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:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
8 / 0
Average Mileage:
39,546 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 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #71

Mar 082007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,800 miles


Rear liftgate of 2002 Ford Explorer develops crack on piece below glass.

- West Chester, PA, USA

problem #70

Feb 082007


  • miles
2002 Ford Explorer, crack in rear panel below rear window. Ford will not repair, it is a common problem among many 2002 Ford Explorer.

- Harleysville, PA, USA

problem #69

Feb 152007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
Rear hatch on 2002 Explorer trim piece at bottom cracks..thsi is a common problem and Ford knows about it but will not fix

- Prospect, KY, USA

problem #68

Mar 032007


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Daughter came out of school to find crack beneath rear window. Thought to be result of hit and run in parking lot. Took to dealer who said it is a known defect. Repaired at no cost to us, no problem. Good dealer! we are very good Ford customers, having bought exclusively Ford for 20+ years. This will not deter us from buying Ford again.

- Sugar Land, TX, USA

problem #67

Jan 022006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
On a cold day, I discovered that the body panel below the glass on the rear gate of my 2002 Ford Explorer cracked. Nothing hit the vehicle to cause the crack. The outside temperature was around 32 degree F at the time.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #66

Mar 082007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 79,000 miles
There is a large crack in my tailgate that starts at the back windshield glass and runs halfway down my tailgate. I guess there are a lot of people with these cracks and Ford should be held responsible in paying for these repairs. I spoke with the local Ford dealership and they said they know about the problem but they do not want to fix it. I will never buy a Ford again if they are going to treat their customers like this...please help us get them to recall this. Thanks.

- Erie, PA, USA

problem #65

Feb 032007

Explorer 4WD 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 47,500 miles


I own a 2002 Ford Explorer. On Feb 3rd the lift gate split in 2 pieces. Manf. Defect. Ford is aware of this happening and has neither offered any kind of monterey assistance or issued a recall. They told me that I needed to pay the repair out of my pocket because it is no longer under warranty. They understand this is a hazard but are not willing to do anything about it. The only thing holding my liftgate closed is the 2 pumps on either side of the gate. Obvious hazard!! there are hundreds of vehicles just like mine where the tail gates are failing. Does someone need to die before Ford does anything about it"?"

- Centerburg, OH, USA

problem #64

Jan 012006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Rear hatch cracked two spots.

- Douglassville, PA, USA

problem #63

Sep 282006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
The tail gate door panel below the glass has to line cracks. It began to separate. It also happen to my father in-law. I have also seen it in many other Explorer.

- Saint Marys, GA, USA

problem #62

Feb 062007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,950 miles
2002 Ford Explorer - panel below rear window (applique) cracked. Ford dealer claims it happens when weather is to hot or cold.

- Springfield, PA, USA

problem #61

Feb 052007


  • miles


On a 10 degree night, I woke up to find a nasty crack in the rear liftgate under the glass. It not only cracked, but separated and made about an 1/8" gap. Another crack beside it forming a triangular shape as well. Looks like it will fall out any time. My insurance won't cover this because it is a known Ford issue!!!!!!! tell me how that is fair, that we pay the money for these very expensive vehicles, and there is a well known defect in them, but we have to pay for it. I can't blame the insurance companies for denial. It is Ford place to pay for this. It is unethical for Ford to treat their customers like this and very bad for business. I can't use my back hatch anymore for fear that it will crack again and pieces fall out. I carry full coverage insurance and do my part to take care of my vehicle, now I can't afford to cover something that is Ford fault!!!!!! come on Ford, cut us some slack. Ch.

- Jane Lew, WV, USA

problem #60

Jun 132005


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I have a cracked panel in my Ford Explorer 2002. This panel could break in half while driving and cause a serious accidents. Ford refuses to do anything about it.

- Round Rock, TX, USA

problem #59

Jan 012005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles
Two large cracks in back body panel below back window. Appeared spontaneously and have steadily worsened. Two separate dealers have stated this is a common problem, but is not covered under warranty, and I would have to pay $400-500 to have it fixed. Have seen this problem in many other 2002 Explorer and have never heard of Ford owning up to the problem or fixing these cars.

- Bartlett, TN, USA

problem #58

Jan 272007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,750 miles
I have a 2002 Ford Explorer. The panel below the rear window spontaneously cracked. It is a vertical crack the height of the panel to the left of the Ford emblem. I have not had any success in getting Ford or my dealership to make a repair to my vehicle. The estimated cost of the repair is $571.20. I am concerned that this crack may affect the stability of my rear window.

- Vineland, NJ, USA

problem #57

Oct 012006

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
The plastic applique panel below the glass on the liftgate has developed two vertical cracks, approx 1/8th" in diameter running the length of the panel (approx 5 inches) to the left and to the right of the 'Ford' emblem. These developed spontaneously over time, one after another. There was no collision or other trauma to trigger these cracks. Research reveals that _many_ other 2002 Explorer owners are experiencing the same defect. I noticed the same condition on several other 2002 Ford Explorer simply driving around town. Ford will not repair this problem which is most obviously a manufacturer's defect.

- Smyrna, GA, USA

problem #56

Feb 022007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles
The upper rear window liftgate was opened to access cargo and as soon as it was in the up position, the glass exploded sending shards of glass within the vehicle and outside the vehicle. Husband was showered with glass and just missed being hit by the attached lower panel that fell on the exterior of the car. This is a serious safety hazard. If passengers were sitting in the third row seats, they would have been showered in glass. If this happened while a parent is holding a child while retrieving items from the back, they could incur serious injuries. Glass shattering over your head for no apparent reason is extremely hazardous. This is a serious design flaw. The vehicle did go in for the recall sent out a couple of years ago to replace a bracket. Obviously, this did not do a thing to prevent this window from breaking, Ford knows there is a problem and tried to do the cheapest thing possible to fix it, instead of replacing the entire rear liftgate assembly. Ford should be taking responsibility for this defect and albeit my opinion, I believe that a class action lawsuit should be on the horizon. We will be contacting the dealer tomorrow and finding out what they have to say. With all the information that is on the internet on the number of people having this same problem, this is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed and resolved before it causes a death or life changing injury.

- Conifer, CO, USA

problem #55

Jan 292007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,900 miles
The back liftgate or hatch back of my 2002 Ford Explorer limited has a large vertical crack that has just magically appeared. The crack is about 4 inches long and another 1 inch beside it. It is located directly under the rear glass. I was on a website that has about 65 of the same complaints for this year's model of Explorer. I feel that Ford has an obligation to pay for this since they did have a recall.

- Lakewood, CA, USA

problem #54

Dec 132006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles
2002 Ford Explorer rear lift gate panel below the window cracked at around 65,000 miles. Two weeks later it cracked again. I searched the internet and found a large number of problems reported on the 2002 Ford Explorer with this same issue.

- Henderson, CO, USA

problem #53

Nov 152006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
TL *- the contact owns a 2002 Ford Explorer. The rear window has a crack near the window molding. No incident occurred which would have caused the window to crack. The contact also observed another vehicle, same make and model with an identical problem. Updated 03/07/07

- Tiskilwa , IL, USA

problem #52

Jan 202007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles
The middle panel under the glass in the back of the car has cracked. I suspect it was due to cold weather. I have since seen other Explorer with this problem and notice that there are a lot of complaints online about this. In addition, this past summer my shifter snapped off the barrel. I had 4 kids in the car at the time. Ford responded by telling me that I had 75K miles and no warranty and I didn't typically get my car serviced there so they weren't going to be willing to "work with me" to get it resolved. When I told him I had my 'regular' mechanic look at it he said that the labor rate was probably cheaper with him than at Ford. Well - now tell me why I would service my car at a Ford dealership? oh case I get cracks or shifters fall off and maybe they'll 'work with me' on the price. Big incentive. Oh yeah, my fuel gauge doesn't work - another common problem. My previous Explorer (about 10 years back) had the same problem. The guy up the street has an Explorer (2003) and it doesn't work either.

- Hampstead, NH, USA

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