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:
94,434 miles
Total Complaints:
439 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replaced with rebuilt transmission (113 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 12 of 22)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #219

Dec 052008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


I am very upset Here it is Christmas and I have a 2500 transmission rebuild bill, only to come to this sight and find it is a major problem that Ford is not doing anything about. I have always had a ford but this is my LAST one

- , Watsontown, PA, USA

problem #218

Dec 032008

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,230 miles

I love my Explorer, minus the gas mileage, and this transmission. Ford makes nice cars but I will never buy again. My parents had an explorer transmission went out at 34000 miles, lucky for them it was covered under warranty, unlucky me, mine is not. I would expect ford to stand by their consumers and fix THEIR problems, not us. Isn't if the problem exists in every car, or the majority, they should fix it. F&*K em. I actually hope with this recession they go out of business, but not, alot of people loosing jobs. Ford has lost another customer, I have had two fords and both crap. Good looking, comfortable, but bad workmanship.

- , Brunswick, ME, USA

problem #217

Dec 012008

Explorer SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

I can't believe this, wish I had looked up the car before I was hyped up by the Ford dealer. I bought this car to replace our junker thinking it would be good to have a car for our three children to ride in that was safe and dependable. Well, two years after we bought it, after dealing with several other minor issues, including the horrid clunk of shifting from park to reverse, the D@#* thing is in the shop today because as my husband was leaving to go to work the transmission started making the worst sound I have ever heard. So, merry Christmas kids, Santa is getting a new transmission because he still owes more on his sleigh than it's worth. Sorry about the lack of dolls and trucks under the tree, Ford has done it again! I will never own another ford, and I am definitely calling to complain, this eeds to be recalled-transmission failures consistently happening under 100,000 miles? that's ridiculous. My 95 Chevy ran better than this!

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #216

Jun 012007

Explorer Lmtd Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles


NEVER EVER BUY A FORD! This was my first - a very expensive Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer- and I had to have the transmission rebuilt at 107,000 miles. I babied this car - I took it in for regular service checks, etc. I asked the dealership to call Ford and help with the expenses and I was told because I had over 100,000 miles it was my responsibility to pay for it. I will never buy a ford ever again!

- , Huntley, IL, USA

problem #215

Nov 202008

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

Everyone who has this problem needs to take the time to Call Ford's Customer Care line. They say that if enough calls are registered about a problem they will open an investigation. Posting on these sites is great but does not add to the count of registered complaints through Ford. If you do have to get the problem repaired save your receipt and you may be reimbursed if a recall is issued. If you don't complain to FORD directly, a recall will never happen. This definitely SUCKS! No wonder the American car industry is in the state it's in!! My transmission started grinding last week when I was just starting out at low speeds or going into reverse. It hasn't totally failed yet but is on the verge. Merry Christmas to me! Just what I wanted a new transmission!!

- , Chapin, SC, USA

problem #214

Oct 042008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,100 miles

Just a little more off my chest! along with not been able to pay my bills BECAUSE I USED THE MONEY ON FIXING THE DAMMED TRANSMISSION AGAIN

you people need to recall it... If I ever get a new vehicle it will not be a ford unless you pay my bills for December 08

- , Brentwood, MD, USA

problem #213

Jun 212008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles


Is an ongoing failure, after I paid with an arm and a leg, six month later I got hit again.

I took it to the same mecha.. and what a surprise the broken piece was not part of the the previous warranty. It cost me $1000 more just to get done. A vehicle is not a luxury is a necessity for us working people!! I am in pin and needles that it will happen again

What a worthless piece of crap. I got it because I was feeling patriotic not today!!

- , Brentwood, MD, USA

problem #212

Nov 152008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140 miles

My truck has always made a weird sound when placing it into drive or reverse and park. then I had it serviced for the transmission 1 1/2 year ago and then all of a sudden I was driving from Los Angeles to San Diego at 65 miles per hour having no problems. Then I hear a bang and then the transmission started slipping. I pulled over at a gas station thinking it need transmission oil. several men at the gas station tried looking for the dip stick and no where to be found. There is no way to check if the truck needs fluid and where to place the fluid. Then it would not go into drive or reverse; I had to get a tow truck to the nearest Jiffy Lube. The did not want to be responsible for it so they advised me to take it to FORD dealership. FORD dealership was going to charge me close to $300 to only diagnose it. If I need to replace the transmission it would cost me close to $4000.00. So I asked the dealership to service the truck and they also did not want to be responsible because the truck didn't even go into reverse. Ther recommended me to take it to a specialty transmission shop or get it repaired ther at the dealership. American cars have this reputation and I never bothered realize that it could happen to me. Well it did, I still owe over more than its worth and it will cost me to fix it more than it's worth. This should be a recall ASAP, before I can fix it . With this economy in 2008 none can afford to repair such a bad manufactured truck and shouldn't have to at our cost. This will be my last American truck, car that my family and I own and I will let everyone know that recommend not getting a FORD or American car. Again this should be recalled and or everyone needs to get Reimbursed for their expenses!!

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #211

Jan 202008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

I bought this piece of sh*t and can not afford to get it fixed right now. Right after I bought it I took it to the ford place in foley, alabama and they said there was nothing wrong with it, even though it was not driving right, now the o/d light keeps blinking and it want go into gear all the time, it's hard to shift from park to reverse so it needs to be re-built or get a new transmission. I had insurance at the time and if they had fixed it I would not be having this problem. I have bought a lot of fords but this is the last one I will ever buy. I will tell everybody I know not to buy one. Very disappointing. Transmission needs to be re-called. Carol Jones, Elberta, Alabama.

- , Elberta, AL, USA

problem #210

Oct 272008

Explorer EB V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

'02 Explorer EB V8 - Just over 100K miles, meticuously maintained truck just started shifting really hard from 2nd to 3rd. O/D light flashed continuously and check engine light came on. Last two blocks of short drive, less than 2 miles, The transmission really started grinding. These transmissions are crap and this has been an ongoing problem since they came out. I researched the fact, ford only used this transmission for two years. This in itself is an admittance of an unreliable product.

- , Spring, TX, US

problem #209

Sep 152008

Explorer Limited 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,300 miles


Same as most on here. Started slipping in 2nd to 3rd and OD light flashing with check transmission. Took to local mechanic who said it needs to be rebuilt. Was shot so bad due to a loose bolt inside that had to go with re manufactured unit.

Only 64K miles and falling apart. My F250 has 150K and still going strong and had no issues with my 2005 Mustang.

Definitely a lemon! Last Ford for me after calling in and Ford offering no help or discount.

- , Elk Grove, CA, USA

problem #208

Jun 152008

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

The engine started racing and the transmission was obviously slipping, particularly on hills. Initially the problem was intermittent, but gradually became worse until we had to take in in to the dealers. They showed no signs of being surprised that the transmission should go at 62000 miles. I now know why, after reading the entries on the web sites. The Explorer obviously has major transmission problems. We paid over $4300 to get it fixed, only to find that 2000 miles later, the same problem is happening again. The dealer of course claims that he can not find anything as the problem is intermittent. Although the new transmission is under warranty, they still charged $200 for failing to diagnose the problem. I am amazed that Ford do not accept responsibility for this common fault and come up with an acceptable solution for customers.

- , San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #207

Oct 132008

Explorer XLTV6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

My husband was comming home from the NLCS Dodger game when he called at 11:09 pm woke me up after taking NyQuil for my cold and stated that the transmission was not working it was just whining and would not stay in gear so we had to have it towed from Gorman, CA to Bakersfield, CA about 50 miles (thank GOD for AAA plus package). Suddenly i start freaking out thinking of the cost. He states "that maybe it just needs fluid and that we have to take it to a shop what kinda crap is that. I think it's a bigger problem than that, but i'am trying to keep good thoughts, but after reading these post I can feel a panic attack coming on as we speak. I don't even know it the car is worth what it cost to fix it, but i sure can't afford to buy a new one that this Explorer is paid off I don't want another car payment. Well i'am to go wait for the tow truck to get here with my Explorer.

- , Bakersdfield, CA, USA

problem #206

Oct 032008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,456 miles

Bought the vehicle about 2 months ago because it was very comfortable to drive and I thought is was reliable. But not even 2 months later with only 131,000kms on it the transmission went. First it started out by going into gear slowly, then about after a week I heard a bang and a squeak come from it. A few days after I noticed fluid leaking out of the transmission. I priced getting the transmission fixed and it cost approx. $3000.00. Then I phoned Ford in Ontario and they said there was nothing they could do for me and that there was no recalls. Now I am out what I paid for the vehicle and what it is going to cost to fix it. I am pissed that Ford could sell vehicles like this and not have to do anything about it with so many of the same complaints on the same vehicle. I will never buy another one because they should have a recall or help people out with this problem. My next vehicle will not be a FORD.

- , St John's, NL, Canada

problem #205

Oct 062008

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

This site really freaks me out cause i just took my POS explorer into the shop today. No word on the total damages yet. I purchased the explorer less than 3 months ago with 66000 miles on it. While driving, the transmission started shifting hard between 3rd and 4th gears. On the side of the road myself and brother-in-law found it entertaining that there was no transmission dipstick and after looking in the owners manual that any service has to be done at the ford dealership. FORD should be ashamed of this design and is clearly a scam to make money for their dealerships! This vehicle/transmission is definitely a lemon... Its never a good sign when you call your local transmission service shop and the guy on the line starts laughing after you answer his question to year make and model! I would take that as a hint that they see this problem day in-day out!

- , Aurora, CO, US

problem #204

Sep 152008

Explorer Sport 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,000 miles

34,000 easy miles. Well maintained. 4 wheel drive used maybe a dozen times for short periods and yesterday without warning the transmission suddenly blew spewing fluid over everything. This was at approx. 35 miles an hour after starting out on a short trip. Nothing but problems with this vehicle. I'm the original owner and sole driver of the vehicle so I know it has not been abused. The last three years I averaged 4k miles per year. THANX FORD FOR THE QUALITY. Hope Nissan will like my business.

- , Tonawanda, NY, USA

problem #203

Aug 262008

Explorer XLT 3.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

I am feeling good because there are people such as autobeef that help us to explain car problems.

- , Doral, FL, USA

problem #202

Mar 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,137 miles

i bought my explorer thinking it was a really nice car and would last for a long time. 4 months later my transmission went out and i had to have it "refurbished". after i got it back, it still wasn't fixed-it wouldn't go into reverse! now 2 years later, transmission is leaking from the front end and i'm being told i need to replace the transmission! this is ridiculous. ford SUCKS!!!! i will never ever by ford again and i will tell any one else out there who's looking at an "exploder"....DON"T DO IT!!!!! save yourself a lot of time, heartache and money and buy the trailblazer instead!!!!!!!

- , Noblesville, IN, USA

problem #201

Dec 252007

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

click to see larger images

transmission failure transmission failure transmission failure transmission failure transmission failure

On Christmas night my 02 explorer "exploder" started shifting funny, i wasn't sure what was going on, until my o/d light started flashing, my engine light came on as well. i started driving it, shifted out of 1st gear just fine but when it went to shift from 2nd gear to 3rd gear it revved up high and it slammed into gear. thats when i knew i had tranny problems. so i drove it home parked it and didn't drive it for the next 9 months until now. i called ford to asked them what was going on with my tranny, i explained to them my issues they said that i need a new Solenoid pack that that would take care of the problem. so i did and it didn't do a dam thing. while i was under the tranny i saw one of the anchors loose as if one of the bands were broken, so i explained to ford and told them that one of the anchors is loose and they said "its supposed to be like that" what a crock of dodo. i finally decided to take down my tranny and look everything over since i work at a bodyshop i would save lots of money doing it myself. i came to realize that my valve body was gone bad after testing it, both my bands were broken so i replace them with new ones and i also replaced all the seals and torque converter, and i also took out the pump and everything else and they seem to be in working order. so after about $750 with my discounts from ford i replaced all the infected parts and installed everything and added the tranny oil and updated my tranny to latest calibration and everything works so far runs actually really good. i think that ford did not want to help me, i think they were hoping that i would bring my car to them and pay them 3 thousand dollars to fix it. ford sucks im gonna get rid of my explorer for good no more american cars for me especially ford. if you need help with your tranny especially the 5R55W with the 4.0 l tranny let me know i fixed my own rig and it works great.

- , Seattle, WA, USA

problem #200

Feb 012007

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Transmission slipped for about a day. My wife was on her way to the dealer when it made a loud bang and disintegrated. Complete transmission failure. The truck had to be towed the rest of the way. From info on this and other sites this appears to be par for the course for an 80,000 mile Explorer transmission. Good thing I bought the extended warranty.

- , Friendswood, TX, USA

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