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.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
78,876 miles
Total Complaints:
617 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. Ford should pay for it (396 reports)
  2. not sure (85 reports)
  3. paid to have rear panel replaced (47 reports)
  4. file complaint with NHTSA to get a recall issued (26 reports)
  5. start a class action suit and get damages reimbursed (16 reports)
  6. dealership replaced the entire panel (10 reports)
2002 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 10 of 31)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #437

Jul 152006

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles


I had the back panel replaced when it was still under warranty which fixed the problem temporarily, then about a year later another crack!

- , Cedar Hill, TX, USA

problem #436

Sep 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles

the rear panel under the back hatch window also broke in my 02 explorer. everytime it rains i get water in the cargo area. i have seen countless other explorers that have the same problem. you would think ford would fix this problem, especially with the financial woes auto companies are going through these days.

- , Kansas City, KS, USA

problem #435

Jun 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,800 miles

I have the same problem as everyone else here, but am also getting a wet interior rear floor. Does anyone know where this is coming from ? I can't seem to find any signs of leaking from roof, or around gate seal. Rear window unlatches, panel cracked, gloss black paint wearing off, undetermined leaks, cd player has eaten 3 cds... This is my 2nd Explorer, and while the 1st one was a dream (1992), this '02 has been a nightmare. I will never buy another FORD. They don't stand behind anything.

- , Riverview, FL, USA

problem #434

Feb 102010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles


i went to get some items out of my ford one really cold day in sunny miami and before i opened the back door i notice a crack on the body bellow the rear window, i first thought somebody had hit it or the wife had knocked something out but it didn't have any knick or dents then as time went on i kept looking at every explorer that passed me by 8 out 10 had the same problem, obviously ford did a s...a.. job on this area not to mention others, they should do the right thing and recall this problem because is not an isolated case and is not sheap to repair either

- , Miai, FL, USA

problem #433

Sep 072009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,389 miles

Come on Ford stand behind you defalts and replace this rear window panel.

- , Calgary, AL, Canada

problem #432

Nov 052008

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

We have our 2002 Explorer and one day I noticed this small crack in the back of the hatch right under where the window is at. I thought someone had messed with it so I was somewhat upset. I was driving around town and noticed quite a bit of the same year Explorers that had the same crack in the same spot. As time went on it got bigger and seems to get worse when it is cold out. They really should fix this problem since it is a flaw in the design.

- , Great Falls, MT, USA

problem #431

Oct 202009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


The plastic panel under the rear window cracked. I was concerned about water leaking in the tailgate and rusting the bottom out. I found out the the glass extends underneath the plastic so water would not have gotten in. So if you can live with the crack save yourself $500.

- , Montvale, NJ, USA

problem #430

Feb 012010

Explorer LXT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

ford should take care of this issue, replace and paint it free. My ford was pricey and they should stand be hide there name. own up to the defects

- , San Jose, CA, USA

problem #429

Oct 142009

Explorer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,565 miles

Rear door panel below the window cracked in two places.

- , Calgary, Alta, Canada

problem #428

Sep 302009

Explorer 4x4 Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

So I had to have the tires replaced due to Virginia Inspection Laws. I dropped my explorer off at the tire shop to have the tired put on and to the dealership to have the tires inspected. All of which was at night after dark. So inspecting the truck was the last thing on my mind I checked the tires and went on my way. Little to find at a day or two later that the back panel underneath the rear window next to the Ford Emblem is cracked.... Looks like crap, bugs me more than anything cause I want my car in good condition. Luckily havent opened the glass hatch just the main hatch to scared my window wont latch as many others have had happen to them. But with as many as my co workers and self have seen driving around this area it is Deffinatley a deffect in the vehicle if it has happen to so many of them. There should be a recall thats for sure!

- , Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #427

Mar 162010

Explorer XLT V8 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,250 miles


click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window

Cracked and broken off trim under rear window. I've seen so many complaints regarding this problem that I'm not sure it's worth noting. My trim piece cracked off while in a carwash when it was being blown dry.

I wish there were some good solutions offered. I didn't see any that provided an econoical fix to this problem. I was hoping to see Ford step up and give some loyal customers a break on this chronic problem. Not sure what to do about fixing.

Update from Nov 11, 2014: Nothing has been done to fix the rear tailgate but just wanted to add some pictures.

- , Woodbury, MN, USA

problem #426

Jun 132007

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Yet another complaint about the crappy work by FORD! No recall as of yet on the back panel cracking below the rear window. We started out with just one. It happened over night and we thought maybe someone had threw something damaging it at first, until we read up on it and found out others were having the same thing happen over night as well. The second crack showed up just a year after the first one did. With this happening to so many cars, why has Ford not recalled this as a defect? Never again will I or anyone I know be a Ford customer!

- , Piedmont, SC, USA

problem #425

Feb 102010

Explorer Limited 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window cracked panel below the rear window

i cant believe that one day i walk up to my car and see this crack on my car.i start to freak out,what the hell is this? its an f-in car is in mint condition with 22in rims,and like a woman i treat her sweet n gentle as well as give her the attention my baby needs.but wait,the nightmare just got worse,are my eyes deceiving eyes are seeing around six more cracks they are getting worse till this day.i cant believe this sh*t is happening to my needs to step up and man up to see that this is a recall that needs to be attended.heeeeeelp.....

- , Beverlyhills, FL, USA

problem #424

Mar 272010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,483 miles

ford needs too step up and take care these complaints,all of these complaints should be e-mail too ford over and over.

- , Lincoln Park, MI, USA

problem #423

Dec 012007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I had the broken panel fixed under warranty the first time, back before 05. Then it happened again in 07. Called Ford and they said sorry not under warranty they won't fix it. I've seen so many of these panels cracked on Explorers, I don't know why this isn't a RECALL. Please Ford stand up and defend your product, fix this problem. Change the plastic to maybe an aluminum panel so it won't happen again. I like my Explorer, I've had very little problems with it. I've owned many many Ford vehicles and I am shopping for a new one. Don't make me go to some other automaker!!!!!!

- , Wheeling, IL, USA

problem #422

Mar 012010

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

This is unreal. I havent contacted Ford yet but was going to. Was told by the used car dealer I purchased my 2002 Explorer from that the problem of the rear hatch crack was common and I could contact Ford to have it fixed. After reading these post I now know that will not happed. Dont know what else to so except again "THIS IS UNREAL".

- , South Daytona, FL, USA

problem #421

Dec 172008

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

I see Ford Explorers all over town with the same problem - cracked panel below the rear hatch window. The dealership says no recall has been issued, so they can't help with any cost sharing on a repair. I'm researching how to go up the ladder on this one, and I'll likely never buy another Ford if they don't step up. My first Explorer was awesome - this one is falling apart with HALF the mileage of the other.

- , Lexington Park, MD, USA

problem #420

Feb 202010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

Similar story to the many many many others I read on your web site. The car had no problem and we parked it at the store and went in to shop and came back to find a vertival crack from the rear window down the entire back panel to the right of the Ford Logo. There was no contact with the car and I am sure of that because the salt and road dust were untouched. No one had opened or shut the rear window by that point that day and it definately did not have the crack before hand. It appars to me that this panel made of plastic has shrunk with age or something becuase there is now a real gap between the cracked sides - you can see into it and it is uniform the entire length.

This is mt third ford and I am pissed - I have an older chrysler with no issues like this that looks like new, but this looks crapy and stands out in my cars color. I am amazed by the number of complaints listed here for this and that ford doesn't consider it a defect - imagine if the steering wheel just fell off after some point. This occured on a sunny day with a temp of about 46 F - I note the car is over 7 years old and I also can't believe Ford tells people its fom closing the hatch too hard - I use the hatch every day and nothing has every happened to it or the glass.

- , Stamford, CT, USA

problem #419

Mar 182008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

I have a crack in the molding under the rear window. I tried to fix it temporally by injecting epoxy under the area that was seperating from the body. I used clamps to hold it until it dried. It actually looked pretty good. The door became very solid feeling again. Don't bother doing this. It only lasted a month before it came loose again. The crack actually causes the door/hatch to loose it's strength. A very flimsy door/hatch when it is cracked. I wonder if there is a safety hazard because of the instability? The upper hinges that go through the glass, also leak from all of the jarring when shut. I had to smear silicon over the window clamps. I couldn't loosen them and fix it properly because the leak had let road salt deteriorate the hinges. Was afraid to pull apart. I will fix it some day after I buy new hinges.

- , Osceola, WI, USA

problem #418

Oct 012002

Explorer Limited 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 500 miles

I had only had my new Ford Explorer 2002 for about a month. I was flying down the highway when I heard this strange flapping sound coming from the rear. It was the long exterior strip underneath the rear window. It had come halfway off and was flapping! Drivers were honking and flashing their lights to warn me. Since that day, I have had that defect repaired at least 5 times. On several occasions, it totally flew off and I had to stop my car and walk to my "strip" and throw it in the back of the car....seriously.....seriously? Are you kidding me? Oh yes, and when it got hot in the summer, it would just "melt" the glue they used and it would peel off in my! Ford repaired it so many times, I lost count actually. I finally threatened them with the "lemon law" and said this was the last time or I would file against them for a new car! Well, they shipped my car somewhere else besides a Ford repair shop, and they PILED the glue up underneath it so it was no longer flush, but it has not come off since then. OH.....but I forgot to mention that just this past year, 2009, it finally cracked into 2 pieces, but they are still glued on the car. Wow, that will really add to my resale value....THANKS FORD!

- , Summerville, SC, USA

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