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:
109,098 miles
Total Complaints:
51 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (20 reports)
  2. enclosed transmission overhaul (18 reports)
  3. new tranny (13 reports)
  4. replaced with a newly remanufactured transmission (1 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #11

Dec 142007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles


Wont shift into third , o/d light flashing. Ford should offer reimbursement or partial reimbursement on tranny rebuilds as common as they are to stay competitive in todays market.

- , Holland, MI, USA

problem #10

Oct 272007

Explorer XLT 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

85,000 miles and the O/D light is flashing. I bought this car three months ago (July 20,2007) and so far I have only consumed 500 miles.It is having a hard time shifting into 3rd gear…actually it goes only to 30 miles/hr and OD light starts blinking… I blame myself for trusting the dealer and I wish I could return it to them.

- , Concord, CA, US

problem #9

Nov 112007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

78,000 miles and the O/D light flashing....will not go into 3rd gear easily. I have to drive the car like a manual to get it into 3rd gear. Check engine light is on............I bought this POS little over 2 years ago. ALSO rear axle springs are junk.........the back end is ready to fall off. I owe way more than this POS is worth.............If there is over 200 complaints about the same issue FORD must do something about this............

- , Harwich, MA, USA

problem #8

Nov 022007

(reported on)

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles


The other day I noticed my explorer was having trouble shifting into 3rd gear. It would miss the shift and the engine would rev with the rpm's climbing higher causing the vehicle to show a "check transmission" message on my instrument panel's message center. The vehicle would also come out of O/D. However I did learn to deal with this problem until I got it fixed. I found that if I let off the gas a little bit as the vehicle got to its shift point I could convince it to shift into 3rd albeit sometimes with a little clunk. What a pain in the ass. All this happened only two months after buying the vehicle. Thank God I got the extended warranty!

- , Saint Marys, PA, USA

problem #7

Oct 262007

(reported on)

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

I bought a 2002 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer Edition NEW from Island Ford on Staten Island. This week the truck wouldn't go into 3rd gear so I brought it to my mechanic who said it needed a new transmission AT 61,000 miles!!! I called Island Ford and was told that they have heard of no reports of the 2002 trucks having transmission problems and it would cost $1850 plus to have it repaired by them, my warranty ended 10/2006 so I wasn't covered. I found this web site in a matter of seconds and saw 110 complaints of transmission problems on 2002 Ford trucks. Amazing!!!

- , Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #6

Oct 252007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

I THINK FORD WILL NEVER live it down Found on Road Dead paint is sh*tty clearcoat,back plastic around liftgate cracked,tranny shot,window regulators fixed twice, TRANNY PROBLEMSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS NEED TO BE JUSTIFIED IN RECALL OR OUT OF WARRANTY REPAIR FOR FREE

- , Danville, VA, USA

problem #5

Oct 222007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,380 miles


Originally my 2002 Ford Explorer began with a rattle when accelerating in third gear. Sounded like pebbles shooting thru a small tube. Once it hit 4th gear the noise went away and I was ok. OR SO I THOUGHT. One day (at about 148,000 miles) as I'm pulling away from a traffic light, I get to third gear.... or when I was supposed to hit third, the engine races as if I'm in neutral. I let my foot off of the accelerator and luckily the truck was going fast enough to switch into 4th gear. Shocked and confused, I began driving with caution. Much to my surprise it began happening EVERY TIME I pulled off from a dead stop. If I needed to slow down without stopping it was tourcher. I literally had to drive in second, trying to keep the engine from racing until I reached at least 30 mph. I would then let my foot off of the accelerator and the truck would shift into 4th. I tried to have my trans fluid checked, but there was no dip stick. So I call the Ford dealer and tell them about the problem, THIS GUY tells me....... uhh well we don't have any openings for another week and a half or so. "AM I SUPPOSED TO JUST BREAK DOWN IN THE MEAN TIME"?!?! I just wanted them to look at it and tell me what they thought it was...... NO DICE. So I took it to a trans shop to have them inspect it at least. They quoted me $2,200 for an overhaul. I then called a number of trans shops explaining the problem and everyone seemed to be familiar with my story as if they heard it many times before. I then called the dealer to try and schedule the appointment for the long wait, and he told me because I didn't reserve the spot when I called the first time, it would be a longer wait. FREAKIN AMAZING!!! Eventually I took it to an outside trans shop to get fixed. I ended up paying 2,000 dollars and the MOMENT I pulled off the lot after them telling me I was good to go.... I got to a traffic light.... the truck jumped as if it had hiccups, and once the light turned green I placed my foot on the gas....... the engin races, I DONT MOVE...... It violently jumps into gear and I turn that bad boy around and took it right back. PISSED is such an understatement........ This is just the beginning of the story. HONESTLY!! To be continued....... I'm really still waiting for my car to be repaired.

- , Wilmington, DE, USA

problem #4

Oct 192007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

I purchased this 2002 ford explorer new. My husband drove it to work under 5 miles per day for the last 6 years. Purchased oct 31 2001. The car has had many problems over the years. As the Ford service dept had told me there is noting wrong with my car. I took it to a reputable non ford mechanic and he gave me a laundry list of things that were causing these mystery noises. They replaced 80% of the bottom of the car. I figured I was ok. Not true there were still mystery noises and I had that problem with every once in a while the transmission would shift hard into park and reverse. Ford said this is normal and ok. They said they ran tests and the transmission is fine.Life goes on and now we are out of warranty. Trying to trade the car in to the same dealership they now say the car is worth nothing (4500)They say trade it in and all will be better for the future, but they can not help me with the past. I would rather drive the car off a cliff and cook mashmallows at the blaze at the bottom than give it to them to take advantage of someone else while screwing me. My present mechanic is telling me because I went there while under warranty and It is under 8 years and under 80,000 miles I do have recourse for them to fix the problem because the car does not past ny state emissions because of the problem. I am going to ford today so we will see.

- , Verplanck, NY, USA

problem #3

Aug 062007

(reported on)

Explorer SKT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Just like a lot of other people that already wrote, this was our first Ford vehicle. Approximately 12,000 miles ago the OD light started coming on, and last June the truck wouldn't not go into gear.

Again, luckly, I was at a safe location outside the local YMCA, with my 11 year old daughter and niece. Close to $2,000 already spent and the mechanic working on the transmission, still gets error codes messages from the system. He has rebuilt the trans. and checked everything at least twice now, yet we're getting the same error messages. Not only that. back in 2004 the power window on the rear, driver side, broke. Warranty covered that repair. Nonetheless, driver door -this time- power window broke. My husband ended up repair it it, as warranty no longer covered that one. ... Oh... some more, one of the rear doors "gasket" -plastic part that seals? the door, came unglued and since we did not notice right away, water would leak when it rained... it seems like Ford definitively needs to do something about it. What if we go ahead and start a Class Action Law Suit? Anyone with me....

- , Fairfield, CA, USA

problem #2

Jul 232007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

After we had already signed the paperwork for this car, we found out about the sealed transmission and were warned that they have a tendency to go around 80,000 miles.. We made it to 105,000.. And 3rd gear is gone.. It will cost us close to 2,000 to fix it.. In the meantime I am paying 300 per month for a beautiful vehicle that I can't drive..

- , Leis Run, PA, USA

problem #1

Jan 042007

(reported on)

Explorer LS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

Transmission is trying to shift into 3rd gear and it won't do it unless you let off of the accelerator. Ford dealership said it needed a new tranny, but I don't think the problem is that bad. All they want is $3,000 instead of $300. I hope I find out it is something else just to prove them wrong.

- , Plymouth, NC, USA

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