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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
94,536 miles
Total Complaints:
440 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replaced with rebuilt transmission (114 reports)
  2. replace transmission (86 reports)
  3. transmission needs to be recalled (81 reports)
  4. call Ford customer service and complain 800-392-3673 (63 reports)
  5. not sure (40 reports)
  6. local mechanic fixed, not giving dealer any more business (18 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 10 of 22)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #260

May 272009

Explorer LXT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles


This transmission should be recalled - this is the second time it has failed (first at 58,000 miles). Ford will never get any of our money ever again....FYI, my husband has owned Ford trucks since 1975. Ford's CEO was on NBC's Today show this morning praising the company and crediting Ford's success to the 'quality of the vehicles it builds'. As a long time customer this is my analysis of their 'success: Ford profits by putting cheap, poorly manufactured, outsourced parts in their vehicles, and then walking away from their product. Their dealerships profit from selling, repairing and replacing these less than industry standard parts. The hard working American customer is left footing the bill. FYI, in addition to the transmission we have replaced all 4 wheel bearings, CV joints, rear differential and oh yes.......the gearshift lever snapped off in my hand. this what you are calling a 'quality product'?

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #259

Dec 112007

Explorer LXT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

Never buy a Ford....ever, unless you want to be stuck with a piece of junk that will fail as soon as warranty has expired. At 58,000 miles the transmission on my 2002 explorer failed (hard upshifts, hesitation-particularly when shifting into reverse, slippage, have to let foot off gas to make it shift into third....then total failure, unable to shift into any gear). Cost $1700 to replace the third band. Two years and 30,000 miles later........transmission has failed again (same symptoms with O/D light flickering on/off)........this time we have to replace the third band and the servo. Despite same symptoms leading up to failure, dealer says it is a 'different' problem. Ford will not do anything b/c it is out of warranty. Dealer finally said they would take $200 off the 2nd repair costs....come to find out they took this from the mechanic's paycheck! FYI, between 58,000 and 80,000 miles we have also replaced all 4 wheel bearings, CV joints, the gearshift lever snapped off ($800 to replace the entire steering column) and the rear differential (as well as numerous other drivetrain parts that I cannot name). Ford is making money by using cheap, sub standard parts from China, and then refusing to take responsibility for parts that do not conform to industry standards. Dealers are making profiting from selling and repairing these sub standard vehicles. My father owns a Toyota Celica with 250,000 miles...he has only had to replace the brakes & tires (ever!)....this is a truly American car, made to the standards we expect, with parts actually made in America. Please forgive me, if as an American consumer , if I say that Ford no longer deserves the name 'American Pride'....we can officially confer that honor to Toyota and Honda.

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #258

Jul 192007

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

What a horrible experience. I have only driven Toyotas. My wife wanted a Ford Explorer. She is driving it, not me, so we purchase a new 2002 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer edition. I purchase the extended warranty, because I want to be safe, not sorry and in the back of my mind, it is a Ford. The transmission completely fails in July, 2007 at 55,000 miles and 2 months after my extended warranty expires. Ford says, too bad, so sorry. We paid $3,600 for a rebuilt trans. It just failed again on June 7th, 2009. I think I have at least a 2 year warranty from the dealer on this, so they will be seeing my very angry face tomorrow. So sorry we purchased this vehicle. NEVER again!!!!

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #257

Jun 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles


Add me to the list of unhappy 2002 Explorer owners. Bought the car for my son 1 year ago. As a new driver, I wanted to put him in a bigger, more reliable car for safety. Needless to say, he comes home yesterday and says his transmission light is on. Took it to a local mechanic whom I trust (those are hard to find these days) who told me the transmission is shot and needs to be replaced at a cost of $2700. So we decide we aren't going to put the money into the piece of crap car, so we go to look at buying a replacement car thinking we may be able to trade this one in. Our BEST trade-in offer...$800. Hell, the tires are worth more than that. And they wonder why people don't buy American. I have a 2000 Lexus that I just rolled 120000 miles on and have only had to put front and back brakes on once. Solid as a rock and expecting another 120000.

I will NEVER buy another Ford. Ford needs to man up and recall these transmissions before they find themselves in the say predicament as Chrysler and GM.

- , South Bend, IN, US

problem #256

Apr 292009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,300 miles

I purchased my 2002 new. At 39900 miles May of 06 the transmission went out and needed to be completely replaced. I had an extended warranty so painless for me basically. The new transmission warranty is 3 year 36,000 mile. I am within the time limit but 2,000 miles over the warranty miles and they will do nothing. The last time I checked it did not seem like normal wear and tear for the transmission to be replaced every 39,000 miles.

When I asked the Ford service jerk, all he said is these things happen and my car is at the end of its life. Really! I guess so if you drive a Ford. I will not accept this kind of service. If I have to go to court, these idiots will do their part in getting my car back on the road. The bummer is I really love my car. I am not asking for something for nothing and I just do not see how Ford and their dealers can turn away when there are so many problems. From day one I have taken my car to the dealer for service and have taken good care of my car. This is bull!!!

Please people we must do something. We can not let them get away with this. My next car will be a Honda.

- , San Jose, CA, USA

problem #255

Aug 032008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

First off, let me start by saying that from what I've learned after researching the problem that i'm one of the "lucky" ones simply because I was able to get 140,000 miles before having any trouble. So I'm told. BUT! the fact remains I just finished paying the car off and this happens.Well I guess I should say what "this" is. Transmission failure, surprised so was I. I'm a truckdriver by trade was on a 2 day turn in Jacksonville,Fl. when my wife called me and said the car is acting funny. Me being the typical man asked the dumb question; what did you do? and she says "i did nothing" (to put it nicely).So I told her to described what it was doing, and she said that it would not change gears, the O/D light was blinking on and off,and there was a really hard knock when she put it in gear. So I cut my trip short to come home and try and take care of the problem. When I got in the next day I called my local Aamco shop, we said our hello's, and he said "what can Ido for you". I said "I got an '02 explorer", and before I could say anything else he started describing the symptoms to a "T", and I was like so you've heard this before. His next question was; how many miles? I told him 140,000, he was in shock! By this time he told me he would'nt be doing his job if he did'nt have me bring it in to do a free dyno- even though he knew the problem- so I did, and low and behold there were four '02 explorers parked in the back with the same problems (miles ranging from 40,000-86,000). To make a really long story short, he said every other explorer that year has transmission problems, and the price to repair is between $2900 and $3100. So I did some research myself and that s how I came across your sight, and was literally floored at the number of problems (identical problems at that). needless to say we fixed the problem drove it for about 4 months, AND THE SAME THING HAPPENED AGAIN. This time we fixed the problem (still under warranty), and sold the damn thing. To put it in a nutshell FORD made a crappy transmission I know it, you now know it, and FORD knows it.They should be held accountable and recall every last single one until this is resolved.

- , McDonough, GA, USA

problem #254

Apr 102009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles


Well, they got me too... Argh! Explorer began shifting hard/soft at various times, especially between 2nd and 3rd. Also, experienced a mild shudder when pulling out from a stop and a high pitch whining noise when stopping and starting -- sounded like an electronic motor spinning up and down. I took it to Mr. Transmission and they diagnosed it for "free" and told me it would be $1500 for parts and labor to rebuild it (plus any "hard" parts that needed to be replaced). After they had it completely torn down, they called to tell me that it would be almost $3000 due to other damaged parts -- and that I could either pay them to fix it or come get my transmission in a box and have my vehicle towed. It would have been cheaper to order a remanufactured transmission (the entire transmission) from and pay someone to install it. Also, Mr Transmission only offers a 12 month warranty. offers a 36 month warranty. I guess hindsight is blah blah blah...

- , Jonesborough, TN, USA

problem #253

Apr 042009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,203 miles

Wow if I knew what I know now about ford and their price of sh*t explorers I would've Neva even spit on that piece of sh*t my tranny went out at 82k if I didn't have an extended warranty the price to rebuild the tranny would've been $2700 I still had to pay 700$ out my pocket, that's a down payment and a couple of notes on a new sucks ass!!! And their shitting on the small people aka uneducated consumer

- , Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #252

Nov 182003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles

This transmission was taken in for repairs several times. They refused to find any problems the first 2 visits. The car would accelerate and take off by itself, jerk, slow down when you are trying to accelerate and it makes clunking noises. The final results, I stepped out of this car to put a 4 year old in his car seat, and the transmission engaged itself in reverse. The door knocked me down and the tire ran up over my pelvis. I've been in rehab, and with several doctors dealing with permanent nerve damage to my left leg for 6 years now. BE CAREFUL! Turn it off before stepping out of this car.

- , Ridgeville, SC, USA

problem #251

Mar 302009

Explorer XLT 4WD 4.0L V6 Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

Adding this to the transmission section but basically front axle differential went in the poop bucket way before its time but well after warranty. Pinion/bearings most likely, and lots of metal in the differential. I had to stick a magnet in since it didn't have the magnetic cap. Looks pretty common for Ford. I barely used the 4WD and owned it since new. To boot, I have already had to complain about several of their service shops... changing the tires the batteries and doing other maintenance that was not required while I was deployed. Since my wife doesn't know much about vehicles she would tell me about it afterward and I was powerless to do anything about it from overseas.

- , Lemoore, CA, USA

problem #250

Mar 162009

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles


I bought this stupid crappy exploder in may of 2008, immediately had the rear differential/bearings replaced ($1500.00 of which the warranty covered $500) and this month after only owning the used truck for 10 months and 71,000 miles on it the transmission goes out. I had NO WARNING. The O/D light went on as the transmission went out. I have a 7 year child and I could have been stranded with this lunk of junk. I took this truck to a trusted mechanic before purchasing the truck and the transmission was checked on the machine and there was no indication that the transmission would go out. I want Ford sued as this is clearly screaming for a recall and compensation. As a single mother I have put $3,500 additional dollars into this truck and there is still something wrong with it. It stalls sometimes when putting it into drive. Who knows what that will lead to. I am driving it into the Mississippi River! I hate this truck.

- , Memphis, TN, USA

problem #249

Jan 182009

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

Purchased the vehicle new 8/02 and by 1/03 started hearing a rattling noise. Took vehicle to Rice & Holdup, NJ(dealer) 3 times before someone found(or would acknowledge) the problem - the transmissions. Did some repair and vehicle seemed fine. Now 1/09, only 64,000 miles on it, warranty expired 8/08 and the transmission is totally shot - it just died - and they tell me there is something wrong with the rear but it can't be checked since the vehicle can't be driven. Rice & Holdup, NJ gave a price of $3550 to fix the transmission and at first offered nothing for our troubles and then came back with a crappy offer of 10% off - and the $3550 doesn't include whatever is wrong with the rear. Emailed Ford customer service and got the same "sorry, your warranty expired - nothing we can do" bull. Ford has to be taken to court!!! I cannot believe all the people having the same problem. It was obviously a defect and Ford needs to pay up - I don't care if they go out of business paying everyone back. They are a bunch of @#s%a#@s!!! Took the junk pile to a private shop to be repaired - don't know what the charge is yet but Ford will never see another dime of my money.

- , Medford, NJ, USA

problem #248

Mar 062009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Took my dads explorer on a little 2 hour trip full of friends, boards, skis, and bags...halfway there white smoke begins cloud from behind the truck like its Nascar or something...get out as huge tractor trailers fly by to take a look under the truck to see tranny fluid spilling from the hour later I'm sittin in a ford dealer in the middle of no where instead of riding a ski lift....thanks ford for your incredibly reliable vehicle...there truly needs to be a recall on this!!! just think of all the people that own this truck and have not posted on here!!!! I love the truck and so does my dad but holy shoulda came with a 4 foot bed to haul around all the problems...what a shame...all i can really say and think is WHERES THE FREAKEN RECALL!!!!!

- , Monroe Twp., NJ, USA

problem #247

Mar 052009

Explorer EB 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,400 miles

Add me to the list of '02 Explorer blown transmission. Classic slip 1-2 shift, no 5th, clunks loud going into "R" & "D" Tranny light on, "check transmission" on in message ctr and now "service engine soon" now glowing. Last Ford I'll ever own/buy.

- , Iowa City, IA, USA

problem #246

Jul 042008

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

I don't think I can add much more to the words already posted about the 2002 Explorer. Cost us just a tad over 3K to get the transmission replaced. The new transmission has a 3 year / 30K warranty but I doubt we'll own it that long. The A/C is also broken and the vents do not work properly. When rotating the vent control the air will sometimes be directed the way you want it. Overall I'm very disappointed in the quality of this vehicle. At 80K miles the truck should have a ton of life left and should not be causing so many headaches. I will not buy another Explorer and I am leary about purchasing a Ford at all at this point.

- , Grandville, MI, USA

problem #245

Apr 292005

(reported on)


  • 62,000 miles

I bought the 2002 Ford Explorer with 19,000 miles in 2004. I figured a fairly new car should not have any major problems except the normal wear and tear. WRONG! Within the first year of me owning this vehicle several problems occurred. Just to mention a few, the window regulator failed which caused the window not to go up in the dead of winter. The airbag light kept coming on, and finally the transmission is completely shot and needs to be replaced. Called the Ford dealership and they said "These things happen, Sorry". Called the Ford company, they said "You are not covered under warranty and we can't help you at this time, Sorry!". So what have I learned about Ford, which stands for (Found On Road Dead and Fix Or Repair Daily), Fix airbag light $50. Fix driver side window $350. Fix the transmission, $3500. Realizing that Ford makes inferior cars and you will never buy another Ford again, Priceless.

- , Trenton, NJ, USA

problem #244

Apr 282005

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • 65,000 miles

Ford should have a recall on this truck... maybe if we get enough people to complain about it or maybe have 20/20 do a report we all can get something back...

thank you.

- , Clementon, NJ, US

problem #243

Nov 142008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

I bought the used explorer from a Ford dealer in 2006. It had 32,000 miles on it when I bought it. At 72,000 miles while going on a trip for the weekend the vehicle began revving at high RPM's before shifting into gear. I traveled approx. 5 miles to my destination and parked the vehicle for the weekend. I knew it was the transmission, but did not know how extensive it was. I could not check the transmission fluid because that year they did away with a transmission dip stick and the only way to check the transmission fluid was to crack a bolt located on the transmission housing under the vehicle. Boy ford does not make things easy to check easy things like transmission fluid any more!

I had the vehicle towed to a transmission place and they later told me the transmission was destroyed. $2,800 later (Nov. 2008) I am driving again wondering what is going to go next. Won't be buying another Ford again, probably foreign like toyota or nissan. I have only heard good things about their power trains, unlike the fords!

- , Albany, NY, USA

problem #242

Feb 132009

Explorer Limited 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

i bought this nice explorer used but still in great condition so to my suprise the peace of sh*t tranny blew overdrive and reverse and i understand that it is a common problem i think it should be recalled and fixed by the ford motor company and maybe they should make something that last more than a 100000 miles.

- , Mcbain, MI, USA

problem #241

Jan 012009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

I bought the car used and never had a moment of trouble then at around 140000 miles it started to implode, first a hub for about a thousand then almost 3000 on a transmission and the hassle of not having the car.

- , Shohola, PA, USA

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