tranny flush and finally had to rebuilt the transmission due to the solenoids in the transmission being defective and faulty per a Ford service manager in owatonna, mn. The service manager informed me that Ford was looking at making it a recall, but it wasn't the top of their priority list and maybe they would eventually get to it! he has seen many of these trucks in the shop with their "busy" transmissions, and the same issues! this was the issue all along..after all of the service appts, and money spent nothing was resolved, until the transmission was rebuilt! $4K later just for the tranny repair! for their faulty defective transmission solenoids! as if the truck didn't already cost enough! and the troubleshooting "bandaids" (which between the tranny, diagnostics, labor etc total well over $5500!!) I contacted Ford after directed to due so my (their) technician and employee of 25 yrs. I read all the posts of duplicate complaints (I see there are several other consumers in my situation!), to inform them of the money I've lost, time incurred into this headache, and all the days I went without a vehicle for my family that I had nothing to do with it was their equipment! that it was their fault! curious about what their compensation was, if any, going to be. Or what they planned on doing about it! and after several service appt, $5500 loss and numerous complaints that Ford is aware of the rep stated basically said oh well! its ur problem not ours!!! lol!

- Faribault, MN, USA

problem #792

Aug 092010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 118,042 miles
Original owner of a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT. Transmission is not shifting properly. O/D light is constantly blinking on the dashboard. Never towed anything and had the transmission serviced. Very disappointing coming from a loyal Ford fan.

- River Vale, NJ, USA

problem #791

Jul 092010


  • 58,212 miles
Transmission failed.

- Desplaines, IL, USA

problem #790

Jan 132009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 145,138 miles
2002 Ford Explorer, transmission total fail while driving.

- Luckey, OH, USA

problem #789

Jun 252010


  • 99,968 miles
Long list of repairs made this summer including computer, airbag sensors, A/C whole system, main window controls and now my transmission.

- Sarasota, FL, USA

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