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:
75,166 miles
Total Complaints:
756 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 37 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

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

problem #35

Dec 212007

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

The rear panel under the rear glass just cracked in the middle for no reason. I asked the dealership if this was uncommon and his reply was no, that he'd seen this many times for no reason. If Ford knows that they have a deficiency in their product then they should cover that item.

- , Hixson, TN, USA

problem #34

Aug 072007

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Ford told us this happens all the time, but does no real harm. What sort of company has body panels that crack all the time, and does nothing about it? A company I'll never do business with again...and we were about to buy a Ford F-250.

- , Vail, AZ, USA

problem #33

Nov 302007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


Mine is the same as everyone else I just haven't called my dealer yet.I am an employee at ford motor co. I really hope they make me happy and fix this pos

- , Fisherville, KY, US

problem #32

Nov 132007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

I am absolutely pissed off at Ford Mo. for the way they are handling this issue. Obviously this issue is not small as it ranges from 2000 to 2004 at least! The dealer doesn't want to deal with me and the corp. office keeps saying they will do what they can after I pay for a review of the vehicle BUT they know they will not be able to cover all the expenses. I have been Ford through and through since my first vehicle, but not it is time to go Toyota or GMC all the way. I use to tell everyone how I wouldn't own anything other than a F150, Mustang, or Explorer but the customer service of Ford has ruined my love for their vehicles.

This is about a 1/8th inch crack from right under the hatchback glass that goes around the Ford emblem and then continues down to the hatchback handle. A huge eye sore and even bigger loss on my part when I trade it in for a GMC!

- , Springfield, MO, US

problem #31

Nov 222007

Explorer EB V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,500 miles

As all the others, just noticed a crack on the rear lift window on my Explorer. Have not had any problems until now. Went to the service dept and was told this has happened to others but since it is not a "safety issue", Ford has not issued a recall. This is clearly a design defect, and I should not and will not agree to pay to have it replaced. If Ford won't replace it, then this will be the last Ford product I ever buy.

- , Sanford, FL, USA

problem #30

Nov 202007

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles


Ford needs to add this as a recall. More needs be done to protect the buyer of vehicles

- , Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #29

Nov 172007

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,000 miles

I was closing the upper half of tailgate (window portion) and did not slam or press hard on back and the plastic panel which runs the length under rear window and just to right of Ford Emblem cracked all the way thru and full length from window to latch. I am concerned that this problem seems prevalent for so many years (2002 had 271 complaints in this website alone)...god only knows how many were repaired and not reported. Ford needs to step up and help owners this is obviously a weak point in their manufacturing process.

- , Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #28

Nov 142007

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

Ford needs to own up for their defective parts. How is it that I am being put out of 400-500 dollars, when I can see now that it is pretty common. The SUV is 3 years old, there is absolutely no reason as to why this panel should be split down the middle. It is ironic that it split right down the middle of the ford symbol. I just want to be treated fairly.

- , Bowling Green, KY, USA

problem #27

Oct 012007

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,423 miles

I just returned from my Ford Dealership and one person told me he has seen some of these cracks. When the service manager came by he (probably thinking I was just a woman) told me it was my problem, I was to repair it and the only other ones he has seen were due to baseballs or some other trauma to the vehicle. My crack started small and then spread all the way around the Ford emblem in the back. I WILL NOT pay for this! This is definitely a problem Ford has to deal with or they should lose lots of customers. Lets all keep hounding Ford and get them to do something and be accountable for their product. IF not I will buy foreign next.

- , Spring, TX, US

problem #26

Oct 312007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,721 miles


My wife came home from work this last Monday, and told me that there was a crack in the back hatch. When she told me this, I immediately thought about our annoying neighbors. So, I went to look at the damage, and I notice that it was in the actual plastic molding below the window, past the Ford emblem to the bottom of the panel. The next thing I thought to look for was any physical strike, there was none. So I decided to do some looking online and I discovered that I am not the first one to have this happen. So if any one has any suggestions, or solutions please let me know.

- , Haysville, KS, USA

problem #25

Oct 222007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

FOLLOW UP * I just called FORD, they said that customers have to initiate complaint into FORD @ 1-800-392-3673 -- then, take it to a dealership (FORD) to make complaint & quote in the computer, then-- call FORD back and they will start the process. Now what they said it they are aware of the issue, that more people need to call directly into FORD, then go to the dealer and get an estimate, then follow through back to FORD. They said when they recieve enough official complaints through FORD, they will initate a actual RECALL.

Today, I spoke to TARA, badge # 723---at FORD -1-800-392-3673. Please, please, please call and go to FORD to get an estimate so we ALL can get our Explorers fixed!!!

- , Fort Bragg, NC, USA

problem #24

Sep 292007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

And we wonder why Americans are alienating the Big Three and choosing imports. Here we have an American staple Ford Motor Company and one of their top of the line products, Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer, with a crack on the body panel, extending from the back window, through the Ford logo, and extending to the end of the lift gate. This is an embarassment to Ford and to me as a driver of the vehicle. Also, why should I, the faithful consumer of your products, fork out additional money to correct defects in Ford products? They should be more than willing to offer compensation for such repairs.

I checked with the local Ford bodyshop, "not covered since warranty is out", checked with my insurance company..."not covered since this is a factory defect".

Rest assured..... this is the last Ford that I plan to own. I used to show offense when someone would state what the acronym F. O. R. D. meant(fix or repair daily), but seemingly I have been on the wrong team.

Time to check out the imports since Ford is not willing to stand behind their products and product defects.

- , Winston-salem, NC, USA

problem #23

Sep 272007

(reported on)

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles

I noticed a crack in the rear panel of my explorer on the 23rd of september; the wife thought she did it. Today I saw another ford with the same problem in the same location; so I got online and found this site. I have not called it in yet; however, I am going to call this in tomorrow and ask about fixes. I have an extended warranty so I am curious to see how this will affect the outcome. I did not realize this was such a huge issue with so many year models. You think they would have recalled or used better parts.


- , New Orleans, LA, USA

problem #22

Sep 192007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,800 miles

we got our explorer back from having the transmission replaced when we saw the crack in the panel. we took it back to be fixed and three days later get the call saying they wont fix it but that it happens in 2 out of 5 explorers and to call the 1800 number to report it and they will fix it. well they tell us that they have no reports of the problem and will not fix it and to take it up with the dealer. so we call the dealer back and tell them this and they tell us to call back the 1800 number. we dont have time for this run around we have to work so we can actually pay to fix the problem if that is what it comes down to. so now we have owned the explorer for almost five months, put 3000 miles on it because we went on vacation and we have had to spend an extra 2500 dollars on it and who knows how much more to get the panel fixed. for being such a new car with low miles it sure has had a lot of issues for us already. WE WILL NEVER BUY A FORD AGAIN.

- , Winchester, VA, USA

problem #21

Sep 012007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles

Came out to get in my 2004 Eddie Bauer Explorer today and found a crack in my rear liftgate starting at the window and going all the way to the bottom of the panel. It wasn't there yesterday, but saw it today when I came out from shopping. Thought it might be just a fluke, but realized when I came to this site I'm not the only one who has experienced this same annoyance. Sure, it's not a major thing, but it sure isn't something I was expecting to see. Of course my car's warranty just ended in March of 2007, so unless there's a recall I guess I'll be paying for the repair out of my pocket if I decide to have it fixed. What a pain!

- , Evansville, IN, USA

problem #20

Aug 192007

(reported on)

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,551 miles

I live in Southern California... the weather extremes are very limited. I thought someone had taken something and physically split the car... Took it to the dealer thinking it should be covered under warranty. HA! I was 322 miles over the warranty and I had just had the car into the dealer at 35550 for service so in less than 1000 miles and the weather is sunny and 72-75 degrees the back hatch has completely separated and the dealership says "sorry it is past warranty". I am so fed up with the car and all of the little things that have gone wrong with it I could go on and on and on and on and on.

- , Costa Mesa, CA, USA

problem #19

Jun 032007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V-8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles

Came out this morning to find the infamous crack running from below my rear hatch window around the Ford logo, what a pain in the butt! I cannot believe that I have found so many complaints about this and that Ford is denying responsibility on this issue.

- , Indian Trail, NC, USA

problem #18

Aug 122007

(reported on)

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,603 miles

Like the other registered complaint on this site regarding the cracked ford dressing under the rear window I walked out to find this one morning on my 2004 Ford Explorer Limited. The vehicle is garaged and is meticulously well looked after. This definitely appears to be a design fault in the vehicle. I just received a quote by Ford Australia (Blacktown dealership) to have this item replaced and was told it will cost $1100 (Australian Dollar). An absolute joke and rip off for what clearly is a design problem with this model.

- , Quakers Hill, NSW, Australia

problem #17

May 022007

(reported on)

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,600 miles

My 2004 Explorer (bought in Nov. 2004) has the same problem with the crack in the panel below the liftgate window. The crack just miraculously appeared about three weeks ago. The crack starts right below the window then curves around the right side of the FORD logo before traveling straight down again for another 3-4 inches. At the base is a secondary crack, meeting the first at about 2 inches. I have not contacted my dealer yet, or the Ford Motor Company.

- , Edmond, OK, USA

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