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 20 of 32)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #242

Feb 162008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,196 miles


Like a lot of others, the panel below the rear window cracked.

- , Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

problem #241

Feb 072008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

It is embarrassing because my truck look fairly new, and to see a crack in the hatch. At first I thought someone had broken into it, so I had a mechanic to take a look at it and say that is a default in the real panel. Just the other day I seen the exact same truck with the same problem I tried to get there attention but I was unsuccessful.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #240

Feb 262008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

the crack is very large. This is obviously a design or material defect Ford should definitely cover this repair. I am having multiple problems with this vehicle and seriously doubt I will buy another Ford product. new or used

- , Avoca, MI, USA

problem #239

Jan 072008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles


The panel below the rear window on my Explorer has a crack that starts right below the window and goes through and under the FORD decal. There is another one one each side that is smaller. It is about 1/8 inch wide and almost 12 inches long. It has progressively gotten longer since the weather has gotten cooler this winter. I noticed it after washing it just before winter set in. I have had the hatch recall fixed twice and I still have problems with it, this is really upsetting to see that everyone else is having this problem as well. This is my second Explorer and I said I would never own anything else, I am beginning to think I may need to rethink and go back to Chevy's.

- , Corbin, KY, USA

problem #238

Feb 022008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

Ill join this club too along with the transmission club. Mine cracked vertically from top to bottom!!!

- , Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #237

Jan 102007

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

I dont think I will ever buy a ford again. The check engine light came on for no reason the abs light came on, the air bag light is on not sure why no accidents in this vehicle and so many problems. The gas gauge chooses not to work in cold weather. And now it acts like the transmission is going out. To top it all off the heater started making a popping noise and went out yesterday. What else could possibly go wrong?

- , Bryant, AR, USA

problem #236

Nov 172007

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,500 miles


Just wanted to add to the rest of the collection on this site. I feel that Ford should step up to the plate and fix the problem.

- , Wrentham, MA, USA

problem #235

Jan 312007

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,639 miles

My Explorer had been sitting in the driveway - no one near it. Temperatures had been cold but nothing extreme - when I noticed that the back panel was cracked. This vehicle has been cared for like a family member - it has been my big, green baby. I'm on my second Ford Explorer - loved them until Ford refused to agree that this was a major recall problem with the Explorers. I barely had more than 50,000 miles on it when this happened. With this many complaints and for all the ones that I see in the parking lots that go unreported, it's definitely a problem Ford should admit is a defect. I don't like it when companies refuse to listen to their good customers, so guess who is not buying anymore Explorers!

- , Nashville, TE, USA

problem #234

Jul 012007

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

My panel below the rear window cracked. My brother has had this happen twice on his 2002 Explorer, and my cousin had it happen on her 2002 Explorer. This is obviously a defect from Ford and needs to be corrected.

- , Omaha, NE, USA

problem #233

Jan 012008

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

Well with the cold weather came appearance of the second complete 5" crack across the panel on the rear lift gate. I was sitting in the truck waiting on it to warm up on vacation in Illinois and "pop" I i got out to make sure somebody hadn't thrown something at the car and that is how crack # 2 appeared. The temperature was cold, but come on... I sure am glad that I never paid to have the first crack fixed, because I would have been really upset if I had to pay to fix it again. Since the first crack appeared last year I have seen so many Explorers with this problem it just makes me sick to see it happening to everyone else too and Ford doing nothing.

- , Edmond, OK, USA

problem #232

Jan 142007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,887 miles


Like a lot of others, the panel below the rear window cracked. It goes vertical about an inch, then horizontal for about 6 inches, then vertical about an inch again. Now having seen this website, it irritates me that Ford refuses to accept responsibility for their poor quality. I thought it was odd that the dealer had 3 of these in stock. Unfortunately, this was the first (and by far the least expensive) of my problems with this Ford. Also have transmission problems and problems with the hubs. Never buying a Ford again. It's too bad they don't stand behind their product, because I actually like the vehicle (minus the problems), but Ford REFUSES to admit to known problems with their vehicles.

- , Channahon, IL, USA

problem #231

Feb 012008

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

I have been awaiting this problem to arise as I have read about it here often enough. One cold winter morning there it was a crack running the length of the rear plastic piece under the rear hatch. Took it in $400 and 2 days later and 2 days without my car. The way Ford has ignored the myriad of problems with this model is what irks me more than anything. because I do like my Explorer but more-so I despise bad customer care and for that I say Sayonara Ford I am going Japanese.

- , Syracuse, NY, USA

problem #230

May 192007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

Panel below the rear window cracked twice with about 1/8" crack running up and down. First crack about a year ago in the winter but dealer said no recall had been issued and is not a safety issue. Second crack occurred about 4 months ago in the winter. Estimated cost to fix it about $350.00. This is the last Ford product I will buy. Thanks for the memories; Good Bye Ford...

- , Old Hickory, TN, US

problem #229

Jan 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles

We have taken excellent care of this vehicle which we feel was quite expensive, then we see this... This vehicle is in excellent condition, except this crack....

- , Dayton, OH, USA

problem #228

Feb 012008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I was amazed to see that crack when I return back home from my business trip and I asked my wife about it and she didn't know it either. It's a very obvious crack which runs through the panel just below the rear window. I'm so mad and want the FORD company to fix the problem. Only 4 months ago.I had the automatic transmission problem and and now this.

God save the FORD.

- , Erie, PA, US

problem #227

May 122007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles

I have two cracks below the back window. One came after the recall on the glass the other was about four months later. I filled them in with black caulking so they won't leak.

Ford seems to fix thing half way while under warranty then is willing to fix it correctly when you have to pay.I also had a door open sensor go bad. Ford taped it worked for a couple of months then went off again and it trips your alarm. I finally replaced it myself. Now no problem.

- , Coral Springs, FL, USA

problem #226

Jan 182008

Explorer ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

Called Ford and was told it's not a recall issue, go to my local dealer and have them fix it on my dime,,,,they would note it on my records in case later on they feel they should compensate me ,,,,,,,,,emailed Ford and was told that they already told me they wouldn't pay for it,,,at least they have a good data base!

- , Hauppauge, NY, USA

problem #225

Jan 272008

(reported on)

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

Washed my car today and found this nasty crack from top to bottom under the rear glass about two inches from the emblem. Everybody says it's Fords Butt crack from behind. Don't know how to replace and they say Ford won't replaced it. Don't know what to do. I never did anything to crack it. It is winter time and I suppose the cold wet climate did it. Ford should do something about it like pay for the repairs. Some has said they have replaced two or three times. It is not cheap to replace, so I will call Ford tomorrow and bitch and see what happens.

- , Kansas City, KS, USA

problem #224

Jan 192008

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,151 miles

click to see larger images

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

I'm adding my complaint about the cracked panel on the rear door under the window.

I discover it after really cold night. At first I though someone hit door in a parking lot,

but there was no scratches or a dent. Then, I looked up information no the web concerning a possible recall or additional help to get it fixed, Now I understand that

it very well may come out of my pocket. Next, I'm going to call the dealer. Ford really

should pay for this repair......

- , Delmar, MD, USA

problem #223

Jan 282008

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,500 miles

I just found this crack today after having my car washed ... weather was extremely cold last week but I don't recall even opening the liftgate window. After doing a Google search and seeing all the others with the same issue I know it's a defect just like my 3rd gear transmission problem that I had to have fixed 18 months ago ... also well known and Ford sitting on it. I'll go to my dealer tomorrow but don't expect any will be done to correct it. I come from a Ford family and I've had 4 Fords out of 7 autos in my lifetime and I have to agree with all the other disillusioned owners ... I won't have another.

- , Avon, IN, USA

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