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:
75,201 miles
Total Complaints:
751 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (292 reports)
  2. not sure (201 reports)
  3. replace panel (112 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 33 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #111

Oct 302008

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


I think this stinks, I called Ford Motor Company in Detroit and they advised me if same was not under warranty, I would have to get same fixed on my own. I recently went to my parents house near Charlotte, NC and saw several explorers with the same problem, maybe if enough people come forward and complain, maybe Ford will be a true AMERICAN car company and fix this problem

- , Bear Creek, NC, USA

problem #110

Nov 292008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

Just noticed mine cracked a couple of days ago.I'll say something to the dealership where I bought it,but I know they will not fix it because I have 76,000 miles and they will tell me it is out of warranty.

- , Pleasant View, TN, USA

problem #109

Nov 172008

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,000 miles

Add me to the list.. This is the second time the hatch has cracked. I bought the car in Nov 2003 and it cracked the first time 2-1/2 years later in March 2006 at 17,000 miles. It was covered under warranty, but the service manager told me that he had seen the same problem many times - that it was a "defect." I wish I could have gotten it in writing. It never occurred to me it would happen again because I assumed that since they fixed the "defect" the problem was solved. Guess they just added in another defective part. It happened for the 2nd time - 2-1/2 years later at 31,000 miles. My story sounds the same as others. It wasn't there when I left for the grocery store, but when I went to put my groceries in, I noticed it. I called the service manager who knows me well - this is a small town and the second Ford I've purchased from them - and he told me I would have to call Ford Customer Service to see if I could get them to help me... I'm not optimistic.

- , Kailua, HI, USA

problem #108

Oct 152008

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,321 miles


click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

Bought the 04 Explorer used 7/14/08 with 82,899 miles showing on the odometer. I had previously looked at other used Explores (some had a crack in the tail gate trim) but mine did not when I bought it. Two to three months later the annoying crack appeared

(note the exact date and mileage previously listed are only estimates). When I took the vehicle in for its 3,000 mile oil change I mentioned the crack to a dealer representative. I was told it was a common problem that Ford would not acknowledge or repair at their cost. I then emailed Ford concerning the crack and a reply came back suggesting I take it to the dealer. Talk about buck passing. Ford apparently has no shame and issues like this turn potential future customers to look elsewhere

- , Lakeside, MI, USA

problem #107

Nov 212008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

I have owned Fords for over 20 years and have been very pleased, however, to have a problem like this that is so widespread is unacceptable to me. It is obviously a manufacturers defect and Ford should replace these panels.

- , Sylva, NC, USA

problem #106

Nov 162008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

I can't believe I found this many people with the exact same problem! I got home from the grocery store yesterday to unload and there it was staring at me. A giant crack in the hatch from just under the rear window all the way down to where the hatch opens. The guy at the dealership told me that "anything can happen to a vehicle with that many miles on it." I say BS!!! You don't see other vehicles, regardless of the mileage, driving down the road and have a spontaneous crack in the body work!!! The crack wasn't there when I was loading my groceries, and it's only a 10 - 15 minute drive home from the store. Ford needs to pay for this. And my next SUV will be a Toyota. No more Fords at my house.

- , Choctaw, OK, USA

problem #105

Oct 282008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles


click to see larger images

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

We noticed a crack starting right after the weather turned cold. Within a few days the whole panel had cracked from top to bottom. The dealership where I bought it says it's not covered under warranty and that it will cost $387 to fix. It's obviously a know issue as the service guy told me they are using "better materials" to fix it. It's BS if you ask me so I will be checking Ford's TSB and seeing if I can apply a little pressure to have it fixed for free. This is a factory defect.

- , Pilot, VA, USA

problem #104

Nov 122008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,162 miles

I've had some recent vandalism in my neighborhood and thought for sure someone just vandalized my vehicle, but after reading complaints from other Ford owners I realized this is an ongoing problem. I purchased a 2004 Explorer (EB) and opted for an extended warranty. I plan to call the dealership on Friday, but who wants to bet this is not covered under the extended warranty...

P.S. My ABS light kept coming on and if I remember correctly, that was covered under the extended warranty, so they replaced the switch for the deductible fee.

- , Waldorf, MD, USA

problem #103

Oct 222008

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,500 miles




- , Turnersville, NJ, USA

problem #102

Nov 032008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles

Noticed it after a trip to the supermarket. Its grown from about an inch to the full depth of the panel. On hot days you don't notice it, on cold days it looks like a gaping hole!

- , Seabrook, TX, USA

problem #101

Nov 012008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

It looks like I'm not alone with this stupid Ford defect (see pic). How many complaints does it take to get Ford to step up (like a real auto maker should) to fix it?! Because that's what they should do, FIX IT! AM I RIGHT, PEOPLE? FIX! IT!

I guess if the gate was falling off the back and killing people behind you it would be a big deal, but it's just a crack. Nothing to see here, just move along.

Note to FORD MOTOR COMPANY: This is the LAST vehicle I buy from you! Unless, of course, you FIX IT!

- , Scottsdale, AZ, USA

problem #100

Nov 082007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I like this vehicle, but the crack in the back really distracts from the looks. I have noticed several others while driving with the same problem. I can't believe Ford would let a problem like this go, with all the bad pub they had on the tires blowing. When you pay as much as these vehicles cost, the body shouldn't crack.

- , Tuttle, OK, USA

problem #99

Oct 012008

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

Unbelievable! I'm only sorry I didn't find this web site before I bought my Explorer. The cracked panel is the least of my car's problems, all of which have surfaced within the last 6 weeks. Last week, it was my brakes and rotors: replaced for $900. This week, it's my transmission...and most of you already know about that little bonus feature.

- , Charlottesville, VA, USA

problem #98

Sep 202008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

this is bull i just bought this car and it cracked for absolutely no reason at all. ive never seen anything like it before. they better fix it for me.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #97

Oct 292008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 143,000 miles

This is for all of the men who think that their wives cracked the body of the car below the rear window...not true! This is a problem that we were told by previous Ford 2004 Explorer owners....they were shocked to hear that it had not happened to our car finally did...I awoke just last week to an early morning frost that covered the car...after the car had warmed up I continued down the road to do my weekly grocery shopping only to find when I approached my vehicle to put my groceries in...the crack was there! I am so upset about this.....last American car we will ever purchase....should have known better..we love our Toyota Camry:)

It's great to have access to websites like this..but at the same time up setting to see that this is a problem that Ford needs to be responsible do we get Ford to fix this problem....we were in the process of trading the car in for a newer model...not a chance!!!!

- , Street, MD, USA

problem #96

Dec 202007

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Ford will not fix and now every where I go I see the same model with a crack. My brother has an explorer same model year and his did it about 3 months after mine. I also have a neighbor who has the same problem. If you look around you will see the cracks everywhere on 2004 Explorers. A family friend worked on the Ford assembly line in STL MO and he said it was a problem on the line and Ford knew about it then but did nothing to fix it. Last Ford for me. Be accountable for your product failures!!!!!

- , Wentzville, MO, USA

problem #95

May 182008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,600 miles

Purchased new Eddie Bauer 3/2005, 2 months after 36 month warranty noticed crack. I have extended warrant. Ford Advised not covered and would not cover. Geweke Ford , Yuba City California Body Shop advised the cost is $594.00. I am waiting for the Government to act.

- , Modesto, CA, USA

problem #94

Aug 042008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

I can't imagine with so many complaints why this is not a recall. I thought it was a scratch, but it got bigger and bigger. It now runs from the window to the edge of the panel that opens up. I worry about water/moisture getting inside and causing rust, but I do not want to pay the huge amount of money to replace it.

Even if I did, would it happen again?????

- , Apex, NC, USA

problem #93

Oct 162008

Explorer XLS 4.0L Sohc V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,000 miles

Just like many of the other I have read about here, a crack appeared on the rear tailgate panel directly below the tailgate glass and next to the Ford emblem. I contacted the car shop where I normally take my vehicles for any body problems. They told me this is a frequent problem and that there is nothing they can do about it, if you try to repair the crack, it will crack again on that same spot. They also told me Ford does not sell this panel, that you have to buy the whole tailgate window if you want to replace it. Everyone here know how much that is going to cost, not to mention the paint job afterwards to have it match your color. This panel is glued to the glass, and it seems that there seems to be no way of removing it without damaging the glass. In light of how many people have complaint about this problem, this seems to be a factory problem and Ford should do a recall on these panels to have them replaced/upgraded to one that will not crack. It is really annoying to keep your car looking like new and then have, through no fault of yours, a crack appear on your shiny nicely waxed panel. Stand behind your product Ford!

- , San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico

problem #92

Oct 152008

Explorer Eddie Baur V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles

called ford spoke with a rep by the name of BRIAN who told me that "we at ford can not help you in regards to this" informed me to contact my local dealer ship in regards to this, but this is a common problem--- based on the complaints on this sites year after year you would think if we complain here, knowing we started from the top and landed here, that ford would take ownership-- my next car will not be a Ford but I love driving a ford, -- like i told BRIAN, maybe "ford" does stand behind it's name more then we think "fixed or repaired daily" sad to think this, but I truly feel this now---

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

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