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:
79,256 miles
Total Complaints:
622 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. Ford should pay for it (396 reports)
  2. not sure (86 reports)
  3. paid to have rear panel replaced (48 reports)
  4. file complaint with NHTSA to get a recall issued (26 reports)
  5. start a class action suit and get damages reimbursed (17 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 10 of 32)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #442

Jun 072005

Explorer LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


Just all of a sudden appeared one day... you know the upside down Y above your license plate slightly to the right?! I was informed by the Body Shop Manager at a Ford Dealership that this was actually a defect and he recommended that I did not get it fixed due to being over a $1,000 and in hopes that it would be recalled soon... HELLO FORD 5 years later.. STILL WAITING!?!?! Now I notice it on nearly every 02 Explorer I drive by, and the ironic part is they are all the EXACT same, same size, same spot, same point where it breaks off onto the other line...

Nice work Ford! At least your consistent with something...

- , Madison, WI, USA

problem #441

Sep 242009

Explorer XLT 6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,465 miles

Like many others I to have the crack under the rear window. But I am experiencing moisture on the inside and water does seem to come in. Whenever I close the window it makes an awful noise and I think the window is going to break. I did nothing to make this happen and if so many other people are experiencing the same thing it must be a factory problem. I have other problems with this model that I can't spend 500.00 on this too.

- , Blue Island, IL, USA

problem #440

Mar 102009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

This is obviously a defective part, and Ford won't do anything about it. The repalcement fix cracked 1 1/2 years later!!!!

- , Mobile, AL, USA

problem #439

Jun 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,256 miles


I bought this explorer feb 18 2009 and it was perfect absolutly no problems about the first of june I noticed a crack next to my ford emblem on the plastic fairing strip under the rear window needless yo say I was very upset at first I thought someone had hit it I just couldn't figure out how then I noticed all these other explorers with the same exact crack I asked one of the women I work with about hers she pretty much had the same story so I googled problems with ford explorers and thats how I got here hopefully this will help cause some action from ford.

this is only my 1st ford the rest have all been GM products, maybe what I stick to from now on if ford doesn't take responsibility for these defects!!!

- , Mt. Serling, KY, USA

problem #438

Feb 182009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

I bought my Explorer used and last year I was getting some groceries out of the back. I thought something had dripped down the rear hatch; however, that was not the case. I could not believe it was broken. I thought something had hit it until I saw all of the rest of the Explorers around with same problem. I have always loved Ford products; therefore, I think they should step up to the plate.

- , Chadbourn, NC, USA

problem #437

Jul 152006

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles

I had the back panel replaced when it was still under warranty which fixed the problem temporarily, then about a year later another crack!

- , Cedar Hill, TX, USA

problem #436

Sep 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles


the rear panel under the back hatch window also broke in my 02 explorer. everytime it rains i get water in the cargo area. i have seen countless other explorers that have the same problem. you would think ford would fix this problem, especially with the financial woes auto companies are going through these days.

- , Kansas City, KS, USA

problem #435

Jun 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,800 miles

I have the same problem as everyone else here, but am also getting a wet interior rear floor. Does anyone know where this is coming from ? I can't seem to find any signs of leaking from roof, or around gate seal. Rear window unlatches, panel cracked, gloss black paint wearing off, undetermined leaks, cd player has eaten 3 cds... This is my 2nd Explorer, and while the 1st one was a dream (1992), this '02 has been a nightmare. I will never buy another FORD. They don't stand behind anything.

- , Riverview, FL, USA

problem #434

Feb 102010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

i went to get some items out of my ford one really cold day in sunny miami and before i opened the back door i notice a crack on the body bellow the rear window, i first thought somebody had hit it or the wife had knocked something out but it didn't have any knick or dents then as time went on i kept looking at every explorer that passed me by 8 out 10 had the same problem, obviously ford did a s...a.. job on this area not to mention others, they should do the right thing and recall this problem because is not an isolated case and is not sheap to repair either

- , Miai, FL, USA

problem #433

Sep 072009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,389 miles

Come on Ford stand behind you defalts and replace this rear window panel.

- , Calgary, AL, Canada

problem #432

Nov 052008

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles


We have our 2002 Explorer and one day I noticed this small crack in the back of the hatch right under where the window is at. I thought someone had messed with it so I was somewhat upset. I was driving around town and noticed quite a bit of the same year Explorers that had the same crack in the same spot. As time went on it got bigger and seems to get worse when it is cold out. They really should fix this problem since it is a flaw in the design.

- , Great Falls, MT, USA

problem #431

Oct 202009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

The plastic panel under the rear window cracked. I was concerned about water leaking in the tailgate and rusting the bottom out. I found out the the glass extends underneath the plastic so water would not have gotten in. So if you can live with the crack save yourself $500.

- , Montvale, NJ, USA

problem #430

Feb 012010

Explorer LXT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

ford should take care of this issue, replace and paint it free. My ford was pricey and they should stand be hide there name. own up to the defects

- , San Jose, CA, USA

problem #429

Oct 142009

Explorer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,565 miles

Rear door panel below the window cracked in two places.

- , Calgary, Alta, Canada

problem #428

Sep 302009

Explorer 4x4 Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

So I had to have the tires replaced due to Virginia Inspection Laws. I dropped my explorer off at the tire shop to have the tired put on and to the dealership to have the tires inspected. All of which was at night after dark. So inspecting the truck was the last thing on my mind I checked the tires and went on my way. Little to find at a day or two later that the back panel underneath the rear window next to the Ford Emblem is cracked.... Looks like crap, bugs me more than anything cause I want my car in good condition. Luckily havent opened the glass hatch just the main hatch to scared my window wont latch as many others have had happen to them. But with as many as my co workers and self have seen driving around this area it is Deffinatley a deffect in the vehicle if it has happen to so many of them. There should be a recall thats for sure!

- , Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #427

Mar 162010

Explorer XLT V8 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,250 miles

click to see larger images

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

Cracked and broken off trim under rear window. I've seen so many complaints regarding this problem that I'm not sure it's worth noting. My trim piece cracked off while in a carwash when it was being blown dry.

I wish there were some good solutions offered. I didn't see any that provided an econoical fix to this problem. I was hoping to see Ford step up and give some loyal customers a break on this chronic problem. Not sure what to do about fixing.

Update from Nov 11, 2014: Nothing has been done to fix the rear tailgate but just wanted to add some pictures.

- , Woodbury, MN, USA

problem #426

Jun 132007

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Yet another complaint about the crappy work by FORD! No recall as of yet on the back panel cracking below the rear window. We started out with just one. It happened over night and we thought maybe someone had threw something damaging it at first, until we read up on it and found out others were having the same thing happen over night as well. The second crack showed up just a year after the first one did. With this happening to so many cars, why has Ford not recalled this as a defect? Never again will I or anyone I know be a Ford customer!

- , Piedmont, SC, USA

problem #425

Feb 102010

Explorer Limited 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

click to see larger images

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

i cant believe that one day i walk up to my car and see this crack on my car.i start to freak out,what the hell is this? its an f-in car is in mint condition with 22in rims,and like a woman i treat her sweet n gentle as well as give her the attention my baby needs.but wait,the nightmare just got worse,are my eyes deceiving eyes are seeing around six more cracks they are getting worse till this day.i cant believe this sh*t is happening to my needs to step up and man up to see that this is a recall that needs to be attended.heeeeeelp.....

- , Beverlyhills, FL, USA

problem #424

Mar 272010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,483 miles

ford needs too step up and take care these complaints,all of these complaints should be e-mail too ford over and over.

- , Lincoln Park, MI, USA

problem #423

Dec 012007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I had the broken panel fixed under warranty the first time, back before 05. Then it happened again in 07. Called Ford and they said sorry not under warranty they won't fix it. I've seen so many of these panels cracked on Explorers, I don't know why this isn't a RECALL. Please Ford stand up and defend your product, fix this problem. Change the plastic to maybe an aluminum panel so it won't happen again. I like my Explorer, I've had very little problems with it. I've owned many many Ford vehicles and I am shopping for a new one. Don't make me go to some other automaker!!!!!!

- , Wheeling, IL, USA

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