Print this page 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:
97,600 miles
Total Complaints:
151 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. ford should recall these enclosed transmissions (40 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 1 of 8)

problem #151

Oct 022017


  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles


Car is holding up and operating well otherwise but transmission failure seems to be a well documented problem with this vehicle. Bumping clunking and now inability to go into reverse. Sealed system leaks - no transmission fluid indicator.... bad system should be supported by recall.

- dxm239, Queens Village, US

problem #150

Dec 242008

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,262 miles

This was the first time I had to have the transmission replaced. I have had to replace the transmission 2 more times after this which I will be filing a complaint for the next 2 as well. I think it is pretty sad that we have to replace a transmission 3 times since we have purchased this car.

- Rick And Sherry P., Fairfield, CA, US

problem #149

Jun 012014

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

my parents sold me their 2002 explorer. when i first got the car it started acting up. when you tried shifting into gear it wouldnt go it was as if you were in neutral. i had my explorer towed to a garage. The mechanic at that garage said he had no idea what could be causing the problem. my parents wanted to take care of fixing the vehicle were they had just sold to me. Tto have vehicle to go to be fixed. my parents had the vehicle towed to the garage they had used in the past. They said they drained the transmission fluid and from that could tell we needed a new transmission. my parents had a used transmission put in. the mechanic told my father he was having a difficult time finding a used transmission because the 2002 explorers had unique transmissions. He did find a used transmission and put in. After having the transmission replaced i got the vehicle back. it was still having the same problem it did before.i had to have towed to garage again. Then we had to have it taken to a transmission specialist. they put it on their computer. it took 4-6 weeks of putting on computer to figure out what the problem was and still they were not sure. They explained to me that the computer never read the same it went back and forth between two different problems and it had to be one of two things so he fixed one of them said it seemed to be running fine. if the problem came back to bring back in. they could fix the second it could've been. the mechanic at the tramsmission shop told me that he thought the transmission wasnt the problem that the transmission that i had taken out was probably fine. Since having the used transmission put in we have had nothing but problems.ive been go on line to checking for recalls but had never read through other complaints until i went on this site. The problems i'm having with transmission are very similar as the other hundreds of complaints. I believe now that the transmission that my parents were told needed to replaced was likely replaced with a used 2002 explorer transmission. i hope someone reads this complaint befor putting new, used, rebuilt transmissioin in. If you are having problem with your transmission take to a transmission specialist or at the very least get second opinion. i was told to keep eye on transmission fluid because there was a crack in transfer case. My boyfriend was given instructions on how to check fluid on an enclosed transmission. He tried to do it and he made mistake which messed th up pretty bad. had towed to my mefchasinic again. He was unable to fix it so we took to transmission garage again and those genius mechainics fixed it once again. He said it didnt have two gears though i am not sure but i think he said 2 or 3 and 5th gear. when we drove off it didnt have those gears but they starting working on way home. so some times we have all 5 some times we don't. i am not sure why those gears are bad. i saw other comp;aints had similar gears that gave them problems also. My transmission slips and acts funny all the time. My o.d light comes on and flashed. I was told to pull over and turn off vehicle. that is what i have been doing. when i start it the light always has gone off. latelythough it has been coming on more frequently. The transmission seems to be slipping and shifting a lot worse. My check engine light came on about 2 or 3 months ago now and hasnt turned off. I really think the used transmission was from another if anyone having a transmission put in you really shouldnt go with used. I am amazed after reading through all the complaints that Ford will not do a recall. I would never buy another vehicle from ford they know they put junk transmissions in the 2002 explorers and will not do a recall. Yes it would cost them a real lot of money to recall these vehicles but the ford name would still be good. in my opinion and i'm sure the opions of all the other explorer owners too. ford is not the company you can trust to do buisness with. You can not trust the quality of the vehicles they make. And they will ignore any problems in the vehicles they make if they can get away with it. shame on ford and shame on the customers buying ford made vehicles. Whagt they are doing is wrong on many levels. if anyone knows what we can do to get a recall on our vehicle i'm in

- Amy H., East Orland, ME, US

problem #148

Sep 032015

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles


I contacted Ford to see if there's any programs where they would assist in repairing the transmission but they were unhelpful. There should be a recall on these transmissions since Ford is aware of all the problems with the 2002 Ford Explorer. I'm very disappointed with Ford Motors.

- John W H., Clayton, DE, US

problem #147

Apr 112014

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,992 miles

One of 3 issues with transmission. This vehicle cost almost as much to repair as it did to buy!

For goodness sake!

- exploder02, Calgary, AB, Canada

problem #146

Jan 052015

Explorer Limited 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 152,000 miles

It is so sad to have this problem, as the rest of the car is in perfect shape. I have had other cars that were similar in shape go well past 200,000 miles without any significant failures of the engine, transmission, etc. So it is disappointing that I will have to spend 3 - 4 thousand to have the transmission fixed, as everyone seems to know, including Ford, that it is a problem. Ford - Recall the transmission!

- Les S., Yorktown, VA, US

problem #145

Sep 102013

Explorer LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles



- Anthony G., West Union, OH, US

problem #144

Jul 072014

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,000 miles

What a pain, just want to know what's wrong and how much to fix it before my family gets stranded on a -10 degree day.

- James L., Isanti, MN, US

problem #143

Oct 132014

Explorer E V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

My Ford Explorer had been well maintained. There is no way the transmission should be slipping at barely 100,000 miles! I cannot afford to spend $2800 on transmission repairs and apparently I am not the only one with this problem. I think Ford should recall these and offer repairs for free! I will never buy another Ford again! !!

- Pamela P., Marshall, TX, US

problem #142

Jul 132011

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I love my 2002 Ford Explorer XLS with 154,000 current miles. It is roomy, interior is nice and kept up well. It is my fishing truck, but cleans up nicely after a wash. The Ford Explorer does have its known problems such as rear differential grinding and transmission issues. The rear differential, transmission and both front wheel hubs were replaced at 100,000 miles after the transmission started slipping and dropping the pan found noticeable chunks of fingernail sized chunks of transmission parts in it. The rear differential has been whining since 70,000 miles. After an overhaul of the rear differential, and fluid replacement, it still whines. I no longer take the vehicle on 200+ mile road trips. A few years later and after 50,000 miles on the new transmission, it doesn't want to go into reverse. Just sits there. I'm currently frustrated at this new symptom as I was planning on driving it another 100,000 miles. I hate to get rid of this vehicle after I have replaced the above mentioned car parts already. Engine is still strong, timing chain and regular maintenance kept up with. How many miles do you have on your 2002 Ford Explorer?

- Sharon J., Summerville, SC, US

problem #141

Nov 052013

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles


Why when so many ford explorers had this problem did ford not recall them and fix them. Were these transmissions such junk that they cant even fix the old ones? wow, ford really dropped the ball on this one!

- David S., Berlin, WI, US

problem #140

Dec 302011

Explorer LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

Who puts steel components working in conjunction with an aluminum block? Ford. The O/D servo and Intermediate Servo are both steel components. There is a pending patent for a machined servo with packing's on it to preserve the pressure inside the transmission. Andy with A1E Solutions has the patent. In 90 percent of similar cases it fixes the problem.

I have replaced the valve body, solenoid pack, filter, fluid and O/D servo. Total right now is running me close to 900 dollars. The transmission design is totally bogus as well. Why would you put the filler plug on the bottom side of the vehicle. You need a special ordered tool just to do it. This transmission was set up for Ford to make money off of since the get go. I wish there would be a recall but I just don't see it happening.

- Britten C., Savannah, GA, US

problem #139

Feb 012012

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,678 miles

I have owned 3 ford explorers in the past, I was always told that the explorers were known to have transmission problem but I never did until this 2002. I have had so many problems with this suv, it has been in the shop more then I have driven it.I thought everything that could go wrong already did, wrong...transmission now.

- Larry P., New Philadelphia, OH, US

problem #138

Jan 152013

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,000 miles

My Ford Explorer has had so many ridiculous problems. This one is extremely inconvenient. The car has trouble shifting gears, it spins from 1st to 2nd gear and then I have to let go of the accelerator for it to shift again, it skips 3rd gear altogether and jerks into fourth after pressing and depressing the accelerator a series of times. Once it's in 4th gear, it doesn't go past 50 MPH. My mechanic says his monitor detected a faulty solender and the entire pack has to be replaced, but that may not be the only problem. If that doesnt do the trick (even though it needs to be replaced regardless) he will have to open the transmission and possibly rebuild or replace some of the parts. I have encountered hundreds of other 2002 ford explorer owners with the same problem. Aside from this, I have a list of other dangerous issues that this car has had and that has endagered my family's and my life numerous times: - Gear shift breaking off the steering column as I shifted from reverse to drive in the middle of a busy intersection. - ignition cylinder/switch breaking - possible spontaneous explosion recall related to the cruise control - rear latch breaking and inability to use the rear latch. - electrical system failure - doors not closing properly & draining the battery - faulty alarm system - faulty temperature gauge and radiator - Ford not allowing customers to buy just the parts needed for replacement and repair and forcing their customers to purchase entire packages ONLY in order to get the necessary parts at extremely high prices.

Ford should be incriminated for selling these vehicles knowing full well that they are flooded with life threatening issues to their customers.

- Carolina S., Orlando, FL, US

problem #137

Feb 012012

Explorer Sport 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Yea, so me too... I'm the original owner of the Explorer. The transmission initially began to slip back in 2010, I took it to a transmission shop and for $500 bucks they did a little service work on it, but ultimately they told me the transmission would need to be replaced for another $3000 bucks. However, the transmission stopped slipping for about 2 years. But, of course, it has started slipping again, and worse then ever. It's only a matter of time now. I'm weighing getting the transmission fixed, or driving the car off a cliff, and getting another car. While the car is 10 years old, it still has less then 100k miles on it, that saddens me! Funny, I enjoyed this car, and told myself that when I was ready to replace it I would buy another Ford, like the Edge. Yea, that was then...

- Byron F., Chandler, AZ, US

problem #136

Dec 202012

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

Ford needs to step up and address this problem The repair shop I used said its very common among 2002-2005 Explorers. Ford knows the transmissions they used are faulty and dangerous and should be honorable enough to fix the issues they created by installing faulty parts. They tried so hard to create a company that is on your side through the financial crisis, but don't seem to want to step up to the plate when they know they are at fault. I have to believe the customers they will lose over this will be much costlier than doing the right thing and recalling the faulty transmissions. I had been a pretty loyal Ford owner, but its up to them to make a stand and do the right thing. Ford if you want us to stand behind you as a company, then stand behind your products and fix this

- rebakev, Honeoye Falls, NY, US

problem #135

Sep 012012

Explorer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

Since I purchased this vehicle it has spent more time in a repair shop than it has on the road.

front ball joint, water pump, cooling system,ignition, alarm, rear ball joints, spark plug retaped, needs new head,

heater core needs replace, its sad I bought the vehicle to be safe, and I am terrified to drive the vehicle. I live on limited income, and cant seem to get any help from where I purchased it, or from ford. yet the bank needs its payment on a vehicle that isn't worth is scrap value.

- Charlene M., Freeland, PA, US

problem #134

Sep 252012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 161,243 miles

My Explorer has been clunking lately, when i lift off the gas pedal it bangs..From 1st to second gear there is a pause like it does not want to change gears.

- Will C., Clementon, NJ, US

problem #133

Oct 112011

Explorer XLS Sohc 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,501 miles

Transmission slipped when car was new, but Ford said it was nothing. Now Transmission started slipping harder and it gave out on Oct 11, 2011 (~157501 miles). I barely made it to the mechanic on 1st gear. Took it to mechanic to get transmission rebuilt, but he came back that it would cost too much to rebuilt so he found a used 2003 tranny w/ appx 130K miles and only gave me a 90 day warranty. Now 9/25/2012 my O/D light has started blinking when driving past 50 Mph. Took to mechanic and got code: P0741 which states "Internal converter or Trans Failure, faulty solenoid, solenoid circuit open or shorted to VPWR or GND. VPWR circuit open or shorted. Faulty PCM. Note: Observe TCC PID during road test for proper operation" Now I hope that if I replace the torque converter or solenoid, I can save the rebuilt tranny for a couple of more months before it's time to buy a new Car, but no more FORD's for me.

- Ruben R., Chula Vista, CA, US

problem #132

Sep 122012

Explorer LX 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

I just found out that I have a Ford Explorer with the worst transmission built by Ford. I called over 10 shops and everyone of them said that they do 3-6 of the transmissions per month just on this generation of Explorer. A civil case has to be filed because hundreds if not thousands of owners have sunk 1500-3000 dollars of hard earned money to fix a problem that Ford should have recalled.

- Christian R., Douglasville, GA, US

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