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 15 of 32)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #342

Mar 012008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


Got the vehicle from my brother-in-law. He said this website is crawling with people complaining about this. It is a Ford problem, but they are just being schmucks and won't stand behind their product.

- , Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #341

Feb 142009

Explorer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,061 miles

This crack was already in the vehicle when I bought it second-hand, but when I researched it on the net and discovered that EVERY 2002 FORD EXPLORER apparently has the same problem AND Ford won't recall or fix it, I was stunned. How can the many and varied faults of this vehicle go unchecked.

Ford, you need to have a good look at yourself. This is my first Ford and most likely MY LAST!

- , Brisbane, QLD, Australia

problem #340

Feb 062009

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

As the problem for many Explorer drivers, the panel is cracked. Repair cost is high. Ford should recall on this.

- , Urbandale, IA, USA

problem #339

Mar 022009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles


The adhesive part is also a pain in the ass. What is the best adhesive to use so this panel stays on ? This is the second time I replaced this piece. There are three other fords where I work and all have the same crack on the rear panel. All except one are 2002 explorers the other is a mountaineer.

Ford won't stand by their product. My next truck will be a Toyota.

- , NEwton, MA, USA

problem #338

Jan 152009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,494 miles

click to see larger images

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

My 2002 Ford Explorer XLT rear panel under the window suddenly cracked in January this year (2009), when we had extreme cold weather here in Montana. I was furious and accused my children of wrecking my car. Then, after much investigating figured that no one had driven it to wreck it, and I surely had not wrecked it, we assumed that the weather had caused it to crack on a FLUKE. I was at the post office the other day, and a man came up and asked if I was driving the red Explorer with the back cracked rear panel below the window. When I said "yes", he told me that his Explorer had done the same thing and that he started noticing all other Explorers that he saw like ours, and ALL OF THEM WERE CRACKED AS WELL. He said that after MUCH billowing, the local Ford dealer here had replaced it and admitted that they knew it had been a problem with our make and model. He said to complain LOUDLY, and that they would probably replace it. I did not buy my Explorer from the Ford dealer, so I think I have little chance of getting it replaced. THIS IS RIDICULOUS! Ford KNOWS that this panel should have been recalled, and they are getting away with making us Ford owners replace it. That's not fair, to say the least! All of us need to write and complain to Ford and to our local dealers, and perhaps they will take notice and warranty their defect. In today's economy, few of us can afford to throw away the cost of replacing that panel, and especially when it should be Ford's problem to fix it. I will do as Carol, who posted on here, is doing and start writing down colors of Explorers and their license plate numbers and compile a list of complaints to Ford as well. And, if I can, I will take pictures of the ones that have cracked back panels for the record. Perhaps Oprah or 60 minutes will listen to this "rip off" by Ford. I also own an older Ford Explorer, and you can rest assured that this will be the last Ford product that I buy.

- , Billings, MT, USA

problem #337

Jan 012005

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

I have noticed that other Ford Explorers have had this same problem, that means that there is a manufacturer defect and that they should repair this issue.

- , Mokena, IL, USA

problem #336

Apr 152008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


nearly all of the explorers have this defect yet there is no recall or replacement this is clearly a factory defect.

- , Dexter, MO, USA

problem #335

Jun 102004

Explorer EB 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles

After dealership replaced the first one (cracked) down the middle, this one was glued with the glue applied like a "W", so when you opened the window in the garage about 2-3 oz of water dripped/ran out on the floor. Dealer replaced it again and applied the glue in verticle strips, to allow rainwater to run out from behind.

- , Iowa City, IA, USA

problem #334

Jan 152009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Crack first appeared a couple of years ago. It just recently cracked all the way through. I have seen several other explorers in parking lots with the same problem and suspected there would be hundreds, if not thousands, of complaints on the internet. Ford needs to step up to the plate and fix this. We will never buy another Ford on account of this and a few other problems we've had.

- , Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #333

Feb 022008

Explorer XLT V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

ford should own up to this quality issue.every time I see a ford explorer I see a cracked panel.I keep receiving mail to purchase a new will not happen,any services i need like new tires,oil change, will not get my business until this is resolved.I am taking my truck to a local private garage for service needs.I asked for this to be replaced ford said I would have to pay for the labor and the cracked where else on this truck is a crack except the rear is so obvious that this is a ford quality problem.what a shame.

- , Wakeforest, NC, USA

problem #332

Oct 152004

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,000 miles


We also have this cracked panel below our rear window. The rear window just recently exploded on my wife while getting in the back to get groceries out. Ford put recall hinges on in 2006 but they have not resolved this issue. It appears the entire back rear hatch area was poorly designed and consumers are paying for Fords poor design. Ford needs to resolve this issue and make it right.

- , Dixie, WA, USA

problem #331

Apr 012007

Explorer XLT ??

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

like many explorer owners, I too have the rear window cracked panel. mine is cracked in three places. every explorer I see has one or more of these. Ford should stand behind their vehicles and fix this.

- , Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #330

Jan 212009

Explorer Limited 4.8L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,000 miles

Crack occurred by itself in January, talked with Ford dealer about it and they offered no help. This should be recalled. This is a defect either caused by poor assembly method, design or part quality. This has nothing to do with usage.

- , Newton, NC, USA

problem #329

Feb 062009

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

this seems to be a common failure.This should be a recall item.

- , Saint Paul, MN, US

problem #328

Feb 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles

I noticed there was a crack to the left side of the Ford emb. under my back window. My Explorer was in perfect condition. Clean no cracks chipped paint or anything. Now there is a crack all the way down the panel. I read the other complaints and started looking at passing Explorers...yep 9 out of 10 had the cracks. Even saw one with 3 cracks today. I am spreading the word on this...obviously it is a problem with Ford Explorers. Ford should recall this and pay to have it fixed.

- , Conroe, TX, USA

problem #327

Jan 032009

Explorer XLS 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

I own a 2002 ford explorer and had the same problem with the cracked panel below the rear window. This happened in extremely cold weather this past January. My daughter has a 2005 ford explorer and hers did the same thing in the same week as mine. Kind of ironic. However, ford told her there was no recall, so I haven't bothered to call yet. I have been taken note when in parking lots and on the road and have noticed many explorers with the same problem. I have been writing down license plate numbers and color and plan on sending a report to ford when I compile enough vehicles. I am also considering notifying the local tv channels to see if they will do report on this. I think if they would broadcast this problem to the public, that we will possibly get numerous other people to call in there complaints. This is definitely a defect and ford doesn't want to take responsibility for it. I think if others with this problem would try to do the same, that we could possibly make ford take responsibility for this problem. I know there are alot more people out there with this problem and aren't saying anything.

Please, Please, if you are as irritated with this problem as I am, Stand Up and be heard.

Contact someone in your area that could possibly bring us more complaints.

- , Underwood, IN, USA

problem #326

Feb 092009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,363 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

This crack was first noticed yesterday. My wife insisted on buying this Explorer new. It was ordered and the first 2002 to come in to the dealership. I have been a ford person for many years and have 2 other fords that I am happy with. Maybe it is time to change to Honda or Toyota.

- , Cosby, TN, USA

problem #325

Feb 062009

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,480 miles

I was amazed to see that it topped the list of offences. Since I noticed mine I have seen it on numerous other Explorers. I was wondering if it has anything to do with the recall for the hinge replacement in the rear window. Could it be a side effect from that defect that causes the breakage right near the latch? I've had times where I've had to close the window repeatedly to make sure it closed. Alignment issues stemming from the hinge make the gate not hit the latch properly thus causing a focused hit on the plastic just as bad as hitting it with a hammer. Maybe the government isn't the way to go... class action suit seems like a better threat to get action taken.

- , Newport News, VA, USA

problem #324

Jan 132009

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

I noticed a crack on the rear lift gate panel right below the window during a cold spell we were having where temps reached below zero. The crack goes straight down and then a piece branches off that goes diagonal at the bottom and looks as though if it goes much further that piece will break off. That will be wonderful for trade in value. I called Ford Motor Company and received the typical answer of the truck is not under warranty and there is no recall and I should take it to the dealer where I purchased it and have it fixed. Thanks for nothing and this will be the last Ford I buy and will discourage anyone I know from doing the same!! If all of these people are having the same trouble why is there not a recall? I have a feeling a good rain storm and the water is going to cause further problems.

- , Winchendon, MA, USA

problem #323

Dec 182008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Add me to the list of many ford explorer customers that don't get defects fixed and probably won't buy another ford!!!

- , Burlington, CT, USA

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