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:
79,017 miles
Total Complaints:
620 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. Ford should pay for it (396 reports)
  2. not sure (86 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 (17 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 12 of 31)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #400

Dec 252009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,500 miles


I really can't believe this happened. I was shocked the entire weekend that this could happen to a car. Ford should be embarrassed that they aren't covering this.

- , N. Attleboro, MA, USA

problem #399

Dec 182009

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

the plastic underneath the rear window has leaked on the drivers side for about a year now the panel cracked in half right around the emblem. Seems that it is defective and Ford should replace it free of charge as a recall.

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #398

Dec 192009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I got in my car last night after visting my husband in the hospital when I notice that the light came on that said a door was opened. I got out checked all four doors and they were closed. I preceded to get back in my car and drive home when I had only gone a few feet when I heard a rattle noise and it look like the back tail window was ajar. I pulled over to check the window only to find out that the panel under the window had split right down the middle. Now the window will not close and I don't see why this part of the car should split open. I plan to call the Ford company tomorrow to see what can be done. I would like to know if anyone else has had this problem. It doesn't get cold enough here to cause your car to split open.

- , Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #397

Sep 092008

Explorer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles


Seriously, Ford - it's not a safety concern - but holy smokes! $400+ for the repair? C'mon.

- , Paonia, CO, USA

problem #396

Dec 112009

Explorer LTD 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,163 miles

Ford Quality Job 1??? If this is true why don't they stand behind their mission statement? I have been a loyal Ford customer for over 30 years. After reading other complaints on this same issue I can see that Ford is not taking responsibility for this growing problem. I am definitely going to make a statement. I would like to suggest all other dissatisfied Ford owners do the following. Go to your local auto parts store which sells those decals showing a little boy peeing on a competitors emblem. Make sure you buy a Ford decal .Place the decal right above the crack on your rear window! Everyone driving behind you will clearly see the decal and the cracked panel ,but most importantly they will see Ford ! If enough of these decals start showing up, maybe the media will get involved. I will definitely be looking elsewhere for my next vehicle.

- , Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

problem #395

Dec 012009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

What more can I say that 400 other people haven't already said? FIX IT FORD !!!!!!

- , Beaverton, OR, USA

problem #394

Jul 052007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles


the plate below the rear window cracked, we have to keep gluing it back together!!

- , Garfield, AR, USA

problem #393

Dec 012009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

I hate to be the messenger of bad news for all of you out there suffering through the "cracked panel on the rear window", but your troubles may not be over yet.

I also have a 2002 Explorer and have suffered through the cracked panel on the rear window twice. The first time the crack occurred was within 100 miles of the 36000 mile warranty so I lucked out and Ford replaced it. Unfortunately it cracked again, even worse than the previous time before the truck hit 56,000 miles. When it cracked the second time I figured "What's the point of fixing it, it will just break again". Over "Thanks Giving" I was noticing a rattle in the back of the truck. When I opened the glass of the lift gate I found that the plastic cover that houses the back windshield wiper had fallen off and the bolts that hold the window latch had rusted through and the latch and locking mechanism were just hanging off the window by electrical cabling. Yes, water had made it's way through the cracks and rusted the bolts through. Needless to say, I was furious. I took the truck into my Dealership and was informed that they would need to replace the whole back window to fix the problem and it would cost over a thousand bucks. They also informed me, that because of the mileage, FORD Motors refused to do anything. What a bunch of garbage!! This is not a moving part or a piece of the car that should experience "wear and tear" due to mileage or age! I kinda blew a gasket. Fortunately for me, the Service Manager of my Dealership (which I have been dealing with for 26 years), listened to, and agreed with my complaint. He was able to replace the latch and the cracked panel for under $400. Yea, it wasn't free, like it should have been, but it was a lot less than a thousand bucks. Now I just have to hope that the "jury rig" lasts. Looks wonderful, by the way.

For all of you out there that have the same cracked panel, and are planning on keeping the truck for awhile, you may want to look into fixing the crack(s) or maybe placing some clear flexible sealant in the crack. (I'm no car body mechanic, the sealant might worsen the crack if it does not flex enough, I don't know.) Might save yourself some money.

This whole incident was a damn shame. I've never enjoyed a vehicle more that this Explorer, and mechanically it has been the most reliable vehicle I have ever owned. For 26 years I've never even looked at another brand other than Ford when it was time for a new vehicle. Unfortunately, when the next time comes for a new vehicle, due to Ford Motor Companies lack of response on this issue, I will be looking at other brands, and the ONLY reason I will even consider a Ford is because of the customer loyalty that my Dealership has shown me with this incident (and over the years).

- , Eldridge, IA, USA

problem #392

Dec 032009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,525 miles

This is just another listing of the same cracked rear window panel that sooooo many others have experienced, and I have noticed on MANY Ford Explorers myself. My sister and I noticed it this morning. While driving through the city we saw FOUR other explorers on the road with the same crack on the rear hatch. I am absolutely blown away and dissapointed after speaking with Ford customer service and one of the drivers of the explorers we saw today. That Ford has NOT Handled this, what is to be a design and engineering defect. Ford, from their response at customer service and the information Im hearing from other owners, is Ford has decided to handle this issue with a BAD FAITH attitude. Basically lie about the defect and their refusal to rectify the design/engineering fault at Ford. Im am going to a Ford dealership to have it looked at and will be bringing several people with me that own Explorers and a local T.V. news reporter. If Ford does not replace THEIR DEFECTIVE PART at their expense this will force me to inform the THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE I come into contact with every day of my and the people Ive spoken with and the complaints ive read on this site of how Ford has in FACT not rectified this defect to its customers complete satisfaction.

- , Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #391

Dec 012009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,700 miles


- , Larose, LA, USA

problem #390

Dec 052009

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,800 miles


I just purchase this vehicle 5 months ago and I came out the other day and there was a crack under my rear window in the panel. Its completely cracked in half! That just adds to the broke rear coil spring, the rear axle seals and ring and pinion in the rear end Ive had to replace! Of course its used so everything is out of my pocket and I still have to pay on it for 2 years! I am going to file a complaint with ford but im sure it wont go anywhere.

- , Bolivar, MO, USA

problem #389

Feb 012007

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Annoying. I've been driving around with a broken panel on the car for over 3 years now. I took it to the dealer who said they'd never seen it before but that it would be expensive to fix. I was assured that it was just a cosmetic issue and decided it was not worth the hassle or expense, but it frustrates me every time I see it. Glad I found this site and now know that I'm not the only one!

- , Richmond, VA, USA

problem #388

Sep 122007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I noticed the crack on panel a few miles back. It runs right under the Ford logo. I called Ford service dept and asked about it because I am concerned about rain getting in or further cracking.

At first they acted like they had never heard of such a thing. When I asked about having it fixed, they said it would be around $250 plus they need the car for 3 days. I inquired about both price and time to repair and they explained the panels come unpainted and they are hard to replace and then it has to be painted to match.

I have put it off due to lack of funds and can't live without car for 3 days, nor can I afford to rent one and pay for the repair.

I live in the Dallas metro area and since this happened to my car I have seen about 20 of them; one even had the panel completely gone with just the brackets exposed.

I think if everyone would let their local news channel hear about it on one of the consumer complaint type features, then others would come forward with the same complaint and maybe there may be some action taken on Ford's part. As long as it is just a few scattered around the nation Ford is probably hoping we won't find out about each other.

- , Little Elm, TX, USA

problem #387

Jul 012007

Explorer XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

This sucks to have a 7 year old car and have a big crack in the back of your car. Ive seen so many other fords like mine or another year of explorer or probably another model and they have the same crack as i do on the back of their car. Ive seen way worse than on mine too. Ford you need to step up your game in making cars.

- , Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #386

Jun 012009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

The panel cracked on it's own a few years ago & I thought it was done by someone hitting it or something but recently the crack has gotten worse & the paint is coming off. It looks horrible. Then a friend told me that explorers are notorious for this. I am complaining to Ford & taking the steps needed to get them to fix & pay for this. The car is parked in a garage at home & at work & I live in Southern CA where it's around 70-80 degrees all year round. There is no excuse for this.

- , Lomita, CA, USA

problem #385

Nov 102009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

One day I walked outside to find a big crack from the top of the panel below my window all the way to the bottom. And my dad came to visit and told me to do a quick search online to see if anyone else had this same problem, and on this site I found that nearly 400 people had the same problem. I'm going to go to a Ford dealer this week and see what they do about it. I'll finish this complaint once they let me know what they plan on doing about it.

- , Franklin, TN, USA

problem #384

May 012005

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

We have the 2002 Explorer and the back hatch cracked in '05. The Dealership said it was a "geographical problem" having to do with heat & humidity.

After finding this site and several others, we can clearly see that we were lied to and this is a design flaw that Ford refuses to take responsibility for. I am filing a lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. I would like to make this a Class Action Suit.

If you would like to join this suit, you need to do 2 things:

1) Contact Ford Motor Company and file a complaint. Call 1-800-392-3673. Get the employee's name and employee #. WRITE IT DOWN!

2) File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Call 1-877-382-4357. Get the employee's name and a reference # for your complaint. WRITE IT DOWN! They will also mail you a hard copy of the complaint.

After you have done this, contact me at

I have contacted Attorney General Jim Hood (my state is Mississippi) about a Class Action Suit.

- , Meridian, MS, USA

problem #383

Aug 012009

Explorer XLS V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 90,000 miles

This problem being so wide spread should be fixed. It is unreal that Ford can ignore this problem.

- , Bangor, ME, USA

problem #382

Apr 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

This crack appeared overnight, literally! I thought someone in a parking lot had backed into my car. Since my car is parked in our driveway by itself, that couldn't be the case. Then I started noticing other Explorers around town with the same problem! I haven't taken it into the dealership yet, thought I'd check it out on the internet before doing so....I'm not filled with optimism about the chances of Ford doing the right thing, but at least I know what to expect. I've been very loyal to Ford; this is my second Explorer, but if they won't fix it at least in part, it will be my last.

- , Bloomington, IN, USA

problem #381

Oct 212009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 156,000 miles

I noticed my rear window panel had cracked today from top to bottom (both sides of the Ford logo emblem). At first, I was dumbfounded that this could occur, but after finding this web site and reading numerous complaints about the same problem, I'm really perplexed. I plan to take it to a local Ford dealership soon to see what they will do. It just so happens I was planning to take it in for a recall on a defective cruise control that can catch fire. This cracking issue should certainly be a recall, too.

- , Blairsville, GA, USA

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