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 24 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #298

Mar 142010

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 177,691 miles


click to see larger images

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

On Saturday 13 March 2010, my wife and I drove the vehicle and never noticed any defect to the area of concern. But, on Sunday morning around 14 March 2010, as my son and I was packing the vehicle prior to taking him back to college--after his spring break, we noticed the crack. I reported the problem to my insurance company. While returning from my son's college campus, I stopped at Fort Jackson, located in Columbia, SC., to do some shopping and noticed an Explorer that was parked in front of my vehicle had the same crack. So, I took a picture of the defect. While I was taking the picture, the owner of the vehicle walked up and pointed out the crack. The owner informed me that he never noticed the crack before and it certainly wasn't there the day before. This is no coincident--this has to be a defect! Two different Explorers with the same defect, in the same position.

- , Summerville, SC, US

problem #297

Dec 102008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

After a very cold night the next day I noticed three cracks on the rear lift gate window it seemed to have happened over night I called and complained to ford and they said they never heard of anything like this happening and that I was the first to have this problem. Anyways , after traveling around town for the next several months I noticed that It was impossible for them to have never heard of this crack seeing nearly every dam ford explorer on the road seemed to have the same problem. And are you kidding me 400 dollars to fix? I hope they aren't replacing with the same piece of crap plastic again.

- , Lady Lake, FL, USA

problem #296

Feb 212010

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles

(Same Complaint about Ford like everyone else ) Ford has around 577 Complaints about Cracked panel below the rear window - 214 Windows Complaints don't Roll Down or Up. ( My Ford Explorer 2004 has both Problems ) Since my Panel Cracked I started to notice several other Ford Explorer Panels Cracked in the same area. Both of my Windows in the back of the vehicle don't roll Down. I went to ford to see the dealer. I told him about my complaints he told me to use my Insurance because these issues aren't on recall ( I Was So Upset ) Ford needs to correct the problem free of charge! This vehicle is a defect. Whoever is reading this please contact you local news for we could get our vehicles repaired. - - tampabay

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #295

Feb 012010

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,710 miles


As per other complaints not there one day there the next . All ford car dealers approached say out of warranty. Stiff. Am considering taking to our consumer affairs people to see where i stand under statutory laws in NSW Australia. Will let you know how i go.

- , Berrigan, NSW, Australia

problem #294

Mar 012010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,542 miles

Never in all my days have I seen a panel on a vehicle just split. This is very strange.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #293

Jan 292010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,800 miles

WOW- I can't believe how many people have the same complaint and still Ford does nothing. I've only owned 1 Ford before this and it was a 1997 Explorer-standard, and as a matter of fact its still running great at 199,000 miles (now needs a clutch) but that was my incentive for buying this 2004 Eddie Bauer. BAD IDEA:( I only drove this truck 3000 miles in a year {used the 1997 for everyday use} and to my disappointment I came out of the store one day (a day it started to warm after several snows) and BAM, there it was next to the Ford logo- a crack from top to bottom, I though someone tried to break in. After inquiring with my mechanic who referred me to a body shop, I took it in to find that it would cost @ $300.00 to fix with NO guarantee it wouldn't happen again, then THE KICKER- he takes me to the lot to show me 3 other 2004 Explorers waiting to repaired for the same problem. Seriously???

Needless to say, I did NOT fix it as I did not have $300 spare dollars to throw away IF the repair didn't take. Seems to me that quality is NOT a priority for Ford anymore. I will be going back to a Dodge after this truck. Sad stepdad and sister BOTH work for Ford :(

- , Roxboro, NC, USA

problem #292

Feb 212010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

This piece was fine one day, cracked from top to bottom the next. What's so aggravating about Fords is it's the small stuff that ends up costing a fortune that break. This is inexcusable.

- , Denver, NC, USA

problem #291

Mar 052010

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

Same as the others...just out of the blue I noticed a crack in the rear panel door just below the window and to the left of the Ford symbol. The crack was not there last week when I checked for it after reading all of the complants, but today it is. I am really, really disgusted with Ford right about now.

- , Fredericksburg, VA, US

problem #290

Feb 092010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

I see I'm not alone, walked outside the beginning of Feb and saw the crack identical to most of the pictures I see here,,had first thought someone had attempted to break into my Explorer but now see its just another issue with Ford

- , Hampton, VA, US

problem #289

Nov 202009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles

I also discovered a crack just to the right of the Ford logo. The entire panel split straight down. There was no apparent cause, no collision, the hatch wasn't slammed, it wasn't cold out. We just walked out one morning and found the part split. Of course it is a poorly designed part, and of course Ford knows the part is flawed. They make more money selling parts to replace poor design than they do selling the car in the first place. I understand that sometimes parts will not last as long or be as robust as the design team envisioned, but the fact they have failed to redesign this part is what bothers me. They have known for several years now that the part is bad, but instead of beefing it up, they keep selling the same old crap. I have been a 7 time Ford owner, but I am pretty tired of the crappy service from the dealerships. My military career has caused me to live in 10 different locations, and not a single time have I had a dealer say, Yeah, we have a problem with that, we'll take care of you. Even with warranty items they try to charge some fee to drag money out of you. Fortunately for me, as a skilled mechanic, I will perform my own repairs. But for people who are not capable, it is a real problem. I won't say Ford is worse than any other dealer, but they are bad.

- , Rocklin, CA, USA

problem #288

Dec 192009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles


yep, like everyone else, happened out of nowhere. First snowstorm of the season, and crack there it is. Unbelievable, not on recall list. Ford, very disappointing!

- , Highland Lakes, NJ, USA

problem #287

Aug 022008

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I encounter a crack that started right underneath the rear window and run all the way down to where the door starts. I took it to Ford and was told it was not a defect on the vehicle and there were no recalls. The paint also started to rust in the front of the hood.

- , Rio, TX, USA

problem #286

Jan 012010

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Well Ford, You borrowed all the money you possibly could including leveraging your Ford name just before the credit markets shut off in late 08. Luck has it that the other more strongly positioned auto manufacturers did not. Thus they could not refinance their debt and had to get a public bail out. Your product still SUCKS. You might be the last manufacturer standing, but it has nothing to do with the quality of your cars. To that end among all the other issues I have had with my 2004 Explorer, the back hatch has finally cracked just the same as all the rest of the people have reported. While I expect normal wear and tear, I don't expect my body panels to explode. I don't expect my transmission to fail, I don't expect my paint to peel off, I don't expect my fuel gauge not to be accurate, I don't expect my rear differential to need replacement, I don't expect my wheel bearings to need replacement, and I don't expect my chrome wheels to disintegrate, all within 36-70k miles.

FORD PRODUCES CRAP. They benefit from all other auto makers going bankrupt. Then our Government who owns most of the auto industry goes after Toyota. Pure LUCK. FORD: Your cars are still the WORST BUILT cars on the road. Honda and Toyota is all I will ever buy again after owning a Lincoln LS and two other Ford pieces of crap.

- , Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #285

Dec 192009

Explorer XLT Flexfuel V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

Well it sounds like I'm not the only one where one day it's fine and the next day there is a stress crack (with no signs of impact or reason) right below the rear window where the locking mechanism is. Not sure of the reason but it just appeared one day and I am worried it will ruin the metal that was protected and affect the ability to unlock/lock the top back gate...bummer, I would have thought for sure this is a recall as it looks like the plastic can't hold up in the cooler temperatures....

- , Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #284

Jan 202010

Explorer XL 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,800 miles


- , Dunedin, FL, USA

problem #283

Jan 282010

Explorer XLT 3.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,286 miles

Since my panel has cracked I have noticed several other 2003 thru 2006 ford explorers on the road with similar cracks. There is definitely a defect that ford needs to address.

- , Grandview, TX, USA

problem #282

Jan 112010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Just like all the others; I went out one morning and noticed the rear panel below the window is cracked. Never abused, hit dented, etc. Must be from water getting behind panel and freezing. Even if I have it fixed I have no gaurentee that it wont happen again.

Ford should replace the part for free and figure out why it happened to prevent further accurrance. If its not covered all the other little things that have gone wrong will stear me away from buying another Ford, no matter how good looking the style of their vehicles. They just don't hold up in the long run like the old Broncos or pickups.

- , Pearl River, NY, USA

problem #281

Jan 062010

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

This car has been nothing but trouble since the first year we owned it (brand new). About a year ago the upper lift gate fell off. The hinge holding it on cracked. Luckily the glass didn't break and my husband was able to find a replacement part at a salvage yard. Now we have this enormous crack in the hatchback which is obviously Ford's fault and yet we have no recourse!!!!!

- , Reno, NV, US

problem #280

Jun 302009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

Cracked back panel around Ford emblem. Since this happened to me, I've noticed 9 out of 10 Ford explorers have this same problem. Ford should agree to fix this at no charge, or else no previous owner will, most likely, ever purchase another Ford

vechicle. They know this is a defect, because shortly after the back panel was redesigned.

- , Pompano Beach, FL, USA

problem #279

Aug 012008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I had went to Capitol Ford in San Jose and displayed the crack and contacted Ford Motor Company via the Dealership. The Dealership said that Ford Motor Company would not fix because it was not related to a safety issue! The real problem is that the rubber mounts on the inside of the panel, fall off and the tension of the top panel warps the back panel,causing cracks in the panel. Ford should recall and fix, the window may crack and will be a safety issue. I see many other drivers on the road, whenever I get a chance to speak with them, I tell them what I did and show them the problem with the missing mounts causing the broken panel.

- , San Jose, CA, USA

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