Notes: The 2004 Ford Explorer one of our worst vehicles 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 2002-2005 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:
75,154 miles
Total Complaints:
754 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (293 reports)
  2. not sure (201 reports)
  3. replace panel (114 reports)
  4. possible class action lawsuit (62 reports)
  5. call Ford motor company 1-800-241-3673 (27 reports)
  6. do not buy Ford again (25 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 10 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #574

Nov 112008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


Every ford explorer this year that I see has same problem. Can't believe ford will not fix. Never buy a ford again because of lousy customer service.

- , Frisco, CO, USA

problem #573

Jun 062012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

This is apparently a known defect in the 2002-2004 Ford Explorers and Ford doesn't care. They won't recall, they won't help with replacement costs and they say that it's not their problem.

- , Sparta, MI, USA

problem #572

Dec 142011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

The rear hatch stopped closing due to faulty screws that attach the rear window wiper. This panel then started holding water and in the dead of winter the freezing temperatures caused the rear panel to crack. It looks terrible!

- , Springfield, MO, USA

problem #571

Jun 072012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


Add my name to this growing list of complainants. It seems apparent that Ford has no desire to resolve this. I found reference to this class action lawsuit if anyone is interested.

I have already had this vehicles doors repainted due to premature fading and have also had to replace the transmission.

I will NEVER own another Ford product and will make sure everyone I meet knows why.

- , Xenia, OH, USA

problem #570

Jun 122012

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 139,800 miles

I just noticed the crack in the rear panel below the rear window. Ford says that it is not covered by any recall, at this time.

- , Normal, IL, US

problem #569

Sep 012009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Another thing Ford should pay for because of shoddy design.

- , Moore, OK, USA

problem #568

Nov 032011

Explorer ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles


I went to open the back to load groceries and the panel was cracked. I have noticed so many Ford Explorers with cracks. Whenever it rains for some reason my door ajar light stays on and my interior and exterior light under my rear view mirror stays on? I think this should be a recall. I loved my explorer but thinking of selling and never getting another ford product.

- , Salem, NH, USA

problem #567

Feb 132012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

Noticed the crack to the right of the Ford emblem the other day. My friend had an 02 Explorer with the same problem and told me it is very common.

- , Oak Park, IL, USA

problem #566

Feb 252012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,200 miles

I didn't realize the issue of the panel under the rear window cracking was so prevalent until I did a search on it.. I noticed mine cracked sometime within the last month. I bought my Explorer used five years ago with only 42000 miles on it. Now I only have 73000 so you can see it gets driven infrequently. It has been garaged the whole time I've had it so it hasn't been out in the elements.. Obviously this is a construction (design or material) flaw and should be addressed by Ford.

- , Randolph, VA, USA

problem #565

Jan 042012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Have had my 2004 Ford Explorer since 2004- purchased new. Crack appeared out of the blue a couple months ago. Ever since it appeared I've noticed it on numerous other Ford Explorers- many times on a daily basis. It has gotten to the point where whenever I see one of them I check to see if there is a crack. Most of the time there is one- typically see at least 1 other car w/ the crack on a daily basis and I only drive about 10 miles during my work commute. Not all that shocked to see the numerous posts on this website about the same problem. Have been a loyal Ford customer all my life-- My dad is a Ford retiree- worked there 30 years. Probably won't buy one again if the company doesn't man-up, do the right thing, and fix this problem free of charge. So far it's not looking good.

- , Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #564

Feb 242012

Explorer XLS 6.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,062 miles


If all of the Explorers i have been seeing fo so long have the same problem why don't they fix it?????????

- , Mooresville, IN, USA

problem #563

Jan 102012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 248,000 miles

Since this crack appeared, we have noticed similar cracks on over a dozen other Ford Explorers. The majority of the cracks are to the LEFT of the emblem. I cannot believe that Ford has not taken some sort of responsibility for this obvious defect in the construction of the panel.

- , Chico, CA, USA

problem #562

Feb 102012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

LIke so many other posts regarding this problem, we have the same crack on our tailgate near the Ford emblem. We parked next to an identical model with the exact same crack and had a conversation with the owner, who told us she discovered this is a common flaw with this model. Now I'm seeing similar cracks on other Ford Explorers when we are out and about. How can Ford not take responsibility for this? When we called the dealership to find out about having it fixed, they told us it would be at our expense and over $500 to fix it. REALLY??? We have meticulously maintained our vehicle, and now it looks awful! This is just wrong Ford!

- , Canandaigua, NY, US

problem #561

Feb 012012

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

I wrote Ford Motor Credit and spoke with them today. I was told this was not a known problem on this model and it was not under warranty at this time. I explained it is a known manufacture defect on this year and model have been told by 2 dealerships and insurance company and they will not offer any assistance in getting this corrected. The truck was well under warranty when the defect was recognized. I want them to stand behind the product and fix it!!

- , Rock Hill, SC, USA

problem #560

Mar 032012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 186,000 miles

Well just like some other complaints i had seen 2 blue explorers with a crack in hatch and the next day i had the same thing ironic that thaey were the same color blue , not many major issues other than tran replaced at 185,000 but just weird .

- , Waldorf, MD, USA

problem #559

Oct 032007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I add mine to the # 1 complaint of this vehicle. The part is defective and should be recalled and fixed at no charge to the valued Ford customer.

- , Vimy, AB, Canada

problem #558

Feb 132005

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

The crack in the rear below the rear back window.. It's definitely a defect!! I love my ford by I hate how the crack makes the car look.

I cannot believe there is no recall.

I am in Ford country.. Florida. Where ever I turn I see another ford explorer with a crack!! Some try to cover with an awful sticker and other tried to paint it!!

Obviously they don't like either. This is my first Ford.. But I may have to purchase my next car back to Nissan.. Never had a problem.. Ford why not Stand by your name and mission ...

- , Dade City, FL, USA

problem #557

Jan 202012

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,124 miles

Had heard from other owners about the cracking of real window panel. After several years (7) ours has finally cracked. Was wondering about Ford repairing as defect or the cost to have repaired.

- , St. Augustine, FL, USA

problem #556

Feb 252012

Explorer XL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles

Last week I was behind an Explorer just like mine and noticed the crack below the rear window. I had loaded somethings in the back on Friday night and it wasn't there. When I loaded the things back nup on Saturday morning I found that mine had cracked too. I came online to see if there is a recall and I find all the complaints from other Ford Owners about the same problem. How can Ford not do anything to fix this. If I get it fixed myself, I wonder how long before it does it again. Please let me know if anyone gets any solutions to this problem.. I'm also having transmission problems too! I WILL NOT purchase another FORD! I waited for years to get an Explorer always wanted one and now I wish I had never bought it!!

- , Lyons, GA, USA

problem #555

Jan 012011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

I became aware that Ford Explorers were susceptible to cracking of the rear trim panel below the window from observations of other Ford Explorers while driving. I warned every driver of the car to be very careful closing the back lift gate and back window hatch, yet one day a crack was there. As time has gone on, the crack has grown and new cracks have appeared.

My biggest concern is the resale value of the car being compromised. I had initially chosen to purchase a Ford (used with low mileage) because they didn't take government bailout money. But now with this crack issue I've lost a great deal of respect for the company. I used to hate the bulk and rattle of the Dodge Ram pickup trucks, but now am actually considering changing my plans to purchase a Ford truck with the Dodge truck. I'll do a better job of investigating complaints before I buy any car or truck from this point forward; right here at Car Complaints dot com.

- , Fort Collins, CO, USA

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