Common Problems With Ford Explorer Transmissions

by Editorial Team

Transmission failures and problems are unfortunately very common with Ford Explorers, particularly those produced in 2002, 2003 and 2004. The cost of a repair can be enormous, especially if you have it done by a dealership. However, there are some steps you can take in order to try and reduce the cost of a repair, or to possibly even get the repair done for free.

Common Issues

The most common transmission problem found in 2002 Ford Explorers is outright failure. Symptoms of a transmission failure include a blinking O/D light, slipping gears, difficulty shifting or rapid deceleration of the vehicle. Many consumers report a transmission failure occurring with their Ford Explorer after only 50,000 or fewer miles of normal driving. The cost of this repair can be as much as $4,000, perhaps higher if the repair is done by a dealership.
Although fewer complaints are received regarding other model year vehicles, such as the 2003 and 2004 Ford Explorer, problems do occur, and transmission issues rank high on the list. Consumers report higher-than-usual RPMs being required to shift the vehicle from first to second gear, followed shortly by slippage and total failure. Often, only the solenoid will need to be replaced, but this repair can still cost upwards of $700.


Check if your vehicle is still under warranty. Your warranty will be a combination of the ownership period and the vehicle's mileage, whichever expires first. If your vehicle isn't under warranty, it is advisable to call Ford directly. The company is well aware of the problems that consumers experience with the transmissions of early 2000s Explorers, though they haven't gone so far as to issue a recall. If you talk to a representative, be calm yet firm, and insist on receiving a free repair regardless of your warranty status. It's best to be as knowledgeable as possible and to thoroughly describe your dilemma. Some Ford representatives will simply tell you there's nothing that can be done, while others will waive the entire cost of your repair. If the employee you speak with is unwilling to help, ask to talk to someone else. If you must have your transmission repaired at your own cost, find a reputable local mechanic instead of going to your local dealership. Doing so could save you thousands of dollars.

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