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:
75,265 miles
Total Complaints:
760 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (294 reports)
  2. not sure (204 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 18 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #420

Feb 062011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles


Keep my cars impeccable! This sucks......need to pay to fix as a crack this bad just look cheap! Not sure what caused it, but insurance won't cover it. Owned Fords my entire life...3 mustang's, 1 Escort, 4 Explorers, 4 different F150"s - F350's! This has got to be the weirdest defect!

- , Stafford Springs, CT, US

problem #419

Feb 122011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles

We have a 2004 Explorer that is my wifes, and she keeps it clean, and it is garage kept. Needless to say that she was very disappointed when she saw the crack on the back of her Explorer. Since then, I have seen two others, the same color (red) and the crack is in the same place, just to the left of the center. I think the supplier of that piece (or Ford) should be responsible for the cost of the replacement of that piece.

Update from Apr 2, 2011: I have replaced the panel. I purchased the panel from Ford, it was painted and installed at the body shop. Body shop said the panel was glued around the outer edge, it had no support in the center. Cost, a little under $400.

- , Jackson, TN, US

problem #418

Apr 062010

Explorer LS

  • Manual transmission
  • 86,000 miles

I thought this was an isolated incident for my truck, until I noticed other Explores with the same defect! Why hasn't this been recalled??? This should not be an expense to the buyer. I will not be purchasing another Ford.

- , Bakersfield, CA, USA

problem #417

Jan 152011

Explorer Sport V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


Called Ford,they have no recall for this, they said I should get it fixed at my expense, I noticed that their are a lot of explorers out there with the same problem. Ford should be made to fix this problem without the customer paying.

- , North Bergen, NJ, USA

problem #416

Jan 122011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

Similar problem to everyone else. One day the crack just appears. The vehicle has always been very well maintained.

This is obviously a manufacturer defect. It is a bit ironic for the crack to be so close to the Ford emblem.

I have placed a sign inside the liftgate window that says "Manufacturer Defect - Ford refuses to Fix - Buy Ford products at your own Risk" with a big arrow pointed toward the crack (easy to print off on computer). Also, I call Ford once a week.

Hopefully Ford will wake up and fix this issue before they lose more market share and we lose more jobs to foreign competition.

- , Great Falls, VA, USA

problem #415

Apr 162008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I have a vertical crack next to the Ford logo on the back panel. I've spoken with my local Ford dealer and they gave me a $300+ estimate to fix it. However on our honeymoon my wife and I met a guy that works for Ford in Texas who told us that it was, indeed, a recall and Ford should fix it for free (or a small repair cost).

I'm a very loyal Ford owner but this is frustrating to me that this problem is not being taken care of.

- , Athens, GA, USA

problem #414

Jan 032011

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,500 miles


The cracked rear panel on Ford Explorer's is a major problem. This is an issue that should be fixed by Ford due to the large number of complaints. Called customer service and they refuse to help. Stay away from Ford motor company.

- , Blounts Creek, NC, USA

problem #413

Dec 082010

Explorer Limited 5.4L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,567 miles

This is definitely a design flaw in this automobile. Ford needs to step up to the plate on this...Had to replace this twice as the first shop had no clew about the sealant PRIMER to attach the replacement panel... be careful if you have this done as the PRIMER is very significant. Many have no idea about the primer so the sealant will not stay attached...I know about is because my plane required the same primer when replacing the windows.

Update from Apr 12, 2015: Side airbags popped at 113,000 miles for no good reason

- , Jackson, TN, USA

problem #412

Sep 092009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Ford needs to recall and fix this issue. Enough is enough. I see at least 4 out of 5 explorers with the same issue. Fix the crack in my rear under the windshield!!!!!!!!!

- , Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #411

Jan 222011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

I am the owner of a 2004 ford explorer, my explorer only has apprx. 50,000 highway miles on it. In 2007 I walked out of my home to find under the back hatch window the panel with the ford emblem was cracked. My vehicle was still under warranty, so I took it to the Ford dealership and it was repaired. I was informed by the employee at the dealership many explorers had this problem. After having mine repaired I did began to notice that many people were driving Ford Explorers with cracked rear panels, the same as mine had been. Well, this morning 2011, I went outside to take my Ford Explorer to Emissions and behold the panel is cracked again. After leaving Emissions I am driving behind a Ford Explorer with a cracked rear panel. Can someone tell me why Ford has not taken the responsibility to recall these vehicles for the panel. I have had two cracked panels and every other Ford Explorer you see has the same cracked panel. Apparently their is a defect in that body part, unless Ford is trying to lose consumers .

- , Frederick, MD, USA

problem #410

Dec 112010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,800 miles


Initially, I thought the crack was a hair from a brush in the carwash. Over the period of a week, it extended throught the whole width of the panel. Then I gave my wife hell for slamming the gate too hard which she really did not do. It was not until she went to another red explorer by mistake when she saw the cracked panel that I realized there may be a problem that extended far beyond my explorer. And then when I came across your site, WOW!!!! How can Ford not assume responsibility? How can the government overseers not make this an issue?

- , Middletown, NY, US

problem #409

Jan 192011

Explorer 4x4 XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,100 miles

I parked my car in the driveway for the night, when I left for work the next morning I noticed the crack on the rear hatch just below the window and to the left side of the ford emblem. I went to my ford dealer to see if this was a reoccurring problem and they said it was a design problem but ford company would not fix it, without my paying for it. Now this is the only company that wasn't bailed out by the government and has been doing so great. Now I know this is their problem and I think it should be on a recall for when and if this problem occurs. Granted this problem isn;t a very big deal to everyone but I love my explorer, my last 4 vehicles have been fords and my next one will probably be one too. I just think that a company as big as ford should take care of their customers when a problem happens and they know it's their fault and not stick it to their ford lovers. I hope that ford sees the problem as their fault and steps up to correct the problem and be the great motor company that we thought they were.

- , Norfolk, VA, USA

problem #408

Jan 282011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

crack below rear window.i have learned that most ford 2004 explorers have the same it a manufacturer defect,so what do i do?

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #407

Jul 152009

Explorer LS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,476 miles

need ford to fix my problem i am a ford retire and i try to sell a ford product. to everyone i talk to they really need to fix problems. no matter how small i love my ford. all my family have had fords. thank you . hope i get a positive response.

- , Paris, KY, USA

problem #406

Dec 082010

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

My wife and I take very good care of our cars and can't believe the plastic panel below the rear window cracked for absolutely no reason. My wife noticed a large crack in the painted plastic trim below the rear window as she was ready to pull out of the garage that was not there the night before coming home from work. The crack is all the way through the trim piece from top to bottom in the middle, and it's noticeable. I would like ford to offer to fix this issue. I have noticed other explorers of darker colors having the same crack. I believe this is a manufacturing defect and not damage caused by the vehicle owners.

- , Hope Mills, NC, USA

problem #405

Dec 062010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,842 miles

After reading the other complants I think I will use some clear Acrylic Latex Caulk Plus Silicone clear DAP Caulking to seal the crack from the weather for the time being. I did stop by an Auto Parts Store but they reccomended a body shop. To gripe. rant and yell seems to be a lost cause after reading the other complants. After three Fords to say the least I am extremely disappointed at Ford's reaction. Sounds like another Toyota deal, they did come across, maybe a Toyota SUV the next time.

- , North Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #404

Nov 202010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,300 miles

Crack in real panel appeared overnight. One evening it was fine and the next morning it was cracked,

- , Palmetto, GA, USA

problem #403

Dec 072010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 192,565 miles

I park my car in the garage every night. I keep the maintenance up on my vehicle. My car is kept in good condition. I used my rear hatch on Sunday, everything was fine. I went to open it up on Tuesday night and there was the crack!! This was out of no where. What really makes me angry is I was just telling my daughter last week that i have noticed several Ford Explorer's with the crack in them in the EXACT same spot. I thought it was a defect in the newer Explorer's and now it has finally happened to mine. I cannot beleive Ford has not done a recall on this because it is obviously a HUGE issue for all the cracks to be in the exact same location.

- , Cocoa, FL, USA

problem #402

Jan 232011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

I took my kids to the rec center late Sunday afternoon. When I came out the back of my car was fine. I walked to my car from the back to the driver door. No problem. We went to the local Walmart. When I came out my back panel was cracked from my back window beside the Ford emblem down that part of the door. I went back into Walmart to ask them to look at the video to see who hit my car. I have a big W on the back windshield so my car is easy to identify. They looked at the video and told me that they could see where I pulled in to my parking spot. They watched until we came out and discovered the crack. They saw no one hit my car or touch my car in any way. After looking on the internet and discovering that this is a problem in 2002, 2003 and my car a 2004 model. Ford has chosen not to do a recall because it is not a safety defect. But I choose to look at it as what type of character Ford shows in the defects of its vehicles. It makes my resale value drop. It also makes me think I won't be a repeat Ford customer if this is the way it deals with defects.

- , Wynnewood, OK, USA

problem #401

Dec 072010

Explorer ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

My Wife and I noticed a large vertical crack on the panel under the back window glass which opens and closes.We think the extremely cold weather over night caused it to crack but we're not 100% sure if that was the cause.What ever the cause might be We feel that Ford should recall all 04 Explorers with this problem and fix them free of charge.I was driving through town in my Ford Ranger and could have sworn my Wife passed me in her Explorer with that crack on the back,it turns out it was some body else with the same problem.I still believe that Ford makes the best American made vehicle and hope that they will recall this problem,also the heater blend door went bad and my poor wife has been toughing out the cold weather when she has to go to work.Ford can do better I know this for a fact,my 1995 Ford Ranger that I own and have been driving for over ten years has had no major problems.I'm going to send Ford a formal letter with these complaints!

- , Tifton, --select--, USA

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