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:
75,166 miles
Total Complaints:
756 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (293 reports)
  2. not sure (202 reports)
  3. replace panel (115 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 13 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #516

Nov 202011

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles


click to see larger images

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

I also have a cracked panel under the rear lift gate window. Looks like crap. Just happened and I have not gotten an estimate yet. I will be looking into it as well.

- , Kaukauna, WI, USA

problem #515

May 012011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 190,000 miles

This is the second time the rear panel has cracked, the first time I had it replaced while my Explorer was in warranty, now only two years later the newly replaced panel cracked again. This has happened twice on the same vehicle, clearly a manufactures defect which Ford should honor.

- , Pilot Mountain, NC, USA

problem #514

Aug 062011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,723 miles

I also had an '02 EB and had to fix this same problem with a body shop. They told me that Ford now only sells the replacement panel with the glass lift door. My "like new" '04 came with the same kind of crack. I've seen many of the same model years (2002-05) with this problem. Obviously a design failure! And Ford ducks out of the way! Would be nice to have made in N. America mean something!

- , Plymouth, MN, USA

problem #513

Nov 152011

Explorer XLT 6.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles


I have been a Ford person for 50 years. This will be my last one if they don't issue a recall.

- , Paradise, CAA, USA

problem #512

Nov 012011

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,500 miles

love the truck hate the gas guzzling. but this crack that seems to be so common on these explorers really goes up my ass backwards. im all for any solutions that can take care of this problem. thanks to all and keep me informed ill do the same. waffen ss.

- , Saugus, MA, USA

problem #511

Feb 122011

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,145 miles

It pisses me off that FORD knows this is happening to their Suv's and they aren't repairing them before they put them on the lot so in my book they are selling DAMAGED GOODS....I paid almost 30,000 for my SUV and I take VERY good car of my car and to have a huge crack down the middle of my hatch by no fault of my own is CRAZY and the best part is it will cost 450.00 to repair. We my family own 5 Fords and I truly havent had any issues with Ford but this is putting a very bad taste in my mouth I am truly not sure if I would buy another Ford because they should fix this PROBLEM they need to OWN up to it and REPAIR if for FREE.................Its the RIGHT thing to do!

- , Kennebunk, ME, USA

problem #510

Oct 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles


I heard it is happening to a lot of Explorers and no recall.

- , Rochester, NY, USA

problem #509

Jul 202011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Went to pop the hatch...and noticed a crack...near the Ford emblem. Where the heck did that come from? I wasn't there the NIGHT before. Makes noooo sense. My 95 Explorer looks better than this one! Sooo many quirky issues! Looking into buying a CHEVY!!

- , Litchfield, NH, USA

problem #508

Dec 002010

Explorer XLT 4x4 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

The cracked panel is causing it to not close easily, have to try

a couple of times.

I e-mailed Ford a while back and they said there was not any complaints

that they knew of........ so I have assumed it was just my car until I found

this site.....

Florence T

- , broken bow, OK, USA

problem #507

Jun 152007

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

Apparently this rear panel crack is quite common. Over 380 complaints on this site plus, just in my neighborhood going to and from work, I came across 4 other vehicles with the same problem. I've called Ford and they won't do anything. I definitely think this is a common enough issue for them to do a recall and fix these things.

- , West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #506

Jul 262011

Explorer Sport

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles


Add me to the growing list with this crack , was thinking it might not happen. Then in July panel cracked about 6 inches from bottom or window. A guy at work had same problem so it was just a matter of time . This and hood that the paint came off ,ford would not fix but lots with the same problem. Will be my last ford

- , Wisconsin Rapids, WI., USA

problem #505

Jul 152010

Explorer LS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

my 2004explorer has cracked panel under back glass. I called customer service to complain but they there was not any thing they could do.

- , Paris, KY, USA

problem #504

Oct 192011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,000 miles

seen so many complaints about the rear door cracking and no recall from ford.

- , Sumter, SC, USA

problem #503

Jun 162011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

I have seen so many explorers with this defect.. cracked panel below rear window. I've called and emailed and Ford has said "Sorry, Can't help." BBB complaint will be my next step... I will start taking pics of all the different explorers I see with the same problem and send it to ford. It is ridiculous that they aren't taking accountability for this obvious defect.

- , E. Boston, MA, USA

problem #502

Feb 232011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

The plastic under the window in cracked. I see allot of Ford explores with this issue.. I call Ford and the person on the line gives me some Bullshit line that its not a safety issue therefore he doubts they will ever recall it. Hey look around every Ford explorer of these years 02-04 is having this issue.. Hey sure its a safety problem. THe glass window is enclosed in this.. What is it going to take... The window flying out and killing somebody? Its not covered under warranty or expended warranty and its over 1k to fix.. Give me a break Ford!! Step up to the plate and fix for your customers...

Mark .. GA

- , Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #501

Oct 312011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

I sent my car to Hack's Auto Body shop in Pacifica, California for repairs and the charges for to replace the panel are $600.00.

I expect some reimbursement from FORD.

- , Pacifica, CA, USA

problem #500

Aug 132011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,600 miles

click to see larger images

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

Pictures show the Explorer butt-crack when it first appeared. It is now extends to the bottom of the panel. On cold days the crack is about 3/32" wide, making me think the problem is thermal stress.

I live in Michigan and know lots of folks who work for Ford. I want to support both our local and national economies buy buying American, but Ford's total brush-off of this problem strains customer loyalty. Come on Ford, with so many complaints you know this is not an isolated problem. Do the right thing by your loyal customers, or they might not be so loyal next time they have to shell out $KKKK for their next vehicle.

- , Farmington Hills, MI, USA

problem #499

Nov 022011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,080 miles

I just purchased the SUV a month ago. Had I known this was an issue, I would have reconsidered the purchase. I don't know what to do. I should not have to pay for the repair out of pocket if Ford knows this is an issue.

- , Washington, District Of Columbia, USA

problem #498

Jul 132011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles

As so many others have mentioned the panel below the rear window is cracked all the way up through the middle. How can Ford honestly not do something to fix the ones that have broken? I have 5 cars in our family, 4 of which are Fords, but this issue along with several others that I have now reported are becoming an issue, and probably one that other manufactures are taking care of properly. time to compare higher quality cars...

- , Bath, PA, USA

problem #497

Jan 012006

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

My Ford Explorer's tailgate cracked near the logo. I have seen scores of Ford Explorers with the same problem. I have called the dealer and they will not fix it because there is not a recall. It is obviously a manufacturing/design problem. It is a shame that a company like Ford treats its customers this way. If this is not fixed I will not buy/recommend Ford again.

- , San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico

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