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 20 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

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

problem #373

Nov 222010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles


I went out to unload my groceries from the vehicle and closed my hatchback and saw a crack below the window. It just happened since it was not there the day before. I have never seen anything like this. I went online to see if others were having this problem and wow, did I find many people having this problem. There is something definitely wrong to have so many people have this same problem. I believe Ford should fix these problems because I don't know how bad this can get. It should be evident to Ford that there is a problem if this keeps happening. I plan on filing a complaint with several different companies until Ford takes action. This crack was not caused by anyone hitting my vehicle. This seems to be a manufactures defect in the vehicle so Ford should step up to the plate and fix this. I know this is going to give Ford a bad name if they do not take ownership in this problem.

- , Oklahoma City, OK, USA

problem #372

Nov 122010

Explorer XLT 4WD V-8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 141,156 miles

Ford Motor Company should own up to the poor quality of these rear hatch panels and recall the affected vehicles. I have noticed that on average, in the DC metro area, one out of every three Ford Explorers in the model years that have these style rear hatches, have the same problem with the cracked panels. This is just plain poor quality / material / workmanship. There is no preventing the problem - I parked my SUV in my garage one afternoon and all is fine; only to go out the next morning to find the crack in the rear panel (vertical, from the bottom of the window to the bottom edge of the upper rear hatch - just left of the Ford Emblem)

- , White Plains, MD, USA

problem #371

Nov 182010

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

I just bought my Exp used, the panel was already cracked. I am and energy engineer with aviation background. My 2 cents: It is a poor design where there is a base plastic is glued to the glass and an outer (painted) plasic panel that connects to the base. The glass and the plastic expand and contract (with temperature changes) at different rates causing the crack. If you look at the crack on a cold day where the sun is shining on it, the crack will be small. The darker the paint color, the more radiant heat it absorbs. Thats why some of the lighter colored Exp's haven't cracked yet. Sorry, I guess Ford figures there is supposed to be a crack on our back side.

- , Elyria, OH, US

problem #370

Nov 152010

Explorer XLT 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles


this is the second time that this has happened. Ford replaced it the first time at their expense. I phoned their customer hotline and they refused to acknowlege that it is their defective design and they should be responsible for full replacement cost. This is not an issue which should be subject to a timed or mileage warranty because this part is not a part subject to wear like tires or brakes. it should last the life of the vehicle and not crack. Ford should issue a recall for this part. It also happened to my daughters 2004 Explorer, she lives in a different state.

If Ford doesn't take responsibilty for this action I am done buying their products.

- , Palm City, FL, USA

problem #369

Nov 052010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

The first crack happened in 2009, this was below the rear window on the panel. The second crack happened this November 2010.

- , Natalia, TX, USA

problem #368

Nov 122010

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,242 miles

Noticed the crack in the panel below the window one morning. Really ticks me off because I always keep my car in perfect shape...clean and polished. Called Ford, they said it wasn't covered and there was no recall on it.

I'm now afraid that the whole piece will go flying off and hit a car behind me while I'm traveling on the highway.

Hate to have to spend $500 to get this repaired, which is what the body shop quoted, but I'll have to...since I don't want to be responsible for any injuries if this piece does fly off!!

- , Weymouth, MA, USA

problem #367

Sep 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

cracked panel below rear window of 2004 ford explorer.

- , Tigard, OR, USA

problem #366

Jan 102009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 8 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


how many cracked rears will it take before ford steps up to the plate and fixes this OBVIOUS flaw?? someone said it was caused by too much pressure when closing liftgate? no way this is the case on my explorer. pretty sure i don't have that much power and i have driven jeeps for years and never had a problem like this...INSANE that this hasn't been recalled!! i love my explorer, but this is just wrong!

- , Oak Ridge, TN, USA

problem #365

Aug 202010

Explorer NBX 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

UGH!!!! WHY?!? SO annoying - ever since I got the crack I have seen other explorers with the same crack so I don't feel so bad, but I don't feel this should be an expense out of my pocket but FORD should be paying this.

- , Elizabeth, CO, USA

problem #364

Dec 022008

Explorer 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

Noticed other Ford Explorers with the same issue and decided it couldn't have been my fault. It is a factory defect for sure.

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #363

Apr 012010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Same problem as everyone else has described. One morning a crack appeared from nowhere, I could not believe it, I did nothing wrong. Like everyone else I too, started looking at every explorer and have been amazed at how many have the same crack just below the rear window next to the emblem. I haven't call Ford yet but I plan to, don't expect any results. Would be nice if there was a class action law suit!

- , Crofton, MD, USA

problem #362

Nov 082010

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

click to see larger images

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

I was shocked to see this crack on my car, when leaving for work in the morning. Being a single woman, my car is very well taken care of. Since purchasing my car I have had NO problem whatsoever. I absolutely love my car, feel very safe and protected while driving it. For this to happen was a REAL shocker. At first I thought someone had purposely done this, but my mechanic advised me that this was known issue with the Explorers. There seems to be many valid complaints about this happening to other Explorers. I do hope that Ford will stand to it's name and fix the problem. Will keep you all posted.

- , Hialeah, FL, US

problem #361

Jan 122010

Explorer 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Could not believe it! Took it to the local Ford dealer, they said they have never seen this happen. Had the body shop person give me an estimate to fix it, $1,200.00. Advised calling Ford and lodging complaint, I did, never have heard back from them. I now notice more and more of the cracks on other Explorers around now. Becoming an epidemic??

- , Thousand Oaks, CA, US

problem #360

Mar 152010

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles

I first noticed it as an inch long hairline crack right next to the Ford emblem. It took about a week for it to finish its descent to the bottom of the plastic applique that my local Ford auto body shop wants over $400 to replace and paint. Now I notice the same problem on other similar Exploders in parking lots, so I know I'm not alone.

Unfortunately, Ford probably won't recall this if its not causing a safety concern. My guess: we deal with it until we go to trade it into the dealer and get a percentage knocked off due to a problem that isn't our fault.

- , Mayville, NY, USA

problem #359

Oct 032010

Explorer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

LIke everyone else is saying, Ford should do something to fix this problem

- , Sherwood, AR, USA

problem #358

May 012008

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,000 miles

The whole back panel is cracked. Ford told me they would charge me, even though they know it's a factory defect - It was going to cost me 400-500 bucks to fix and I would have done it had the guy not told me they could not guarantee it would not happen again as they have found no permanent solution for this problem. They used a very thin piece of poly urethane and the wrong glue when this was made in the factory that cannot withstand the heat and swelling with the weather changes.

- , Costa Mesa, CA, USA

problem #357

May 122009

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,500 miles

have had several new fords always something needs to be fixed i will not buy another even with my a plan the employes at ford are rude an i im through with fords!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , Virginia Beach, VA, US

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