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:
116,999 miles
Total Complaints:
5 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (3 reports)
  2. not sure (2 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #5

Mar 032015

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles


This is the third transmission on this vehicle and I am concerned it will fail soon.

- , Mclean, VA, USA

problem #4

Oct 102011

Explorer ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,453 miles

This is actually the 2nd transmission that has went out in this vehicle. Had first transmission replaced for $3,821 in July 2010 with 1 year warranty. Problems with the first transmission included problem shifting from park into reverse or drive then inability of transmission to shift from 1st to 2nd gear. Vehicle stranded me in remote interstate area. Although transmission was replace I was a bit gun-shy driving the vehicle. Approximately 14 months later same problem returned starting with blinking overdrive light followed by Service Engine light within 10 miles.The transmission this time with this 2nd transmission was accompanied with an annoying whining noise. The reputation of this vehicle among transmission specialists and area used car dealers (of whom are very good friends of mine) is horrible. Before transmission problems began, I had the vehicle serviced regularly at local Ford dealerships. The manufacturer/Ford dealership regard relative to the faulty transmissions and repairs by these same dealerships was quite appalling. While I really want to support the U.S. auto industry and its products, my experience with this vehicle and the failure of Ford to provide a cost-effective solution to its customer for this obvious effect has caused me to give Ford, at least a vote of no confidence. It is most alarming to see so many identical and similar complaints for the 2002 Ford Explorer. I recently accompanied a friend (an auto dealer) to a local automobile auction. Interestingly, posted on the main doors to the customer service area were signs indicating that effectively immediately, Ford Explorers (any year/model) would not be arbitrated for transmission issues and/or rear end noise. Great body style and great driving vehicle when functional but the worst of transmissions ever to be built and placed in a vehicle. So sad......

- , Antioch, TN, US

problem #3

Apr 182011

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Cannot believe this is happening - always loved my truck and hold onto my vehicles forever. Now I have to buy a new truck and I am not happy. All of a sudden the transmission starting whining!!!!! Out of nowhere!!!! Extremely disappointed in Ford!!!

- , Nutley, NJ, USA

problem #2

Sep 152010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,543 miles

I bought this car shortly after my husband died because all we had was his car and I just couldn't bring myself to drive it. I thought maybe since I was buying a newer car than his 94 saturn (which was in ok condition), it would be in great condition....I was effing wrong. I had the car 7 months, and in that time I have put on 900 miles. The car decided a couple weeks ago that it now wants to be a whiny b*tch because as soon as my foot touches the accelerator, it has a very high pitched whine and feels like I'm driving thru slush. I have no idea what the problem is because being a single mother of two very small children and working only part time, I can't afford to take it to a mechanic. Anybody have any idea when Ford decided to screw us all over?

- , Bolivar, MO, USA

problem #1

Jun 292009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

I had just seen an internet article about 2002 - 2005 Explorers being lemons. Boy, am I finding out the hard way. I just had the fuel pump, fuel filter replaced for $1026. Now, one week later, my transmission is being replaced for $3600. It was whining while accelerating in first gear. I'm paying more in repairs than the vehicle is worth. Learned my lesson, I'll do research before buying again. My husband just bought a 2009 F-150 right before all these problems started, so I can't afford to get rid of this lemon. I hope we haven't made a mistake in buying this new truck.

- , Marietta, GA, USA

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