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:
75,156 miles
Total Complaints:
758 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (294 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 16 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #458

Mar 132011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,895 miles


Very disappointed in the obvious design defect in a company you should be able to trust. Since my truck is not under warranty, I'm told I'm out of luck. That's okay, I can buy another brand next time.

- , Cambridge, MD, USA

problem #457

Jan 042011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

the crack just appeared. after reading these complaints, i am contacting the federal trade commission, then ford

- , Cape May, NJ, USA

problem #456

Feb 172011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,000 miles

It is very aggravating to leave home and arrive at work to find the rear panel under the rear window completely split up and down at no fault of my own. I AM FURIOUS! Helllooo Ford! Issue a recall or you have forever lost a true blue Ford fan and customer!

- , Bowie, MD, USA

problem #455

May 052006

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


Sounds like everybody else. crack along the ford emblem below back window. I've seen about every ford explorer in my town with the same problem!!!!! Big surprise!!!

- , Burlington, IA, USA

problem #454

Jun 012010

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,500 miles

Annoying and very noticeable vertical crack below the rear window.... I have noticed more than 6-10 in my travels. Where is the recall for this!!

- , Bow, NH, USA

problem #453

Jan 102011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

also have rear cracked panel and i have sen three other explorers with same problem parked around town, arrgghhhh!

- , Cloverdale, CA, USA

problem #452

Dec 082010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles


I have a 2000 Chevy pickup that I bought in 2002 with 32000 miles on it .I have always washed it weekly and had serviced every 3000 miles.Have never gotten a rust spot or had any expense other than tires and brakes.I bought a 2004 explorer in 2006 with 33000 miles on it.This explorer has had the same care but I have had problems with the panel under the rear glass breaking,trans.problems,paint on the hood falling off,and wheel bearings going out.This vehicle has 15000 less miles on it then my pickup.It will be traded in on another vehicle before my truck and it won't be a Ford!

- , Cascade, IA, USA

problem #451

Aug 022010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Wonder how much a dealer discounts this on a trade in?

- , Vp, IL, USA

problem #450

Feb 072011

Explorer XLS 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,670 miles

I have had my Explorer for about 2 years now, so far i have had to fix the transmission because when you buy a Ford expect the transmission to blow> if that wasn't bad enough this Feb I noticed the rear panel on the left side of the logo was split straight down the entire panel, if that wasn't enough of an eye sore the tailgate hatch handle(the plastic piece that covers the trunk handle) cracked right off as well. I have tried to find an economical way to repair the pieces but as per usual the pieces aren't available for my vehicle unless you spend $700 at a ford service center. in a recession like ours i am opting to wait for a recall to fix the problems!!! As it stands now I will never buy another Ford Ever!!!!!!

- , Bristol, RI, USA

problem #449

Apr 262011

Explorer Eddy Bouer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,951 miles

My 7 year old Explorer, garage kept, washed and cleaned weekly, waxed monthly, looks like it is just off the show room floor, WITH A LARGE CRACK IN THE DECK LID by the FORD emblem, how to show off your FORD, "CRACKED"

Update from May 17, 2011: Ford Program $$$ ran out!

Update from Jun 21, 2011: I called Ford thy said they had a program out last year but the funds were used up!

What about the rest of us! I did not brake it, it cracked due to a manufacturing defect that does not stand up. If they had uses (a strange work) metal it would not have cracked!l It may have corroded, warped, plastic in our hot sun in Florida does not stand up. They should fix this eye sore! Not a good advertisement for FORD. May be a good place to plant a LEMON not wax to have a shiny cracked deck lid>

Update from Aug 8, 2011: This product is not designed for hot climates. I see most older Explores in Florida have it. 1/8 of an inch wide and getting larger!. My EDDIE BAUER is designed for Michigan Only! This is not a wear item. It is made of cheap plastic not engeneered for all climates!

- , Leesburg, FL, USA

problem #448

Jan 112011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,980 miles


click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

My vehicle has always been kept in a garage. To find a crack in the back panel was a total SHOCK! Then I go online and see literally hundreds if not thousands have the same problem. I put a pic and a comment on Town & Country Ford's (where we bought it) Facebook page and was told to take it to the service dept. Which I will if life slows down a bit. From what I have read it will be a wasted trip but I will try. IF I get no satisfaction I will contact others and possibly try to file a class action lawsuit.

- , McCalla, AL, USA

problem #447

Nov 212010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

The read hatch panel cracked. I found out that because the panel was installed with no glue under the emblem and on either side the act of simply closing the hatch caused it to crack. I also had them check the hinges on the panel because I read reports about the hatch falling down. I was told that the hinges definitely needed replacing.

- , North Brunswick, NJ, USA

problem #446

Mar 102011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

NOT SURE why this happened out of the blue, not only was it a pain, it took the ford dealership over a week to get the part and took them way to long to fix .

- , Corona, CA, USA

problem #445

Nov 012010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

What else will go wrong with this EXPLORER! Why does an exterior panel just crack in half...Wife has started taking pictures of everyone she sees on way to work.. Picture daily..Major TRANS problem first, alternator, suspension, REAR Diff. ... This is the worst vehicle I have ever owned... What a lemon..

FORD Fix Or Repair Daily.

- , Warrenton, VA, USA

problem #444

Feb 022011

Explorer ATS

  • 120,000 miles

I am very upset about this rear panel cracking. I could not imagine how this happened . Yesterday morning as I was driving to work I stopped at a stoplight and noticed there was a Ford Explorer identical to mine with the very same crack, even the same shape and place of the crack. I am sure Ford is aware of this defect and I plan to contact them. I think this is a shame...I just finished paying for mine.

- , Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #443

Jan 032011

Explorer Limited 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,922 miles

your back panel should not crack unless there is a recall for this problem

- , Pittsburgh, PA, US

problem #442

Jun 102010

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,200 miles

Very nice looking vehicle...has this crack in panel below rear glass on rear of vehicle. It needs to be repaired by FORD. I have a 2004 T/bird, 1994 Taurus that will be replaced this year. If FORD does not made the repairs I will NEVER purchase another product from them.

I care about how my vehicles look and the crack destroys the look of a very nice looking vehicle. No more Ford products it this is not corrected.

I live in the city that where this vehicle was manufactured.

- , Louisville, KY, US

problem #441

Mar 012011

Explorer Edie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,100 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

I received two letters offering me a deal on a new car as a "Loyal Ford owner". I discovered this crack and went to my dealer for some repair help.

Cowles Ford

1377 Nobelwood Plaza

Woodbridge Virginia


Loyalty is NOT a two way street in Ford land

- , Montclair, VA, USA

problem #440

Jul 132005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,000 miles

With this rear panel crack, I think Ford should recall the defected panels and fix them ALL. I have been all over the world and you can spot out the Ford Explorers with the crack in the back, it pisses me off so bad because Ford should fix this problem. Since it is so commen. I don't know if I will ever buy a Ford again because they don't take care of there customers! Ford step up and fix these cracked panels for everyone! Admit it, it was a defect on your part and FIX it!!!

- , Columbus, TX, USA

problem #439

Dec 142010

Explorer LXT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,680 miles

I am very disappointed in Ford. I have been a ford owner for many years and have loved every one of them and in past years Ford was great. Any issues were resolved by our local dealership, where we have been buying our cars for over 20 years. Lately Ford seems to be going to the wayside in all areas.

The quality is not as it was nor the integrity and the safety record of late is very scary as I have a niece who was involved in a a severe car accident in which she survived the driver did not! Reason, back axle broke, lost control,and from what I have been told family received recall notice AFTER the accident!

I'm in the market for a smaller vehicle as the kids are grown and no longer need such a large no so great mileage car and find myself swaying to other vehicles am sad to say. So Ford you need to make good on all and maybe more of the issues and go back to a time when Ford meant quality,safety and integrity!

- , Newport News, VA, USA

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