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 8 of 31)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #477

Sep 022010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


Now I'm noticing Ford Explorers everywhere with this defect.

- , Bluemont, VA, USA

problem #476

Jan 012011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

I have a 2002 Explorer which I take better care of than myself. I bought it in 2004 after two years in Iraq and cherish having a paid of vehicle that still runs great. I have replaced all the hub bearing and breaks and lots of other upkeep, which I expected. My only problem with my ride is the panel below the rear window. It cracked right after I bought the car and was replaced with no issue. It cracked again in the same place in 2006 and was replaced with no issue. It has now cracked again and my dealership is telling me there is no recall and Ford will not fix it, although they did mention it is a manufacturer defect. I do not understand why it can be replaced two times and not this time? I do not even use the upper tail gate because of this and only open the entire rear hatch. Someone please help. No way I can pay $450 the dealership wants and I do not want to let it go. It looks like crap and Im afraid water will get in and rust out the rear windshield wiper or winder latch. RECALL!!!!!

- , New Bern, NC, USA

problem #475

Feb 252011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

separated back hatch window panel, below the glass.

- , Bremerton, WA, USA

problem #474

Nov 102010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,005 miles


The crack rattles which it is very annoying. Cant stand it!!!

- , Del Ciity, OK, USA

problem #473

Jul 142010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 146,000 miles

this happened to me and looks uggly!!!!!!!!!!!!! I listen to a noise and when I look it was bad so bad

- , Peachtree City, GA, USA

problem #472

Jun 102009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,967 miles


- , Bel Air, MD, USA

problem #471

Feb 102011

Explorer XL 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 154,627 miles


click to see larger images

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

This is a known issue and they should be made to pay. These blood-suckers used my tax money to get a free loan and this is for they repay us?


- , Fredericksburg, VA, USA

problem #470

Sep 152010

Explorer XTL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

It is not cracked just the whole piece is falling off the car

- , Mentor, OH, USA

problem #469

Jan 252011

Explorer LX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,000 miles

I went thru a car wash after wash noticed crack in rear panel. I take good care of my truck. Just seems alot of people are having same problem why can't Ford make panel a little more sturdy so this doesn't happen to everyone more a pain to deal with than anything.

- , Fletcher, NC, USA

problem #468

Nov 012009

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,282 miles

Yes, again Ford has successfully made me a non-believer out of me! If that is quality number #1 I would hate to see #10. I have also experienced the same problem as others when it comes to having the rear upper lid cracking. Ford won't fix it because it has passed the warranty period. My vehicle has been babied since day one and always garaged kept and never been in any accident. This problem should have been recalled by Ford and replaced with a different design lid. What an insult by Ford!!!

- , Vancouver, BC, Canada

problem #467

Jan 152011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

I just can't believe the problems I have had with this truck and that ford won't stand behind their design mistakes, I won't be buying another ford as much as I really really like my truck, there has been way too many issues with the heating and air conditioning (blend box) power windows breaking electric issues in the driver door and from what I have read so far I am lucky the transmission has not gone yet.

- , Parlin, NJ, USA

problem #466

Mar 152008

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,000 miles

Noticed many other ford explorers have same problem, think it was from recall of the tentions that was applied to rear windows

- , Gorham, ME, USA

problem #465

Jan 042011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

The Explorer Cracked Rear Panel is very common. Since ours cracked have seen many with the same crack. The local dealership will do nothing, except will gladly fix it for $500. Ford's special assistance program is no longer available for this issue.

- , Lilburn, GA, USA

problem #464

Jan 012009

Explorer Limited V8 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,952 miles

My Explorer was manufactured or assembled in FORD Venezuela where I bought it. Then moved to Argentina with the car. After 4 years the panel started to crack and split. In Argentina there are no Ford Explorer models later than 1997and no spares for my vehicle. No Ford dealer can help me but propose to have it fixed by one of the body shops here.

It really a pain in the a.. !

- , Buenos Aires, Prov. Buenos Aires, Argentina

problem #463

Sep 072010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

this was my dads explorer"garage kept with 42,000 when i purchased last year, several things wrong with this explorer,the plastic panal under rear window cracked, it don't start sometimes it just stalls, air bag light on, 2nd erg sensor in 10,000 miles gone bad,on start up engine races sometimes..

- , Melvindale, MI, USA

problem #462

Jan 032011

Explorer XLT

  • 98,000 miles

click to see larger images

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

I am very disappointed with FORD Explorer! I purchased this car brand new 02’ and bought it instead of a BMW thinking I would save money on repairs. Well my piece of junk Ford Explorer XLT 02 has had problems since day one. Yes, I had a extended warranty but all the issues it has had from day one was never fixed because the mechanics from Fords said the “computer” could never diagnose the problems so dealership said they could not send the parts to FORD( back east main office) to get paid for them if they found nothing wrong with it!! What?? You mean to tell me we take our cars in for service when it’s under warranty and to get repairs done and if the computer doesn’t diagnose what he issues are the dealership will not get paid for the repairs or parts used?? There is clearly a problem with the car and the Ford mechanic says there an issue but the computer can’t figure out the part, so the service department will not repair it because they will not get paid from FORD!!!????

Now 1/3/2011 This 7”crack appeared on the panel below in my rear tail gate window is just disgusting and after doing a search on complaints with this issue which I should have done first before accusing my husband that he did it when he took the car to work! I felt horrible and thought you know maybe since I had already issues with it maybe I should check if I am the only one that this happened to then to blame him….. What a discovery after doing the research, sure enough I am not the only one that this problem has appeared out of the blue!!!! IT should be replaced by FORD Along with the other panels that I had already replaced because of peeling paint etc. This 7” crack that is on the rear tail gate probably will not be fixed by FORD since they do not honor there warranties when they are paid for and will wait till they expire to have you pay for the repairs!! WHAT A RIP OFF!! I was actually appalled when a Ford Service manager said you need to buy another FORD instead of fixing the problem because FORD back east will not honor the warranty!

I have had transmission problems, electrical etc and the service dept will not fix the problems!! When under warranty telling me to come back when the issue(s) is always there and not intermittent?? What a joke! Mind you my car had issues and it doesn't even have 80miles on it! The transmission will cost me $3000.00 per ford service to replace; I have all ready spent replacing the gear shifter that broke on the freeway and the main steering will column on the car!!! Oh Yes also the front suspension ball joint!! Yes it cost me a pretty penny Total $4000.00 WHAT A RIP OFF! Now add in the $3000.00 Transmission that I am waiting for it to completely go out of wack ( per FORD service dept) before they fix it!! That is a down payment $7000.00 for a brand new car that I have spent in the last year 2010 of owning the SUV!!! I will never buy this kind of SUV or ANY PRODUCT that FORD makes. They do not take care for there customers.

Oh! for you Ford owners there is an attorney in New Jersey who is doing a class action law suit to recall the ford 2002 Explorer as FORD is aware of a design defect regarding the transmission design and now the new ones have the corrected transmissions in them.. Any suggestions on the cracked panel on the rear tail gate window would be great appreciated. Oh don’t worry I am going to contact that attorney again to tell them what just happened. NEVER BUY A FORD !!

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #461

Dec 132010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 197,800 miles

This is what so bad, because this happened while my car was at the Ford Sop getting maintenance work done on it. The other thing is that before I left the house to take it to the shop I got in the trunk/hatch back and it was not there. When I got back home later that evening I noticed it and called the shop right away to tell the worker and I spoke with the supervisor and she was going to look at the video tape to see if she could see if anything happened there. I gave them a few days and went up to the shop and they were coming up with this is a commonly known problem to ford and he did show me some internet complaints about the crack in the back panel and basically said they would not fix it, so again, I am stuck with a broken panel.

I have gotten sooooo much work done on this vehicle within a few months then I have spent on my vehicles after having them for years.

This is my first purchase of a Ford vehicle and the last purchase too and I have so many family members that have retired from there and some still are employed there, but I will not even think about buying another Ford product again.

- , Louisville, KY, USA

problem #460

Dec 132010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

Ok, so this has also happened to me, the dogone crack in the panel below the back window. I'm not happy about it. I'm religious about taking care of my explorer, ie. washing in all kinds of weather, paint claying, waxing with random obital, keeping everything spotless, etc. So, today Dec. 15, I'm filling up with gas when I see a crack in the back panel 8" from the "Ford" logo. It has been cold here lately in the teens, and yes, I have used the window hatch. I take it to my dealer (whom I use with respect) and because it is out of warranty, it would be $500 in parts and labor to fix. I'm sure I'll do it because of how long I keep my cars and how I care for them. My problem is that my wife has an 04 Merc Mount that has the SAME design. I guess my suggestion to her and all of you who read this is: BE SURE TO ONLY USE THE FULL BACK LIFTHATCH IN WINTER TO HELP PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING TO YOU!!!! What else can I say.....I'M NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT !!!!!!!

- , Urbana, IL, USA

problem #459

Dec 182010

Explorer EX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,625 miles

Just noticed the large crack under the rear window of the lift gate. It looks really

nasty and now I see that it is not an unusual problem and Ford doesn't fix it. I

have hardly any miles on my Explorer and have tried to keep it in good condition.

Just disgusting.

- , Monroe, NC, USA

problem #458

Jun 012010

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

The crack is easy to see. The panel is loose and water runs under it when it rains. It also flapps in the wind when I get it washed.

- , Fort Pierce, FL, USA

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