really awful
Crashes / Fires:
16 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
8 / 0
Average Mileage:
75,198 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

The NHTSA is the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints can be spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem. See the Back button — blue bar at the very top of the page — to explore more.

Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2002 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #108

Jul 282005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles
1) began with whirling noise coming from rear end, ended with a leaking rear end component. Both rear end pinion seals replaced, new synthetic oil added and re-packed with all new gaskets.(new seals were ordered directly from Ford) I was told that these particular parts were not available in aftermarket.

- Acworth, GA, USA

problem #107

May 302005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,390 miles
2002 4X4 Explorer limited with V8. At 7390 miles (3/12/03, invoice # W40836) two issues; the transmission never shifted properly and it started leaking fluid everywhere. Two weeks later the dealer admitted they didn¿¿T know the cause and replaced the transmission with a new one. Engine severely overheated (invoice 3W47852). At 20K miles the truck will once in a while stop (as if I hit something) as I start to back out of the garage - problem discovered at 31K brake job - rear shoes on parking brake broke loose on drivers side (both) and only one on passenger side. Loose shoe on pass. Side would wedge with good one and lock up wheels when moving slow. Lot's of arguments and Ford finally replaced shoes (4/25/05 invoice # 99323). At 26K (11/05, no invoice) one tire went flat and upon inspection by a tire shop, that tire and a second tire had tread separation - running Goodyear¿'s. Ford quickly replaced both tires without any questions. At 29K, my family and I moved from mi to ga. Each time I stopped for gas the Explorer sounded like the front end was grinding metal to metal on the gears. The 4X4 was in auto for the trip and once I got back on the highway above 20 mph the noise went away. However, it continued to shift poorly and it started to surge (shake) or thump like something was catching in the drive train every time I would let off the gas pedal and allowed the truck to decelerate without braking. Even after new brakes and rotors, the problem got worse and worse - now at 34K, (5/30/05, invoice # W50821) the truck is in the dealership for the 3rd time on this issue. The first time, they replaced the "module-transfer sh" which did pretty much eliminate the shifting issue. They also replace the "drive shaft flange per ssm 16824" whatever that means. But a major problem in the drive train still exists and it still unresolved. Here's my point, Ford has a major drive train problem with the redesigned 2002 Explorer.

- Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #106

Jan 122005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,300 miles
The "O/D" light of my 2002 Ford Explorer lit up without warning while I was turning. Engine "revved" but didn't accelerate. Oncoming cars swerved to avoid me. This was an unsafe situation, as I expected the vehicle to function properly. I took the car to the dealer and was told the transmission had to be totally rebuilt, for $2,400, since I was 4000 mi out of warranty, even though <3 years. I asked the service manager if Ford would cover it. The zone person, advised no. I phoned customer assistance, and was told there were dealer/field discretionary funds to pay for repairs outside of warranty, but only for "loyal" customers. I was told that I should have purchased the vehicle new and had my maintenance done at the dealer. I asked what maintenance should been done on the transmission. I was told that there was none. I spoke with a gentleman in the quality department at a local transmission plant, who said this was a common failure, but that Ford wouldn't offer any help because "money is tight". he said that the bands in my transmission had been superceded twice due to this problem, and a tech bulletin existed, explaining this to dealerships. I read many other complaints on this website! I fail to understand why Ford honors a secret warranty for "loyal" customers yet offers no recourse for customers who were put in the same unsafe situation, just because they bought the vehicle used. I had the repair done at an independent repair facility. Ford advises they will not take any financial responsibility because the repair was done at an independent. I am one of many consumers who must drive in a defective and dangerous vehicle, due to this transmission problem. It failed me once without warning, I paid $1,200 for repair, and approach intersections with trepidation due to the possibility of my transmission unexpectedly slipping again. I would welcome contact at 248.808.1279 to discuss resolution of this dangerous issue.

- Rochester, MI, USA

problem #105

Jul 282003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,000 miles
Problem with back end, took vehicle to the dealer, and dealer said they fixed axle, then, took back vehicle to the dealer, and they fixed hub, and replaced the rear wheel bearings. In last 3 months vehicle has been in shop 3 times. Currently, in the shop. Went to get oil change last Friday, and mechanic noticed oil was leaking from the axle. Currently vehicle in shop trying to figure out what was wrong with it. This happened before. They gave consumer an extra 5 yr warranty because of the transmission, and this was 8 months after purchasing the vehicle. Dealership kept saying vehicle was safe even though didn't know what was wrong with it.

- Versailles, KY, USA

problem #104

Apr 082005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Consumer states that transmission went from park to drive. While she was at her daughter's school she stepped out of the vehicle to talk to someone and the car jumped from park to drive and hit another vehicle. Also the transmission went out. She had several other problems with this vehicle. She was never notified anything from Ford about any type of problem. The service department printed out a tsb for her, including the following numbers; transmission: 03-25-4 dated 12-22-03, and gear selector:04-22-12 dated 11-15-04. The vehicle is regularly maintained.

- Wildwood, MO, USA

problem #103

May 312005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles
Was driving on a highway when the od light started flashing then the transmission failed completely. Having new transmission installed. Many other things have failed too. Three weeks prior shift lever broke off in my hands when I shifted from park to reverse. Have changed right rear bearing which "blew out". the 4 wheel drive quit while the truck was still under warranty. When I first got the truck and complained to the dealer about the way the transmission worked he gave me a printout from Ford stating the transmission was programmed to adjust to the drvers style of driving.

- Pleasantville, NY, USA

problem #102

May 212005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,300 miles
Transmission failed. Had to be replaced. Only 50,300 miles on the vehicle. Service technician advised this is the 5th Ford Explorer he's had to replace the transmission on this month alone. He said the transmissions on the Explorer are failing between 50K and 60K miles.

- Fredericksburg, VA, USA

problem #101

May 192005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles
Transmission will not go into reverse, and there is no neutral. There is only 57,000 miles on the vehicle. The vehicle has had regular maintenance and checkups. Transmission was making clanking noise when put into drive or reverse. Vehicle has been making noise since 2002. It was taken to the dealership, and it was checked. Dealership did not find a problem with the transmission. Vehicle was put in reverse, and it started jumping. Then it went and stopped in reverse. Then, vehicle was put in park and T switched to reverse. There was no reverse. It was put into neutral, and it went forward. When the vehicle was put into drive, it would go forward.

- York, ME, USA

problem #100

May 112005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles
Transmission and rear-end. Sealed transmission was serviced at dealership at 29,000 miles. Since then transmission has a whirr and then a clunk while decelerating back into first gear. Whining noise from rear-end since 12,000 miles. Ford replaced faulty rear-end seal 6 months ago, whining still there. I feel that Ford is stringing me along until warranty expires. Ford knows there are problems but wont fix until part fails completely.

- Park Ridge, IL, USA

problem #99

Apr 222005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles
The transimiison began to slip aat 30 mph, 37, 000 miles. On 10/02/03- was serviced, but problem returned from time to time. In 2005 problem worsened at 48, 000 miles. Took vehicle to dealer for transmission service. $dealer reported new transmission was needed @ cost of 3,222. The repair was done on 4/22/05.

- Mclean, VA, USA

problem #98

Mar 282005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
1.transmission began slipping, banging in reverse, problems getting the vehicle to shift from park to reverse.. vehicle became unable to shift out of 2nd, trans light and overdrive light came on and flickering.. taken to miller Ford, where it was diagnosed as having no 3rd gear at all, both bands, servos and solenoid need replace. 4.spent 2 days in service, rented a vehicle at a cost of $50. Work was completed at a cost of $1523.28.

- Bridgeport, CT, USA

problem #97

Jul 132004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles
Transmission failed to operate. Wouldn't move in drive but in second gear. Ended up replacing with new transmission. 4 months later rear end went and had to be replaced. Mileage at time of transmission failure was 100,000 miles, and rear end failure 114,000.

- Duxbury, MA, USA

problem #96

Apr 052005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
Bought the 2002 XLT 4X4 Explorer in July of 04 with 43,000 miles on the car. At 60,00 miles had the transmission serviced. At 63,000 miles O/D light flashed. Took car into dealer the next day and car needs a new transmission. Thank goodness we bought the extended warrenty so the work should be covered but after reading all the repeat problems I am concerned that this might become a constant problem. Also experienced the same rough shift into reverse and the transmission slipage between gears.

- Palmdale, CA, USA

problem #95

Apr 062005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Driver noticed while shifting the transmission forward or backward the gears are hard and a loud knocking noise started coming from the front. Driver took the vehicle to the dealer, and mechanic determined that the vehicle has to be placed on a diagnostic machine for analysis. This particular problem has been on going since the warranty expired. The gear shifter became stuck in reverse gear unless it was pulled firmly towards the driver.

- Decatur, GA, USA

problem #94

Apr 032005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles
4X4 automatic transmission complete failure. Lost 3rd and 4th gears and reverse. This truck never towed or was worked at all. 47000 miles and the transmission melted. Dealer advised to completely replace, nothing left to rebuild. The only hint was the truck had a pause of 3-4 seconds before it went into a forward gear.

- Pella, IA, USA

problem #93

Mar 072004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
O/dlight flashing on pa pike, was told by selling dealer to stop driving. Took to a Ford dealer an hour from my home. Had to rent a car for a week and spent $700 to fix tranny. 3 months later 4 hours from home happened again. Lost a week work while it transmission was torn down again, still under 12,000 warranty from March. Since then O/D light has flashed 4 diferent times, Ford dealer couldn't find anything wrong. Last time went to an independent transmission specialist, has said $2,000 to fix, also this transmission has been a big lemon and Ford will not stand behind it. I had another bauer Explorer that I traded in with 150,000 and never had a problem with it, this is why after a car I went back to the Explorer. Huge mistake. It is time to seek an alternate form of justice.

- Poland, OH, USA

problem #92

Apr 012005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,100 miles
Ford Explorer is 2002. Had to repair transmission at Ford service transmission in June 2004. The whole transmission failed suddenly April 1, 2005. We do not believe this is acceptable to hav to put $3700 on one major repair and one complete rebuild of the transmission inside ofthree years on the transmission of a new vehicle.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #91

Mar 222005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60 miles
Gears began to slip at 59,000 miles on three year old vehicle. One day od light went off and transmission was completely burned up. We had given vehicle regular service. There was no warning up until the day the tranny went out. We took the vehicle to an outside source who concluded that the seal looked like it had never been broken on the transmission plug. This leads us to believe that Ford never even checked our fluid when we did take it in for service. This constitutes fraud in my opinion, although we have no proof.

- Murrieta, CA, USA

problem #90

Mar 242005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,300 miles
Three months after purchasing my 02 Explorer, and at 39000 miles, the transmission began slipping just a bit. A week later, third gear could not engage at all, and I was forced to drive to the repair shop in second gear, with my hazard lights on, and with school-age children in the car. My repair person drove the car for about 15 seconds and knew immediately what the problem was. He knew because he had just fixed the same problem last month on an 02 Explorer with less miles than mine. He stated that Ford is aware of the problem, but with the advent of extended warranties, they would not stand behind their product. I did not purchase an extended warranty because who would expect that a transmission should be rebuilt at 39000 miles (incidentally 3000 miles past my warranty coverage). Luckily no one was injured because I parked the truck almost immediately. But now I am faced with the cost of rebuilding third gear into my truck, with no one accepting responsibilty for the defect.

- King, NC, USA

problem #89

Mar 082005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer XLS, 4.0 engine, that has transmission failure at 59,000 miles. I have been researching this type of vehicle and have noticed a high number of transmission failures at low mileage such as my vehicle. I called Ford to see if they would provide assistance for the repair and they said no and deny any major problems with those transmissions. I am now faced with having to pay $1500 - $2000 for a major repair of a low mileage vehicle. The car was diagnosed at a Ford dealership under the advice of Ford customer service. I am now going to remove the vehicle from the dealership and take it to an outside repair station because the dealership wants $600 to tear down the transmission and do further diagnosis. I am upset at the poor quality of the vehicle which was a major investment for me and the additional expenses associated with this vechicle.

- Miami, FL, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »