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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
43,937 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 2)

problem #22

Jul 242014


  • 125,000 miles


Back tailgate panel was cracked (defect) and the back window just exploded when the tailgate was open.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #21

Jan 102009


  • 92,000 miles
Broken tailgate panel on Explorer my 2003 and 2002.

- Auburn, GA, USA

problem #20

Oct 022007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLT. Noticed a crack in the rear panel located below tailgate glass the crack is from top to bottom.

- Ontario, CA, USA

problem #19

Jan 042008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


2 large vertical cracks in back panel of tailgate extending down from window.

- Shoreham, NY, USA

problem #18

Aug 222006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Cracks appearing on the tailgate of 2002 Ford Explorer.

- Montgomery, AL, USA

problem #17

Dec 132006

Explorer 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles
In December, 2006, found crack in hatchack door just below the window. Called my dealership immediately to explain what I saw and what they would do to take care of this. I was told that it was only cosmetic and therefore would not pay to replace, that would be my responsiblility

- Downingtown, PA, USA

problem #16

Jan 082007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles


While closing rear tailgate window of 2002 Ford Explorer, fiberglass portion of the tailgate shattered. No injury was incurred; however, the potential does exist. Inquired manufacture, and was told they did not have a recall on this part therefore, they felt no liability to replace the part. Since the incident, I have noticed 5 Explorer with the same defect.

- Manchester, MO, USA

problem #15

Jun 152005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Tailgate exterior applique cracked for no apparent reason.

- Cocoa, FL, USA

problem #14

Nov 222006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,823 miles
Left panel below tailgate window cracked without any contact to vehicle - nothing hit the car and the car did not hit another vehicle.

- Hickory, NC, USA

problem #13

Jan 142007


  • miles
My 2002 Ford Explorer has a crack in the rear window as a result of a recall that occurred two years ago. I have personally seen 5 others with identical cracks. Ford is aware of it but refuses to take any accountable actions.

- Matthews, NC, USA

problem #12

Feb 082006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


I walked around the back of my 2002 Ford Explorer today to find the panel directly below my rear window was severely cracked in 3 places. I had a minor crack which I repaired on my own before. In neither instance did I have an accident or anything along those lines to cause the cracks. After doing some research on the internet and contacting a few Ford dealerships, I've discovered that hundreds, if not thousands of other 2002 Explorer owners have had the misfortune of experiencing similar problems. The phantom splitting of a body panel on a modern vehicle is a major design flaw. My vehicle's safety is now in question; I am concerned that the hatch-back glass is now not adequately supported due to the multiple cracks below it. Please, for the safety of all 2002 Explorer drivers and the travelers behind them on the road, see to it that this defect is remedied by Ford Motor Company with a product recall.

- Freeport, ME, USA

problem #11

Nov 192006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLT. Noticed a crack in the rear panel located below tailgate glass the crack is from top to bottom. The location of this crack is approximately 3 inches to the right of the Ford emblem under the rear tailgate window.

- St. Peters, MO, USA

problem #10

Jan 302007

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,891 miles
I have no idea what caused the problem but I believe it is a very common occurrence. I am (sorry 'was') the proud owner of a 2002 Ford Explorer eddie bauer V8 auto transmission. It has suddenly developed 2 stress cracks in the panel under the rear window - one actually goes right through the panel from end to end!. they were most certainly not there this morning when I parked my vehicle outside my office but it was extremely cold in atlanta today, I've read numerous articles on the internet this evening and I am absolutely alarmed to discover that the cracking is a common occurrence in this year/model Explorer in cold conditions - why is Ford not doing something about it??

- Buford, GA, USA

problem #9

Jan 242007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,895 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.

- Sumter, SC, USA

problem #8

Dec 142006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,500 miles
There are no identifiable event leading up to the discovery of the problem. It was cold at night when I found the problem, but the car is in the garage. Problem: Ford Explorer 2002 rear tailgate crack. The tailgate has a clean crack from top to bottom under and to the right of the Ford oval. I have not yet replaced the tailgate. I have read numerous complaints of this same problem all over North America.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #7

Dec 152006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,500 miles
The tailgate under the glass that lifts up is cracked all the way down from the glass to the part where you can lift the whole tailgate right by the key hole. I have noticed a few others cracked in the exact same place while driving around town. I have informed mitsibishi where I bought it used but they say I have to contact Ford. What do I do?

- Mesquite, TX, USA

problem #6

Dec 092006


  • miles
Crack appeared under back glass on drivers side all the way through panel down past Ford emblem, another crack is on passenger side back all the way threw, but not down quite as far.

- Pekin, IN, USA

problem #5

Dec 092006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles
Vertical crack all the way through rear-panel below rear glass about 2 inches to the right of the Ford emblem. Have seen other Explorer around with the same crack.

- Kronenwetter, WI, USA

problem #4

Nov 112005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles
In may, 2005, Ford dealer performed fix for NHTSA recall 04V442000. This recall is intended to prevent the rear tailgate glass from failing. The alarming issue is that 5 months after the recall fix was performed, the real tailgate glass exploded while the tailgate glass was in the open position. This occurred inside a closed garage so wind was not an issue. The force of the explosion sent thousands of pieces a glass flying as far as 15 feet. This could have injured anybody standing near the rear of the car. In this case, nobody was near the glass when it exploded. Perhaps there is a design defect in the recall fix, or perhaps the recall fix was installed incorrectly. Both the Ford dealer and Ford Motor Company have refused to take responsibility for repairs costs.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #3

Jan 252005

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer XLT 6 inch crack under window.

- Coweta, OK, USA

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