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 13 of 32)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #382

Apr 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


This crack appeared overnight, literally! I thought someone in a parking lot had backed into my car. Since my car is parked in our driveway by itself, that couldn't be the case. Then I started noticing other Explorers around town with the same problem! I haven't taken it into the dealership yet, thought I'd check it out on the internet before doing so....I'm not filled with optimism about the chances of Ford doing the right thing, but at least I know what to expect. I've been very loyal to Ford; this is my second Explorer, but if they won't fix it at least in part, it will be my last.

- , Bloomington, IN, USA

problem #381

Oct 212009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 156,000 miles

I noticed my rear window panel had cracked today from top to bottom (both sides of the Ford logo emblem). At first, I was dumbfounded that this could occur, but after finding this web site and reading numerous complaints about the same problem, I'm really perplexed. I plan to take it to a local Ford dealership soon to see what they will do. It just so happens I was planning to take it in for a recall on a defective cruise control that can catch fire. This cracking issue should certainly be a recall, too.

- , Blairsville, GA, USA

problem #380

Oct 112009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,866 miles

Very upset to see this huge crack this morning! I have loved this vehicle from the day we purchased it. Until now. We have always purchased Fords for their performance and quality. If this problem is not rectified by Ford, I will be singing another tune!

- , Polson, MT, USA

problem #379

Oct 012009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,500 miles


I own a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT and the panel under the rear window has cracked for the second time. I had this repaired in 2005 when it cracked the first time and Ford had an assistance program so it only cost me $50.00. I was assured that the new part would correct the defect. Well here it is October 1st, 2009 and the Damm thing cracked again. I called the local dealership, but they were no help at all. The repair cost would be $450.00. I then called Ford Service direct and got a very uncaring 1-800 rep. who took my information, then basically told me I was screwed. It is amazing that FORD will not stand behind a known defect! I have taken very good care of the SUV and it still looks like new. Now I am stuck with a big crack in the ASS! I probably will not buy another ford based on the uncaring nature of their company.

- , Fort Collins, CO, USA

problem #378

Jul 252009

Explorer 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

I have a 2002 Ford Explorer with a Cracked Panel Below The Rear Window. I feel if I paid $30,000 for my SUV. I feel it should be a recall item that can be fixed for free through ford. My truck is in very good condition as the paint and interior goes. With this crack in the back it makes my truck look like crap. I am going to go to the Ford Dealership and show them what has happen and see if it will get replaced for free. I will let everyone know that is having the same problem if Ford holds up on there part and fix the rear crack panel for free.

- , Tacoma, WA, USA

problem #377

Mar 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 149,129 miles

I didn't realize this was an issue for other Explorer owners until I read it here!

I too thought something must have hit my car & cracked that piece of plastic. I was forever blaming my husband for it!! SORRY HUNNY!!

Oddly enough, we first saw the "Y" shaped crack in the spring, over the summer it seemed to disappear, then in the winter it looked like the grand canyon!! Has anyone else noticed that??

I think its absolutely ridiculous that something as simple as this hasn't been fixed by Ford. Talk about not caring to save face! Well thats fine with me. This coupled with the transmission problems I've been having, I'll NEVER buy another Ford again for as long as I live!! I wouldn't even take one if you GAVE it to me!

- , Binbrook, Ontario, Canada

problem #376

Jul 162007

(reported on)

Explorer Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles


Last summer I noticed a 6 inch long gash below the rear window, thin, almost as if it was etched. It is a deep crack, confirmed by my body shop. Ford seems to have an excuse for everything, and now I'm out of warranty and seemingly out of luck. The body and paint on this car has given me multiple problems, from paint chipping to the panels fading/cracking and now this rear panel cracking.

- , Broomall, PA, USA

problem #375

Jan 092006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • 105,000 miles

It is quite amazing how Ford continues to maintain the same position. How can you issue a bulletin for the repair of a defective part, but not acknowledge any liability for its repair? This is blatant corporate arrogance.

You have the gall to assert customer satisfaction is one of your most important objectives. This of course is second only to Quality is Job One... right?

I will post your response at the following site. shtm

----- Original Message ----- From: To: RMalave Sent: Monday, January 09, 2006 5:38 PM Subject: Ford Motor Company

Dear Ruben,

Thank you for contacting the Ford Motor Company Customer Relationship Center regarding your inquiry towards a defective part on your vehicle.

The circumstances that you have outlined in your original e-mail have been given careful consideration. Our records indicate that you contacted the Ford Customer Relationship Center via phone and our Customer Service Representative addressed your vehicle concern. If any new information regarding this matter should become available in the future, please let us know. However, at this time our decision remains the same.

We consider the satisfaction of our customers one of our most important objectives. If you have any other inquiries or concerns, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to address them for you.

Sincerely, Phil Customer Relationship Center Ford Motor Company

- , Marlboro, NJ, USA

problem #374

Oct 122004

Explorer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

We were going down the highway and half of the piece of plastic under the rear window just FLEW OFF and hit the car behind us!!!!! This could have gone through her window and decapitated this poor woman!!! I hate this stupid POS. Just one of the MANY problems we've had.

- , Severna Park, MD, USA

problem #373

Nov 262007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

Same issue as the rest, the gap is from top to bottom of the panel and the gap is pretty wide. Seems there was a lot of tension on it.

Q: Can someone confirm if there is truly a risk that the panel could fly off?

Actions I will take:

1) file complaint with Ford - 800-392-3673 - done. The benefit here is when the Fed comes to them and asks "how many complaints" they by law must disclose. So call in, it takes a minute, and for now, expect to go no where, but it is documented.

2) Advertising - I did not know this site existed until I googled it. I am thinking a well placed bumper sticker on the offending cracked panel with "Got Crack?" and an arrow to the crack. Sufficiently controversial for people to look and help others like us find our place here. More importantly, it will look great when it goes into the local Ford Dealer for servicing. Just think of all the off lease Explorers they have to sell. You can order bumper stickers off the web, or perhaps print your own off your inkjet? (Avery label number 8255 is a permanent sticker you can likely order from your office supply store and make your own) Perhaps you only really need it on the day the truck goes in for service, if it is that ugly.

3) Report to Fed - which entity accepts these types of complaints? It does not seem to be So where?

It all about Documentation and Pressure, especially when it impact's Ford sales.

- , Fairfield, CT, USA

problem #372

Jan 032007

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,500 miles


I’m still blown away that Ford didn’t do anything to fix this problem. Talk about horrible costumer service. It looks terrible. I have personally seen 6 other Explorers on the road with this problem.

- , Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #371

Sep 152009

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

Found one other vehicle like ours with the same complaint. Called ford and they refused to pay for it. Had to pay for it with my own money.

- , Cloverdale, IN, USA

problem #370

Mar 292009

Explorer Limted V8 (4.6L)

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

click to see larger images

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

Couldn't believe this many people have complained and it hasn't been addressed - noticed mine when offloading from a fairy ride, thought something must have hit/or twisted it - was small at first now significant - worried about effects of impending winter.

- , Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #369

Jul 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,048 miles

Panel below the rear window cracked all the way from top to bottom from normal driving conditions. From what I've read this is not an isolated occurrence, a lot of people have found this crack appear on it's own. I haven't bothered to get a quote to see how much a new panel would cost because I'm sure it's more than I'm going to pay for some cosmetic crack.

- , North Tonawanda, NY, USA

problem #368

Jan 122009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles

After reading the boards here it's obvious Ford has a problem. I had no crack, took my SUV in to be repaired with the hinge recall and less than a year later I had a small crack, top to bottom in that panel. Now it's wider and a real eye sore. This is annoying as I take perfect care of the vehicle and was hoping to have it a long time. Looks like Toyota might get my business next time.

- , Rochester, NY, USA

problem #367

Oct 242008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

The back panel under the read window on my truck is cracked in 3 places. The Ford Dealership in Woodbury, NJ, informed us it would cost $450.00 to fix. B.S. - Ford should be recalling this, I see alot of 2002 Ford Explorers with the rear panel CRACKED!! This is Extremely frustrating since the SUVS cost alot. What I don't want is another piece of CRAP-American Made CAR. What a shame our country's automobile industry can't produce a good vehicle. (i found chevy's to be the same with their interior)

- , Woodbury, NJ, USA

problem #366

Jan 022008

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Manual transmission
  • 60,000 miles

When I first noticed this it started out as small vertical scratches. I almost confronted my neighbor about this because I suspected vandalism. I'm glad I did not. I started noticing other Explorers with the same problem. I'm going to make a complaint to Ford in the am.

- , San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #365

Feb 042008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 159,000 miles

Well, add my name to the list of Un Happy Ford Customers! I also have the crack under the rear window. I was un-sure what happened until I noticed the other 2002 Explorers in the state of Michigan also have the same crack in the same place! I am so ANGRY I just may print all of these complaints and send them off to Fords! I would think in todays economy Fords would want to keep their customers happy? I guess I thought wrong!!

- , Livonia, MI, USA

problem #364

May 232005

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

At first it started as a minor crack, I had bought the car at a ford dealership at night and didn't see it, after several months is grew until it cracked the panel, then another started.

- , Austin, TX, USA

problem #363

Sep 202008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Panel under glass rear window developed a crack. For no apparent reason the panel split vertically right above, below and under the blue FORD elliptical logo. This is about the 10th problem with this Ford 2002 Exlporer, here is the list: 1) Transmission rebuilt due to slipping / clunking 2) Both front wheel hubs were replaced due to a lot of steering wheel vibration 3,4) Rear AC mixer door (flapper) was replaced at 35,000 miles and again at 70,000. 5) Factory or dealer fitted Chapman alarm, prevents vehicle from starting (ongoing prob) 6) Emissions test failed due to exhaust sensor issue 7) Serpentine belt squealing from about 50,000 miles 8) Rear window lift cyclinder broke free from mounting (after recall upgrade was installed). 9) Black panels between side windows and rear quarters were replaced due to fading / flaky appearnance.

- , Chandler, AZ, USA

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