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:
96,669 miles
Total Complaints:
11 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. rebuild or replace transmission (6 reports)
  2. not sure (4 reports)
  3. TSB 15069 (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #11

Jan 072013

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 167,570 miles


Had it repaired at a certified shop. They gave me 3 year warranty on parts and labor and 5 years on parts.. 3 years and 2 month later same thing happened. paid 1,000.00 labor.. Now this July 4 2017 the same thing happened a third time. Went to the transmission shop and was told it had gone bankrupt. one of the mayor reason too many ford trans warranty repairs. Vehicle is in perfect shape except for the transmission.. Will never buy a Ford again. We have never purchased a foreign auto.. Ford made us do it. I went out and purchased a 2017 Nissan..

- , Gainesville, Florida, US

problem #10

Feb 022015

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles

A couple months ago I was having problems with this money pit not shifting properly. Ended up taking it in and the wiring harness (transmission solenoid?) had to be replaced at the cost of $700. Got it out and drove, all seemed to be fine. Until the day I had to hit my brakes rather hard at a yellow light. The light turned green so I accelerated, but no go. The engine just revved as if it was in neutral, but it did not engage for 15-30 seconds. Now every time I hit the brake hard it does the same thing. I took it back to the mechanic who has had it for 3 weeks. I called yesterday to see how it is going and he said I can come get it, but it is still doing it. He has called every transmission expert he knows and none of them know what the problem is or how to fix it.

This Ford Explorer is nothing but a pile of junk. It has been a money pit from the start. It is on it's third tranny, multiple bearings, cracked back hatch (in two places, plus right where the open hatch handle is). Both mirrors will not move side to side, only up and down, with the interior adjustment knob. Heater core is shot. It's just junk and now I have a messed up tranny and probably won't be able to sell or trade this hunk of junk in.

- , Burley, ID, USA

problem #9

Aug 012007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Bought 2005, soon was slipping out of gear...worsened....2006 /REPLACED WHEN WENT OUT... Started again, would come out of gear as starting to pull into traffic or when slowed down, scared me several times. Talked with Ford Dealer in Miami, OK, told me to take it to whoever I got it from. Went in 3 times and was treated rudely.

Then one day I stopped in front of a shop to run in quickly, put in park, ran in, and as was running out, the car jumped into gear and hit a statue and broke it, then hit the building, then in slow motion rolled slowly backward into traffic. All I could do was look on in horror as there was a 78 yr. old lady in passenger seat, cars were screeching. All missed except one, hit my back driver side corner, but have towing pkg, was not hurt much, totaled little car that hit my car. Lady said was fine but needed??? 40 trips to get adjusted at chiropractor. Several cops showed up, talked for a good thirty min., said had to give me a ticket, talked more, no one had ever seen this happen before as I was not in car. Finally I got no ticket

Dealer again said there were no recalls. Went to a local country mechanic, wanted to research what I had told him. He show me warnings about the many problems of the 2002. He replaced a plastic thing in steering column which was letting it pop out of gear, cost $135.00. In about one and a half years it started again. Sold it ......I despise the Ford place in Miami, OK.

- , Fairland, OK, US

problem #8

Aug 212010

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles


The transmission seems to go into neutral when you have to brake hard in a hurry. Takes 30-60 seconds for the transmission to re-engage into gear. I) it's a huge safety issue in not being able to move quickly after hitting the brakes if needed. 2) I have to be careful when I drive in that I have to be aware not to hit my brake hard or I could cause an accident. I have figured out how to drive without having to slam on brakes but sometimes it is not avoidable and there I sit in neutral not being able to move.

- , Longview, WA, USA

problem #7

Mar 102012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,820 miles

My 2002 Explorer was purchased less than a month ago. While driving, the transmission slipped out of gear at a traffic light (one day after buying). The mechanic said it was low on fluid and fixed it. Now 2 weeks later, I'm having the same problem. It started after I had to brake suddenly because of a car in front of me. Now it won't go from park to drive or park to reverse without sitting and shifting back and forth for about 5 minutes. After researching, find that I'm not the only one having transmission problems with Explorers! Ford needs to do a recall on their transmissions. It's unsafe when you can't drive without worrying that your engine will slip out of gear (leaving you stranded, car horns blaring behind you)! Come on Ford!

- , Summerville, SC, US

problem #6

Sep 202010

Explorer LX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

This will be the third transmission failure on our 2002 exployer. We were given a 3 year warrenty but it expired two weeks ago and now the transmission is going. I called ford and they said my problem not ours. I told them the first transmission was replaced only after two weeks of buying and it should have been classified as a lemon but they still did not give a sh*t!!

shame on them and the stupid laws not amking them recall the numerious tranmission issues with those years.

- , Canaan, CT, USA

problem #5

May 212010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


I have a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT..., with only 85,000 miles. My first problem was the stick shift..... it broke off when I tried to put it in drive. I took it to the Dealer to get it fixed and I had to paid $990.00 for a used one. 'Cause they said a new one cost around $2,500.00. 3 months later the O/D started to flash!!!, then a few weeks later the transmission broke down with only 85,000 miles. The prices for transmissions are very high!!! Ford should do something about this...... They should stop sending recall letters for minor things......., they should help with transmission problems after all.... We all paid good money for these vehicles.


- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #4

Oct 162009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,974 miles

I bought my 2002 Explorer V6 in August 2002, so it has been just over 9 years. I bought it because the American auto industry was not doing well and my company was offering a discount plan. All auto manufacturers were offering rebates and 0% financing at that time. I tried to be patriotic and bought American.

Other than bad gas mileage, I love to drive the explorer. I began to have problems with the transmission in 2003. I brought it into the dealer and they told me twice that they didn't see anything really wrong. Once they did acknowledge a problem and did a transmission flush and replaced the torque. That was March 2004 and only had 14,300 miles. This problem has continued to happen on and off over the last several years. Now in October 2009 with only 45,000 miles, it was running fairly smooth but the tranny slipped all of a sudden and started clunking with very hard shifting. The O/D light also started blinking. Of course, the service engine light came on as well.

I took it to the dealer and was told it would cost $180 to just diagnose the transmission. What a joke it was because the info panel already said to check transmission and the slipping and clunking of gears still need that kind of $$$ to confirm? I left it with the dealer because I was hoping a rebuilt tranny may be around $1500. When I got home, I started googling about Explorer problems and that was how I found this site. The dealer called back and told me it would cost $3800 for a new transmission, since they will not do a re-built one. They think that the warranty would not be worth even quoting. That knocked me off my chair when I heard that. I complained about the cost, and mentioned how I have been reporting and having this problem since owning the vehicle. I also mentioned about this site and suddenly the dealer told me that he would need to speak with his manager. When he called back, the manager is now out of town and wont be back until next week. He of course also asked if I had an extended warranty, which I did, but it just expired 8/31!! Of Course! He now is stalling me for more time to trying to come up with the next line to hand me.

I then did some more research. I mean, although the mileage of my Explorer is rather low, but the blue book value of mine is about $7500; a bad tranny would be less. Paying $3800 (more than 1/2 of the car's value) sounds crazy!. Besides, I am afraid I will be burnt with more issues after the fix because every time I bring it to a dealer, it will cost me a couple hundred just to check it.

I hardly slept for the next couple of nights because I was just pissed off. By the way, I also called Ford and filed a report on this and was given a case #, but was told I wouldn't be compensated unless there is a recall. Then I also went on line and filed a complaint with the NHTSA and the BBB for the lemon law!

I am going to pick up the Explorer tomorrow and must use it until they fix it. This will be the last time I buy American if they do not recall and replace the transmission for me!! Back to my Hondas!! As an added bonus that same night I was called and told to bring in my vehicle for a safety recall on the cruise control fire issue!! Gotta love it!

- , Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #3

Mar 202007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles

So I am driving up a hill and all of the sudden my truck just turns off and starts to lose speed. I am in the far left lane of course and solid traffic behind me in all three lanes. I finally get all the way over and pull off the street. I turn off my truck and re start it and it sounds fine. So I pull back out onto the road and everythinh was ok...UNTIL about two days when the exact same thing happened again. I took it into the dealer and they sadi that they couldnt find anything wrong!! This problem continues to happen without any warning and they continue to say that nothing is wrong!!!

- , Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #2

Feb 022008

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

At around 155,000 miles my 02 explorer has been slipping when put into drive then once engagged it would pop out of gear at stops. This went on for over a year until it finally wouldn't move last month 172,000, we replaced the transmission and now the rear end is making a loud noise, this sucks we are buying a house and can't get a new vehichle until we close. I realize 172,000 miles is alot but i have always owned fords we have had over 15 different models and the older ones made it up to 310,000 miles at trade in so it is dissapointing that 155,000 miles is all we can expect. I am for the first time ever considering a "Chevy" my dad is probably rolling over in his grave.

- , Laplace, LA, USA

problem #1

Nov 032003

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

I have had several transmission issues. The TSB 15069 indicates this problem I have probably always had. Didn't think much about until I saw the TSB. When I called the customer center, they say this TSB does not exist. I get the same response from the Dealer. Can they remove TSBs from their computer system??

Unless I have the wrong official TSB number, why would it disappear?? Legal reasons?

Bulletin Number: 15069 Bulletin Date: Jul 2001 Vehicle: 2,002 Ford Explorer


- , McHenry, IL, USA

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