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:
8 / 0
Average Mileage:
39,546 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 body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #91

Mar 012002

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles


A crack from top to bottom, on the fiberglass panel below the rear window of my 2002 Ford Explorer XLS 2wd, 4.0 fi. I took the car in at about a year and a half old, while it was still under warranty for the same issue and it was "taken care of" at Ford's cost. About 3-6 months after the 36 month warranty expired I noticed the same crack start to reappear and with it being out of warranty, the Ford dealership refused to repair/replace at their cost. As of 4/10/08 I have yet to receive any recall notices for my vehicle.

- San Marcos, CA, USA

problem #90

Dec 262007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
2002 crack on hatchback panel under rear window. On December 26, 2007 I went into my garage and noticed 2 cracks, one on each side of the Ford emblem, each about 3 to 4 inches long. I know for sure they were not there the night before because we had taken some packages out of the hatchback, and there were no cracks. It is evident that the 2002 Ford Explorer has a faulty manufactured hatchback. When I searched this problem on the web, it was surprising to find out that it had the highest amount of complaints than any other exterior complain. This is an accident waiting to happen. Once the cracks run down to the bottom of the panel there is big potential that the window will fall out. This leaves the window at risk to fall out and injure someone.

- The Woodlands, TX, USA

problem #89

Aug 212007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,400 miles
Cracked lift gate/ upper half.

- Irving, TX, USA

problem #88

Oct 012007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


Outside cover on hatch lid cracked just below the glass. Have seen several other Explorer with the same problem. I talked to the owners and they also have had no response from the dealerships in our area. I have talked to 15 other owners and have seen many more cars with this crack.

- Carthage, MO, USA

problem #87

Mar 152008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The back hatch was partially opened, and when opened all the way it shattered. There is a safety recall 04V442000 - structure:body:hatchback/liftgate: Hinge and attachments. The vehicle is currently at the dealer. The current and failure mileage was 80,000. The purchase date was not available.

- Chaska, MN, USA

problem #86

Nov 232007


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Rear lift gate cracked in the middle.

- Detroit, MI, USA

problem #85

Feb 172008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles


Rear liftgate glass shocks were no longer holding up the window when open. Replaced both shocks, closed the liftgate glass and the window exploded, resulting in the bottom trim piece falling and shattered glass flying everywhere. Fortunately their were no injuries.

- Ortonville, MI, USA

problem #84

Feb 112008


  • miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer and a crack appeared overnight in the rear lift gate panel. This seems to be a recurring defect in Ford Explorer and Ford should be accountable to fix the defect.

- Mountainside, NJ, USA

problem #83

Jan 192008

Explorer 4WD

  • miles
Stress fracture running vertically along plastic panel of liftgate directly under back window appeared. The crack is located to the left of the Ford emblem running from the glass the length of the panel. No force of any kind was applied to the area to cause this crack. I live in a cold weather climate with rain and snow and am now worried about water getting inside and effecting the electrical system. Since this is a commonly documented problem, that could lead to further more serious problems, Ford should replace the panel.

- Tonawanda, NY, USA

problem #82

Jan 202008

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles
2002 Explorer rear window exploded when my 14 year old daughter closed the top lift gate. Rear window recall was performed in 8/2007 Ford will not cover cost ($1,400) for repair.

- Cream Ridge, NJ, USA

problem #81

Jan 062008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,040 miles


2002 Ford Explorer rear hatch plastic panel cracked completely through, top to bottom directly above and below the oval Ford emblem. Ford customer service ran the VIN. No. and told me this panel had been replaced once already.

- Elk Grove, IL, USA

problem #80

Nov 012003

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
At the bottom of the liftgate underneath the back window, right next to the Ford emblem. I have a crack from the top of the frame to the bottom. I have had this crack on my vehicle for a couple of years. I took it to the nearest Ford dealer and was told that it wasn't covered under warranty, or was not on recall. Since then I have seen several other vehicles just like mine with the same crack in the back underneath the back window next to the Ford emblem.

- Wheaton, IL, USA

problem #79

Apr 152007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles
The rear window liftgate has cracked vertically from the glass all the way to the bottom of the panel for no apparent reason (I.e. happened overnight while rear window was completely closed). I have noticed that most Explorer in my area with the same liftgate have the same vertical crack in the same location. Concerned with potential glass breaking due to some structural defect in the window liftgate.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #78

Jan 062005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles
The panel just below the back lift gate window on my 2002 Ford Explorer has cracked from top to bottom in two places. I have found that this is a common problem on the 2002 Ford Explorer. I have seen numerous other vehicles with the exact same cracks and there are 100's of reports of the same problem on the internet. This is obviously a defect. Ford corporate said to contact a dealer about the problem so they offered no help with the situation. I took the car to the hoffman Ford dealership in East hartford, ct and they said they would split the repair cost with me. They never followed thru with the offer. They were supposed to call me when they had the part but that never happened. It is obvious Ford corporate knows this is a problem and that this is a defect. The outside of a car should never crack for no reason.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #77

Jul 082007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The lift gate (window portion) of my 2002 Ford Explorer has sustained a crack directly down the middle under the glass. The crack is clean cut and appears to expand and close when the weather is cold and contracts and closes when the weather is hot. I have no idea how the crack appeared. I noticed it approximately 2 month ago and has not had any incidences that would warrant the crack. Since I've noticed the crack, I've seen two other explores that have the same crack in the same location as mine, and starting wondering if this is a body defect. Can you please research this concern for me and notify me of your findings?

- Jacksonville, NC, USA

problem #76

Aug 012007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles
The problem is my 2002 Ford Explorer rear window liftgate, my panel below the rear window is cracking for no reason, I do not use is part of the liftgate, after doing some research on the internet I found over 100 owners with the same problem. This is a design and engineering safety problem that will allow the rear window to fallout or explode when operating the door or normal driving of the vehicle. Ford Motor Company should replace the panels at no charge to the owner of 2002 and up Ford Explorer with this tailgate design.

- Auburn, NY, USA

problem #75

Jul 102007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear liftgate had cracked right below the glass. The crack is spreading. The current mileage is 52,000 and failure mileage was 45,000. Updated 09/05/07.

- South Hampton , PA, USA

problem #74

Nov 012005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the liftgate is cracked and leaking. He notified Ford who stated that complaints have been made for the same failure. The current mileage is 65,590 and failure mileage was 37,000.

- Cinncinatti, OH, USA

problem #73

May 012007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLT, plastic trim piece below rear window glass cracked all the way. This was a safety issue as the glass could fall out without proper structural support. Ford issued a recall for the rear glass hinge posts, but the will not fix the plastic which broke as a result of normal closing of the hatchback. I found a forum with 129 postings on it today claiming the same issue. I would like Ford to fix this problem free of charge as it was a safety hazard and defect.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #72

Jan 062007

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Noticed cracked panel (applique) below rear hatchback window on my 2002 Ford Explorer XLT (SUV) 1st thought was someone hit me while I was parked. Then realized that there was no evidence of that temp was 19 degrees outside. After going online to car complaints found many other complaints. Contacted Ford co. They told me to get an estimate. Metro Ford gave me estimate of $302.89, called Ford co. Back they said they won't pay. I can't afford to pay for this fix, even if I did, bet it will crack again when temp is below freezing again. It has to be a design flaw in the part. Online complaints say Ford knows it's a flaw but they are not helping us consumers.

- Sch'dy, NY, USA

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