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 16 of 32)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #322

Feb 052009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles


I have read other's problems with this same issue and I am shocked that Ford has not issued a recall when it is clear there is a problem with this part. I live in Buffalo NY and believe the rear hatch door cracked directly below the window 2 days ago due to temperature. However I believe that a great deal of people who purchase SUVs live in areas who experience snow and cold weather ,hence the need for 4 wheel drive.The body of this vehicle should also be able to withstand the climate, OUTRAGEOUS FORD!! DO THE RIGHT THING AND ISSUE THE RECALL!!!!

- , Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #321

Dec 012008

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles

I attempted to have the situation resolved by Ford. My warranty had expired so they said I'd have to pay for the repair myself. I know of five (5) other Explorers including the one my department issued to me for patrol. It seems Ford should recall this problem. Unless, maybe, they have and I didn't know it. My dealership didn't mention any recall. Anyone with any suggestions?

- , Martinsburg, WV, USA

problem #320

Mar 072008

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

We just came out one day and the panel was cracked. Hate this vehicle.

- , Mount Airy, MD, US

problem #319

Dec 032008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles


I have noticed many other explorers with the same problem. I have checked with Ford Motor company and there is NO recall for this issue. If so many people are having the same problems, it has to be a defect in the making of the part. There was a vertical crack to the right of the ford emblem just under the window on the back hatch in December. There is the same vertical crack with 2 cracks now coming off of the original one. I sure hope that it does not get to the point where the pieces come off of the car! FORD SHOULD BE RESPONSIBLE FOR GETTING ALL OF THESE CUSTOMERS TAKEN CARE OF! IF THE GOVERNMENT IS GOING TO GIVE THEM MONEY TO "BAIL" THEM OUT OF DEBT, THE LEAST THEY COULD DO IS FIX EXISTING CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS FIRST~

- , Rustburg, VA, USA

problem #318

Jan 222009

Explorer XLT 3.2L Vy

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,650 miles

I was astonished to first see it happen and second that it is a COMMON problem among Explorers! Oh yeah I was told, you have "Explorer Crack". What the hell is that? They know about this and do nothing? Ford's attitude is tough stuff. I come from a FORD family and I am disgusted with Ford's attitude on this obvious design flaw. This will be my last Ford. Forever!

- , St Louis, MO, USA

problem #317

Jun 162008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

Ford told us that because we had already had a replacement panel we couldn't have another. The cost of fixing it is over $300 (Craig's Collision Center quote). The annoying thing is they redesigned the back door which is an admission of the problem, but they refuse to accept responsibility for fixing vehicles on the road. We bought this car new but, sadly, will not be buying Ford again.

- , Grapevine, TX, USA

problem #316

Jan 222009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


Wow .....FORD step up and take care of do not need to ^&&(&^$ a loyal ford family.

- , Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #315

Jun 012008

Explorer LT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Looking at how far the US auto industry sales have dropped and how they are asking for and receiving a bailout, you would think the very first thing they would do is make sure their customers are happy. Customer service is horrible at many companies and one of my biggest complaints.

- , Centennial, CO, USA

problem #314

Jan 202009

Explorer XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

I just found the crack on Wednesday, January 21 and took it over to the Ford company. I was instructed to go to the shop and talk to the guy over there. He immediately stated that the back panel was cracked. I asked him how did he know, did they call from Parts he stated no, that another person had brought their car over with the same problem and asked if it was 2002 and I said yes. I wanted to know if this was a factory defect and he said no. My immediate thought was if you knew what was wrong before I told you then it should be listed as a factory defect and the Ford Corporation should take care of it. He quoted me a price for having this job done. I want this taken care of so I will probably go ahead and have it fixed, but I think that if enough complaints come in with the same identical problem that the Ford Corporation should be held responsible and reimburse the customers that have already paid and take care or any future ones that come in with the same problem.

- , Hattiesburg, MS, USA

problem #313

Jan 022009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

Noticed this problem a couple of months ago, have since noticed at least a dozen others on the road. Ford should fix this problem!!!!!

- , North Hills, CA, USA

problem #312

Jan 142009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles


wonder why car companies are going under? every time you turn around, there is a recall or they totally deny that the problem is their responsibility. vehicles are not worth what we pay for. they don't last, but those payments sure do! i was shocked to find a crack that just appeared out of nowhere and even more shocked to learn that there are so many others with the same disappointment. and that ford is not doing anything about it.

- , Huntington, IN, USA

problem #311

Sep 012008

Explorer LXT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

I've had a vertical crack in the back for a while and with the cold weather we've been having it split even further. I got online today to see if I could find an aftersales part to replace it and came across this website. I can't believe how other people have this problem. I've attached a photo to show just how bad this crack is. I'll be going to the local dealership on Monday to see what they have to say. If they don't take any responsibility I'll go to a bodyshop to see if they can epoxy it from the inside to keep it from cracking even more. After all the repairs I've had to do to this vehicle I don't want to spend any more. I'm going to list all my issues under each heading. I think I've had every problem now. I'm completely disgusted with Ford!

- , West Nyack, NY, USA

problem #310

Jan 052005

Explorer Eddie Baut V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

When I approached the service adviser about this problem..of course..he said he had never seen it before and had the nerve to ask if I backed into something. I have seen dozens of Explorers in Dallas with the same problem. I have bought only Fords since 1979, this will be my last one. Knock on wood..I've not yet had the transmission problem, but I have had the spare wheel device not release the tire and had to replace the master cylinder. Also had to have the rear air conditioning unit replaced. What a lemon...this after having a 1994 Explorer that was my best vehicle to date!!

- , Carrollton, TX, USA

problem #309

Jan 022009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

The rear panel plastic trim below the rear hatch window should be identified as a recall, if it not already. The panel easily cracks and a redesign of a better quality material is recommended.

- , Spring Valley, CA, USA

problem #308

Jan 072004

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,000 miles

Cracked rear trim panel on my wife's Explorer. Just like everyone else's. Vertical crack all the way down. It's a real shame, the car has only 42,000 miles and is in otherwise great shape. Ford dealer told me they would fix it for $400.

I've never considered buying anything but American in the past, but those days are over. For sure, next car will be a Toyota.

- , Henderson, NV, US

problem #307

Dec 242008

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,200 miles

This is one of many complaints on this vehicle. the panel below the rear window cracked into four pieces and is now an eye sore.

- , Howell, MI, USA

problem #306

Feb 072006

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Big crack on the rear window panel. pain in the ass to look at it. ford sucks

- , Kihei, HI, USA

problem #305

Dec 052008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

When I saw the crack, I went to my local Ford Dealer to see who I should contact about this problem. I've never had any problems with my Explorer; took excellent care of it; no dents, dings, accidents. The dealer told me I must have slammed the trunk too hard in cold weather. If that were the case, I should have cracks in all four doors (and the hood). They wanted to give me the name of a body shop to have it repaired. I said, NO, this should be Ford's responsibility. I contacted Ford's corporate office, they replied that there's no recall nor is it under warranty and that I would have to pay for the repair. I WILL NOT! THIS WAS NOT SOMETHING THAT I DID! THIS IS POOR WORKMANSHIP! I have had numerous Ford Taurus Station wagons before this Explorer, and have had no problems with them... this is Ford's mistake. I will not buy Ford again!

- , Tinley Park, IL, US

problem #304

Dec 142008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

Extremely disappointing to se such a thing as a body panel crack for no apparent reason. It is no doubt poor quality from Fords side. We have taken very well care of our 2002 Explorer when it comes to body as well as scheduled maintenance (I have even refinished the fading door stile panels and flaking roof racks that I know a lot of owners are experiencing problems with). Looking at buying a new family vehicle very soon, Ford is going to loose out on another sale. I recently traded in my 2004 F-150 for a Toyota Tundra due to a failing transmission and differential at only 54K! No understanding or help from Ford on that one either. Again, all services were kept per Ford recommendations. Sorry Ford, but the list of problems is too long for me to even consider you again and who knows where else you're cutting corners? Not for my family - no thanks!

- , Appleton, WI, USA

problem #303

Dec 012008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

Here is a little link to ford motor company. They would like to know how you feel about there vehicals. Let'em have it. I did.................

Update from Nov 6, 2010: Too many people with this issue. There should be a recall. So if you know of someone who has a Ford and has experienced problems please tell them to speak up and register their complaint by calling 800 392 3673. Be ready to provide VIN number and other identifying information. I was told they record every complaint thus creating the data base that could be the determining factor in a recall. If we never speak up then Ford wont know anything is wrong.

- , Birmingham, AL, USA

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