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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
80,060 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2002 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #80

Jan 302014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 82,000 miles


I was traveling in stop and go traffic. As soon as space opened between me and the vehicle in front of me, I accelerated. While gaining speed I looked in my right rear view mirror to see if I could change lanes. While looking in my mirror the vehicle in front of me stopped. I hit the back of his vehicle with the front of mine. The problem I have is that my airbag(s) fired but did no deploy. You could clearly smell that they fired and my airbag light is now on. My seat belt did not cinch up and restrain me either. This car had been well maintained and was never in an accident before this one. As I see it, it was a total failure of the SRS.

- Rochester Hills, MI, USA

problem #79

Jul 242013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
The liftgate hinge fractured allowing the glass to fall nearly breaking my hand. This hinge was recalled by NHTSA campaign id number 04V442000 / Ford recall no. 04S20. In contacting customer service tonight on a Ford transmission issue, I discovered the previous hinge recall and they indicated that hinge had been replace once in 2004 and it was my bad luck that it failed a second time. They would make no restitution for the failed part. It is unconscionable that they would have the same issue as a previous recall and not correct the issue again. It is clearly a serious safety hazard they should address, reimburse me for the part I purchased through Ford and replace the other hinge before it also fails and hurts someone.

- Richmond, NH, USA

problem #78

Sep 012010


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the panel under the hatch fractured and allowed water to penetrate the vehicle. The water then made contact with the electrical components. The vehicle was taken to a private dealer where it was found that the panel needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was 50,000.

- Northfort, CT, USA

problem #77

Aug 152012


  • 137,500 miles


The interior lights occasionally flicker when all doors are shut securely. Also the door ajar light will flicker at times as well. The alarm goes off for no reason and usually it is in the middle of the night and I am pretty sure it is related to the door ajar malfunction. There is no way to disable the factory alarm so I have had to leave my car unlocked at night just to keep it from going off and waking up the neighbors. Also we have a crack on the lift gate just below the rear window. You can see this is a common issue by looking at other Explorer around town. I have really enjoyed the Explorer up until now but it does bother me that these two issues are very common yet Ford won't issue a recall to fix these issues.

- Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #76

Feb 192013


  • 80,126 miles
Rear panel below window cracked from cold while sitting in driveway.

- Cedar Rapids, IA, USA

problem #75

Feb 162010


  • miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that there was an extended crack on the liftgate exterior panel. The defect became progressively worse over a period of time. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The vehicle had not been repaired. The failure mileage was unavailable.

- Florence, SC, USA

problem #74

Dec 172012


  • 105,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the driver's side and front passenger side doors would swing open sporadically and without warning. The vehicle was not inspected by a dealer or an independent mechanic. The manufacturer was later contacted and advised her to schedule an appointment with the dealer for inspection and possible repairs. The failure mileage was approximately 105,000. The current mileage was approximately 105,500.

- Reno, NV, USA

problem #73

Oct 012012


  • 141,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving at approximate 10mph the contact heard a grinding noise. The contact inspected the vehicle and noticed that the body mounts were deteriorating between the frame. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer for diagnostic testing. The vehicle was not repaired. The appoximate failure mileage was 141,000.

- Moreno Valley, CA, USA

problem #72

Apr 212010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 182 miles
About a year after I purchased my Explorer ltd, the rear logo panel started coming loose. I used special adhesive to attach it, but it just wouldn't stick. I tried pulling it off, but it wouldn't budge on the other side, so I tried a different adhesive. It stuck for a while, but as I was going down a busy street, it flew off almost hitting the car behind me. This very easily could have caused an accident and serious injury.

- Amarillo, TX, USA

problem #71

Feb 212012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 143,000 miles
None of the windows will work, they were operating properly and just quit. This vehicle is unsafe to drive, in an emergency, (such as a crash). The occupants of the vehicle could become trapped in the vehicle because the windows would not operate. If a fire occurred the results could be tragic. Ford is aware of this problem along with several other problems on this vehicle. Yet they choose not to repair or replace any of the known defective components. My vehicle has a lot of miles on it, but this problem along with other problems on this vehicle happens on lower mileage vehicles also.

- Channahon, IL, USA

problem #70

Jan 242012


  • 130,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact noticed that two cracks developed under the hatch. The contact stated that the failure was caused by extremely cold weather. The dealer was contacted and they stated to the contact that the failure was not a safety issue. The vehicle was not repaired. The contact stated that they did not feel safe driving the vehicle. The failure mileage was 130,000 and the current mileage was 170,000.

- Midland, GA, USA

problem #69

Aug 132011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
The rear hinges gave way, and the back half glass exploded.

- Benton, ME, USA

problem #68

Aug 172010


  • 65,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. While the vehicle was parked the contact noticed the rear lift gate and window would not engage properly and it would also wobble. The electronic power door locks would not work because they would detect the lift gate was not closed engaging and a warning sound activated. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for a diagnostic test. There was a recall under NHTSA campaign id number: 04V442000 (structure:body:hatchback/liftgate:hinge and attachments) that may be related to the failure; however, the dealer stated the VIN was not included in the recall. The approximate failure mileage was 65,000.

- South Hamilton, MA, USA

problem #67

Jan 102011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
Vertical crack rear life window assembly near 2002 Ford Explorer logo. Vertical crack goes between window glass and bottom of lift window. I feel the whole rear window glass will fail on the highway and seriously effect other drivers with the hail of glass. Recall of hinges had been completed right after original new purchase.

- Stockton, CA, USA

problem #66

Nov 012010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 235,000 miles
Vertical crack in hatch of 2002 Ford Explorer. I look at other Explorer in the same time pereiod and they all have the exact same crack!!

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #65

Feb 252006


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear hatch was fractured. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who advised that the vehicle could be repaired but he could not guarantee that the failure would not recur. The manufacturer was contacted who offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 30,000 and the current mileage was 110,000.

- Warrenton, VA, USA

problem #64

Apr 042006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • miles
The back panel below the rear window has cracked.

- Pocatello, ID, USA

problem #63

Feb 122011

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 154,627 miles
Ford Explorer cracked rear panel.

- Fredericksburg, VA, USA

problem #62

Jan 152011


  • miles
Rear panel cracked in half, vehicle was not hit it just happened.

- Parlin, NJ, USA

problem #61

Jan 042011


  • 100,000 miles
The plastic panel below the rear window cracked. Found out it is a very common problem. Ford Motor Company and local dealership will do nothing to help out. My repair cost will be about $500. It is obviously a design defect. Ford should repair at no cost to me.

- Lilburn, GA, USA

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