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:
75,200 miles
Total Complaints:
753 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (293 reports)
  2. not sure (201 reports)
  3. replace panel (113 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 19 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #393

Jun 072008

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles


Cracked panel by Ford emblem below rear window. How is this not being recognized as a defect? Ford needs to step up and offer to fix with no charge to vehicle owners. Have driven Fords for many years and am seriously thinking this may be my last if this is not handled properly.

- , Seminole, FL, USA

problem #392

Jan 302010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I have noticed a number of cracked rear panel on late model Ford Explorer- Ford has refused to fix or address the problem. I WILL NOT BUY ANOTHER VEHICLE-NOR WILL I RECOMMEND ANY FORD PRODUCTS TO ANY OF MY FAMILY OR ASSOCIATES.

- , Greensboro, NC, USA

problem #391

Dec 262010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I think it stinks that Ford knows this is a BIG problem with it's cars yet they are not offering a recall to fix the problem! I now can't wash my car because the rear hatch door will fill with water.

- , Naples, FL, USA

problem #390

Dec 112010

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles


Adding my complaint to the several already here. Came out of store today and was approaching back of vehicle and seen the crack from a few feet away. Thought I had the wrong car at first. Ford needs to make this right.

Update from Jan 22, 2011: Just wanted to let people know that there is a lawsuit filled, all I can say is it is about time. I went to search for a fix about a month ago and found all the complaints on several sights all the pictures the same as mine. My whole family has owned nothing but Fords for over 30 years. No loyalty from Ford, not Ford tough. A couple of days after showing my father, (who resides in another state) my tailgate, he called me telling me he had left the bowling alley with a friend, and he had seen an Explorer on the road, tailgate area cracked like mine. My husband has now been seeing a few Explorers on the road with the tailgate cracked in the same area. When I spoke to the auto body guy from the Ford dealer, he told he was surprised they had not been recalled. He also told me that’s how you could tell what year they where. He said not only has he repaired several he said he also seen them when he was driving around. I haven’t fixed it yet don’t really want to spend the money, neither does Ford they where only there to take my money when I purchased it.

- , Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #389

Oct 042010

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,044 miles

This vehicle(2004 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer) I inherited recently however the previous one owner was a 70yr old woman who barely drove anywhere (33,400miles right now)....and we had prior to her death in October tried to find out about FORD fixing this but at that time nothing had been done as far as a recall and I've followed up several times on this in the past few months and still nothing to my knowledge as to any recall. This is definitely a FORD problem so they need to fix this!!!!

- , Lancaster, SC, US

problem #388

Dec 162010

Explorer NBX 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I have two large cracks on the left side of the emblem. The hatch was rarely used.

The high mileage is due to highway miles to and from work. I too can't understand why Ford isn't forced to research EVERY complaint that is identical when presented to them in HUGE numbers. There are hundreds of people who have the EXACT problem so how are they allowed to ignore the complaints or lie and say they are not aware that it is a problem among many owners? Who oversees Ford's obligation to make things right?

- , North Las Vegas, NV, US

problem #387

Sep 182007

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles


I've bought Fords for years and I've been happy until now. I've personally noticed this problem (Explorer Butt Crack) on most Explorers and I've seen HUNDREDS of complaints online. Ford Motor Company- WHAT THE @#%$!!!! Can't you see that you are chasing away loyal customers? Do the right thing! Fix this defect at your cost, not ours.

- , Ware, MA, USA

problem #386

Jul 072010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,032 miles


- , Norfolk, VA, USA

problem #385

Dec 112010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,025 miles

The panel cracking is clearly a defect in the product and Ford should repair. The unfortunate part for Ford is that is it a very visible defect in the quality of their workmanship. Had a similar issue on my wife's Toyota and they fixed it at no charge.

- , Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #384

Dec 092010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Just happened before Christmas on my 04' Eddie Bauer Explorer. We had a really cold night ( for Tennessee) and the next morning there was a crack from top to bottom in the rear panel in shape of a V. Keeps getting wider. It's really annoying when the rest of the vehicle is in great cosmetic condition. Makes this spot stick out like a sore thumb.

- , Oldfort, TN, USA

problem #383

Dec 142010

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


My husband and I have 2 Ford Explorers. One is a 2003 and one is a 2004. Our 2003 explorer got the crack in the lift gate about 2 years ago. We ignorantly bought another explorer...this time a different model and a year newer. We have owned it a little over a year and a half. I was so happy that it didn't have or get the crack like the other. Wellllll......tonight while putting my groceries in the back I see it!! THE CRACK!! I am soooo annoyed and even more annoyed to know that Ford won't do anything about it. This is ridiculous. Not only do our Ford's have these cracks, but almost every Ford Explorer I have seen has this same exact crack. Does Ford really think this is going to influence consumers to buy another Ford? I know the next vehicle we purchase WILL NOT be a Ford Explorer or even a Ford at all.

- , Williamsburg, VA, US

problem #382

May 012009

Explorer XLT V6 Flex

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

I had no problem getting them to replace the back gate. As long as I brought it in before 100k hit in mileage.

- , Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #381

Nov 052010

Explorer 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles

I think that its ridiculous that all of a sudden that it just happens to cars and no one knows how. My car was fine and then just out of nowhere it has this huge crack and no one wants to do anything about it. I know have paid attention to other explorers and have seen lots of them like that. Just on this website there were almost 400 complaints when i signed up so why is no one doing anything about it. I definitely think this should be recalled or at the very least looked at.

- , Greenville, SC, USA

problem #380

Nov 292010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

I have been buying Fords for over 20 years and my kids and wife all drive fords. My wifes 2004 Ford Explorer is always parked in the garage one day when she got to work she noticed a crack next to the ford sign on the panel of the rear window lift gate. We took it to our dealer and they immediately new what i was talking about, but would not fix it. Their excuses were that piece is under stress and my car was 6 years old. First of all the stress that this piece may be under is negligible at best and the way that this piece broke was not due to stress of installation but by stress from the contraction on either side of a defect(microscopic crack) in the panel. When the temperature dropped as it does quite often here in Colorado, the plastic contracted which pulled it apart and created the larger crack.

So one, the Service manager has no idea how simple physics works and the other is Ford's apparent apathetic attitude displayed by their staff in supporting their customers. When a customer pays upwards of 30,000 dollars for a product they expect it to last more than 6 years. Additionally the fact that they know thw problem exists and refuse to address it for their customers is pathetic. When I started buying fords they used to talk about quality being job #1 unfortunately i guess that ideal has evolved since then. I am severely disappointed in my local dealer as well as the Ford corporation. Their conduct and policy regarding this issue is an insult to my long standing patronage and a discredit to their own tradition of excellence.

- , Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #379

Nov 192010

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,009 miles

My rear panel has cracked on both sides of the Ford logo under the window. It continues to get bigger and deeper. The cracked seemed to happend over night. It is amazing to me that Ford has known it was a problem for three model years and has not fixed the problem.

- , Milton, WA, USA

problem #378

Nov 172010

Explorer XLT 4.6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,150 miles

Called Ford at 800-392-3673 today, it was like talking on deaf ears. The crack in the rear panel is a madder of principle now, and I will let every body know that Ford could less that we have to drive around in there crap. Never again!!!

- , Wellington, FL, USA

problem #377

Apr 012010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

Well having 6 Fords I was disappointed that even with my extended warranty that Ford refused to repair it. I take super car of my cars,just not fair. Apparently this is a bad design flaw.We bought a Honda.

- , Mattapoisett, MA, USA

problem #376

Feb 092010

Explorer 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

click to see larger images

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

I bought my ford explorer new and all I have during this past five years are headaches. now a broken panel on such an expensive SUV.How come Ford has not done anything yet to fix this problem. I am fearful my back window will crack or fall.

- , Behtlehem, PA, USA

problem #375

Oct 122009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

This is very dangerous. I was driving down a very dark road at 6 am and BOOM! The back glass just popped. I thought it had been shot out. The Sheriff's Department showed up and he thought the same thing. But the only thing we found was between the hydraulics on the window itself, the crack in the panel and temperature outside it imploded. My insurance in KY paid for it, but it took two windows and it still isn’t right. The replacement parts aren’t worth a crap. The panels don’t fit right and the plastic panel bulge from the form. I have always been a Ford girl, but never again will I buy a 2004 model from Ford!

- , Central, SC, USA

problem #374

Nov 152010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I take very good care of my cars and can't believe the plastic panel below the rear window cracked for absolutely no reason. The car was parked in the garage over the weekend and when pulled out on Monday morning it had a large crack in the painted plastic trim below the rear window. The crack is all the way through the trim piece from top to bottom in the middle, and is very noticeable. Needless to say it is very disappointing to anyone who trys to take good care of their cars. I would like ford to offer to fix this.

Update from Apr 28, 2013: This is causing a very annoying squeaking sound when driving.

- , Shelton, CT, US

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