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 3 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #60

Jan 052010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles


I own a 2002 Ford Explorer, there are cracks on the back panel below the rear window, these seem to happen in cold weather. I have seen many other Ford Explorer with similar cracks. I got an estimate and it is $1500 to fix. Ford should fix this!

- Spokane Valley, WA, USA

problem #59

Dec 102010


  • 0 miles
On the afternoon of Dec. 10, 2010 at approximately 2:45 pm I noticed a large crack on the rear panel of my '02 Ford Explorer - eddie bauer ed. I had assumed that this was vandalism and reported it to the police department. On Monday I googled the description of the damage to my vehicle and come to find out that it was actually a defect in Ford Explorer - '02 - '04. I contacted the Ford company who took my complaint and referred me to my nearest Ford dealership. In speaking with the rep at the dealership they informed me that this was not a "safety defect" and they could not do anything about it. I was told that the estimated cost would be between $450-500. I also read that back in 2006 when this defect occurred that Ford was providing a "special assistance out-of-warranty" on Explorer where they would pay all but $100. Now apparently since Jan. 2007 they have stopped this and not the owners are to pay for the full cost of the repair. I do not see this as being fair due to the fact this damaged was not due to my own doing or another party. Ford should be responsible for this repair if not all, at least half.

- Elizabeth City, NC, USA

problem #58

Dec 102010


  • 65,916 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while parked, she noticed a large crack from the rear liftgate panel going down. The vehicle had not been inspected or repaired. The current and failure mileages were 65,916.

- Elkridge, MD, USA

problem #57

Nov 202010


  • 82,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that when using the rear liftgate, it would not stay open and it would close unexpectedly. The vehicle had previously been repaired according to recall 04V442000 structure body hatchback/liftgate, hinge and attachments. The vehicle was not repaired. The contact called the manufacturer who stated that the repairs had been done according to the recall and he had to pay for the repairs at his own expense. The current and failure mileages were approximately 82,000.

- Cos Cob, CT, USA

problem #56

Sep 142010


  • 50,000 miles
Crack in rear window surround, near center at a bottom.

- Portola Valley, CA, USA

problem #55

Aug 212010


  • miles
I have purchased a 2002 Ford Explorer that was in mint condition on the outside and fair on the inside, well after having the truck a few months one day I noticed a huge crack by the Ford emblem on the back of the truck. There was no evidence of tampering, and I had not been in any accidents, so this troubled me knowing that this crack had just all of a sudden appeared on my truck. Well I went to the store later that day and passed another consumer on my way out of the store and noticed they were driving the same kind of truck, and lo and behold they had the same crack in the same place. I got their attention and asked if there was some kind of incident that may have caused it, and they responded by saying that it too just appeared on their truck, I have noticed many Ford Explorer ranging from 2002- 2005 having this same crack, keep in mind these are nice vehicles that have not been damaged. I do not know if this could be a potential safety issue or not, by it being so close to the rear window, but it does concern me that I pay money for a nice vehicle and there are defects that the company will not address. I have been out on the internet and there are many many complaints about this same mysterious crack with pictures in the same place on the truck, and I think Ford should recall this defective plastic and repair the cracks. Please help us, the consumers in resolving this matter. Thank you so very much.

- Cordova , TN, USA

problem #54

Aug 152007


  • 50,000 miles


1. I took our 2002 Explorer in for the recall of the back window. When they installed it they put a small crack in panel in the back below the window. 2. the crack grew until finally the whole panel cracked in half. The edge is quite sharp and the panel is a bit loose now. 3. Ford refused to fix it. We track 2002 Explorer with this problem and have found that 1/6 have it. I saw another today prompting me to send this. Here are related articles:

- Southport, NC, USA

problem #53

Aug 142010


  • 100,600 miles
2002 Explorer's panel on the back gate between the window and the bottom half of the gate is cracked in two different spots. I am afraid that this will come off and cause a traffic crash or worse.

- Winter Haven, FL, USA

problem #52

Dec 012009


  • 95,000 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer. The rear hatch upper glass plastic trim cracked next to the Ford emblem. This allowed water into the trim that caused the bolts holding the latch to rust through and completely fail. I replaced the entire glass last spring (2009). The replacement part also cracked in two places after a few months of Michigan winter. The latch bolts in this unit are now rusting as well. It is obvious that the plastic trim expands and contracts at a different rate than the glass. Since they are bonded together, the weaker plastic fails. The cracks contract and expand depending on the temperature.

- White Lake, MI, USA

problem #51

Jan 152009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
Appeared out of nowhere. Large crack in vehicle below rear window possibly due to previous recall in Oct 2004 - safety recall 04S20.

- Natick, MA, USA

problem #50

Jan 022010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 77,000 miles


2002 Ford Explorer -- a crack appears in the panel below the rear tailgate window glass.

- Langley, WA, USA

problem #49

Jan 032010


  • 94,000 miles
I opened the liftgate glass to my Ford Explorer in order to load groceries into the back. The glass came down on my head and I pushed it back up off of me when it exploded all over the place. The molding came down onto my head and my back (I was still leaning into the car). Because it was very cold out, I was wearing a heavy coat with a hat and the hood pulled up onto my head, so this cushioned the impact onto my back and head. Glass was everywhere. There have been several recalls on this piece of equipment since we have had the truck, but the last one was about 5 years ago. The dealer told me it would be my responsibility to fix. I don't believe that liftgates should just be falling off of cars or exploding, even if the car is 8 years old.

- Paramus, NJ, USA

problem #48

Dec 312009


  • 99,675 miles
Rear defroster had been on to un fog the glass. Rear liftgate glass shattered after pressing the release button to release the liftgate. Vehicle is a 2002 Ford Explorer. Weather was 19 degrees F with windchill of 10 degrees F.

- Avon, IN, USA

problem #47

Jun 102009


  • miles
I got a Ford Explorer 2002 and the hatchback door is cracked, I had a Ford Explorer 2003 before and it had the same problem and I had seen other Ford Explorer from year 2000 to 2004 with this problem. I contacted the Ford headquarters company and I was told that they couldn't fix the crack because I had to contact you to complain so this will become a recall and they will fix it for me otherwise they are unable to fix it. I only buy Ford cars because I like american cars and also I feel I am helping the economy keeping jobs for the american people but I could buy any other brand! I really appreciate you taking the time to read my complain and maybe find a solution for this problem. Thank you.

- Davenport, FL, USA

problem #46

Dec 172002


  • 166,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer, the back lift gate / panel directly under the glass, cracked for no reason. One day heading to lunch I noticed this piece cracked. Now, I have been noticing this on other Ford Explorer and even found a website containing lots of other 2002 Ford Explorer owners complaining about the same issue. Contacted Ford Motor Company on 12-21-09 and no recall has been made on this vehicle with this problem. I feel that it is the responsibility to Ford Explorer owners to get this fixed at no cost to the owner. Please let me know what I need to do, in order to get this corrected. Michael smith thank you for your time.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #45

Dec 142009


  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. Cracks have developed under the rear window door. The vehicle was taken to the dealer but no assistance was provided because there were no recalls.. the failure mileage was 40,000.

- Jackson, MO, USA

problem #44

Nov 082009


  • 98,000 miles
Following the NHTSA campaign #04V442000 recall replacement of the hinge on the rear hatchback of my 2002 Ford Explorer, cracks in the body have appeared in the paneling around the rear tailgate window. These cracks appear to be stressed induced and may pose a hazard to the rear window if the framing around the window continues to degrade and crack.

- Ashburn, VA, USA

problem #43

Jul 142009


  • 140,000 miles
Driving on highway, no debris, and our sunroof exploded. As the screen was closed no injuries, but potential for cut and eye injuries by razor sharp glass. No one behind us affected. Huge noise very startling.

- Vancouver, 00, USA

problem #42

Mar 012008


  • 75,000 miles
I took a trip from home in ok to canton, tx on return heard loud noise when I stopped to have the vehicle inspected I found out the front drive shaft was coming out. In March of 2008 I noticed a noise coming from the rear of the Explorer. When I had it inspected I was told the rear end needed to be replaced. This cost me over $2000. My transmission is now slipping and after reading other complaints I fear the worse if I have my transmission checked. Who do we contact to have a lawsuit started? my truck now has approximately 110,000 miles. I have replaced the front drive shaft, rear end assembly. My air bag light stays on and the rear panel below the back window has cracked. I have all the complaints listed except for the gear shifter breaking off in my hand.

- Blackwell, OK, USA

problem #41

Mar 172008


  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer with cracked rear tailgate applique. Have seen many more on the road. Ford says there is no defect. They want $350 to fix.

- Eastport, NY, USA

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