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 11 of 32)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #422

Mar 012010

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles


This is unreal. I havent contacted Ford yet but was going to. Was told by the used car dealer I purchased my 2002 Explorer from that the problem of the rear hatch crack was common and I could contact Ford to have it fixed. After reading these post I now know that will not happed. Dont know what else to so except again "THIS IS UNREAL".

- , South Daytona, FL, USA

problem #421

Dec 172008

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

I see Ford Explorers all over town with the same problem - cracked panel below the rear hatch window. The dealership says no recall has been issued, so they can't help with any cost sharing on a repair. I'm researching how to go up the ladder on this one, and I'll likely never buy another Ford if they don't step up. My first Explorer was awesome - this one is falling apart with HALF the mileage of the other.

- , Lexington Park, MD, USA

problem #420

Feb 202010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

Similar story to the many many many others I read on your web site. The car had no problem and we parked it at the store and went in to shop and came back to find a vertival crack from the rear window down the entire back panel to the right of the Ford Logo. There was no contact with the car and I am sure of that because the salt and road dust were untouched. No one had opened or shut the rear window by that point that day and it definately did not have the crack before hand. It appars to me that this panel made of plastic has shrunk with age or something becuase there is now a real gap between the cracked sides - you can see into it and it is uniform the entire length.

This is mt third ford and I am pissed - I have an older chrysler with no issues like this that looks like new, but this looks crapy and stands out in my cars color. I am amazed by the number of complaints listed here for this and that ford doesn't consider it a defect - imagine if the steering wheel just fell off after some point. This occured on a sunny day with a temp of about 46 F - I note the car is over 7 years old and I also can't believe Ford tells people its fom closing the hatch too hard - I use the hatch every day and nothing has every happened to it or the glass.

- , Stamford, CT, USA

problem #419

Mar 182008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


I have a crack in the molding under the rear window. I tried to fix it temporally by injecting epoxy under the area that was seperating from the body. I used clamps to hold it until it dried. It actually looked pretty good. The door became very solid feeling again. Don't bother doing this. It only lasted a month before it came loose again. The crack actually causes the door/hatch to loose it's strength. A very flimsy door/hatch when it is cracked. I wonder if there is a safety hazard because of the instability? The upper hinges that go through the glass, also leak from all of the jarring when shut. I had to smear silicon over the window clamps. I couldn't loosen them and fix it properly because the leak had let road salt deteriorate the hinges. Was afraid to pull apart. I will fix it some day after I buy new hinges.

- , Osceola, WI, USA

problem #418

Oct 012002

Explorer Limited 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 500 miles

I had only had my new Ford Explorer 2002 for about a month. I was flying down the highway when I heard this strange flapping sound coming from the rear. It was the long exterior strip underneath the rear window. It had come halfway off and was flapping! Drivers were honking and flashing their lights to warn me. Since that day, I have had that defect repaired at least 5 times. On several occasions, it totally flew off and I had to stop my car and walk to my "strip" and throw it in the back of the car....seriously.....seriously? Are you kidding me? Oh yes, and when it got hot in the summer, it would just "melt" the glue they used and it would peel off in my! Ford repaired it so many times, I lost count actually. I finally threatened them with the "lemon law" and said this was the last time or I would file against them for a new car! Well, they shipped my car somewhere else besides a Ford repair shop, and they PILED the glue up underneath it so it was no longer flush, but it has not come off since then. OH.....but I forgot to mention that just this past year, 2009, it finally cracked into 2 pieces, but they are still glued on the car. Wow, that will really add to my resale value....THANKS FORD!

- , Summerville, SC, US

problem #417

Oct 172009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

Same as everyone else, I looked this up and noticed everyone had the same problem. My crack is to the right of my emblem. It actually cracked first back around '06 and had it repaired. It was still under warranty and they actually did replace the lift gate panel. Now three years later it happened again and of course it's not under warranty, and after calling first the dealership and then Ford themselves, no way, no help- were on our own. They NEED to recall this as a matter of customer satisfaction, because i will think twice about my next car or truck. Hundreds and hundreds of problems in the same area needs to be addressed. I still use the liftgate but always worry everytime I shut it that it will completely break. $30,000 is a lot of money, and while it won't be perfect forever, on my end i do my best to keep it as nice as possible, and Ford should buck up and recall this!!!!!!!!!

- , Saint Louis, MO, US

problem #416

Dec 102008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles


I wouldn't have mentioned this, but I saw another Explorer exactly like mine, with the rear window panel/back hatch cracked all the way across just like mine is. I thought it was an odd coincidence, but then I saw another one cracked in the same place in another town 30 miles away. (Different color, so I know it wasn't the same one).

- , Celina, OH, USA

problem #415

Nov 102009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

I am having the same problem with mine, the crack is on the right side of the rear Ford Emblem below the rear window.This looks to be a very common issue along with the transmission and wheel bearings. UGGGH

- , Englewood, OH, USA

problem #414

Feb 012008

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


- , Prosperity, SC, USA

problem #413

Dec 012004

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,427 miles

After complaining that Ford knew of the issue, dealer that I had purchased vehicle from agreed to cover half the $218 repair cost and furnish the panel also. They could not paint the panel to match, so they recommended taking it to another dealer that could and they would arrange for the appointment and parts delivery. Had it replaced in Jan. 2005 and paint, etc matched perfect. Had to pay the $218 for paint and labor upon pickup, but was reimbursed half of that by the original dealer.

Just went outside this morning (Feb.6, 2010) and noticed it was cracked again. Seems to be a cold weather issue? Probably will not go to the trouble to have it repaired this time, have not decided yet, vehicle is still in excellent condition other than this. Seems Ford discontinued this panel on it's latest Explorers.

- , Sanford, NC, USA

problem #412

Oct 312006

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,151 miles


I have the cracked panel by the Ford logo below the rear window on my 2002 ford explorer again. I paid to have this fixed at 40,000 miles and at 90,000 miles it happened again. Built Ford tough my ass. This is a design flaw and Ford refuses to fix it. The worst thing is I have a 2004 ford explorer and the same dam thing happened to it. You would think that after experiencing this problem in 2002 Ford would have done something about this. Instead they release the same sh*t on the 2004 model. When I went to the dealer with my 2004 with 50,000 miles on it they said they could fix it for $600.00 dollars. I told them that this problem should be recognized by Ford as a design problem and fixed for free. I even called Ford about it and got nothing but a run-around. I was looking to fix the problem myself but haven't been able to find a replacement panel on the internet. The dealer said they would sell me one for $150.00 dollars but I'd have to have it painted and assemble it myself. I thought why should I have to do this when it will happen all over again. The panel is poorly designed. Buck up Ford on the problem or you can kiss my business good-bye forever.

- , Colgate, WI, USA

problem #411

Jan 152010

Explorer XLT 4x4 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles

Other than the weird noise up front on my explorer, the plastic piece with the ford symbol is falling is halfway off and I tried gluing it myself but it doesn't stay...this should be recalled because it wouldn't take much for Ford to fix it...I don't want it falling off...this is nuts and Ford don't know what the noise is in my front end.

- , Palm Coast, FL, USA

problem #410

Sep 052009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

I too have had this mysterious crack appear beneath my back window. I asked the Ford service area about this to be told that it would cost me approximately 500 dollars to have repaired and that this was not a recall. I never had an accident, nor did anthing hit my car. This is a defect at the time of manufacture and have a hard time justifying why I should be the one with the cash outlay and not Ford. This will definately affect my decision to purchase another Ford in the near future.

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #409

Dec 232009

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,900 miles

I can't believe how many complaints there are about the crack in the rear panel below the rear window. When i first saw it, i thought someone had purposely damaged my vehicle. Today i brought my truck into a shop to get my bug shield replaced, and that's when i first heard about this defect. I called Ford Motor Co. to see if there were aware of any complaints or any recalls.Much to my surprise, the woman that i spoke to said, this was the first time that she has heard any complaint regarding the rear panel cracking. This was the recall division that i spoke to. I believe the only way ford will take responsibility will be to file a class action lawsuit. I think all those who have posted comments rearding this defect should call Ford Motor Co. toll free number in Detroit Michigan, and ask for the recall division and log your complaint Since they claim that they are unaware of this defect, it will surely get there attention if they get a few hundred calls.

- , Paterson, NJ, USA

problem #408

Jul 042004

Explorer XLS 4.0V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles

look at the explorers on the road , let me know how many you see with a crack in the plastic below the rear hatch.. ford told me when I inquired about this that I must have slammed the lift to hard ...I'm not sure if this issue expanded past the 02 models, but I know I have seen a LOT of them with this problem

- , Jackson, TN, US

problem #407

Jan 132010

Explorer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 16,784 miles

you know i have been afford person since i was old enough to drive my first car was a 49ford.i hace tried other but always come back to ford but in the last2 months i have dished out the money .first driver window quit working then in December i had the drive train and oil pump replaced and here it is January and the rear panel cracked under the window.cant hardly wait to see what February will bring in for the explorer . okay ford people i was nice but now im pissed .you make the cars sell them for ????? then when you know that something has a default you close your eyes and say screw the customer ,lets sell it anyway.well im sure the founders of ford would be real dam proud of all of you.

- , Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #406

Jan 102010

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

Was out shopping, no crack in liftgate panel when I went into store, cold out & parked with back of car was in sunlight. Came out to find panel had cracked while in the store. Crack is about 1/4" wide to the left of the Ford emblem, completely from top to bottom of panel. If I had known this was a common problem for 2002 Explorers, I might have considered a different vehicle. And since it is a common complaint, I feel this is a manufacturing defect & not an owner problem, as there is nothing in the manual to warn you about this problem. This is a cheap piece of plastic, that at minimum, is $120 for the piece itself. Not sure if this can be replaced by myself, or if it has to be done by the dealer. And what's to keep it from happening again?

Update from Jan 19, 2010: There are several Technical Service Bulletins covering this defect. If a dealer tells you it is because you slammed the hatch, they are lying. (BTW, if it cracked because of slamming the hatch, why would the hatch slam so easily? Sounds like another defect, and why doesn't the glass break?)

If you talk to anyone with Ford (at the dealership or at Ford itself) refer to this as Explorer Butt Crack. See their reaction to that.

Additionally I am having bumper stickers made up that say: "Here is my Explorer Butt Crack Ford defect, Ford won't fix it... For more info email:" There is an arrow that will point towards the crack.

If anyone is interested in one of these, just let me know. I think we can shame Ford into doing something, if we refer to is as Explorer Butt Crack & if they start seeing these bumper stickers EVERYWHERE, they won't be able to ignore the problem so easily. Thanks!

Update from Jan 19, 2010: BTW... the bumper stickers I'm offering are FREE... someone on another site deleted my post as it "appeared" to be soliciting. No where did I state on any of the 6 sites I posted that there was a charge for this. Sorry if I didn't make this crystal clear before, therefore I am doing it now. Thanks!

- , Harrisburg, PA, USA

problem #405

Sep 032009

Explorer Eddiie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,354 miles

came outside to find this crack to the back of my truck thinking someone did something but several days later i began seeing more and more trucks with same problem i called ford for them to tell me there is no recall for my 2002 model now that i have this i will be calling bck it must have something to do with the wireless keypad. but it is there problem not mine to fix!!!!!!

- , Elkton, MD, USA

problem #404

May 302006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

noticed slight crack, looked around and saw 2 other cars had same problem, took to maaco and they charged me 50.00 to paint and replace it.....cosmetic only, I thought it was serious, the part just pops off and new one glued back probably charges a whole lot more!!

- , Glen Allen, VA, USA

problem #403

Jun 022009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

This piece of trim is crap. I talked to a Ford Dealer and was told, tough. In fact, a large portion of the trim on this vehicle is inferior.

I really don't know what to do about the back door. I can't seem to find that Ford has improved a replacement part.


- , Norcross, GA, USA

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