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 4 of 22)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #380

Nov 252011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles


So it seems my complaint is in line with the other 300+ complaints. Transmission went out. Local mechanic has had my car since the end of January, 2012. Yes, we are now at May 9, 2012. That's coming up on four months. A new transmission has been put in, but then the 4WD HI light was coming on. Supposably, that had to do with the computer. I'm told that was fixed, but now it's the O/D light flickering. So now they have ordered something else that they "are almost 100% sure this is the problem". But if this doesn't fix the O/D light, then another transmission would have to be put in. I guess we are talking about another four months without my vehicle. I absolutely will NEVER buy another Ford product and I make it known to everyone I meet the problems that I have had with this vehicle.

- , Gainesville, GA, USA

problem #379

Mar 042010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

My first car that I bought new. Most likely last Ford I will buy. They put out a defective transmission and are not willing to do anything about it. The explorer was a few thousand less than the trail blazer and I wish I would have spent the additional money on the front end since I spent more than the difference before even getting to 100,000. This vehicle is a lemon. Had to replace the rear end at the same time as tranny. I have taken dozens of pictures of the cracked rear window that is also standard failure on all explorers and mountaineers of this era.

- , Colorado Springs, co, USA

problem #378

Apr 142012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Just bought this explorer in August of 2011. Was doing great until this morning. Started of to work and o/d light started blinking really fast and wouldn't shift into 3rd gear. I talked to a mechanic on the phone, he said this is a common problem and expect to pay about $3500 for a new transmission!!! I don't have that kind of money! Why with all the complaints and "it's a common problem" has this POS not been recalled??????

- , Capron, IL, USA

problem #377

May 012007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


Rebuilt Transmission 4/07

Replaced Transmission 1/10

Needs another transmission 8/11 -have not fixed

Needless to say my last Ford

- , Clinton, NJ, USA

problem #376

Jan 012011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

Need I say more about having to have a rebuilt tranny put in my Explorer @ 95,000 miles??? This is redicuolus and should be considered a recall. SHAME ON YOU FORD!!! I hope your executives didn't buy a 2002 Explorer

- , Meriden, CT, USA

problem #375

Mar 192012

Explorer XLT 4.8L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

A typical Ford transmission problem. After years of bad transmissions, why can't Ford get this right? A new transmission at 78K miles? We pay enough for these cars. Please...

- , Castle Rock, CO, USA

problem #374

Nov 012010

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 200,000 miles


I just want to say that my engine is still running fine at over 200,000, while the transmission was weak at 100,000 and then finally gave out all together. This is a major flaw that Ford has failed to address.

- , Columbia, MO, USA

problem #373

Feb 152012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

This SUV didn't give any warning just sh*t the bed . Seeing as this is a sealed transmission and this had nothing to do with keeping up the maintenance, this should be on you ( FORD ) . Whatever possessed you to put this transmission in this vehicle, you should own up to your mistakes. I have NEVER had a transmission fail on me that I could do the maintenance on and if this tranny was one that I could have maintained then this wouldn't have happened ( Henry Ford must be rolling in his grave ). Too bad he isn't still around so he could fire all the dumb assess who came up with this transmission. This design fault is caused by the people who designed it not the ones who bought it or assembled it. It's just like that 2005 Freestyle ( which I also have) with the CVT transmission that none of your people know anything about ( but this is my next complaint ) . Your design team couldn't design a vehicle to save their own assess. Maybe they should get behind their vehicles and own up to these ass backwards engineers who created these disasters. Well as usual this will probably fall on deaf ears and nothing will be done for the consumers who fell for those bullshit commercials that praised these vehicles as being the best cars made.

Update from Mar 6, 2012: now all of a sudden my 4 wheel drive isn't working either and no codes are showing up for them either, gee the computer can't even diagnose these problems. Don't know what's going on but Ford needs to be held accountable for this dissaster of a vehicle. Again falling on deaf ears I'm sure , first our tax money bails out the automobile manufacturers and now due to their poor designs I'm paying again only out of my pocket personally . NEVER THOUGHT I'D PAY THIS MUCH FOR THIS VEHICLE , but I know Ford you don't care and probably NEVER will. As will I NEVER buy another ford product again.( your designers are idiots to say the least)

- , East Bridgewater, MA, USA

problem #372

Jan 252012

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Went to dealer to check out trans., I thought it was fine, had not noticed anything. They told me the transmission was shot, unrepairable. new one costs 5,000. I was so happy with the Explorer, even was thinking aobut buying a new one, or an Expedition, not any more. I never heard of a trasnmission that cannot be maintained, fluid checked, and that has total failue, never even used it to pull a boat. Disgraceful. Ford does not stand behind their products. O well back to Japanese brands.

- , Ny, NY, USA

problem #371

Oct 092010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,500 miles

My 2002 Ford Explorer that I had new started sticking in gears and would make this revving type noise but was not going anywhere. I had to come off the gas then it would go into the other gear. When i stopped again at a light or junction the same thing all over. Took it to Crown Ford here and they could not get to it for two days so I had to rent a vehicle. They then told me that I would need a new transmission and gave me a price of $2528. 87 to replace the old transmission and labor at $776.69, Plus the shop support of $15. then tax for a total of $3627.71. I had just put $600+ in new tires the week before and they told me i'd get $2000. on the trade in.

Could not afford a new "used" one or anything so I had to go for it. I feel so screwed. Other people on here got theirs fixed for less. I did not think I would win with a trade in. I get 3yr 100,000 mile warranty. My ford has 75,500 miles on it. The newer ones they were showing me had almost as much miles on them.

- , Nashville, TN, USA

problem #370

Feb 092012

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


Ford needs to address the issues with the 2002 model year for the Explorer. This vehicle is garbage at best. Always had ford pickup trucks which were pretty good for reliability. The 2002 Ford Explorer is a disaster. It is the FIX OR REPAIR DAILY of all Fords. I know from reading about other owners that FORD Motor Company will do nothing about this vehicle. They cannot blame Firestone for this turd. I have never had to replace a transmission on any vehicle I have owned. On the Explorer it is Wheel Bearings Timing chains 4X4 control modules Coil springs that rust and break which could puncture a tire and cause a fatality. The transmission, window control modules and the list goes on. And once you put in the rebuilt tranny it will fail also. Ford Sucks as bad as the rest of them. No more for me. Buyer Beware the blue oval. P.S. I forgot about the exploding Pinto so the Explorer is #2

- , Medford, NJ, USA

problem #369

Feb 092012

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

Transmission problems in Ford Explorers are one of the most commonly complained about issues of any car on the road. With a typical repair cost over $2,000 it's easy to see why owners are so upset. One dealer even claims that 1 out of every 10 Explorer's from the early 2000 model years will have transmission failure at some point.

- , Trabuco Canyon, CA, USA

problem #368

Dec 212011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

I am a 42 year old single mother of 4 children, without a running vehicle and no money to fix my transmission. The o/d light came on blinked a few times and my transmission went out instantly on the street with no prior warning. I called the dealer and they ran a check and said it was the servo boar????? that had been recently made into the transmissions, and that the whole transmission needed to be replaced!!!!!!!!!!!! This is crazy and a money making scheme by FORD MOTOR COMPANY because you used to be able to fix this problem fairly easily until they changed design.

- , Bardstown, KY, USA

problem #367

Feb 012011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

There is a definite problem when specific years/model become known for a consistent failure. It is even more irritating when Ford designs the unit to be unserviceable except for taking it to a Ford mechanic. Some car owners are that stupid, but many are not. I don't think a recall is necessary, but Ford should offer to replace the transmissions that have failed way too early in the life of the vehicle, or required multiple replacements.

- , Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #366

Oct 012011

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Two used transmission's were purchased by mechanic, both were bad as well. He traded mine in for these, now they cannot locate my old transmission that was sent in as trade. Unable to locate an additional used transmission, because there are so many transmission failures with this vehicle. I cannot afford a new one. Regardless a new one cost almost what the vehicle is worth anyway. I still have 6 months until payoff. Very disappointed that Ford Motor Company has ignored an obvious defect. They could at the very least discount a new transmission. My next move is to call the customer service line, "daily".

- , Crestwood, KY, USA

problem #365

Oct 102011

Explorer XLS 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,970 miles

transmission started to slip in early may of 2011 had explorer serviced and didnt help after one week it started to do it can not check the transmission fluid as you have to have a special tool. which i do not have.continue to drove it as it cost approximately 2800.00 to fix. this is a very big reason why the transmission shouldj have went.

- , Rome, NY, US

problem #364

Dec 212011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 208,082 miles

I purchased this vehicle new, upon retiring from the military based on past good experiences with Ford. A couple of years ago I had to replace the engine because, I was told, the timing mechanism had spun. Recently however, the OD OFF light has begun to occasionally light. Today, while driving to work the engine over revved (about 6000 rpm) and the car barely maintained previous speed going down hill. When I stopped for the light I was able to attain about 20 mph before the engine began over revving again. I was able to limp to work. I researched on the internet to find that this is a known issue but nothing is being done to correct it except to expect the customer to pay for a new transmission.

- , Smithfield, VA, USA

problem #363

Aug 052010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,906 miles

I've seen a lot of post's for their transmission going bad. Just over 75k and I had to replace the transmission. For all the issues that I've had with transmission, rear springs breaking, leather seat ripping, a crack on the rear lift gate and a display that occasionally blinks, I will never buy a Ford again.

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #362

Oct 192011

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

Not sure what to do. people have had the problem 2,3,even 4 times with rebuilt trans. Would really like to find a different solution such as a different trans from a previous or later explorer? Ford really needs to step up and help find a better solution if they aren't going to take care of the problem.

- , Brownsburg, IN, US

problem #361

May 122010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

This issue should be covered under a recall due to the fact they know this year model 1 in 10 have an transmission issue.

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

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