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:
75,133 miles
Total Complaints:
755 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (293 reports)
  2. not sure (201 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 34 of 38)

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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, US

problem #91

Oct 072008

Explorer Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

well i noticed the crack ,,i really am not happy,,,and does any one else's window just open on its own and the hatch to

- , Wildwood, NJ, USA

problem #90

Mar 032006

Explorer NBX 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles

Happened right after the warranty was up and while I was deployed. Vehicle was parked in garage the entire time I was gone. Not sure how it happened...might have been a cold snap. Took to ford dealer after return from deployment (11 months). They refused to do anything to it. That is what I call shady.

- , Clayton, NC, USA

problem #89

Nov 162007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles


2004 Ford Explorer. A crack appeared on the rear tailgate panel directly below the tailgate glass and next to the Ford emblem. The dealer, Summerville Ford, Summerville, SC, informed me that although he sees this problem OFTEN on this Explorer body style, no recall has been issued and Ford would not pay for the repair. Obviously, Ford is aware of this poor design resulting in body integrity failure, based

on the other Explorers I have witnessed on our roads with the same damage and the other complaints to NHTSA and CarComplaints. But Ford is refusing to do anything to correct this failure. I notice the new Explorers no longer have this poor tailgate design. This is damage caused by Ford's poor design and should be acknowledged and repaired by Ford. I keep my vehicles in pristine condition and every time I see this unnecessary damage, caused by Ford, I'm livid!

- , Summerville, SC, US

problem #88

Jul 152008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

Unfortunately, as a single mother, I do not have an extra $500 or $600 laying around to have a problem fixed that FORD should be accepting responsibility for. This is my second Explorer and if the problem would have occurred with the first, I would not have bought the second. This one will definitely be my last Explorer, and probably my last FORD. Hopefully, FORD will accept responsibility and issue a recall on the panel. This is completely unacceptable!!!!!

- , Sheridan, WY, US

problem #87

Apr 152008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,389 miles

I was about to open my tailgate one day and noticed that there was a cracked panel (vertical crack) under the rear window. I went to the Ford dealership and they stated that the car was no longer under warranty, so it could not be fixed unless I wanted to pay around $650.00 ( the part only costs $96.00). I stated that there was no fault on my part, but that made no difference to them. The Service Manager did say that he has seen this numerous times and said that I should contact Ford Canada. I contacted customer service at Ford Canada, this August and they said that this was a complaint that was new to them and that they would record the information, and obviously looking at this website, this is not the first. The service agent once again said that the car was no longer under warranty, so it could not be fixed by Ford. They basically brushed me off, saying that this was a new problem. If this is the kind of service that Ford Canada offers, I will probably look for a different vehicle in the future. What ever happened to "The Customer".

- , North Vancouver, BC, Canada

problem #86

Jun 262008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I spoke with my local Ford dealership that i purchased it from and they said that it is not a recall and it is my responsibility to fix it!!!! But i see on here many people are having this problem and i know of several of my friends that have the same problem!!!!

- , Lakeland, FL, USA

problem #85

Aug 092008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles


My husband and I saw what we thought was a scratch under the back window. We looked closer and the panel has cracked on each side of the Ford emblem on the back. From what I'm reading, this isn't something strange, but rather common. I'm going to contact Ford and see what happens.

- , Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #84

May 062007

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

replaced it once under warranty and it crack again and ford say it is out of warranty.I will never buy a ford again in my life.sorry I will buy a Japanese make car next

- , Lakewood, CA, USA

problem #83

Jun 262008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

thought the crack was caused by the rear window being shut on groceries or something until I started counting the explorers with the same crack. counted 10 on our ride back to Atlanta from Myrtle Beach (6 hour ride). Almost every Explorer I see of the same year has an identical crack. Googled the problem and came up w/ this site... Haven't attempted to contact ford yet, don't expect a good outcome. I'm very disappointed.

- , Locust Grove, GA, USA

problem #82

May 092008

Explorer Sport 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 146,000 miles

Seriously! What is up with this crack below my window? I have a feeling it has something to do with how hard it is to get the window to latch. Sometimes you have to slam it pretty hard for the latch to catch. Maybe they should test these plastic parts in multiple weather conditions before installing them on the vehicles. We should all unite and have them fix the plastic part for free.

- , Justin, TX, US

problem #81

Jun 272008

Explorer LS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles

From a friend I found this page and can not believe Ford has not recalled this cracked panel. It is obvious that it is defect in engineering. One would think think w/the way things are that they would want to fix the problem. This was my first Ford and could very well be my last.

- , Golden, CO, USA

problem #80

Feb 192008

Explorer XLT 4.6L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles

I guess I made the same mistake like everyone else of buying a FORD EXPLORER. The newest problem is the rear panel cracked out of no where. That just adds to the other 5 or so problems this horrible vehicle has given me. I was a Ford guy too before I owned this Explorer.

- , Savannah, GA, US

problem #79

Mar 212008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,437 miles

Same problem as everyone else, not much to add. This is a serious quality issue and should finally be addressed by Ford Motor Company.

- , Glendale, CA, USA

problem #78

May 112008

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles

noticed the cracked tailgate, went for a run around the neighborhood..saw 4 more like it dealers said call customer service..cust. ser. said not yet a recall due to not enough complaints..then i went to this web site..are they kidding?

my last ford was the 2000 explorer "roll over edition" time all will have cracks, keep calling ford..if no help it will be my last ford

- , Lake Charles, LA, USA

problem #77

Jun 032008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles

I want to voice my complaint along with everyone else regarding the cracked rear panel and side window motor of my 2004 Explorer. I called Ford Customer Service to ask for a financial resolution before making an appt with my local Ford dealership. I was instructed to go to the dealership for a diagnosis and discuss financial assistance with them. If the dealership didn't come thru' Ford customer service would then offer some kind of assistance. The dealership wanted to charge me over $1200 to repair both problems. I told them about my conversation with customer service and was charged ONLY a $100 deductible. PLEASE, anyone with the same problem - talk to Ford Customer Service first!

- , Hayward, CA, USA

problem #76

Sep 052007

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

All of a sudden my back panel below the rear window split for no reason at all. I did not hit the panel or do any damage at all, it just split. I've had transmission problems, differential problems, electrical problems and radio problems with this piece of crap!!! Never again will I buy a FORD. I'll be watching for class action lawsuits and/or recalls on this turd of a vehicle.

- , Jacksonville Beach, FL, USA

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