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 22 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #338

Jul 142010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles


I came home and found the back rear panel of my 2004 Ford Explorer XLT cracked next to the Ford emblem. I never use this back rear panel so there is no possibility that I caused the crack. Within the next 3 weeks I noticed at least 14-15 other Explorers with the same crack in the same location. When I talked with the owners of the other vehicles they too explained no collision or cause for the crack.

- , Loudon, TN, USA

problem #337

Aug 142010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

If this is and has been a FORD problem, then FORD should fix the problem!!!!!!!!

- , Monument, CO, USA

problem #336

Jul 082009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

We came home from a trip to find our Ford Explorer sitting in an LAX parking lot with the back panel cracked. Now that mine is cracked, I seem to notice more and more Explorers with similar cracks. Even my mother's 2002 Ford Explorer has the same crack. It is very frustrating, especially because I'm thinking of getting a new vehicle and I worry about how the "crack" is going to affect the selling/trade-in price.

- , Encinitas, CA, USA

problem #335

Dec 162009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


poor quality..............I take good care of my cars, this is clearly a defect. I thought perhaps something hit it then I noticed several other Explorers on the road have the same issue. Shame shame wonder you needed a bailout you don't stand behind your products.

- , Annandale, VA, USA

problem #334

Jun 222010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


- , Rockmart, GA, US

problem #333

Jan 012006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

The Ford people told me I had to fix it to get a good return on a trade-in, even thought they know this is an endemic problem.

- , Simpsonville, SC, USA

problem #332

Jun 122010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles


click to see larger images

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

I just hope that The Ford Motor Company fixes this problem cause this is America and people take pride in there vehicles, if not there is always the other guys.

Thank you, JH

- , Brockton, MA, USA

problem #331

Jan 012007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles

This seems to be a problem with all of these models. Ford will do nothing about it. It is an obvious defect. I got the best esp warranty($2800) and it still won't cover it. No exterior plastic parts moldings are covered after 3yr/36000 miles BS.... OH Ford fixed the problem, they changed the new model style and took the Ford label out of the panel were it cracks. I guess someone learned something from our problems!!!! LAST Ford for me!!!!! I can't believe we can't do something about this if we all band together.

- , West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #330

Sep 162009

Explorer LX 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

How come ford will repaint a 1988 f 150 but wont fix the broken panel or the peeling paint on a 6 year old vehicle. paid too much for this explorer an now we are all getting taken to the cleaners.

- , Union Beach, NJ, USA

problem #329

Jul 012010

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

Came out of work one day, and noticed this crack down the rear panel. I know it wasn't there in the morning, so I thought something had hit my car. However, upon closer inspection there weren't any other marks on the paint. When I took my car to the Ford Service Center in Torrance, CA; the Service Writer told me that I was the 5th Explorer that week with the same problem. He explained that there is a hollow space behind that panel, and when they attached the Ford emblem, it puts stress on that plastic piece. Therefore, when opening the rear liftgate, and closing it with any force, it eventually will crack. He said it was not covered by Ford, even though it is an obvious design defect! He told me that most people just don't get it fixed because it's so expensive. What type of Customer Service is that??

So after ordering the part ($167); then having the body shop (which happens to be located inside the Ford Dealer!) paint & install ($291), I'm out $458! This is my last Ford vehicle...never again!

- , Lomita, CA, USA

problem #328

Jun 152008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles


Its a pain in the ass to see the crack everytime you open the tail gate. every time I question some one at a Ford dealer they act like it has never been an issue with any other Explorer owner and blow me off.

- , Florence, OR, USA

problem #327

Mar 012010

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

i need to have this fixed...

it appears to be a problem that is common to Ford Explorers

i don't think i should have to come out of pocket for a manufacturer defect

i love my explorer.. but this stinks.

- , Miami, FL, USA

problem #326

Jun 062010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Same problem as everyone else, I know it wasn't there when I parked, came back a day later and there it was. A crack in the back near the Ford emblem. I was driving one day and noticed it in the same place on another Explorer, which made me start looking, since then I have seen several.

- , Stafford, VA, USA

problem #325

Sep 102009

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

I contacted ford about this problem and the lady in customer service said she has NEVER heard of anyone having the same problem and that there is nothing Ford can or will do to help with the repair or replayement.

- , Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #324

Mar 012010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

Apparently this is very common. I see them all over the highway with cracked panels exactly in the same spot. whats up with that? I've always been a ford fan, but this one sucks.

- , Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #323

May 012009

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

Noticed a small crack below the rear window. In a matter of 2 months it split all the way. Now the back door of our Explorer looks awful. I've seen at least 4 other explorers with the same problem. Something like this affecting hundreds of Ford customers should be significant enough to be noticed. Ford better do a recall to get this corrected ASAP at their expense.

- , Columbia, SC, USA

problem #322

Aug 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I thought the crack was due to my latch randomly locking itself and when I would attempt to close the latch, it would hit hard against the latch and bounce back up again. So I never gave it another thought until I pulled up behind my coworker that also has an explorer and mentioned to her that we have the same crack. She told me alot of explorers do and ever since that conversation, I can't believe how many I see just in and around the St. Louis area with the same crack. My kids even point them out to me when driving around and now it has become kind of a game to check every explorer we see for the crack. There are so many, we have lost count.

When is FORD going to recall this item? It is extremely expensive to have it fixed. A good friend of mine owns a Maaco and I asked him if he sees this come into his shop and he told me that he has had a fair amount come in for this crack repair. C'mon FORD, step up and take care of you loyal American buying customers!

- , Eureka, MO, USA

problem #321

Nov 022008

Explorer XL 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

One day I came out to my Ford Explorer and noticed that there was a crack in the back near the Ford emblem. I kind of ignored it, but started noticing it on a lot of Explorers around town. A lady stopped me at the post office one day. She was in an Explorer and said she noticed my crack. She had one too, in the same area. She said she had written a letter to Ford to try and get them to fix it. Another man told my husband that he had the same issue and Ford fixed it free. I need to find out how to get mine fixed.

- , Douglasville, GA, USA

problem #320

Apr 012010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

Park my truck at work in parking lot ,day was sunny and hot only to come and see the panel below the rear window bulging off the glass (rear window) like some kind of a bow and arrow nightmare out of hell . Most of my co-workers and friends saw this and I was so embarrassed : because I had bosted to them how good ford was and how we should be patriotic and buy American;to be honest ; I was so naive it was there and then I found out that the panel was made from cheap plastic glued on with some cheap glue by FORD . My last grand child would have known better and he does not have an engineering degree. I honestly believe in my heart that FORD should fix this SCREW UP regardless of the warranty expiration on my truck .I bought this truck on credit and I am still making payments ;can you imagine how I feel when I am making my car note payment. FORD we need justice , my eyes are now open and I am seeing this problem over and over as I look around and I am talking to these owners ;FORD do the right thing.

- , Greenbelt, MD, USA

problem #319

Jun 112010

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

Just bought this vehicle used today. Car salesman said this crack was a "Recall" by the Ford Company and all I had to do was take it to a Ford dealership. Guess I should have gotten that in writing! Went online to check the recall and none was listed. Guess I should have checked that too before I purchased the vehicle! Don't I have 72 hours to change my mind on any contract signed?

- , Seymour, IN, USA

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