Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. 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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
43,126 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Ford Explorer accessories - exterior problems

accessories - exterior problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #12

Feb 162008

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


I have a cracked real panel on tailgate. I understand from other customers that this is a danger because the actual glass can dislodge from the panel and hurt someone. I have 2 small children. 1 stands at a height below that glass level!

- Waldwick, NJ, USA

problem #11

Jan 262007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
- the contact stated that every time the contact was unloading groceries or book bags from the back of the 2002 Ford Explorer, the liftgate glass struts became disengaged. Once the struts were disengaged the glass came down on the contact's head. The failure mileage was 70,000 and the current mileage was 90,000.

- Palmetto Bat, FL, USA

problem #10

Jan 132007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,312 miles
Ford replaced the liftgate glass hinge on this Explorer per your recall notice on Sept. 1, 2005. On January 13, as I closed the liftgate (gently, not slamming it) it exploded into shards of glass that went all over the garage and cut my face. Glass flew in front of the car. I had only closed the liftgate approximately 2 inches from its full open position when this occurred. There was nothing to impede the closure, and the liftgate did not strike anything on its way down.

- Edwards, CO, USA

problem #9

Nov 242006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,500 miles


There were no events to cause this issue, other than Ford's own recall for the rear lift hatch. Once the hatch was repaired, the window took more force to shut and eventually developed stress cracks. I have a vertical crack on the left side with a 1/4 inch gap from the bottom of the glass to the other side of the panel.

- Littleton, CO, USA

problem #8

Dec 012002

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Dangerous crack occurred in 2002 Ford Explorer rear liftgate in Dec. 2002, was repaired. Recurred in Sep. 2005, and Ford refused to repair 2 weeks after warranty had expired, even though part was defective and vehicle had only 28,000 miles. Applique may come off, threatening structural integrity of liftgate and glass. Internet shows dozens of customers had exactly the same problem.

- Evergreen, CO, USA

problem #7

Dec 222004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
Car was parked. When my wife was walking to the vehicle, she noticed a large crack down the back door (hatch area) of vehicle which is directly below the glass. Take note that if this panel falls off (and could with the crack), it could fall onto another vehicle causing harm or tragedy. If the panel also falls off, the glass is no longer supported which also can result in it falling off onto another vehicle or onto the highway causing an accident.

- Medford, NJ, USA

problem #6

May 042005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,700 miles


NHTSA recall id 01I010000 Ford Explorer 2002 liftgate dear sir/madam, I would like to report that the Ford dealership (joe myers Ford in houston, Texas) as well as Ford as less than helpful in getting this recall taken care of. I am being told that I would have to leave the vehicle there for an entire day, yet I do not have any right to a loaner car. They also would not accept the vehicle on a Saturday although they are open until 3 pm. I don't think that I should be responsible for paying a rental car or having to take a vacation day so that Ford can repair a defect that is due to faulty manufacturing. Rgds, chris rom

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #5

Dec 212004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles
There is a recall on my 2002 Ford Explorer concerning the liftgate hinges. I was notified in September that the parts would be in the dealerships in November. They have just arrived in February. In the meantime the applique on my liftgate has cracked. I was told that Ford would not pay to have it repaired and that it will cost about $350. This is my 3 Ford Explorer and will probably be the last. All my dealer tells me is that there is nothing they can do. I wrote a letter to Ford and they didn't even respond. What kind of customer service is that?

- Rockford, AL, USA

problem #4

Dec 282003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I went to my automobile and raised just the window part of my hatch and got some stuff out of my vehicle and I shut the hatch just as I always did and when I shut it I heard a noise and I looked at my vehicle and the metal or fiberglass on the hatch had cracked all the way to the under surface of the hatch.

- Booneville, MS, USA

problem #3

Nov 152004


  • miles
I purchased a 2002 Ford Explorer this year. I had not owned it for very long when in August 2004 the liftgate malfunfunctioned. I was extremely lucky that I was not injured. I reported the malfucntion both to NHTSA and to Ford. Ford still has not redesigned the parts for this vehicle and to make matters worse the upper liftgate of my vehicle is now cracked in two. The delay in redesigning the parts and addressing this issue has exacerbated the stress the liftgate of my vehicle was under and allowed the upper liftgate to crack in two. I contacted Ford and they said that yes there is a recall on specific parts but expressed that I have to pay for the cracked liftgate. I am furious at this side stepping of the issue by Ford. I am an attorney and will seek all legal recourse available to me regarding this.

- Lucasville, HI, USA

problem #2

Jul 022004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles
Consumer complained about a liftgate problem. Consumer took the vehicle to dealer, and they applied glue on the liftgate cable. However, because this vehicle was not included in the recall they did not administer any more assistance other than what was done. Consumer would have to pay for other repairs. The liftgate brake came loose and caused the shock to come off and resulted in a dent in the vehicle. The glue to dealer put on the cable lasted 4-5 hours.

- Greenville, OH, USA

problem #1

May 112002

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles
Excessive problems with transmission jerking, and shifting problems, purchased vehicle as brand new after 4 months contacted dealer where care was purchased regarding problem. Brought vehicle in at least twice before problem was found.the transmission was replaced has since had the same problem along with other problems, vehicle stalling while driving, cd player power shuts off. Rattling when hitting brakes. Filed a complaint dealer refuses to buy car back ask me to trade car in with more money down. The dealer repair persons confirmed that they have had replaced at least 10 transmissions on the same style vehicle prior to my visit and recognized a pattern. But nothing has been done!!

- Perris, CA, USA

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