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 5 of 8)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #70

Sep 182008

Explorer XLT 4L 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,000 miles


Have already had to replace the front and rear wheel bearings, rear springs, and the air bag switch in the steering column, along with the recall for the rear hatch hydraulic struts. Transmission failed without warning. The repair shop (not the dealer) said there were parts of the band for third gear in the pain when they dropped it and it needed to be replaced. They said they had encountered this problem on other explorers. I am a veteran and a patriot, however I work hard for my money and will not throw it away on another vehicle from the "big three". Bail out money? My ass, let them go bankrupt. I am sure Toyota will but the factories, machinery and tooling.

- , Rensselaer, IN, USA

problem #69

Jan 182009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,598 miles

This started yesterday, and I found this site immediately by chance. I was not happy to find this many posts with the same EXACT thing that had happened to me and even worse, with very poor outcomes and high "repair" bills. Do people have to die before Ford takes responsibility for a lousy product? I am in a position to where all I can do is pray about it cause the money is not there to fix it. I am self-employed and my wife stays at home with our two kids. This is the only car we own, and are upside-down in it. I accept responsibility for making a bad purchase and Ford should do the same for making a bad product. I am having to pay, and so should they. We will see how this works out, but prayer is all I got right now.

- , Fairview, TN, USA

problem #68

Mar 072007

Explorer LXT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

I couldn't believe the transmission went at just 68,000 miles. They had to replace the water pump too because, as the mechanic explained, the transmission was made from aluminum and as it broke down the dust went into the pump and ruined that too. My parents had such a bad experience with a Ford mini van that my brother thought I was a fool to buy a Ford, I guess he was right. Never again

- , West Nyack, NY, USA

problem #67

Jun 012008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


I purchased this vehicle in May. The next month, less than 1,000 miles later, the transmission kept refusing to shift. We had no inclination before this, otherwise I would not have purchased this vehicle. I got lucky by purchasing an extended warranty from the dealer for an extra $3,000.00. I purchased this only for the fact that everyone I know who has owned a Ford has had some sort of problem. Since then, about a million other things have gone wrong with this vehicle. I cant wait to get rid of it, but no one is desperate enough to buy it. Guess I am stuck for the time being.

- , Kalamazoo, MI, USA

problem #66

Dec 252008

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

Thanks to the internet I am able to find this site. Whinning humn started at above 40MPH and it's annoying. I also had problems with the gears slipping when I turn it on and shift from Park to Reverse or Drive. I'd had to put it back to Park and rev up the engine in order for it to shift into gear. Took the SUV into Ford and the guy seems to know exactly what it is and told me that it's going to be a 2 day job. I'm out of town right now and this will be a big hassle. I'm just curious if I can drive it around 40MPH and take it back 180 miles to my mechanic @ my home town so I won't get ripped off by Ford. Thanks for everyone's complaints as it helped me know that I'm not the only one with these problems.

- , Orlando, FL, USA

problem #65

Jul 182005

Explorer Limited 4WD 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,444 miles

At 43000 miles, I had the transmission tested because it clunked on deceleration. After paying 100 dollars for a diagnostic test, the dealership said that everything was fine. At 63000 miles later, I complained again about the noise and they replaced the transfer case for 1100 dollars; then at 68844 miles, the transmission fails completely while on a ski trip. The transmission is rebuilt for 2500 dollars. And finally, at 72341 miles; it's completely gone...finally, the dealership replaces it with a re manufactured transmission for 3304 dollars. Thank God I bought an extended warranty. I know I will have to replace the re manufactured transmission soon too...It's starting to clunk intermittently.

- , Lemoore, CA, USA

problem #64

Dec 072008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


I own a 2002 Explorer, and i been having problems with it since i bought it. Every time I fix something, something else gets messed up!!!! I was trying to save money to fix my radiator, because it was leaking, and now my car will not go in drive or reverse! I tried to accelerated after doing a complete stop and nothing. So I pulled over and tried to put it on reverse and I got the same results. Once I put it on park it made a really bad grinding noise. I HATE this truck!!!! I live in Chicago and its sooo cold out right now. I had to push it 2 blocks while it was snowing and very cold. And to top it off my 4X4 does not work. Never did. My sis also has an Explorer, but hers is a 97'. She also had the same problem! I really hope they Recall this problem and rein burst the money to all that had this problem! DO NOT GET AN EXPLORER no matter what year it is!!

- , Chicago, IL, US

problem #63

Nov 012007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

What is going on here? Why hasn't Ford figured this out. This is the #1 problem listed on the internet.

- , Red Bluff, CA, USA

problem #62

Oct 042008

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

Looks like I am in the same boat with all the rest. I have had many problems with my Explorer but they were covered under my extended warranty (75000 miles) Now I am on my own, and the transmission is giving me the classic symptoms- Slipping from 2nd to 3rd gear, sometimes wont shift at all unless I take my foot off the gas. Takes about 5 seconds to shift from reverse to drive. Sometimes clunks so bad when coming to a stop I have to look in my mirror to see if I got rear-ended. I brought it into Ford and they said since it is out of warranty I would have to pay for a new transmission. Why wont they admit there is a problem? They are loosing customers fast over issues like this. Me included. I only hope I can get this lemon running good enough to sell it.

- , Long Lake, MN, USA

problem #61

Nov 082008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

This is absolutely crazy. My mother's Explorer is having transmission problems, had the clunking around 60,000 miles, now at 140,000 transmission slippage and lights flashing. This is all highway miles, and she babies this car. I can't believe how many people reported this. I sent a complaint to the nhtsa, and I hope others do. This economy is in a huge crisis, and our American people should not worry about getting screwed over right now by our own manufacturers. No wonder American car manufacturers are going down. Ford has known about this problem for years now, and no resolution. I say Jeep and foreign all the way.

- , Coatesville, PA, USA

problem #60

Sep 102003

Explorer LX 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles


Since the Transmission was replaced I've experienced numerous electronic problems which I have ignored for the last 80k. I have only a general complaint about AMERICAN CARS. What happen to the days of the shade tree mechanic? Why can't we make cars WE can work on? I used to enjoy working on my car, now its made so I cannot!

- , Rockport, MA, USA

problem #59

Oct 232008

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

I am having the same problem as everyone else on here, all that clunking and tranny slips have lead to the inevitable, it has to be fixed or replaced and the cost exceeds $2,500. The car in its current condition is not worth that much and to make matters worse I still have to

pay about $3,000 on the loan I took to buy the damn car. Total lose-lose situation. I would definitely not buy another Ford car, after finding a website that advised to call the Ford 800 line to see if they would give a "good-will" repair, I did so. Of course because there is no recall on this issue Ford could not help, BUT she was REQUIRED to let me know of the "amazing" deals that Ford had on NEW cars. UNBELIEVABLE! To which I replied if I don't have the money to make repairs I don't have the money to get a new car, besides I would not buy another Ford. Of course you get the usual "I'm sorry to hear that".

And since calls may be recorded I did let her know that there were no recalls on this issue because Ford would lose out on way too much money and that Ford would never place a recall for the same reason. Not sure if it will help but give them a call with your VIN# and make your complaint known, (800) 392-3673, let them know that for an "AMERICAN" company they sure like to screw us Americans out of our hard earned money in this failing economy. URGHHHHH!!!!! Extremely irritated with all this!!!!!!

- , Hoboekn, NJ, USA

problem #58

Apr 012005

Explorer Eddie Bower 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

Its weird the car at 35mph when its shifting from i believe 4th to 5th will sometimes slip and clunk it doesn't happen all the time but it happens. Hope fully after reading all those complaints it will be fine I HOPE!!!

- , Forest Grove, OR, USA

problem #57

Aug 302008

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

Every time I went to shift or even turn it would make this really awful and quiet annoying clunking noise.

- , Cochranville, PA, USA

problem #56

Jul 272006

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

Got a partial cover under warranty because even though the miles had expired, the life of the warranty had not. The car was never driven hard nor used for towing.

- , Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #55

Jul 122008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,455 miles

Who was the genius that came up with the self enclosed, non serviceable transmission (other then forcing you to go to their dealers rather then open market). I usually follow standard recommendations of 40-50k transmission flush, but it is not practical to drive to next town over to leave car for the day with Ford. From the looks of this board, it is definitely time for a recall on these transmissions.

- , Canton, MI, USA

problem #54

Jan 142008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

ok, here goes. transmission jerks while shifting from gear to gear and seems to slip while accelerating. also in the morning when it is first placed into gear I can usually count to 5 before it clanks into reverse or drive for that matter. gas mileage is reeeaaallllyy bad, maybe from the slipping. dealer says its going to cost around 3500.00 for a replacement trans. I said "can you put a Chevy trans in it!" he didn't think that was funny. My 1996 olds cutlass has 230,000 miles on it and still runs great. Ford should have their "sealed' transmissions hurled at them with a medieval catapult. Think Ill just set it on fire and collect the insurance.

- , sikeston, MO, USA

problem #53

Nov 052002

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles

We bought a 2002 Ford Explorer, shortly after buying it the transmission fluid started leaking it was still under warranty and the problem was repaired a couple month later the transmission started to show signs that there was something wrong. When I would put the car on drive or reverse it would take a few seconds before the car changed into gear and it would jump to the gear. I took it to the dealer several times and always they would say the problem was fixed and it was for a couple of weeks, then it would start all over. I would take it back in finally before the extended warranty expired, I took it back to the dealer the finally said they would replace the tranny, when the Ford inspector came they said there was nothing wrong with the transmission and they put it back on the Explorer, after I had been with out my car for a month. A few months later, of course after the warranty expired, the transmission went out. I had to have it rebuilt and paid $3,500 to have it rebuilt a new one would have cost me $5,000 +. It has been 1 1/2 years since I had the transmission rebuilt and it just blew out AGAIN. Ford Explorers SUCK, I will never buy a Ford again. Oh and the service engine light turned on after about a month from when I bought it even with warranty they never fixed the problem and this year was the first time I needed to smog it of course it did not pass. FORD SUCKS.

- , Arbuckle, CA, USA

problem #52

May 162007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

I�m the first owner of a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT 4x4. This vehicle had problematic transmission from day one. Truck was @ different dealerships four times with the verdict �transmission performs fine�. Last time (@40,000 miles) I paid $1500 for the repairs. After one year in service, transmission started slipping again. Trans shop tech told me that they have to replace it with a rebuild unit. While I was deciding on what to do with the transmission, rear differential started to leak. I should mention that it was loud from day one but lately noise became unbearable. So I decided to replace differential first. After used 2004 differential was installed all transmission problems went away. I could not believe it myself and took truck to the transmission shop for a computer check. Tech checked it several times and told me that trans works like a clock. I don�t know what it was but I�m happy now.

- , Farmington, MI, USA

problem #51

May 012008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I bought it in 2005 and I thought I was getting a great deal on it. The next day I went to pick it up, I heard noises. I took it back to them and it was the wheel bearings that were bad. They sold me a car that had bad wheel bearings, at least the dealership did fix that issue. It wasn't much after that the passenger window wouldn't roll back, a new motor for the window. You can't just buy the part, it's a whole kit. That was a chunk of change for that...then the timing chain snaps and melts the motor...time for a new motor now! Recently, I had to get the heat/temperature valve/door fixed. I could switch it from hot to cold and I could hear a banging, it finally went out...keep adding the cost takes forever to slide into 2nd gear, sometimes it jerks and makes a clanking sound....the o/d light flashes and the check engine light stays on....Ford sucks!!!

- , Johnst, IL, USA

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