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:
75,160 miles
Total Complaints:
757 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 32 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #137

Oct 012008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,340 miles


to whom this may concern has been having some technical difficulties so if your workers can fix the back rear panel of my car because i heard of a recall that my friend to me on fords year 2002-2003 and i was wondering why there wasn't a recall on ford models year 2004 because my back panel was damaged . and if you guys can fix it i would greatly appreciate it !thank you

- , Whittier, CA, USA

problem #136

Jan 102009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

I was shocked when I called the dealership today. I was told by the service manager that he has seen this problem over 20 times recently. Stated that no recall has been issued and would cost me over $300.00 to fix. I almost fell out. We had an in-depth discussion concerning my options...calling customer service etc. Sounded good till I googled "2004 Ford Explorer Hatch Crack". So much for calling FORD CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!! Like most other I take good care of my vehicles. Now I have a huge single crack on the rear of my explorer. I asked if the dealership discloses the problem to people that purchase used explorers off the lot. I was sure that they would offer a $350.00 up front discount. YA THINK!!! I would hate to think Ford would be dishonest about anything concerning their vehicles. Maybe Ford could get a few billion from the US Govt to waste. But before they waste it all they could issue a recall and FIX OUR PROBLEM!!!!!

- , Hartselle, AL, US

problem #135

Nov 012008

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

I thought I was the only one with this problem until I started asking around and found out that my friends mother's Explorer has the same thing happen a few months prior. What is wrong with these damn things. To make things worse my transmission went out and they are impossible to fix in 2004 explorers:(

- , Hitchcock, TX, USA

problem #134

Oct 012008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,340 miles


my rear windshield panel is cracked and i think that your company ford should pay for the damages caused . therefore , i heard there was a recall on fords year 2002-2003 and i wanted to know why there isn't a recall on the model XLT year 2004 because it was your workers fault and every time i open my panel and close it the clutch doesn't close ! and damages my car!!! if you guys can please help me out on fixing it i would greatly appreciate it thank you!! and can you email me back !! or call (562)-237-0589 please call me back. thank you

- , Whittier, CA, USA

problem #133

Nov 012007

Explorer XLT 4.6L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

As others have said, I have a cracked panel below the rear window. Dealer says not a warranty issue.

- , Edmond, OK, USA

problem #132

Jan 102009

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

I walked out of my garage yesterday and looked at the back of my truck and thought it was water running down and touched it just to realize it was a crack.... I couldn't believe it..I have not driven it more than a few miles in the last several months due to illness so was very shocked to see damage to my vehicle. I have always trusted Ford - no one is perfect but they have always taken care of their issues...When I looked it up on line and saw how many complaints there are and Ford has not issued a recall I was extremely upset... We all are in financial straits but this is their problem and they should fix it...

- , Suffolk, VA, USA

problem #131

Jan 072009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,517 miles


Add me to the list! May be the last Ford I own! Not like it was mistreated in any way. Known problem, time to escalate the complaint process.

- , Arlington, TX, USA

problem #130

Jan 052009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,285 miles

I talked to a friend of mine who owns a ford dealership in n.c. He told me that water gets into the panel and then freezes. and there you have it "the Crack". No recall YET hopefully Ford realizes this is a defect and they will take care of the problem

- , Langhorne, PA, USA

problem #129

Jan 042009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,500 miles

Ford will loose another good customer (about six Fords over 20 years) if they don't fix this problem. Like many others, I take good care of my truck. I paid good money for it (almost top of the line model) and WAS proud of how it looked. But now there is a crack that appeared for no good reason. Stupid piece of plastic, obviously not designed or made well enough to handle it's job. If the crack lets water in that does more damage, then Ford will hear more from me (and others, I'm sure!).

- , Centreville, VA, USA

problem #128

Jul 012006

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

As many others have complained, cracked panel under rear window.

- , Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #127

May 012008

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,000 miles


It seems that when my Explorer reached 31,000 miles stupid things started happening. This is the 2nd thing at 31,000 miles that happened. I take really good care of my car and have it washed once a week and clayed every 6 months since I live at the beach. I came out of the office one day to see this HUGE crack on the plastic panel under the glass around the Ford emblem on the back gate. I looked it up on line to see if anyone else had issues and was shocked that so many people have the same problem. Mine happened at low mileage but my 3 years were up for warranty. I called Ford and they told me that it was a cheap piece of glued on plastic that would cost me approximately $450 including paint to replace the piece of plastic. They said that even though this was a Ford issue that they were well aware of they would NOT cover it or recall it and it would be to expensive to recall it. They also could not guarantee that the new piece would last either and would not give a warranty on the new piece. I was basically told if the new piece did not hold up and cracked the same that I would be responsible for that as well and have to shell out another $450 to get another one. The guy did his usual upsale and told me that if the it didn't get fixed quickly that I risked my glass falling out. I'm not stupid and the glass is held on by bolts. Now every where I go I see this issue on most explorers. Ford doesn't deserve a bailout if they can't take care of their loyal customers. So I am waiting for a recall!

- , Costa Mesa, CA, USA

problem #126

Dec 272008

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,206 miles

I noticed that I had a crack under the rear window just after Christmas, I was on vacation when I found it. I checked online through Ford recalls, but none have been issued. I called my dealer and was told that it might be covered under my extended warranty, but have to pay a $100, deductible. I am hoping that it is covered but my dealer did not make any promises.

- , Ukiah, CA, USA

problem #125

Dec 202008

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,500 miles

click to see larger images

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

As many of these as I've seen, this is obviously a defect in materials! Ford should fix these with a recall/replacement. Guess that's why I'm not going to buy another Ford, to bad too since I've driven Fords for more than 30 years,

- , Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #124

Oct 012008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles

I was wondering if there might be a recall on this, since I hae seen it on several Explorers. We are really disappointed in the quality of this vehicle, and this just adds on to it.

- , Fredericksburg, VA, US

problem #123

Feb 022007

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,515 miles

I have no idea why or how it happened. Then I start seeing other 2004 explorers all over the city of los Angeles with similar cracks in the rear panel. I don't know if someone is going to recall or if Ford even cares. There is no reason for the cracking other than faulty workmanship. I keep my car in very good condition and this is embarrassing. I don't feel I should have to fix it since it is a manufacturer problem.

- , Whittier, CA, USA

problem #122

Dec 012008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

We bought the car new and have had some minor issues, but this is unacceptable. This is a key component of the rear window functionality and stability. The panel just cracked without any event to cause. We are planning on replacing and hoping that this is a recall from Ford, but as we have found is on us. It appears that it was made of material that shrinks and develops strain in the center of the panel. For now our car will have a smelly crack that Ford needs to repair. Ford...Clean my crack!

- , Torrance, CA, USA

problem #121

Dec 162008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,900 miles

this is bullshit i see these explorers driving around with the same problem i always thought it was because of people shutting the hatch to hard till it happened to me you come outside from work and its cracked.

- , Goshen, OH, USA

problem #120

Dec 152008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Just saw this morning where my back hatch panel cracked under the window down to where my license plate rest underneath. My sister drives a Ford as well and her vehicle did this last year. I called Ford and they told me my vehicle isn't under warranty and it will be up the dealership. I spoke with the Dealership and have to bring it in but it sounds as if I will have to pay for this out of my pocket which IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Anyone else have luck resolving this.

- , Shiner, TX, USA

problem #119

Dec 082008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

Can't believe this. Cracked from bottom of window to top of liftgate. Has anyone had success with ford fixing this problem?

- , Emerald Isle, NC, US

problem #118

Dec 062008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

We just bought this 2004 Explorer. When driving down the road we heard a pop at the rear of the car. We thought it might be a rock bouncing under the car. In the morning we discover the crack mentioned so may times here. For the last week I have been on the look out to see how many Explorers have this same issue. My estimate is about 80%. Seems like Ford should step to the plate and fix this issue.

- , Clayton, NC, USA

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