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 1 of 3)

problem #51

Oct 152015

Explorer 4.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


Almost got hit 2 times when transmission wouldn't shift into 3rd gear. 3 Ford dealers wouldn't look look at it for 2 to 3 days said they were backed up with transmission repairs. Had to take explorer to transmission shop, cost $2000-$3000.

- , Diamond, OH, USA

problem #50

Aug 062014

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 188,234 miles

I've had my transmission rebuilt at Aamco. Still had problems. Replaced 02 sensors plugs wires coil pack plus so many many more things. Now I have a damn fuse blowing for high beams And they are working but soon as I turn the key on the same fuse blows. It will not let me start my Explorer. It cranks but won't start. I had to go find a headlight switch at a junkyard replaced it then it stop blowing. I didn't know this so I was out of a car for 2 weeks and my 8 year old son had to have a major surgery. I searched for 2 weeks for a bad wire that wasn't the problem my question is how about all the people that had the same problems get together and bring a law suit against the Ford Co. Anybody wants to I'm all for it. So sick of this crap ford

- , Hurricane, WV, USA

problem #49

Sep 032014

Explorer Eddie Bauer 5.0L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 205,000 miles

2002 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer 4-dr 5.0L V8 4WD (AWD, 4x4 High, 4x4 Low, each selectable by switch) Auto Trans. Bought new in 2002. 225,800 mi as of 3-9-2015. At 202,000 mi last Sept, transmission wouldn't shift past 2nd gear. Went to AAmco here in NJ where a new transmission was recommended. A rebuild in their shop was about $2600. I chose a 2nd option: a totally re-manufactured transmission from a factory in Minnesota was $3200 installed by AAmco and out the door within 2 weeks and with a 3yr 100,000mi (Total replacement parts and labor) warranty. 6 months and 23,000mi later, the transmission is still better than new. It shifts smoother than the old one ever did.

About AAmco: About 10 yrs ago they had a promotion where for $99 they check out the transmission and change the fluid. AND they'd check trans and change fluid for free for each and every year after that. So after 10 yrs of free fluid changes (and 3 new AAmco franchise owners, who, each had to call the national office to confirm the free changes, as they'd "never heard of such a thing", the transmission failed.

Engine is still running like a top. I go to Jiffy-Lube every 2,000 mi (since I bought car) for an oil & filter change. (for the simple reason it's fast and cheaper for them to do it in 20 minutes and recycle the oil than to spend my time doing it.) I just purchased my 4th set of tires. I bought the last 3 sets at Costco where they fill them with nitrogen, rebalance and rotate them for free every 5,000 mi while I shop. They also fix flats for free, although it's not always convenient to go there with a flat. I generally get 70,000 mi per set.

- , Morristown, NJ, USA

problem #48

Dec 132013

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


Overdrive light started blinking, Then would not shift from 3 to drive and when it did, wow, what a noise it made. Check engine light on and had to have transmission rebuilt with torque convertor replaced.

- , Shreve, OH, USA

problem #47

Nov 162013

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 197,801 miles

First of all I'm fed up with Ford. I'm a single mother of 3. I have a son that with disabilities. I bought a 2002 Ford Explorer thinking it's an American and I should''t have too many problems. Was I ever wrong. 1 month after buying it the motor blew up. I couldn't go to the store for food, take my kids to the doctor for 5 months. Only way to food shop was to walk on a busy highway with a 5 year old, 13 year old with disabilities and a 16 year old with back problems. I had to rake up $6.000.00 to get a rebuilt motor from the Ford garage. They didn't offer me a rental car or nothing, waited a month and half, got it back, next day engine light came on.

Took it back 2 weeks went by, I got it back and that same day engine light came on, took it back for another 2weeks. All this and I had to walk and they didn't offer me a ride home with 3 kids. Now the 3rd gear will not shift so now I guess I'm gonna be needing a tranny, right? If anybody knows please reply. Thank you. P.S. I also called the Ford company to complain about how I had to keep taking it back because of the engine light, they could care less, they had no heart. Shame how someone buys their cars and they didn't even say sorry. Shame on Ford.

- , Hurricane, WV, USA

problem #46

Feb 022013

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,010 miles

Bought a used 2002 Explorer for $6495.00 with 116,000 miles on it, went through all the wear items and replaced with new. I drove this vehicle to work for a while, enough to get the mileage to 140,010 miles then suddenly started to slip into 3rd or miss all together 3rd gear.

1st to 2nd works fine, 2nd to 3rd is gone (engine raves like it went into neutral) when you let off the accelerator it goes into 4th gear on will pull again, O/D works also.

Dangerous for anyone in vehicle, this is a very serious safety concern, if someone was to have to get into traffic and this vehicle was to slip, they could very easily be run over by a vehicle they are trying to stay ahead of or had pulled out in front of.

Ford has known about this problem for years now and is doing nothing to make it go away are remedy the poorly designed transmission and it just ticks me off that the federal highway safety people don’t make ford do a recall to fix the affected vehicles before someone gets killed.

- , Rushville, OH, USA

problem #45

Feb 012012

Explorer LX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles


I have a 2002 ford eplorer and I'm having the same problem as every one else, my o/d light flashes and my trans slips if I put it in second gear it runs ok, but runs slugish . a normal feel for second gear. took truck to trans shop they want $1400 to repair who has that to pay taking money out my family's mouth and I also have a car note to

I had paid $300 dollars to get that Door that control the heater air condition another problem alot of folks are having to. Wow ford you really no how to show your love to the people thats spending there last to buy your f*cked up trucks. the goverment should step in and throw these truck right beside them old yougo's from back in the day. step up Ford if you have any heart or a soul left in you, if not I hope one day the goverment will step in and make all you dealers acountable for the garbage you build to sell to the people that can/t afford to buy your 20 and 30,000 dollar trucks and cars.

- , Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #44

Nov 162011

Explorer UT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles


- , Hohenwald, TN, USA

problem #43

Oct 302011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Purchased this vehicle used at 68,000miles. Truck ran reasonably well for three years, but within the last two years, I've had to replace the rear end differential gears due to the pinion bearing going bad and now I have to replace my transmission because it won't shift into 3rd gear. The wear band broke due to improper design of the wear surfaces inside the transmission housing (according to the transmission repair service). Seems to me that Ford has built transmissions and drive trains for some time now. Where is the root cause of this error? Perhaps the design was farmed out to the lowest offshore bidder? All I have to say is that this drive train was definitely not "a better idea from Ford". Sad that their only response is to offer a rebuilt (still junk) transmission at a cost of $3000.00 to their customers. Are they not willing to accept responsibility for this significant design error? It will be hard to purchase another Ford after experiencing this kind of customer service.

- , Grove City, PA, USA

problem #42

Jun 162010

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

had it fixed at aamco ... the guys said it will last for years. just over a year the damn thing wont go into 3rd. aamco said o well.. 12 is up ... pony up more money....

i will never deal with this company again..i got ripped

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #41

Jul 152011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles


I am the original owner. The car has only 51,000 ml owner original miles, and this is the first significant problem. The engine shifted properly from start to first to 2nd, then it felt like the engine got disconnected from the transmission. I had a hard time getting on a freeway on-ramp. Once the car is in 4th all is fine again (this far), until I come on a 15% grade, where it needs to shift to 3rd.. The car was never used for towing. Very annoying, since I like the way it handles, and I was going to take it on my vacation trip in two weeks. I thought that Ford made good products.

- , ALtadena, CA, USA

problem #40

May 242011

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

OD light was blinking,took to Friendly Ford in Roselle,IL. & was told trans had to be pulled to analysis problem...(found out later not true,pan could have been dropped & if need be valve body could be removed to analysis...1/2 hour labor). Friendly said the cost to drop trans & find problem, $675.00. Then they called & said problem was a broken band & trans case was scored, cost for new trans case $3,600.,cost for new trans $4,200. I opted for new trans, the trans that they put in was remanufactured NOT NEW. cost of trans $2,670. Total Labor $1,527.84 for a total bill of $4,410. Friendly is claiming a 13 hour process at a labor cost of $110. per hour for a job that should only take a total of 6 hours by admission of mechanic who did the labor. I haven't figured out until I talk to my Lawyer if this is just a price gouge suit or a price gouge of Seniors law suit. Ford does not recognise this as a problem with their transmissions, yet I was told they had a stainless steel part that would cure this issue ????

Update from Oct 22, 2011: Ford does not recognise the problem & therefore will not do a good will repair, even though complaint after complaint has been filed about this problem & Ford came out with a stainless steel part to fix the problem that they will not own up to. Then their dealers, particularly, Friendly Ford, price gouges customers to fix the problem. Never had a problem with a Toyota, maybe this is why People are showing loyalties to Foreign Car Makers!!!!!

- , Elk Grove Village, IL, USA

problem #39

Dec 182009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.3L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,807 miles

.All I can say is, I will never buy another ford again,If you build a piece of crap, you should be able to fix the problem.

- , Westlock, Alberta, canada

problem #38

Jun 012011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles

-O/D light is blinking.

-Once shifted into drive you have to wait a bit before pushing the gas or it will just rev up and go no where.

-you have to dance around 3rd gear to get it to shift

-sometimes it will buck when shifted into gear, and even stall out. you have to give it gas to keep the RPMs up and then it will shift, buck forward or back and GO!!!

- , Saint Albans, VT, US

problem #37

Mar 202011

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 195,000 miles

Have owned this car since it had 26500 miles. Never towed anything. Never abused it. No indication that there was any problem it just made a big squeel and thumped into 4th. Took it to the dealer and it cost 126 bucks for them to tell me they couldn't tell me how much to repair other than a rebuilt with 3yr 100m mile was 3200 plus installation. I now looking for a used or rebuilt from another source.

Update from Jun 9, 2011: I have already had the transmission repair by a independant repair shop. ($1200). I wish I would have gotten the reply to my complaint sooner, I surely would have ask for a "good will" repair.

- , Greenup, KY, USA

problem #36

Apr 122011

Explorer XLT 4.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

I have read the posts and it sucks that ford has this problem.. Our 2002 Ford explorer xlt has about 135,000 miles on it and about 8 days ago all of the sudden it wont shift into 3rd gear. You have to rev the engine and then it kicks in. We are trying to find out why and how much it will be to fix. But its true who has that kind of money just there at all times.. Lets hope we get it fixed soon. They need to recall it.

- , Whittier, CA, USA

problem #35

Jan 052011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

i have a 2002 ford explorer with a102,000 miles and the only problem i have is the tranmission .I took it an ,and the repair are anywhere from 2000-3000 dollars who has that kind of money laying around these day .

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #34

Mar 042011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

Un freakin believable. I guess you could say I'm lucky the transmission lasted up to 140,000 miles compared to others but it still stings that Ford is screwing us all over big time. We need a class action lawsuit on this. we need a recall! What a crap product. I really like the Explorer. it's awesome. Really sad they had to put a crap transmission in it.

- , Orting, WA, USA

problem #33

Oct 152009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

got the car paid off and the transmission started slipping, bought my wife another car and I'm still stuck with the explorer.

- , Millington, TN, USA

problem #32

Sep 012010

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

Ford needs to do better. American auto makers wonders why people buy from other countries. Before I got this junk, I owned a nissan sentra for almost 15 years. I had to get the transmission fixed 1 time. I first got the car 7 miles and when it died on me 176,000 miles. Greed has stopped the auto makers from building a real good product. Ford needs a foot in their ass.

- , Picayune, MS, USA

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