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 18 of 32)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #282

Oct 032005

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles


It's irritating that I have the worst vehicle in the world. It really hurts resale!! I can't believe that Ford is OK with having this kind of reputation!! Thought I was getting a reliable well-built SUV for over $30000 new. And yes I was stupid enough to pay sticker price for the POS. I've tried to sell it for KBB value but nobody wants to buy a vehicle with the kind of reputation that the 2002 Exploder has. YES my rear panel did crack and the only reason I got it replaced was to resale the thing...AND here I am stuck with it 3 years later. I feel fortunate to have made it as long as I have on the transmission it has. The thing clunks between gears now and will only go back into park if I wiggle the shifter. It's only a matter of time and I'll be dishing out $$ for that issue. I WILL NEVER PURCHASE OR RECOMMEND A FORD TO ANYONE EVER AGAIN!

If you're considering purchasing an Explorer, consider this... Every issue in the complaint list on AutoBeef about 02 Explorers will happen to your Explorer... It's just a matter of when... And Ford isn't making an effort to rectify any of them.

Should have went with my instincts when I test drove it for the first time in 2002 - I should have purchased a Toyota 4-Runner instead. I will not make the mistake again.

Update from Nov 11, 2014: I ended up owning this vehicle from 2002 to 2014. During this time I had to replace wheel bearings 3 times on each wheel. 3 speed sensors. Rear main seal once, repaint of hood because of paint peeling, replacement of rear cracked panel 3 times, replacement of rear hatch hinges 2 times. All heat controls no longer worked, rear heat controls stopped working. AC developed a leak so needed regular recharge, dash controls stopped illuminating, cd changer jammed and no longer played cds. At 180k miles the timing chain started chattering and the transmission was slipping and clunking-still. I babied the heck out of its whole life and finally sold it at 200k. I will never buy a Ford again.

Update from Nov 11, 2014: I forgot to mention. The 2nd time my panel cracked, after about a month it actually fell off and hit a vehicle that was tailgating me... so it's not just cosmetic. This does post a safety concern to other drivers.

- , Mitchellville, IA, USA

problem #281

Jul 082007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

Same complaint as everyone else. The plastic beneath the rear window cracked, almost all the way from top to bottom. Poor manufacturing by Ford. Although, compared to the other problems this car has, this problem isn't even that bad.

- , Bristol, PA, USA

problem #280

Jun 182008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

this explorer has been nothing but trouble. this car has been parked in side all the time when not in use. the crack is very ugle. runs most of the way across the back glass hatch. started with a scratch then a full blow crack. ford has really let me down with this suv.

- , Apopka, FL, USA

problem #279

Apr 302006

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


definitely a quality & design issue. Shame on you, Ford.

- , St James, MO, USA

problem #278

Jul 052007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,602 miles

I too along with having to replace the transmission this week and not having working reverse lights have a completely cracked back panel. I live in central Texas and it just seems that within the last year, that back panel is cracked from the right to the left side of the vehicle. After dropping as much as I am for my EGR censor (sp), and fixing my reverse light problem (that isn't fuse related)... along with my lovely 2k transmission job... I believe I'll live with this and the lovely clear coat missing on plastic pieces and the rusting luggage rack.

- , College Station, TX, USA

problem #277

Nov 242006

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

I'm so glad that I found this site. I was really really annoyed when I found the first crack on my truck. And then a year later...I got another crack. When I tried taking it in they told me it would be $450 to fix. Hell if I was paying $450 for it to happen again. And sure enough a year later approx 14 inches from the other crack, we got another. I called Ford and bitched many many times and they never did a dang thing. Nothing like getting a nice vehicle and then it looking like sh*t, because of nothing you did.

- , Menomonee Falls, WI, USA

problem #276

Sep 212004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


Ford should step up and have this fix. The Ford place I took my Explorer told me it happens when it gets cold. They also told me they wouldn't fix it unless I paid for it. It's a defect Ford should take care of it. I won't buy another one.

- , Kannapolis, NC, USA

problem #275

Feb 022006

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

Add me to the list with the crack tail gate below the window,,i will never again buy an american car again,,best car i ever owned was a 1994 Maxima which i bought new and put over 200,000 miles on changed the timing chain once around 100,000 which was my option plus the car got 30 miles per gallon on the road,,,,"Ford Never Again"

- , Feasterville, PA, USA

problem #274

Feb 062008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles

1st time mechanic played stupid and said never seen that happen before. This time same dealership but different mechanic tells me oh never heard of it happening a 2nd time and you will have to pay for the whole repair yourself this time your extended warranty won't cover it.

- , Stillwater, OK, USA

problem #273

May 182006

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,000 miles

They need to recognize the problem and either dish money out for each time it happens or fix it for free each time.

- , Stillwater, OK, USA

problem #272

Sep 202007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,371 miles


Car was sent to dealer for recall for rear door hinge. After a month or so notice the crack in the black panel below window and later the door ajar light keeps coming on and the interior lights start blinking while driving. Very annoying. Should not have brought it to dealer for recall.

- , Mandeville, LA, US

problem #271

May 092008

(reported on)

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

I called The Ford Company to make a complaint and they informed me since it was a small amount of people it was not consider a defect.

- , Orange, NJ, USA

problem #270

Dec 262007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I have seen dozens of Ford Explorers with the same cracked panel below the rear window. This is a defect that Ford should pay for.

- , South Lyon, MI, USA

problem #269

Dec 172004

(reported on)


  • 30,000 miles

The tailgate has split under the window. This is requiring body shop work.

- , Oviedo, FL, US

problem #268

Jan 252008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

Thought this may be an isolated event but apparently not. All of sudden the crack appeared for no reason. Noticed another Explorer with the same type crack the other day while driving to work. Hello Ford, do you not care about repeat customers. Appreciate the hinge recall; how about the same on this part too. P.S. Transmission failed this month. What's next? Goodbye to this person being a repeat customer Ford.

- , Alabaster, AL, USA

problem #267

Mar 122008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

Well as i was also told by the dealer I had bought it from, they had replaced once they got it off a trade as I bought the car pre-used...So this is the second time it happened in the life of the car, and as I recall i noticed it after a cold night, as I was afraid it was going to happen from known instances....One of my friends also has the same problem, but doesn't have the time or money to have it fixed...its just an inconvenience as well as looks bad...

- , Spencer, MA, USA

problem #266

Apr 222008

Explorer LTD 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6Automatic transmission 46,000 miles

This problem is possibly due to the original recall for the hinges. The tailgate closes but has regularly signaled a double beep as if there was a door ajar. I just barely noticed the crack and haven't tried to see if the dealer or Ford will repair it at their cost. This is the forth Ford product that I've bought new from my Ford dealer I hope they will make it good. If a new Ford Vehicle is their recommendation well can you say "Body by Fisher" as in Chevrolet. I saw a number for a Ford staffer named Lynn Buckman 313-845-6232, maybe I'll check with her to see if anything has changed Ford's position on this problem. Starting a class action lawsuit may not be a bad idea as someone suggested. I agree that their is enough evidence that would point to a defective part. What a bummer. My explorer looks new and with 46K miles is hardly used up and abused.

- , Santa Ana, CA, USA

problem #265

Apr 162008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

This problem is possibly due to the original recall that epoxied the hinges. The tailgate did not have correct closure since that date slightly skewed. This led to the torsional loading of the tailgate which put mechanical stress on the part. After awhile the stresses built up until the plastic part failed. I first tried to get the local Ford dealership to fix this problem, they would not. I then voiced my complaint to Ford Customer Service through their website, they suggested that I look for a new Ford Vehicle and would not repair it either. I then sent a return email and copied several Corporate officials. I received a call from a Ford staffer named Lynn Buckman 313-845-6232. Call her daily she would appreciate hearing from other people who have this issue. She said they would look into it . They have since told me that there is nothing they will do for me. Not only does this make no sense as they are struggling to get customers they are running off those who have purchased their vehicles. I am interested in starting a class action lawsuit. I believe we could show enough evidence that would point to a defective part.

- , Hendersonville, TN, US

problem #264

Dec 272007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Crack just appeared one morning, after a cold night. If this is a common problem, as it appears, then Ford needs to take care of this.

- , Simi Valley, CA, USA

problem #263

Jun 012005

Explorer XS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

I've seen a lot of Fords with this problem. I am a ford person. I am usually satisfied but I've owned a 2000 and a 2002 and both have had problems. Looking pretty bad on ford products.

- , Charleston, WV, USA

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