Rear differential - 2002 Ford Explorer

Original rear differential got noisy, was re-built at 70K miles by dealer using factory rebuild kit. Same problem - noisy again (low growling sound) and metal filings “sludge” in the fluid after another 40K miles. Anybody know background on this problem?

Yes, Issues with the rear differential are incredibly common - some say there’s an easy $10 fix for it:

“If it’s (leaking) coming out of the differential. I would suggest just fixing it yourself. Just take the bolts out of the back of the cover and pry it off - make sure both surfaces are real clean and then use silicon to seal it back on. There are a number of reasons that seal can start leaking. It would only take you about 20 mins.” - Similar pages

Vermont Lemon Law link above: If you scroll down to the reported cases referencing the '02 Ford Explorer, you will find a case on the record (dismissed) but a later one (03) says it’s disposition is “manufacturor”.

And there is a reference (following) to a SSM 18221.
“My '02 Explorer XLT V8 had a bad differential in November 2004 at 53,821 miles, way past the warranty. The dealer installed a new differential assembly at no charge “per SSM 18221.” Must have been a known defect. Seems there was a problem with differing expansion rates for dissimilar metals used in the diff…” NCVinVT

**Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the referenced “SSM 18221” to provide further info.

Edmunds decided to test out the '02 Explorer after the Firestone tire tread separation issues. This is one of their comments.

"…Problem History:

  1. We noticed occasional clunks from the transmission during low-speed driving starting in about November 2002.

  2. We observed a ringing noise coming from the rear differential when traveling between 55 and 60 mph as of December 2002…" (lower third of page)

I hope some part of this answer helps!

So you are telling me without a doubt ? that this is the only reason that this will occur ? Hmmmmmm! lets see ,advertising on this site,well I thought about it and nahhhhhh! thats not your problem, FORD use DANA rear just as well as any other co. except imports .THIS POST IS NOT FOR THE REGULARS JUST THE RESPONDANT. kitten above. all I can assume FROM THE LIVE LINK IS TO GET ME THERE AND JUST BE ANOTHER MONEY MAKING HIT! which we all know is easy cash from the advertiser.


No, maico 490, I posted information I believed this OP was requesting and nothing more. I had no idea it was inappropriate to provide links to Edmunds research results or any other researchers findings, and if it is a problem for you please refer to the OP’s question. They asked for background on the issue of rear differential problems. I responded with as comprehensive information (and as well rounded information) as I could reasonably discover. I never made any assertions as to what is or is not the sole cause of any problem. You are mistakenly accusing me of endorsing something I do not.

sorry ,I just went on gut feeling.


No Problem. I’m new to the forum and I don’t want to upset anyone. I’ve already learned a ton here. Would it be better if I did not post links to cite my sources of information in the future, to prevent any further misunderstandings?

nope all info is good info,depending on how it is bad!


There is a TSB for this type of problem, it might apply to your vehicle. Remember, this is a TSB not a recall, if you bring it in to the dealer for this repair you will have to pay for it.

This is the TSB#…
TSB 05-23-3