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 4 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #51

Jan 122007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles


My lift gate on my 2002 Ford Explorer eddie bauer just cracked last night and upon research I found out that this is a common problem with this year Explorer. It is a defect with the rear lift gate and Ford needs to address this problem. There are thousands of people with the same problem as I have that I found while doing a quick search. This piece is going to need to be replaced and then painted to match the color of the vehicle which is going to cost $500 or more which should be Ford responsibility.

- Clayton, NJ, USA

problem #50

Oct 252006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles
(1) excellent care of vehicle, no accidents (2) rear panel on hatch cracked all the way through on first cold day of fall 2006 (appears to be stress from thermal expansion/contraction) (3) dealer said $350 to replace panel and paint and was not under any warranty from Ford

- Greenwich, CT, USA

problem #49

Nov 012006


  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer eddie bauer V6 4X4 rear window lower plastic panel completely cracked throughout.

- Caledon Village, 00, USA

problem #48

Dec 232004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


At 74000 miles our transmission went out completely while we were on vacation! the dealership where we bought the vehicle, said that "we were the only one's who have had this problem" (yeah right!) it cost us $6000 out of our pocket to fix. At 86000 miles the rear window cracked right below the window. Ford and the dealership refuses to fix it. Again, stayton Ford told us that, "we were the only people who have had this particular issue." At around 85000, 95000 and 105000 miles, the rear seals leaked. We were promised each time that they would last "for at least 50000 miles." We were always a few miles away from getting them replaced for free since they're limited warranty is only good for 10000 miles. At 111000 miles the electrical system went "haywire." Even when all of the door and hatch are closed, the dome light continues to go on and off (making it hard to drive at night) because it senses that a "door is a jar." Sometimes, the key pad that's located on the drivers side window sets off the alarm when we push the first number on the key. Totally unreliable vehicle that I'm afraid to drive!

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #47

Nov 302006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Cracked on the back panel, between the window glass and Ford logo.

- American Canyon, CA, USA

problem #46

Nov 232006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,890 miles
I own a 2002 Ford Explorer XLS with 51,300 miles. On 11/23/06 two long cracks developed in my lift gate panel just to the right of the Ford emblem. One crack extends the full length of the panel. The other extends from the top of the panel and extends to the top of the Ford emblem. These cracks developed completely without any damage or force being applied to the panel. The truck was parked in the carport. I researched my damage and found others with the same model Explorer with the same damage in the same location. Several of them advised that Ford would not acknowledge or repair the damage. The location of the damage poses a real danger if the panel completely separates. If separation occurs the glass can possibly shatter causing death or injury. I am convinced the damage is caused by a structural defect in the panel which is in no way my responsibility to repair. I am requesting that Ford Motor Company repair the damage and possibly issue a recall on the panel for the 2002 Ford Explorer. I look forward to hearing from you soon to discuss the damage to my vehicle.

- Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #45

Dec 082006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles


Cracked panel below rear window (Ford calls this an applique).

- New York, NY, USA

problem #44

Nov 082005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles
Rear liftgate on my 2002 Ford Explorer eddie bauer has a crack in it. I worked for Ford for 2 1/2 years and can not believe that they will not fix this problem. I personally have seen hundreds of the same thing happen to other people. With Ford hurting for business you would think that they would repair these to keep their customers. I personally own two Ford products and unless they fix this problem then I will purchase my next vehicles from a different manufacturer.

- Blacklick, OH, USA

problem #43

Nov 232006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,578 miles
: the contact stated while the vehicle was parked and being washed by hand, the liftgate glass became unfastened and fractured when the gate was opened. This malfunction caused personal injuries. There were no warning signals prior to the incident. The vehicle was taken to a dealership.

- San Juan, PR, USA

problem #42

Nov 112006


  • miles is the 2nd complaint that I'm filing on my vehicle. I purchased my Explorer brand new with only 10 miles. I thought I would get the brakes checked since I had 68,000 miles only to find out the rear differential was bad and needing repair. Ford dropped the ball on that!!! now I discovered that the rear panel has cracked. I will never buy another Ford again!!! there needs to be a class action lawsuit filed against them!!!

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #41

May 052004


  • miles


There is a two to three inch crack in my back hatch door in my 2002 Ford Explorer XLT. It is in the body work right to the left of the windshield wiper. I called Ford at least three times and asked if they would resolve this form me as I felt never should a crack in the body of a vehicle occur. They said there has been no recall each time I called and that I should check back. That's as far as they would go. I was driving one day and saw another Explorer with a worse crack than my own. I do not have this person's information as I have misplaced it. I talked with my own vehicle place (fred bean's of West chester) where I purchased the vehicle and they will not handle the problem without charging me. I do not feel I should have to pay for such an incident as there was no damage to create the problem. A couple years ago when I had the hinge issue taken care of then it wasn't too long after that the issue arose. I can only assume that the impact of closing this hatch with weak or improperly installed hinges may have caused this crack. When I spoke with someone at the Ford place, the person of whom remains anonymous for obvious reasons, said to me that they have seen about 10-100 other vehicles come in to their place alone with this same issue and no one would do anything about it. Please contact me.

- Downingtown, PA, USA

problem #40

Aug 262006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles
: the contact stated after shutting the liftgate glass it shattered and rained down. The broken glass cut the arm, leg and foot of the contact. The vehicle was taken to a service dealer, who informed the contact that a repair would not be performed because the window cylinder did not appear to be damaged. There was a NHTSA recall # 01I010000 which pertains to the side and rear glass. The vehicle was not included in recall due to the VIN.

- Highland, CA, USA

problem #39

Aug 102006

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
On the back liftgate, the middle body piece has cracked again after being replaced around the Ford symbol. Dealer has replaced once and will not replace again. The axle housing is leaking next to the differential.

- Cheyenne, WY, USA

problem #38

Apr 192006

(reported on)

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
2002 Explorer hatch cracked. The consumer was told the reason why the hatch cracked was because the window and the panel were glued together and contracted at a different rate.

- Lackawanna, NY, USA

problem #37

Dec 112004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles
Broken plastic body panel on rear hatch of Explorer 2002--vertical break in panel piece occurred just after purchase. Crack widens in cold weather and shrinks in warm, so it can't be patched. Just cosmetic, but rampant with this car. Ford apparently developed a "better" panel, but it is not considering this a recall defect. Very frustrating, but probably should be expected behavior.

- Steamboat Springs, CO, USA

problem #36

Feb 172006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
Rear lift hatch, the piece of body under the glass, started out as a small crack. Now has split and separated all the way down. Took it to the dealership hoping to be treated with a little fairness. can be fixed, but at my expense.. doesn't seem right. It happened on it's own and I'm finding out I'm not the only one it's happened to. The numbers should show there is a problem and should be dealt with by the Ford company.

- Clovis, CA, USA

problem #35

Jan 082006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer XLS (45K miles) that was recalled in September 2004 for the back liftgate. I had the recall work done in August in 2005 at a local Ford dealership. In January of 2006, the liftgate suddenly developed a crack (3-4 inches in length)right below the back window, just to the right of center. After taking it into the dealership, they are claiming that since it is not under warranty, I will be responsible for the costs of repair (about $300). They are claiming that Ford has not issued a recall on this defect because Ford does not consider it a "safety issue". I believe it is definitely a safety issue because the crack is directly under the rear window and will probably grow in size the longer it goes unrepaired. A noticeable crack that suddenly develops under the back window would seem to be an obvious safety concern. Furthermore, it is a "customer service" issue which Ford should address. Also, I had no problems with cracking in the liftgate until after the recall work was done. These appear to be directly related. This is obviously a manufacturer defect and would seem to be a major safety concern. I have done research and I am not the only Ford customer having this same problem with the 2002 Explorer. I am expecting Ford to address this problem and accept responsibility for this defect in the 2002 Explorer.

- Carrollton, GA, USA

problem #34

Nov 232005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles
In November 2005, the rear liftgate applique of my 2002 Ford Explorer cracked overnight. The crack is directly in line with the rear windshield wiper. The local Ford dealership claims that they have seen several Ford Explorer with this same problem and it is caused by cold temperatures and windshield washer fluid getting into the plastic applique and forcing a crack. The night this occurred the temperature reached 10 degrees above zero. Because of this crack, I no longer can use this portion of the liftgate for fear that it will cause further damage to my vehicle. I called the Ford customer service line where the representative did an investigation into my claim and no warranty or recall will cover this defect. The approximate cost of the repair is $300. This is an obvious defect in the manufacturing of the vehicle and should be recalled and repaired at Ford's expense. This should not have happened to a vehicle that is made for inclement weather.

- Keedysville, MD, USA

problem #33

Dec 152005


  • miles
Upside down "Y" crack found in liftgate/hatch from bottom of rear window to bottom of hatch door, to the left of the Ford emblem. Brought car to dealership where I purchased it 3 yrs ago, but was told it wasn't covered - out of warranty. Am concerned about the stability of the rear window and liftgate. This product defect should be recalled by Ford and replaced at no charge.

- Berkeley Heights, NJ, USA

problem #32

Nov 072005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles
The contact stated the plastic on the hatchback under the window cracked. The dealer and manufacturer offered no free remedy. No repairs have been made.

- Reading , PA, USA

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