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 6 of 45)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #788

Jul 152010


  • 84,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer O/D light started flashing, transmission is slipping, clunking and seems like it won't last much longer.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #787

Jul 192010


  • 140,000 miles
2nd gear out of transmission. It occurs everytime you drive it. The od light blinks and the engine light comes on as a result. The transmission has to be replaced, the old transmission is available at this time, but won't be for long.

- Owensville , MO, USA

problem #786

Jul 262008


  • 110,000 miles
During normal driving conditions, "service engine soon" light turns on, followed by "O/D off" light flashing, followed by erratic shifting by automatic transmission. Happens at least once per week, resets after engine is turned off and rests for a short period of time.

- Galloway, OH, USA

problem #785

Jul 102010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 15,900 miles


I have a 02 Ford Explorer driving on the road when the od light flashing lost power it hard to shift in gear am not the only 1 wit this problem there thousand of Ford owner wit this same problem why cant U guys make Ford recall this problem Toyota make they recall they manup to their problem why cant Ford do that.

- Ontairo, 00, USA

problem #784

Jul 242010


  • 97,000 miles
Last night, the O/D off light on my 2002 Ford Explorer started blinking. Today, the vehicle will not drive in normal drive mode or reverse. In doing some investigating, apparently, this is a common issue with Ford Explorer. Particularly the 2002 models. This is not only dangerous, but unfair that Ford has not taken responsibility for this very common issue. I'm awaiting an answer on what exactly is wrong with my Explorer. Based on my research, the most common cause is a faulty transmission. I hope Ford does the right thing and institutes a recall to the many drivers of 2002 Explorer that have suffered with this problem.

- Waterford, CT, USA

problem #783

Jul 072010


  • 138,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer transmission fails.

- Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #782

Jun 292010


  • 115,000 miles


O/D and check engine light goes on every time I drive my SUV everytime I drive it as soon as the lights go on the SUV tans starts acting up and slip called Ford dealer and they said this is a common problem but, has not been recalled so it will cost $2,300 plus labor. I am a single mother of 4. why is it there are so many complaints about this year Ford but, yet nothing is being done about it ! I just bought this car in Feb of this year and now I am having this problem ! I pulled out from a green light the other day and almost got in an accident because the trans slipped had all 4 children in the car with me ! maybe I should not be driving this but, this is my only vehicle and I need to drive ! and I sure don't have the money to replace this problems that everyone is having besides me ! Ford needs to fix there problem before someone ends up in a really bad accident or ends up worse dead !!

- Leesport, PA, USA

problem #781

Jul 162010


  • 57,800 miles
The O/D light started blinking, followed by a check transmission warning light. The truck began to shift erratically. I was unable to drive safely in traffic and had to pull the truck to the side of the road where it remains until it can be towed to a transmission shop. This a 2002 Ford Explorer limited 4 X 4 V-8. from reading about this year of Ford Explorer's, I see that it the most common car complaint on the internet. I hope you will force a recall on this vehicle. Thank for you help. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Redwood City, CA, USA

problem #780

Jul 102010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 171,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer od light blinking transmission slips.

- Saint Louis, MO, USA

problem #779

Jun 232010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 132,000 miles
1. was driving in town Explorer shifted into 2nd hard and then 3rd gear slowed the car down then shifted like a hard jerk 2.was occurring seems when car get warmed up the transmission shifts hard and the od light blinks and now even cold the od light blinks all the time now took to transmission shop told me I need a new transmission just bought it 4 months ago 3 called Ford dealership they told me to that there was no recall this is how I will correct the problem with my complaint so we can all get fix by Ford.

- Lindsay, OK, USA

problem #778

Jul 062010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 168,058 miles


2002 Ford Explorer - the O/D light is flashing and no one seems to know how to fix it; it appears there are many many complaints about this problem.

- Saint Simons Island, GA, USA

problem #777

Jul 062010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While driving 35 mph the overdrive light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to a mechanic who stated that the automatic transmission needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was contacted and informed her that she had to replace the transmission at her own expense and to file a claim. There were no related recalls or warranties. The failure and current mileages were 45,000. Updated 10/21/10. Updated 10/25/10

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #776

Jan 022010


  • 98,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the overdrive button continued to blink and flash. The gear shift button does not turn the light out as it's designed to. The vehicle was repaired by a local mechanic but the failure continued to occur. The failure mileage was approximately 98,000. The current mileage was approximately 117,000.

- Columbus , OH, USA

problem #775

Jun 212010


  • 58,000 miles
O/D drive flashing and check transmission light is on, very noise on the back of vehicle, the truck only 58,000 on it.

- Stockton, CA, USA

problem #774

Jun 292010


  • 114,023 miles
O/D light blinking and irregular shifting during acceleration. 2002 Ford Explorer does not shift properly. Everytime I leave a stop sign or traffic light, the RPM's become very high (over 5,000) and will not shift. To keep the engine from racing, I have to lift my foot off the gas pedal to get it to shift. This causes the car to slow down quickly and with a line of cars behind me that do not anticipate me slowing down just as I am accelerating, this forces them to slow down quickly unexpectedly so they do not run into the back of the truck. This is dangerous.

- Greenville, NC, USA

problem #773

Jun 072010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
Just bought the truck recently the previous owner took very good care of it looks just like new even the engine and inside parts look like new. But recently the truck wouldn't reverse we took it to the dealer and the estimate scared us it was ridiculous. We took it to another mechanic and he just changed the oil and filter but he told us that the transmission had some damaged already. After we brought it back from the mechanic it worked fine for two days then the same problem happened again and the yellow light keeps on blinking. We haven's used it since the problem doesn't happen all the time but we're afraid of it happening while driving it or in a parking lot or something.

- Somerset, TX, USA

problem #772

Jun 112007


  • 70,000 miles
Just out of the blue O/D light started blinking and transmission making very rough shifts into 4th. This happened 3 years ago and I have been driving as is as can't afford a new transmission. Car had 70,000 miles roughly when problem occurred.

- Castro Valley, CA, USA

problem #771

Jun 172010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 158,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer transmission continues to need repair. I've rebuilt the transmission twice and it has gone out again. It began with the O/D light flashing, then, without warning, it slips out of gear, never to return. I spend about $2,000 with each rebuild. I can no longer afford the cost. Having read the voluminous reports of the identical failure, I believe it's time for a recall by Ford!

- St Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #770

May 012010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Transmission is slipping and needs to be replaced.

- Shawano, WI, USA

problem #769

Jun 092010


  • 1 miles
The SUV, which is a 2002 Ford Explorer. Just started to drive really slowly and an O/D light came on which tells me that I pretty much need a new transmission. This is the third time that this has happened to my vehicle. The consequences are the very expensive price on fixing the problem. The first 2 times Ford fixed it with a rebuilt transmission and now they want me to pay again. Sorry not going to happen. This is a very common issue please make Ford recall these vehicles.

- Toronto, 00, USA

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