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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
60,000 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

problem #2

Sep 142007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 110,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. When the contact attempted to shift gears, the gear shift fell off. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. The dealer was unable to determine the cause of failure, however, they stated that the steering column and gear shift needed to be replaced. The VIN was verified, but appeared to be invalid. The purchase date was unknown. The current and failure mileages were 110,000.. date received 12/12/07 updated 12/19/07

- Schenectady, NY, USA

problem #1

Dec 012003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 10,000 miles
At approximately 10,000 miles I started experiencing minor difficulties with the clutch. At 14,000 miles, the malfunction became much more pronounced especially when shifting out of first gear. I took the vehicle in for warranty repairs but today was told I had worn out the clutch and the repairs would not be covered by the Ford warranty. Ford is asking $1,374 to repair the Explorer was used overwhelmingly for city and highway driving. At 10,000 miles it had been in 4WD only once and at 14,000 miles, only three times. This is the seventh vehicle I have owned with a manual transmission and I certainly know how to operate a stick shift. Today the general manager of leif johnson Ford (austin), fred trudea, hung up on me because I was taking contact notes on my computer. He heard the computer keys clicking and asked what I was doing. He then refused to give me a phone number for Ford's regional service manager, wasn't even sure of her name, and did not offer to find out. He was so flippant about my time and resources, that when I asked him to arrange a conference call with the regional service representative, he replied if you don't hear from me in four days, give me a call. When I told him I would not play tag and needed a daily update until this was resolved, he refused. Later in the day, another leif johnson employee, tony manzano, called to tell me the regional service representative declined to return my call. Mr. Manzano would not give me her phone number or email. I asked both Mr. Trudea and Mr. Manzano for something in writing stating they were refusing to make the warranty repairs and reasons. Both Mr. Manzano and Mr. Trudeau refused to place anything in writing. They told me to call the Ford 1-800 number. Today was the most abusive consumer experience I have had in my life. Every request I made was returned with with no, stonewalling or just general contempt.

- Austin, TX, USA

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