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 24 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

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, USA

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

problem #278

Jan 122009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

click to see larger images

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

Just would like to have this recalled. We had noticed a few other ford explorers with the same crack.

- , Clover, SC, USA

problem #277

Jan 282010

Explorer XL 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

Could not believe it when I saw it. I did not hit anything and nothing hit me. The crack extends the entire width of the panel. From reading all of the other complaints I am not sure what recourse I have. I do know I am going to contact Ford, the BBB and any other agency I can think of. I have had a couple of other problems with the hatch door since I bought the car with it rattling. I took it back twice and they could not find anything wrong, of course. With the positive PR Ford is getting now, you would think they would want to address this issue in a positive way.

Update from Feb 8, 2010: I contacted Ford Corporate, they said to contact my local Ford Dealer. I did and was told that there wasn't anything they could do. The service writer said that he had seen a few of these problems. It would not be covered under any warranty even if I had a warranty. They said their body shop would give me a free estimate. He also said to call Customer relations at 1-800-392-3673. The body shop manager said that he had never seen anything like this. The estimate was $1111.97. I will update after I talk to Customer relations.

- , Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

problem #276

Dec 302009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,587 miles

Ford should exercise corporate responsibility for a design defect and repair the "crack" that is occuring. Sufficient evidence has been shown and complaints lodged about this. Another family member incurred the same "crack" on their 2004 Explorer. However, it occurred while at the Ford Dealer for other repair work -- so the dealer stood good for his reputation and repaired for free.

I wasn't so fortunate. The crack extends from the top to the bottom of the rear window tailgate panel, just to the left of the FORD LOGO. It expands and contracts with the weather of the day. Thanks Ford! Do the right thing and recall/repair.

- , Dallas, TX, USA

problem #275

Aug 082009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,800 miles

I came out to my car one day to go to work and notice the 3 inch crack that was in the rear panel of my liftgate. I couldn't believe it. I searched for a scratch to see if some one had hit me or if I had backed into something, but found nothing. My parents who were helping me pay for the car were outraged. The Ford dealer where I bought it said, they had heard of explorers having that problem, but there was nothing they could do. A quote from a body shop was more than I could afford. Over the next month, I watched and the crack got wider and longer, until it eventually split through the entire panel. I am outraged at Ford for not doing a recall, fixing the problem, or doing some kind of reparations. Ford quality now has a poor image in my opinion. I will never buy another Ford vehicle in my lifetime and neither will anyone in my family, or friend circle. I would like to hear Ford's theory on how I am ever going to trade this vehicle or sell it. I minds well, drive it until the wheels fall off, which may be sooner that I thought.... I thought I was helping the American economy by purchasing a Ford.. I WAS DEAD WRONG. I GOT SCREWED.

- , Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #274

Jan 162010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,500 miles

It appears my Explorer was not immune to this defect, because it now shares the same cracked liftgate window applique. Since then, I have noticed Explorers all over my county in North Carolina with the same crack. I contacted the Ford Motor Company and they refused to help with this problem, but were prompt to put in a plug for their local dealerships, who quoted me $350.00 to repair this problem. I have always been loyal to Ford, but I'll never own another. They used to make good quality vehicles and stand behind them, but not anymore. If 'ol Henry only knew what his company has become.

Update from Mar 29, 2010: I'm hearing more and more negative comments about FORD. I just don't understand...., with so many complaints, why doesn't FORD help with the problem. Don't they realize the best advertisements for their product are nice shiny Explorers driving around on Main Street, USA? More than some corny car commercial, what sells vehicles is when you see a sharp, clean car pull up beside you at a stop light, and you tell yourself, "Man, I've got to have one of those!" However, when you see the same vehicles with the same defect, you know you're not paying money for that.

- , Lincolnton, NC, USA

problem #273

Jan 042010

Explorer Eddie Baurer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

Like so many others on this page no one, Ford or my auto insurance, wants to accept responsibility. Ford declines to accept responsibility because I didn't continue my warranty on this vehicle. Ford should be ashamed of themselves and the lie they advertise across the air waves, tv, etc. Ford greedily accepted money for a bail out from the government, but refuses to stand behind the product they produced. This problem is not random, it's occurring everywhere and to everyone. Sure the economy is tough now, but as a consumer I'm disappointed in a company I have supported for many years. I currently disabled and can't afford to pay out of pocket to have my truck repaired. In all likehood this will be my last vehicle. I'm filing a consumer complaint with my State Attorney's office, the BBB, Ford and any other channel that will listen. At the bear minimum I want other consumers to BEWARE of Ford and their lousy attitude when it comes to standing behind their vehicles. Tell your friends, co-workers, neighbors or anyone who will listen to avoid Ford vehicles, because in the end Ford will avoid you, unless you're willing to dish out more bucks!

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #272

Jan 042010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

The crack appeared out of the blue. We took it back to the dealer and we were told that they are aware of this happening to other people but it was not under warranty and if we want to fix it we would have to pay for it. Never again will we buy a Ford or recommend one to anyone else. Buyer beware!!!!!

- , Wayne, NJ, USA

problem #271

Nov 182009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,675 miles

I have owned this Explorer since we bought it brand new in August 2004. I have through the years made sure that the it is almost always clean and polished. Even now it looks brand new, if it has one door ding its too much. I have always taken great pride in the cars that I have owned through out my life and make sure they look great You can imagine how I felt when I so the rear panel with a crack. I got feeling sick asking myself how could this have happened? I took it to the dealer thinking it may be covered under the highly paid for extended warranty. But to my surprise the dealer said "sorry but it is not covered under the warranty. I felt my blood pressure rising to a boiling point. But they did offer to have it fixed for around $ 450.00 . Since then I have noticed many Explorer of different years with the same problem. FORD should take the responsiblity for the design flaw dealing with this problem, after all everyone paid a great deal of money for the EXPLORER. Please if anyone has a solution getting FORD to fix this I would appreciate if they would let me know. Thank You

- , Alhambra, CA, USA

problem #270

Dec 202009

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

I have taken very good care of the vehicle for 5 years and now just to see that below the rear window, the plastic cracked right in half . It just totally ruins the image of the vehicle. I will have it fixxed and will probably do it myself. But to get the part and paint it to match the car and look as good as new is no small task. It is not a problem of abuse or misuse, and I too think a good company should support such a problem. I am lucky enough to be able to keep the cost down by doing this work myself, but I truly feel sorry for those of you who don't have the garage or tools to do such a repair. Its a shame to take care of a nice car and have this happen and the company not back it up.

- , Woodbine, NJ, USA

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