Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. 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:
75,168 miles
Total Complaints:
749 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (292 reports)
  2. not sure (200 reports)
  3. replace panel (111 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)

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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

problem #318

Aug 272009

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles

Walked out to my car from the grocery store and thought someone had used a majic marker on the panel below the back window. On closer inspection noted ot was actually a crack. The car only had 47,000 miles. Whats up with that?

- , Tarpon Springs, Fl, USA

problem #317

Jun 172010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

Just wanted to chalk mine up so its on file. Does water get in? Can I replace and fix it myself easily?

- , Panama City, Ancon, Panama

problem #316

Sep 092009

Explorer Eddie Bauer Edition V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Bought this car used but in excellent condition. Looked brand new when we bought it. About 2-3 months later, one day I just happened to notice a crack in the panel below the rear glass. Not much to mention at first. Now, with the heat of SC and time, the panel now bows out from the back of the car and is definitely an eye sore! Makes my nice car look ugly. Hoping to get it fixed, I just don't think with so many complaints on the same issue the $ should come out of my pocket. Not to mention all the Fords like mine that I now notice with the same problem that haven't complained.

- , Darlington, SC, USA

problem #315

Jan 052010

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

I suddenly noticed the crack one morning on the back panel, and then started noticing them on every other Explorer I see!!! I can't believe that Ford won't do the right thing and recall this---OBVIOUSLY there is a problem with the way they were MADE!!!! SO SAD that we the people get stuck once again having to pay for something that we have no control over...

- , Dacula, GA, USA

problem #314

Feb 012010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

Same issues as the others. Came out one morning and saw the crack. Shame on Ford for not fixing this obvious defect!

- , Middletown, DE, USA

problem #313

Feb 112010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

Hey: I'm writing about the rear door on my 2004 F Explorer. a 7inch crack under the rear window to the right of hatch handle has come from no wear and with no signs of contact from anything. Now that its on my Explorer I notice it on several others. these other explorers are also clean and with out other damage except for the crack.could this be faulty material or plastics. ? PS this crack is always on the plastic panel under the window and may be to the left or right of the hatch release handle.

- , San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #312

Jan 012009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles

Walked outside on day and there was a huge crack under the back window. Just another problem that Ford refuses to fix and admits no fault to even though 1 out of every 3 explorers I see on the road has the same problem. They should be sued for having the slogan "Built Ford Tough"

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #311

Dec 182008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

so I thought it would be nifty to park next to the exact same car as mine once a long time ago in this parking lot right? so I do, and when I was walking back to my car I noticed that the crack in the rear plastic window panel I thought I was responsible for, was IDENTICAL to the crack in the persons explorer next to me. I thought it might be a coinsidence but after looking was TO THE T!!!!! Then I found this site. Thanks ford.

- , Lake Havasu City, AZ, USA

problem #310

Feb 112010

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Same problem as everyone else has described. Just closed hatchback one cold evening and crack, there it was. I was astounded. 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 will be interested in what they say. Wonder if there will be a class action law suit. Should be!

- , Chapel Hill, NC, USA

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