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:
97,510 miles
Total Complaints:
150 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. ford should recall these enclosed transmissions (39 reports)
  2. Replace transmission (37 reports)
  3. not sure (34 reports)
  4. repair transmisson (11 reports)
  5. drop the tranny and bring to a shop for a rebuild (8 reports)
  6. rebuild / replace transmission (8 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 4 of 8)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #90

Jul 152009

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles


Well this is a common problem that I think Ford should take at least part of the responsibility for the repair. Have a 2002 Ford Explorer ,started out flashing o/d light then engine light then transmission slip at high rpm under acceleration between 2nd and 3rd gears. I have done a lot of reading on line, found a site that told about a fix for this . I have put my truck on jack stands serviced my transmission added Red bottle of Lube Guard . It took about 300 miles after service now ,the transmission is perfect (for now) . After about a month the o/d light has come back on and engine light has come back on. No problem with transmission (for now ). I hate that this transmission doesn't have a dip stick which makes it hard to service at home. There are other problems that ford is aware of that they won't do anything about, rear end noise and rear hatch panel cracking below glass.

- , Coolidge, GA, USA

problem #89

Sep 082009

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

First of all, for all you good people who own this piece of crap called a 2002 Ford Explorer, you have my sympathy! To anyone who is looking into purchasing a Ford Explorer or a Ford anything, think long and hard and choose something different!

So, here is my story...Just about a year ago, I started noticing that my transmission would occasionally slip. I would drive and all of a sudden it would act like it was in neutral. I bring the POS to my transmission man and he has it for just about 3 weeks but, cannot find anything wrong with it,no trouble codes etc. He tells me to bring it back if the problem gets worse. Well, on a drive up north the POS does the same thing and I hear a bang when it finally gets back into gear. My friend was following behind and heard this bang with her windows up and music playing. I bring it back to my transmission man and he removes the pan and finds a good amount of metal, not shavings, good chunks of metal. Bottom line, the transmission is crap, selonoid is crap and too much heat caused major damage. My transmission guy is going to fix this but the cost...a whopping 3600 bucks. Let me add in this,,, I bought the POS in 04 and one month later the transmission crapped out and my husband ripped the dealership a new one and demanded a new tranny. They obliged but, my tranny guy says after taking it apart today that they did a lousy job the first time with it.

From all the complaints I have read here and elsewhere on the web, Ford should be ashamed of themselves for this disastrous transmission. I for one will never do business with Ford again and I will tell everyone I know in hopes the word spreads. Why a class action law suit has not occurred is beyond me but, I hope at some point action is taken against Ford! To all Ford dealerships I pass along the way,, you'll be sure to get the finger from this pissed off woman!

- , Uxbridge, MA, USA

problem #88

Jul 202008

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

I have been a loyal Ford owner for over 10 years; but, when I purchased the Ford EXPLODER, I was very disappointed. Bought it @ pre-owned sale in February 2005 & day after dealership had to replace transmission for a ticking noise. Six months later, a leak. Then problems in 2007, shifting from park into reverse, big clunk & jerk. Had work done. Now during acceleration, from a full stop, transmission slips, rpms go up, clunks & jerks through the gears. I've read other complaints, a lot of them, about the same problem and I find it hard to believe that the Ford Motor Company hasn't issued a recall or something for this hunk of junk transmission. I had a '97 Ford Mustang & they had a recall for the reverse gear (5-speed man). Ford needs to start listening to their customers or they're going to start loosing them to the foreign competition or GM.

- , New Bern, NC, USA

problem #87

Jun 302009

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,500 miles


Ford really needs to be held responsible for this problem. When i took my truck in to be diagnosed the person informed me that he has had alot of people with the same problem. It all boils down to saving money. Ford gets a certain amount for each transmission sold and they get that profit and the consumers expense. I have not even reached 100,000 miles on my truck (Explorer XLS V.6). Something needs to be done.

- , Richmond, VA, USA

problem #86

Jul 072009

Explorer XLT 3.9L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,458 miles

Yes, I'm another poor SOB who owns a 2002 ford explorer (Exploder). I had owned a 1969 Ford mustang and loved the vehicle. For it's age it had been a great car with only minor maintenance costs considering it's age. I tend to like American vehicles and needed a larger vehicle for my family. I liked the look of the new series Ford Explorers and bought one with approx 40,000 km on the clock. It's been generally good with the exeption of a failed electric window - rear passenger side (a plastic part probably worth about $2.00) and cost $500.00 to fix. OUCH!. Little did I know what was coming.

At 115, 000km my transmission started to slip and I took it into my Ford dealer expecting it to just need a service. He told me he would have to replace transmission with reco one and it will set me back $4,120.00. I almost died! It is complete BS that a supposed 4x4 transmission should fail so soon, what's it made of; PLASTIC. Ford don't give a damn, I'll never buy one again! If enough people do the same, they may pull their head out!

- , East Keilor, Victoria, Australia

problem #85

Jul 022009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 146,000 miles

Bought this from a relative who had the transmission changed. This is a 3-year-old transmission. It slips in 3rd gear and I can't go over 40 mph. The transmission also makes a weird sound during accelleration. Mechanic cannot find a problem. Code came up as a 3rd gear issue. Did not bring it to Ford, but after reading all of these complaints, I am not about to. I will report it to the NTSB as someone had suggested. Ford should take pride in their work and fix these cars. My next car will not be a Ford unless they take care of this problem. Class action suit. . . anyone?!!!

- , Riverdale, NJ, USA

problem #84

Jan 152005

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


Transmission was slipping during up shifting. Also major delay and clunk when shifting from Park to Reverse. Both problems continued to worsen over time. AAMCO did a transmission rebuild at 50,000, seem to have fixed the problem, noticing an occasional clunk during upshifting at 105,000 miles now, but problem is very minor relative to how the transmission behaved at 50,000 miles.

- , Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #83

Jun 052009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

This is the second time the transmission is going out. The first one was overhauled at about 75,000 miles, under an extended warranty. I'm getting the same poor shifting, poor acceleration and clunking when going into gear.

- , Wichita, KS, USA

problem #82

May 252009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,800 miles

I had no idea that the transmissions in these SUV's were a problem until mine failed. One day it was working, the next my wife is telling me that the "clutch" is slipping. We took it to the dealer, they wanted over $4,000. No one at the dealer told me about the design flaw on the tranny. We are looking into alternatives now. While looking on line I found many complaints about this specific issue. How can Ford just ignore the problem?

- , Martinez, CA, USA

problem #81

May 312003

Explorer XLT 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles

Ever since I bought my car I have had a problem with knocking, slipping transmission, whirring noise from rear end. Have had differential checked, transmission checked with no answers. I now have 100,000 miles and acceleration between 30 and 40 mph does a shift which is equivalent to going over three or four small speed bumps before it kicks in to gear.

I will never buy a ford again. Always have driven a honda and that is my next vehicle. Sounds like ford has known they have had a problem but have ignored. Typical.

- , Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #80

Jan 012008

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles


This is ridiculous! Did we not give Ford our money to bail them out and they can't recall a transmission that they knew was not correct!?! We definitely need a class action brought against them. If you know of one..please let me know!

- , Dover, DE, USA

problem #79

Feb 012009

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Ok, all I want to say is that I would really appreciate if Ford would recall this tranny that we have. I am a married 23 year old young adult with two babies and I am only trying to make it in this world and what happens to me when we first purchase our dream car? The transmission goes out after 12,000 miles of purchasing it! I could not believe it! Ok, we got the money to fix the transmission..didn't get to enjoy it, but we got our only means of transportation fixed so that's all that matters...then... 2 months later after shelling out 2,600 dollars, it is going out again. I don't know what to do? We are totally on our own and cannot afford to go through another one of these problems. It really sucks because we went back to the place where we got our tranny fixed and they closed their location in the Bemidji area and now we are trying to find this location where National Transmissions relocated to and we cannot...are we totally just out of luck or can someone please start a lawsuit and include me in this. I would totally appreciate the one else is helping us...if you help me I would return the favor if I get my own lawsuit. Thank you for listening to my complaint. :)

- , Bemidji, MN, USA

problem #78

Apr 012009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

I regret having a Ford now that I am having all these problem. I am prepared to enter into a class action suite against the Ford Company. I am number 633 with a complaint about the transmission. This is unacceptable that they did not recall this car part.

- , Milwaukee, WI, US

problem #77

Feb 222009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

We just bought this truck used from a dealership and amazingly, the transmission went out shortly after the 1,000 mile warranty ended. We had only made one payment on the truck! The transmission started slipping around 102,000 miles and the "check transmission" light and O/D light kept blinking. Also, it clunks loudly when trying to shift from park to reverse. Took it in and a Ford dealership (Aitkin Motor Company) and they charged us $360 to tell us the transmission is shot, needs to be re-built or replaced. This is our 3rd Ford Explorer. Obviously Ford should recall the transmission. Is this the thanks we get for being a loyal customer?? We will never buy another Ford again after this.

- , Aitkin, MN 56431, USA

problem #76

Mar 262009

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

Well I had this piece of crap rebuilt by Cottman in North Philadelphia, exactly 1 year ago. It was at the shop for over a week and a half, after I took it home, I had to take in back within 2 weeks because the solenoid pack (cause of all of the problems initially) failed again. Another week in the shop, brought it home and the darn thing has never shifted correctly, but who has time to keep running back and forth to a shop on the other side of the city. 3 weeks after I needed a transmission overhaul, both rear springs broke (snapped is more appropriate and no off-roading, just Philly potholes - now I know that they are legendary, but damn this is an SUV) I took it to Meineke, and guys stated that this was the 3rd explorer this month, and that Ford was infamous for substandard springs.

$1,200 later back on the road, the transmission has started the same issues as in my original post from Feb 08 (needless to say same problem we all are having) - Father-in-laws' (TEXAS) 2002 Explorer same problem, Father-in-laws' brother (TEXAS) 2002 Explorer same problem, and co-workers girlfriend (PHILLY) 2003 Explorer same problem. Coincidence I THINK NOT. We all refuse to fix, will drive till they die and then junk.

So for those of you who keep these pieces of crap, parts should be easy to find. I'm calling around to see if I can find an attorney who is willing to commence a lawsuit and if I'm successful, then I will be emailing each and every person on this site with this problem to join. And I'm writing a letter to all three news agencies to inform them and see if they will take a look at the web postings.

- , Upper Darby, PA, USA

problem #75

Sep 012003

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,000 miles

We bought our 2002 Ford Explorer in 2003. We had the car three days and the transmission had to be replaced. This is at 13,000 miles. The same problem happened again but worse at approximately 40-50000 miles. On a trip to California the transmission started smoking and we had to stop in the desert. The tow trucker came and told us he picks these Explorers up all the time. They break down A LOT! I still have a clunking sound out of nowhere it makes a THUD AND I MEAN LOUD! This car is definitely a LEMON, and I am pursuing a class action suit. Everybody that owns one of these cars should get their money back.

- , Henderson, NV, USA

problem #74

Mar 012009

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,450 miles

I had to have my transmission repaired. The symptoms: the Explorer wouldn't shift until you slowed the speed down and then it decided to shift. This was a real pain! Then, the engine light came on and o/d light started to blink.

I have had no problems after paying $2, far.

- , Lancaster, CA, US

problem #73

Mar 112009

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

UGH.. I will never have another ford again! When my dad was buying me a vehicle, I had a choice between an explorer, and a Chevy Trailblazer.. Im sure that if i had gotten the trailblazer, I would be fine, and worry free. But my transmission Shifts very VERY hard, it hits when i put it in drive, or reverse, and it slips.. I have no idea what to do.. anyone else have any suggestions??

- , Mount Pleasant, TX, USA

problem #72

Feb 162009

Explorer XLS 4lt V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Naturally, the warranty just expired. The check engine light came on at the exact same time the transmission started to fail. Last summer the O/D light came on while pulling a light trailer and has not returned on, since. I'm sure it's related. The truck has never been in the shop. Sure, I'm pissed off, but not to insanity like numerous other posts. I may even buy another Ford. I never say never.

- , Sanford, NC, USA

problem #71

Feb 062009

Explorer LTX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

What a joke! $2,800 for a rebuilt transmission. Now I'm stuck with a car that's not worth anything to me or a new buyer until I fix it. Talk about being in between a rock and a hard place. Almost from day one this car had issues shifting. I wish I would have followed my gut and bought a foreign outfit to begin with ... oh well, live and learn!

- , Kaysville, UT, USA

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