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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
134,062 miles
Total Complaints:
23 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (15 reports)
  2. new transmission (7 reports)
  3. replace pc board (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #23

Sep 262015

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 184,086 miles


This is the second time we had to have the transmission replaced. The first time my Explorer had a transmission problem was in December 2008 my Explorer only had 107,262 miles on it. The second time was June 2012 with 136,671 miles on it. Then again in September 2015 with the mileage of 184,086. I think anytime you have to replace the transmission 3 times there is definitely is a problem. I loved my Explorer and didn't really have any other issues other than the transmission but will I never buy another Ford product again.

- , Fairfield, CA, USA

problem #22

Nov 032014

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,168 miles

The board (computer board) which makes a Ford Explorer 4WD a 4WD cannot be sourced.

AWD function does not work. Any 4WD function does not work. Have been trying to source the "board" forever, and ever now with nothing showing up.

Oh yeah, Ford will put you on the top of their list when they "decide" to manufacture them. So for $500 plus the extra $50 for the Ford list, plus the extra "keying in factor" at the dealership at $650... oh and plus the mechanic to change in and out.......what's another grand when I've spent upwards of $12,000 to keep this fantastic vehicle running.

Always happens when you're just about to sell and then something else goes awry....!

Ford really needs to step up and take some ownership for putting used beer cans on the road and disguising them as vehicles!

- , Calgary, AB, Canada

problem #21

Dec 162014

Explorer 5.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

I take good care of my car had transmission oil changed several times.

- , milford, IN, USA

problem #20

Feb 062015

Explorer Eddie Buer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,939 miles


I have only owned Fords, but this has me rethinking my next purchase. Every mechanic I have called said this is a known problem. Ford really needs to offer assistance. The transmission fail when I was driving home with 2 children in and almost be hit from behind by a 80000 lbs. truck and trailer. Thank you FORD.

- , Windsor, Ontario, canada

problem #19

Mar 012014

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 293,000 miles

I've only had the vehicle a few weeks, and lately it doesn't want to move when I first start it. At first, I was able to work around the problem by starting the car and letting it warm up for 5-10 minutes, after which it would drive okay. Now that doesn't work any more. When I shift from P into R or D, nothing happens -- absolutely nothing. There's no noise, no bump, no change in engine note or tach reading, nothing at all. It's as though I'd left it in Park. I have found that by revving the engine several times (2500-3000 rpm) with the transmission in Neutral, then shifting into R or P with the engine at idle, it usually works. The transmission then seems to shift fine, though sometimes there's some slip and slop in 2nd, and it doesn't "go dead" at a stop sign or red light. But if I park the car for a while, say at the grocery store, then come out and start it after 20-30 minutes, it does the same thing when I shift from P to D or R -- nothing. Again, I have to put it in N and rev the engine a few times, presumably to get the tranny fluid circulating.

- , Raymond, OH, USA

problem #18

Jul 252012

Explorer ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

A well maintained vehicle with a little over 100k miles should not need a transmission.

- , pearl, MS, USA

problem #17

Jan 122013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


We just purchased this vehicle for our 16yr old son in November 2012. With the hope that this would be the vehicle that he takes to college, it would be a safe and reliable for him. We have only owned it not even 3months. Purchased it from a dealership. We have never been big fans of Ford, but it was a great looking vehicle and thought we'd give Ford a try. Well now after reading all the blogs about 2002 & 2003 Ford Explorers and transmissions problems NOT HAPPY!! If that many people are having problems you think Ford would do SOMETHING for these people !!

- , Gwinn, MI, USA

problem #16

Mar 212013

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

The automotive company knew this was a problem and did not do any thing about it. They wait for you absorb the cost.

- , Oakwood Village, OH, USA

problem #15

Feb 272012

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 189,000 miles

I had the transmission rebuilt and replaced back in 2011 at about 168,000, miles after that was done I had to replace the drive shaft the front and back pumkins also replaced the front wheel bearing twice now after $3500.00. Now when I got to a stop sign it would not accelerate it just sat there like it want to go but wouldn't.....I have owned fords most of my driving life and have never had problems, I have an escape that is at 283,000 mile that I have never had problems with but the explorer is a whole different beast...THE EXPLORER IS BY FAR THE WORST SUV I EVERY OWNED I WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER EXPLORER! it's like a money pit!...

- , St,charles, MI, USA

problem #14

Dec 122011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

This transmission is definitely foreign made. Doesn't even have a dipstick and you have to check the fluid HOW through the pan? My truck will shift but not move in any of the gears. I drove it not even 2 hours earlier with no problems. Changed the filter and fluid both looked ok and minor shavings on the magnet. It looked like normal wear and tear for 160,000 miles. Could be the bands. I am going to have the electrical check. Hope it is something inexpensive to fix. To make a long story short. If I pull the trans it will cost $1200 to $1500 to rebuild. New is $2000. If I pay someone I will be paying $1700 to $2400 to rebuild and install. Merry Christmas Ford a recall would of been nice with this worthless transmission.

- , Eastpointe, MI, USA

problem #13

Dec 282011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles


ford needs to do a recall...first transmission service not due till 150,000 miles

- , Kingsport, TN, USA

problem #12

Aug 302011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,998 miles

The transmission would go into gear, but there would be little to no power to move forward. At the end, I could barely get it to 5 mph before it stopped moving completely. Also had rear end differential problem.

- , Darien, GA, USA

problem #11

Jul 212011

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,100 miles

Ford was aware of this problem while they were selling new 2002 explorers to their dealers. Their customers have suffered because they have refused to have a recall. Before I bought this Truck I was told it had already been replaced once, I have read some people have went through 3-4 transmissions and yet Ford could careless.

Is there not a lawfirm out their that would like to get us all some payback. A class action lawsuit is way overdue for the 2002 Ford Explorer owners. My Next vehicle will be an Import. It's obvious that American care manufactures design their cars to break. I used to work for Honda and if this was a Honda it would be so uncommon they would good will a new transmission.

- , Washington, PA, USA

problem #10

Jun 282011

Explorer Sport 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,645 miles

down to 1 car. really pissed. car gave no signs of problem transmission just went out

- , Sterling Heights, MI, USA

problem #9

Jun 272011

Explorer LXT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 154,000 miles

First, I would like to say this is 100% my fault. Not listening to my dad since I was little TO NEVER BUY A FORD/MERCURY. In my life, I've owned a Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Stratus, GMC Yukon, Mecury Sable and the dreaded Ford Explorer. I'm here to add another complaint to this vehicle. I had a tail light issue, the one on top of the rear window went out, tried replacing it and it locked up the freakin ignition. $600 for a light bulb issue. Back side window slipped out of the track, refuse to pay for it. A cheap trick of cardboard is holding it up. And now the transmission issue. Yesterday, while accelerating from a complete stop, it did not go pass 20mph although the RPM was skyrocketing pass 3, 4, 5 6, 7. Unbelievable. This vehicle has given me so much hell that I will be forced to throw a canopy over it and say a little prayer for it. Its done...

- , Salt Lake City, UT, USA

problem #8

Nov 252010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

I just bought this stupid car 6 weeks ago. The second time I drove it, the drivers power window switch went out... in the rain, with the window down. Now the tranny went out, and the estimate to fix/replace it is $2800. Merry F***ing Christmas.

- , Paso Robles, CA, USA

problem #7

Mar 172011

Explorer ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

If Ford knew about this problem in the 2002 explorers we should have been notified and they should have done the repairs before the transmission needs to be overhauled

- , South San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #6

Aug 172009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,000 miles

This happened, 5 HOURS after I bought the damn thing! Went grocery shopping and came back out with the kids, turned the car on and shifted to D, and it wouldn't move, the engine just rev'ed! So I switched off and got under the hood, maybe I was low on fluid, but oh no, we have no transmission fluid dipstick! So I call the dealer, and show my a$$, so they get a wrecker for me and "fix" the car, says they flushed the tranny, and gave me a loaner till i got my explorer back which was a week and a half later. Didn't know it took 10 days to flush a tranny ha ha. bullcrap!


problem #5

Oct 212010

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 200,000 miles

car will start up and go into gear but will not move. This problem has cause me to miss work at time causing me to depend on other.

- , Pineville, LA, USA

problem #4

Aug 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I own a 2002 EB Ford Explorer. Last summer it began to give me problems. I would get to a red light or a stop then when I would accelerate it would not go. I tried checking the transmission fluid and couldn't find where to check or add fluid so I took it to a mechanic who said it sounded like the exhaust? I let him fix it and it appeared to be working then two months later it started up again, $800 down the drain! Two months after that it overheated and there I was stranded with 4 kids the youngest 3, I was furious! So I took it to another mechanic, another $600 and it seemed to be fine again except now the "service engine soon" light is on. Now $1400 and entire year later the darn thing is still doing the same thing.

- , Immokalee, FL, USA

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