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:
42 / 0
Average Mileage:
30,565 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 1 of 9)

problem #166

Jan 192016


  • 135,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that one of the hinges on the liftgate window was rusted out and separated. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 135,000.......updated 04/01/16

- Eau Claire, WI, USA

problem #165

Oct 312015


  • 111,043 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. Upon opening and closing the rear hatch, the rod on the driver side fractured which caused the glass to shatter. The vehicle was parked at the contact's residence. The vehicle was not diagnosed. The VIN was not available. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 111,043. Updated 1/15/16

- Poteau, OK, USA

problem #164

Nov 022014


  • 117,000 miles
There was a recall for faulty hinges years back, Ford replaced. I noticed faulty hinge when waxing vehicle, hinge is askew. Called Ford customer service, verified it would need replacing or glass window could fall off, informed I would have to pay for repair. Since the faulty hinge is their product, I think they are responsible, and it is a safety hazard. I have had this car serviced every 3 months since I bought it. It is well maintained, I have spent a fortune replacing faulty Ford parts. The glass hinge is a Ford hazard that I believe Ford is responsible for.

- Darien, IL, USA

problem #163

Sep 202014


  • 100,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle was recently repaired according to NHTSA campaign number: 04V442000 (structure), but the failure was not remedied. The liftgate hinge fractured and caused the glass to shift. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 100,000.

- Reading , PA, USA

problem #162

Aug 122013


  • miles
The hinges on the back hatch are breaking. I have contacted Ford on several occasions and they state this was already fixed once under recall. Therefore, I will have to pay to have it fixed again. If the safety recall was completed properly, I do not think it should be failing again; therefore, I believe they did not fix it properly the first time and since it was a recall, I feel they should have to fix it again. This will be a serious issue if the window completely breaks off. Please advise.

- S Williamsport, PA, USA

problem #161

Apr 252011


  • 135,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the liftgate glass shattered without warning. The contact received notification of NHTSA campaign id number: 04V442000 (structure: Body: Hatchback/liftgate: Hinge and attachments) and the vehicle was taken to the dealer for repairs. One year later, the contact noticed a fracture through the middle of the liftgate and the liftgate would not close properly. The dealer was contacted and they advised him that were only mandated to repair the failure under the recall once. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 135,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Corona, CA, USA

problem #160

Oct 292010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 147,000 miles


While raising the glass section of the liftgate on my 2002 Ford Explorer, the left strut became disengaged, and the back glass exploded. We were very lucky that no one was hurt, as my brother literally had the glass in his hands when it exploded, and my daughter and I were standing right next to him. Please note, the glass did not merely shatter. It exploded. I bought this vehicle from carmax last year, and found that there were a couple of recalls on the vehicle that had not been taken care of, one of which included the replacement of the strut brackets and hinges on the liftgate. Upon reviewing my service invoice, I found that only the liftgate hinges were replaced; the strut brackets were not. I had the vehicle towed to the Ford dealership who performed the recall service originally, and they notified Ford. Ford claimed that the struts had been replaced in 2002 ~ which was two years before the recall even occurred. Therefore, they would not cover any of the repair. How do I know that faulty struts were not installed in 2002, since the recall didn't even occur until 2 years later? I have read other complaints online about this, and it is amazing that Ford gets away with this! this is my last Ford, that's for sure! this is my second Explorer, and I have been a very loyal customer, but no more! Ford does not stand behind it's product and they apparently do not care about the safety of their customers.

- Spring Hill, TN, USA

problem #159

Jan 152005


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the hinge in the rear liftgate was fractured and the liftgate would not remain in place. The vehicle was repaired under NHTSA campaign id number: 04V442000 (structure:body:hatchback/liftgate:hinge and attachments) yet the failure recurred. The dealer advised the contact that he would be liable for repairs. The manufacturer was not notified. The vehicle was not further repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 60,000 and the current mileage was approximately 115,000.

- New Hudson, MI, USA

problem #158

Jul 312010


  • 119,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated the hinges on the rear lift gate fractured in half and the window glass fell and was hanging from the rear of the vehicle. The contact tied down the glass to prevent it from falling and shattering. The contact was advised by the dealer that his VIN was not included with NHTSA campaign id number: 04V442000 (structure: Body: Hatchback/lift gate: Hinge and attachments). The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 119,000.

- Atopka, FL, USA

problem #157

Apr 212010


  • 112,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving approximately 30 mph, the rear window fell off track. He attempted to keep the window in place by using duct tape. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer and the manufacturer were not notified. The contact found NHTSA campaign id number 04V442000, structure body, hatchback/lift gate, hinge and attachments which was related to his year, make and model vehicle; however, he was unable to confirm if his VIN was included. The approximate failure and current mileages were 112,000.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #156

Dec 292009

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 75,600 miles


A vertical crack in the lift-gate below the rear window. No apparent other damage to vehicle. Discovered when preparing to open rear hatch. Extends from window downward to latch/release point. Updated IVOQ 01/08/10.

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #155

Nov 082009


  • 98,000 miles
Following the NHTSA campaign #04V442000 recall replacement of the hinge on the rear hatchback of my 2002 Ford Explorer, cracks in the body have appeared in the paneling around the rear tailgate window. These cracks appear to be stressed induced and may pose a hazard to the rear window if the framing around the window continues to degrade and crack.

- Ashburn, VA, USA

problem #154

Jul 092009


  • 139,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. When the contact lifted the hatch on the vehicle, the glass stuart brackets popped off and cut his head and wrist. There is a recall for this failure. The NHTSA campaign id number was unknown. The current and failure mileages were 139,000.

- Sun City, AZ, USA

problem #153

Nov 052008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 63,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. When the contact opened the liftgate on the vehicle, the rear glass suddenly shattered. There were no injuries; however, a piece of glass landed in the contact's hair. The insurance adjuster was notified of the failure. The vehicle was inspected and it was discovered that the liftgate glass strut brackets failed. The manufacturer stated that the vehicle had previously been repaired for NHTSA campaign id number 04V442000 (structure:body:hatchback/liftgate:hinge and attachments). The recall remedy has not corrected the safety defect. The vehicle will be taken to an authorized dealer for repair. The contact was concerned of the safety risk involved. The failure and current mileages were 63,000. Updated 12/15/08. Updated 12/15/08.

- Hurley, NY, USA

problem #152

Jun 282008


  • 43,212 miles
This is the second time my rear panel below the window hatch on my 2002 Ford Explorer has cracked. This time it cracked and flew off on the highway. 2 vehicles behind me had to Dodge the debris, and fortunately there were no accidents.

- Clay, NY, USA

problem #151

Jun 212008


  • 136,739 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While the vehicle was parked and the rear tailgate hatch window was a quarter of the way down, the contact's son retrieved items from the trunk and the middle piece of the rear end was literally hanging off. The window glass shattered everywhere. His son was uninjured, but the contact believes that this should not have occurred if no pressure was applied to the window itself. The contact drove to the dealer and was informed that the failure was not covered under warranty, nor a recall. The current and failure mileages were 136,739.

- Marietta, CA, USA

problem #150

Apr 082008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles
About three weeks ago I noticed a crack on the fiberglass piece of the rear hatch lid of my 2002 Ford Explorer. I didn't think much about it until today when I got to looking for the price of a rear window. While searching I seen that there was alot of people that had this problem and that some had even had the window shatter on them. Well I am now one of them. Today as I opened my rear hatch the passenger side piece that secures the window to the body of the Explorer just fell off causing the window to shatter and glass to cut my arms, and face, and also sent pieces of glass into my eye.

- Maynardville, TN, USA

problem #149

Oct 012005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
After seeing other 2002-2006 Ford Explorer on the street with the same problem of having a crack in the rear panel right below the rear window I decided to see if there was anything we could do about it. I know there was a recall to replace the hinges because the door would slam shut which I believe caused the crack. I talked to Ford when it first occurred and they said based on my mileage they would not fix it and it would cost about 500. My question to Ford was what does the mileage have to do with what I believe was a recall defect that ultimately caused this problem? I noticed on the new model Explorer they redesigned them so the glass opens up without the panel. After reading other complaints I am now concerned that the window could actually fall out if the door is shut and could break and cause an injury. I would like to file a formal complaint and hopefully get this resolved soon.

- Lisle, IL, USA

problem #148

Mar 102008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,200 miles
The rear liftgate applique cracked in the middle resulting in the right side completely falling off the vehicle. The part that is still attached to the vehicle is loose on the edges due to inefficient adhesive. Apparently there are hundreds of complaints of this exact defect occurring to other owners of 2002 Explorer. This is also a completely replaced rear window following the shattering of the original one in March 2004 due to bad struts. After having the shattered window replaced, it completely fell off the following year due to the faulty hinge (which was recalled). I have an estimate of over $700 from the Ford dealer to fix this applique. I feel that with this many complaints it's inexcusable for Ford to not issue a recall. I will never purchase a Ford again after this nor will anyone in my family with this type of customer service.

- Huntsville, AL, USA

problem #147

Dec 072007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact noticed that the rear glass was cracked from the top to the bottom of the glass. He noticed another crack beginning to form at the top as well. One crack is in the center and the other is on the top right. The manufacturer stated that they would assume a small portion of the cost to have the glass replaced, but did not state whether the failure would recur. The failure mileage was 25,000 and current mileage was 46,700. Updated 04-02-08

- Paradise , CA, USA

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