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:
140,181 miles
Total Complaints:
11 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (8 reports)
  2. install remanufactured transmission (2 reports)
  3. servo fix (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #11

Sep 092011

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,671 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.

- , Fairfield, CA, USA

problem #10

Mar 132016

Explorer Xlt 4x4 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 154,000 miles

Ford should have to recall this transmission. With thousands of failures, they know it is BAD. They just don't want to have to pay out the money. SOMEONE SHOULD START A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT. Especially after reading about the guy who lost his daughter. Ford should fix these problems with transmission for free for their customers. But by not doing it they will be gradually losing their CUSTOMER BASE. Ya, let the problem GO for 10 years, and the NEXT 10 years WILL produce loss of faithful clients.

- , HUntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #9

Dec 232015

Explorer LX 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles

2002 Explorer is junk. Now transmission going out. Everything I have read about these vehicles is negative, yet Ford will not do anything. NEVER again will I own anything made by Ford.

- , Vienna, WV, US

problem #8

Jun 102015

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,500 miles


I see here this is quite common. Transmission probably best to be replaced with rebuilt unit. Really unforgivable at 75000 miles. Sales of this model in the millions. After I fix more will be for sale.

- , Santa Clara, CA, USA

problem #7

Jun 012015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,500 miles

My 2002 Explorer is a piece of junk! I have less than 85,000 miles on it, and started having hesitation/slippage/shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear issues and set up an appointment a week out at the Ford dealership (needed to arrange for a loaner and that was the earliest they could get me in) and then the next day (which was a Friday), the O/D light started flashing and the Service Engine Soon light came on.

I started looking on the internet and it seemed that I was having a transmission issue, so on Saturday I brought it in for an oil change at a Tires Plus. they checked it and confirmed it was a transmission issue. I called the Ford dealership Monday morning and explained and they were able to have me bring it in and give me a loaner, and sure enough, I have a transmission failure. My options were to have a re-manufactured one put in or else they could try to rebuild the existing one, which likely would end up costing more in the long run. I decided to replace it. T

They found another issue too with oil leaking (don't remember his exact words, but it was not the head gasket) so I will be shelling out over $6000 for repairs. I know my vehicle is older but I really don't have a lot of miles on it (I take a bus to work). What makes me so mad is some of the costly things to fix seem like issues that would happen to a vehicle with a lot more miles (fuel pump went out at just over 30,000 miles but the car was more than 3 years old so not covered by warranty) and now this issue with the transmission (and don't get me started on the cracked tailgate issue which ended up costing over $1000 to fix as water seeped in and wrecked the latch and wiper assemblies!).

People that I have talked to can't believe that I'm having transmission issues with only 85,000 miles, but since it is a Ford, I guess it is par for the course.

- , Maplewood, MN, USA

problem #6

Feb 182015

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

OD light flashes after taking off and it shifts hard into second gear. It needs lots of things. Transmission solenoid, clutch plates, brass fittings because Ford made them too cheap, and much more. Shame on Ford for not taking care of the American people.

- , Farwell, MI, USA

problem #5

Apr 012015

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 188,800 miles


Also having problem with transmission not wanting to shift from 2nd to 3rd unless you let off gas. Not having OD light come on yet, though..

- , Parma, OH, USA

problem #4

Dec 122014

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 166,099 miles

Yet another trans failed Explorer. Useless cars, but were beautiful brand new. Looks can definitely be deceiving and Ford needs to recall it.

- , Madison, SD, USA

problem #3

Oct 012014

Explorer 4 Door 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 173,423 miles

I bought a 2002 Ford Explorer from J and S Auto Sales located in Columbus, Ohio. From day one car was slipping and the o/d light was flashing off and on. They sold this car to me without a warranty, had me pay them my money first before letting me see and sign the paper work. In which I didn't see the no warranty paper that was towards one of the last papers. And I had already signed the papers before this. Got sold a car that this dealership knew had a lot of major problems. Basically a lemon in so many words.

- , Columbus, OH, US

problem #2

Nov 012014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 174,000 miles

Yep, another bullshit transmission from Ford. Time to stop buying American products I guess. And I really don't like to say that, but it is what it is.

- , Scottsville, KY, USA

problem #1

Dec 182013

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

I own a 2002 Ford Explorer 4x4, 4.0 liter engine, automatic. The transmission slips badly when accelerating in 2nd gear to 3rd gear. When 3rd gear is finally engaged it does so with a very hard shift. Also the OD "off" light is flashing and the service engine soon light came on. I got online to find out what might be the issue and found numerous articles claiming the same issues.

Sounds like FORD put problematic transmissions in these vehicles and doesn't have a good fix for it. The transmission shifts smoothly once in higher gears. I need to get this fixed soon.

- , Mills River, NC, USA

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