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 36 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #55

Mar 032008


  • Manual transmission
  • 60,000 miles


I have owned Fords for several years and I am so disappointed in their customer service. I was on the phone and looking up the issue on-line and I couldn�t believe how many complaints. The customer service person basically told me no one was complaining and when I told him I was on-line looking at the complaints he basically told me I need to go to a dealership and work it out with them. Oh, yeah this is not cause for a recall because it is not endangering anyone. I told him what will happen if the window cracks while I am driving and it shatters, will that be cause for a recall or a major law-suit. I should not have to pay for something the manufacture is responsible for. Oh, he told me Ford is improving their cars every year. Good luck with that, this is the last time I will buy a Ford or have one in my drive way again. Please pursue this issue to the highest, because I will there riding them.

- , Harker Heights, TX, US

problem #54

Mar 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,500 miles

Ford needs to recall this issue. I have been given 3 quotes. $300.00 Ford Dealer, $800.00 Ford Dealer, $275.00 Private Body Shop.

I came out one morning and found the crack on my rear tailgate. Car is in immaculate condition. I washed the car earlier in the morning and it was cold outside. This is obviously a manufacturing defect!

- , Woodstock, GA, US

problem #53

Mar 082008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,200 miles

I will never buy another Ford. The ABS light is constantly coming on. The sun visor

falls open over the driver side already had replace twice.

- , Colbert, GA, USA

problem #52

May 082007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


My Explorer had not even reached the $50,000 mile mark. Do to a job change, I was not able to address the issue right away. Now it is not covered under my warranty.

- , Hemet, CA, US

problem #51

Feb 222008

Explorer XLS Sport 4x2 4.0L Vs

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,200 miles

Just noticed the crack in the panel of the tailgate under the rear windshield. It goes from the windshield to the Ford emblem and then down to the handle of the hatchback. I'm taking the vehicle to a dealership this week and will post more of what I found. Doesn't look good thus far with all the above comments and information.

- , Virginia Beach, VA, US

problem #50

Sep 192007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,091 miles

After the piece under my tailgate window cracked took it to ford. they said it happens all the time but they were not responsible because warranty had just expired. I had just bought car a few weeks before. And we did nothing to make happen. A week weeks after that ai was in a drive through and saw the explorer in front of me had the same problem. I got out of my car and talked with the lady in the explorer in front of me. She said her car and her son's exact same model had both done that. Tell me if you are making crap how con it not be their responsibility when it breaks. (over and over)! I want it RECALled. I can't afford to get it fixed... about $400.00

- , Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #49

Sep 202007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles


I have owned 3 explorers, and have passed them on to other family members. I have always felt good knowing that they were in good working condition and the body had been taken care of. I was looking forward to giving my 2004 explorer to my son this year for his birthday.I came home from a trip, and my wife said, what did you do to the car. I looked and there was a crack on the back panel around the ford logo on the tailgate. I went to the local dealership and I got know where. They said that it looked like it had been hit, or been slammed shut to hard. They quoted $450.00 to fix it. I shopped around to other autobody places, they then told me this wasn't the only one of these they had seen in recent months. I too started to notice, I wasn't the only explorer out there with a (CRACK). I called Ford, and got the same run around. They know there is a problem. I would like to see them set up to the plate and fix the problem. I even noticed a explorer on the way to work for sell with a (CRACK) I called the # and told them to complain also.

- , Layton, UT, USA

problem #48

Jan 292008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

This just happened and I haven't had a chance to fix it yet, but it already is a pain in the ass. By they way....pain in the ass (a 5 rating) sounds much worse than really awful (a 5 rating).

The crack is deep. I imagine I got it from using my rear window defrost on a cold, cold day. But that's how you get frost off the window. Frost usually happens on cold days. If this problem is due to a design flaw (which it is) Ford should fix it.

I guess I'll just trade it in for a Saturn Outlook. Better quality.

- , Cabot, AR, USA

problem #47

Jan 302008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I just found this yesterday. I'd never heard of the body of a car just cracking, but clearly from this it's a common problem. I'm going to point it out to the dealer, but don't expect any help. The crack goes from the window past the logo all the way down, with a second smaller crack from the window to the first crack in a sort of y. I've had other annoying problems with my 2004 Explorer (gas gauge not resetting, sun visors had to be replaced because little plastic part holding it in breaks). My service guy at the dealership acknowledges some shoddy manufacturing. I think I've bought my last American car. That's really sad.

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #46

Jan 282008

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

Everytime I see an Explorer on the road I take a moment to check if my problem exists with their vehicle. I've noticed over 20 such instances. Ford Quality one....I don't think so.

- , Kathleen, GA, US

problem #45

Jan 252008

(reported on)

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles


Just wanted to update everyone on my Explorer. Ford Dealership in San Antonio is going to fix the crack on the back window of my Explorer. They are going to to pay 80% and I'm going to pay 20%. My costs is only $100.00. I'm happy that they are going to fix this problem. Now that they are working with me, I'll buy another car from Ford.

Belinda S.

Lakehills, Texas

- , Lakehills, TX, USA

problem #44

Nov 142007

Explorer ES 3.4V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,685 miles

From what I've seen, this is a "MUST RECALL" problem and it should be fixed by dealers.

- , Caguas, PR, Puerto Rico

problem #43

Nov 152007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,000 miles

I don't know if I feel better or worse now that I know so many people have the same problems with their Explorer as I do, namely the cracked lift gate! (But also includes the hard shifting and unreliable window motors) I have noticed the newer models have an all-glass lift gate now. So, Ford fixed the problem, but too late for us.

- , Murphy, TX, USA

problem #42

Dec 312007

Explorer Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Forward your complaint to the following.

Write to Our Directors

Board of Directors Ford Motor Company P.O. Box 685 Dearborn, MI 48126-0685 U.S.A.

- , Gallatin, TN, USA

problem #41

Jan 052008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

I noticed when I was returning to my car from shopping that the rear panel below the window was cracked. I looked to make sure that nothing hit me as I was in a parking lot and never noticed it before but found no dents/dings around the crack. I have not called the dealership as I am out of warranty and have decided if I do get it fixed I will be taking it to a local bodyshop to hopefully get a better deal. I am completely fed up with Ford as this is not the first problem I have had with this vehicle which was brought brand new.I am and have vowed my next SUV purchase will be a Toyota.

- , Louisville, KY, US

problem #40

Jan 022008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

My tail gate cracked yesterday. It was fine when I went into a store, came out, and it was cracked. It was the coldest weather we have had in Tampa a very long time but that is no excuse. My husband has a 2002 Explorer and this tail gate cracked months ago. Mine has an extended warranty but they are saying it is not covered. Obviously this is a known defect and Ford should be covering the cost.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #39

Dec 192007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,500 miles

I have a 2004 Ford Explorer that has a cracked panel in the back. It starts at the window and goes around the ford emblem. I am not exactly sure when it happened but we had a day of cold weather and it was right about that time I noticed it. I have called the dealership and they told me it would be around $300.00 to fix it. I called Ford to see if they would fix it since this is a defect with their vehicles. They said they talk to the dealership that I bought it from and they have said they would give me a 20% discount how thoughtful of them!! I have seen other Explorers around town with the exact same crack. I called the State of Florida and they said their is nothing they can do either. Please let me know if anyone has any more information. I am going to check into this further.

- , Stuart, FL, USA

problem #38

Dec 132006

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

We have an extended warranty and Ford is saying they do not cover this. The strip that is cracked under the rear window is plastic and it cracked under the heat of course. We are going to file as many complaints necessary until Ford fixes it. It's not like it's a $100 fix. They charge $850 to replace this stupid piece. Can somebody help me. There have been so many complaints about this same problem on all the new Ford Explorers.

- , Novato, CA, USA

problem #37

Jul 102007

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,352 miles

Closed the rear hatch one day and noticed the rear panel was cracked. The crack has gotten alot wider over time. Ford says it's not their problem and that the rear hatch must have been damaged due to contact with something. Wrong!!!!!!!!!

- , Jacksonville, AL, USA

problem #36

Nov 072007

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles

I'm so upset with Ford Motor Company. I have the same problem with the crack down the middle from the window through the Ford emblem where it opens. I noticed the

crack one morning as I was leaving for work. I took it the Red McCombs Dealership in San Antonio, and was told I had to pay for it. The service department said there were two to three other complaints about this same problem. It's about a quarter of an inch crack, and about 12 to 14 inches long. I was told by a service representative over the phone, that the whole panel was made out of plastic.

Something needs to be done about this. I'll never buy another Ford automobile again.

This is a defect and Ford should replace it, at no charge to the customer.

Belinda S.

- , Lakehills, TX, USA

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