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 8 of 22)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #300

Sep 202010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 153,000 miles


Can't believe how many similar stories of transmission failure are out there, yet there's no recall! My Ford Explorer first had the issues of "clunky changing gears" and then moving when put into park. When the OD/off light started flashing I took it in to the shop ... they are telling me the transmission needs to be completely rebuilt!

I'm so mad, especially since I have had so many other issues with the vehicle. I had to replace all four wheel bearings on this POS before 100,000 miles! Ridiculous! I can't afford to fix this vehicle so I'm going to have to trade it in

I'm never buying a Ford again!

- , Delafield, WI, USA

problem #299

Feb 152010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Very disapointing.....5 months after purchasing this vehicle, third gear started to slip...a few months later one day i went to start it and put it reverse and no reverse!! No forwards no nothing!! Just before all of this staring happening, the O/D light was staying on. And then a few months ago I got this little card in the mail about a recall on the lighting system. I mean really!! The lighting can be recalled but not something as important as a transmission. Well I dont have that kind of money just to pull out of my pocket. So I have been having to get rides everywhere I go. I am saving for this to be repaired but with the recent separation from my husband and my daughter having medical conditions, some other things have to come first.

America?? Where is the proof of a quality product? Where is the ackowledgement of failure and the responsibility to resolve the problem without pointing the finger and blaming and ignoring? I guess thats where we the people have to use our brains. Obviously Ford and anyone else who had a hand in making these didnt use theirs. I guess when I finally save the money to get it fixed, I may either buy a beater that runs rather than get the Explorer fixed. Theres kind of no sense in that considering it will have to be rebuilt again, eventually!! A beautiful vehicle though. There's always something positve in something negative!!

- , Owensboro, KY, USA

problem #298

Aug 162010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

This car is the biggest flop since the Ford Edsel. This is the second time I have had to replace the transmission so 3 trannys in 120,000 miles. Way to build quality cars Ford. 2002 was the last time I ever bought any Ford Product

- , North East, PA, US

problem #297

Jul 232010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


NEVER AGAIN WILL I BUY A FORD PRODUCT!!! after replacing the engine of our 2002 explorer less than 6 months ago, we are now looking at a total transmission replacement. no one will ever convince me that this p.o.s. was built to last. class action on this transmission...i sure hope so!!

Update from Sep 6, 2010: sold the exploder for what we owed...unfixed. did i mention that we had also replaced the engine in this vehicle just six months ago? never again will we buy a ford product!!!

- , Gravois Mills, MO, USA

problem #296

Aug 022010

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

My 2002 Ford Explorer is the worst money pit I ever owned. I have had it for 6 years and have averaged around $1500 per/yr in repairs. I bought it in 2004 from Simmons-Rockwell. It had 31,000 miles when I got it and I have never been rough with it. I just put $800 into it to fix the ABS and to put in a sensor. And now the tranny is shot...I will not put another penny into it. I will never purchase another UAW vehicle. That union has squeezed all of the quality from Ford products. The damned thing didn't even come with a dip stick to check the transmission!!!!!!!!

- , Whitney Point, NY, USA

problem #295

Jul 262010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

This truck is a big let-down. Like nearly everyone else owning this truck, my transmission blew, to the tune of $3200 (if I wanted a new transmission). I don't think so!!!! I put a few bucks into having the tranny rebuilt and am going to dump this truck like a bad debt.

Its truly unfortunate for Ford that I will never be buying another one of their vehicles. I am also spreading the word to all my friends cautioning them to stay away from Ford products as well. At one time I was proud to own Ford vehicles, but this experience has changed my mind entirely. My next truck will NOT be a Ford.

- , Bardonia, NY, USA

problem #294

Jul 052010

Explorer 3.7L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,645 miles


II am truly pissed off at Ford for making poor quality cars. I purchased a brand new Ford Explorer 2002. 8 years that i have this car, guess what there is a problem with my transmission. Are you kidding me? You won't believe the mileage that I have on my car, ready for this: 45,645 miles. Insane and unbelievable. This is the only car that I own, and it is costing me a fortune to have it fixed.

I already made a complaint with the National Highway safety etc. I hope many of you own this piece of crap car PLEASE COMPLAIN!!!! To be honest with this will be my last purchase of a Ford car. I am very disatisfied and at one time I was a pro believer in buying American made cars. Well, i am going foreign and bet it will last longer than 8 years. I am not going to purchase any more Ford cars in the future, they can kiss my ass! Another note, my brother in law purchased a Ford Focus in 2003, he also needs a new transmission. If Ford goes bankrupt, frankly, I don't give a Damn! It's their own Fault! Please COMPLAIN!

- , Brooklyn, NY, US

problem #293

Mar 012007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Like seemingly everyone else with an 02, my tranny was destroyed. One day, the gears started getting clunky. A few days later, it took forever to get out of park. A few days after that, it wouldn't do anything.

We had to get a rebuilt transmission. Ford wasn't selling new ones for that model. Ford said halfway during production of that 2002 model year, they changed the transmission type, and that I couldn't buy the new type, and they weren't making the old type any more. Clearly, that tells me they knew there was a problem.

Even though my warranty was over, they should have covered it. The transmission is sealed. The books says it shouldn't even have to be SERVICED until 150k. Yet the average age these things drop is 80k. Why there was no recall, I'll never know.

I owned a 1994 Explorer prior to that and drive it FOREVER. It was a great vehicle. I now have a 2006 Explorer, and again, no complaints so far. I'm also nowhere near 75k, so we'll see.

- , Washington, DC, USA

problem #292

Jun 142010

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 149,000 miles

My husband and I own a 2002 Ford explorer and all of a sudden it just died on us on 6/14/10 with no warning. We were on our way to Tucson, AZ from San Pedro, ca. We were stranded 68 miles away from Blythe,Ca. The car did not accelerate at all. The engine is on but when you change gear, it doesn't go anywhere. I don't understand why Ford has not made a recall regarding this. What are they waiting for? We had the car towed to the dealer but the price to fix was too high. Just to check it was a rediculious price. Anyway, we had to pay for our car to tow back to San pedro,ca from Indio, ca. I can't wait for the lawsuit to take place. Count me in on this. My next car will NOT be Ford.

- , San Pedro, CA, USA

problem #291

Sep 202006

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,966 miles

Had my 2002 Explore for about 1 year. After 2 differentials and a broken emergency brake cable, my transmission started going bad. The transmission will get stuck between 3rd and 4th gear, took it to the dealer (Bell ford Colonia NJ) Had to pay, beside my $250.00 deductible another $380.00 because as the mechanic warned my before he started the job, that the 4 screws that hold the transmission to the frame will be rusted frozen and they were going to brake and had to be drill out at $95.00 each,and the warranty would't cover it. That it was a common problem they had with all this transmissions. I didn't believe him, but 2 hours later he called me and show me the screws totally rusted and frozen to the frame.

I called Ford Co. their answer was, SORRY BUT WE CANNOT HELP YOU! The total bill was $2,249.00.

After I pick up the car at low speeds it was fine, but notice that at highway speed the transmission shiftt hard between 3-4. I took it back to the dealer two more times but they said that they could feel the problem but the computer couldn't find any codes. The thirth time I asked them to put it in writing, wich they did, and told me that I had a 1year and 30,000 miles warranty on the transmission.

I hardly use the car, my wife use it to take the kids to school. It Igot tired of taking the car back to them. A year went by. It took 3-1/2 years to put 32,000 miles on it. In March the same problem got really bad, now the transmission is slipping really bad before it clank hard. Took it back to the dealer, but of course their answer was that it was out of warranty, they wanted over $100.00 just to put it in the computer to give me a diagnosis. I called Ford Co. but their answer was SORRY BUT WE CANNOT HELP YOU.

Took the car to a transmission shop they give an estimate of $2250.00. The car had been parked in my driveway since March beacuse about a week before this started I had lost my job. Now I keep getting in my mail box this offers from Ford Motor Co. to purchase one of their new cars.



- , Colonia, NJ, USA

problem #290

Jun 082010

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


This is the THIRD time I have had this transmission rebuilt. First time I complained and yelled at the Danville Barkhouser Ford service department until they did it for a discounted price. Second time I had to pay full price at the dealership again. This time I took it to Danville Transmission, he told me he would warranty and actually stand behind his work. BUT I WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER FORD PRODUCT IN MY LIFE

- , Ringgold, VA, USA

problem #289

Sep 172008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

This is not in keeping with the level of Customer Service Ford claims to offer.

- , Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #288

Jan 072009

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

I bought the Explorer cus we needed a 4x4 to get son to Hospital during the winter of 09.We Iike the way it look inside n out fully loaded!!!! The wife fell in love with it right away and after feeling the power of the motor I was like o.k lets get it.Right away after that I heard alot of other previous Explorer owner complaint about how crapy their transmission were,n sure enough not long after that my check engine light came on follow by the transmission check light! I took it in to get it checkout were I bought it cus I had warranty still on it and they told me i needed a new transmission.They refuse to pay for it claiming I had put too many miles in such a short time.But I was Driving back n forth to children's Hospital every other day(400miles up n back)After alot of arguing bout who was going to pay for the repair we decided to slip the bill which end up costing me over 1200.00 it's up for sale now!

- , Goldendale, WA, USA

problem #287

May 192010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 141,000 miles

hi i'm a 28 year old father of two who has had three knee operations who is with no transportation becuase ford wont take care of their costumers. my transmission took a crap on me in may 2010 6 and a half mo. after buying. seeing how its a closed trans it just makes it more to fix. you would think ford would take the time to make sure a sealed system would be more depenedable are at least back there work up seeing hows there are so many people haveing the same problems.

this is a sad day in michigan. i'm a shamed to say im from the motor city when there is no help from ford to fix this problem except for give them more money. for what? more problems? just wanted to say thanks ford for makeing me a chevy fan and for dirtying michigan's name some more. bad enough they cut jobs but to cut craftmans ship now thats low. just so they can make more money off the little people who try to put faith in there company to get sh*t on? so again thanks for nothing from my whole family. i say thanks now i cant make it to my doctors app. my kid now cant do after school actives and my wife is now rideing her petal bike to and from her work. so thanks for being the all american motor company.YOU SUCK

- , South Lyon, MI, USA

problem #286

May 132010

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Yes, I knew this was an issue prior to buying this vehicle. I love the car and the engine, but the tranny is a pile of crap. Ford really screwed this one up. This is an awesome car and it really gets a bad rap due to the half-ass tranny they put in it.

- , Arlington, WA, USA

problem #285

May 172010

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 185,000 miles

After reading all the comments, I feel blessed that my transmission lasted as long as it did. But my problems began years ago. I bought my 2002 Ford Explorer XLT in 2005. I drove 250 miles to get it. My problems first started around 80,000 miles. I would have trouble whenever I put my car in reverse from park. It would take awhile to go in gear. Next, I noticed that whenever I had to make a quick stop or slam on the brakes, (there are plenty of idiots on the road) It would take awhile for my vehicle to go back in first gear to get rolling again. I took my Explorer to the dealer because no one else could check the transmission fluid level and had it flushed. This seem to help the problem with the abrupt stopping but I still had problems when I put the vehicle in reverse. May 1, 2010 my transmission died, my explorer had 184,000 miles. I was fortunate enough to find someone to put the transmission in for $1,000, parts and labor. Of course the dealer wanted $4,000 or suggested I traded it in. I am not sure how long this rebuilt transmission will last but the car is great shape otherwise. No one can believe it is a 2002 model. I do have normal wear and tear, brakes and hub bearings.

- , Savannah, GA, US

problem #284

May 052010

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

We purchased our 2002 Explorer in 2005 and have enjoyed it until last week. On May 5th I was driving in town and all of a sudden the transmission was having trouble shifting into 3rd gear and the overdrive light was flashing on and off. We have never had trouble with a vehicle like this before. It only has a little over 62,000 miles on it and is well taken care of and maintenance. I think Ford Motor Company should have a recall and fix the problem and pay us back for having to dish out $3,000 for a new transmission. I am not happy with Ford right now and may not even do business with them again after this incident. I called Ford Motor Company to register a complaint and all they could tell me was that the vehicle is 9 years old and they do not have enough complaints. Way to go on taking care of your customers that have been loyal Ford owners. They really need to step up to the plate here.

- , Great Falls, MT, USA

problem #283

Feb 132010

Explorer XLT 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,817 miles

This is the second rebuilt transmission for my explorer. The first time was in September 2006 when the car had 60,288 miles and the car was then under extended warranty so was covered and replaced by Ford. Now that transmission has died after only 33,529 additional miles. Of course, this was just a few months after the warranty expired. So here is my explorer with only 93,817 miles going on its third transmission. Only my husband and I drive it and we are easy on cars.... no teenage drivers, my kids are in their 30's. What's up with that?

I complained to the Ford dealer (Bowen-Scarff Ford in Covington, WA) and I also called Ford Customer Service at 800-392-3673 and complained to Steve about everything. Of course he told me that because it was out of warranty and there is no recall Ford could do nothing. Ford quoted me a price of $3300 plus tax to install another rebuilt transmission with a 36 month or 100K mile warranty. I have found a private repair shop that comes with high recommendations that will get a rebuilt transmission and install it for about $500 less than the Ford dealer, with the same warranty, so I am going with them. I told both the dealer and Ford customer service that I would be taking my business elsewhere. We own three Fords now but I doubt I'll be going with Ford the next time I am ready to buy a car.

- , Covington, WA, USA

problem #282

May 012008

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,894 miles

POS!!! and I don't mean point of sale... Bought a 2002 XLT after having good luck with my 2000. Excepted same Ford "reliability" as the first. Man was a I wrong. After the bearings in my motor spun @ 69,000 miles, A yard motor from a Mountaineer was dropped in place of the spent 4.6L ($3,800 installed) ran great for about two months. Then the transmission........ What else needs to be said. In order to bring it back to state inspectable (road worthy condition) I would've had to replace the rear springs, all ball joints, rear ABS sensors, and the transmission.... Never abused or mistreated, always maintained. I voluntarily had it reposessed and squabbled with the bank and paid it off for what it would've cost me to fix it...... Written off. Never again...... As an American derived and based company. I am totally saddened to see this many people, probably and hopefully hard working people of the states writing about the same complaints over and over and a company that size not investigating a little bit further into a possible recall.... White collared criminals. I love the people that "don" that little boy urinating on the Ford sticker found on the back of most Chevy's and Dodge's..... Now I can see why.

- , Pelham, NH, USA

problem #281

Aug 112009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Transmission and Transfer case rebuilt. Rear differential is also in need of a rebuild. Money pit!!!!!!!!!!

- , Osceola, WI, USA

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