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:
75,168 miles
Total Complaints:
749 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (292 reports)
  2. not sure (200 reports)
  3. replace panel (111 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 4 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #689

Jan 012012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


The crack is minor compared to other problems I've had, i.e.: 3 wheel bearings, transmission replacement, hatchback window hinges breaking, multiple fluid leaks. And absolutely no sympathy from Ford customer, no-service.

- , Neenah, WI, USA

problem #688

Jul 032014

Explorer LX 5.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles

Back panel on rear hatch crack all way thru Ford sign and hinges worn too.

- , Atchison, KS, USA

problem #687

Jun 052011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles

I guess ditto to all others will suffice. Big ole crack down tailgate just like every other Explorer. Still on the road because its transmission still kinda works.

- , Rockland, ME, USA

problem #686

Jan 012010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


They know this is an issue ... Ford needs to fix this problem.

- , Florence, KY, USA

problem #685

Aug 152011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 250,000 miles

This is the second time this has happened to my 2004 Ford Explorer. The first crack was replaced under warranty. The second one appeared just over a year later. I haven't had it fixed, what's the use? Every 2004 Ford Explorer you see on the road has a cracked rear panel below the rear glass. Built Ford Tough? Yeah right.

- , Pilot Mountain, NC, USA

problem #684

Dec 002008

Explorer Eddie Bauer XLT V-6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

After noticing the crack on the rear tailgate I started looking and at least a couple times a day I am behind an Explorer with the same problem. When I first noticed the problem and did check on the Ford website and learned they were not taking responsibility for the cracks! It is past time for me to purchase a new car but due to this problem and the problem I had with my transmission I will NOT be purchasing a Ford product.

- , Snellville, GA, USA

problem #683

Aug 112014

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,065 miles


ford used defective materials that allow moisture and air to build up behind the window panel.

just need the cracked rear panel repaired.


problem #682

Jan 012009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Called Ford Customer Service twice. Both times they denied any knowledge of the problem. Went to a few dealers and body shops and was laughed at. Response was that every Explorer had it and Ford did not take responsibility.

- , Frankfort, IL, USA

problem #681

Jun 152008

Explorer Eddy Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Crack is under Rear Window. I and my Wife have both been pinched and cut from the cracked door. In cold weather the crack squeaks loudly when driving. In the summer it seems to be less noisy. Almost every Explorer in our area has a cracked rear door. if you have one you tend to notice and watch for them. We Won't buy another one, way too many problems with this one.

- , Windsor, CO, USA

problem #680

Jan 052005

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles

I have this game I play when I see an Explorer of this vintage. Make myself a bet, crack or no crack. I must have looked at 100 or more Ford- Merc. And surenuf, there's the crack. Estimate in this area to fix = $500.00 . Haven't lost a bet yet!!!

- , Cambridge, WI, USA

problem #679

Jun 182010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


I purchased the 2004 Explorer in 2006. Wish I would have known about the problem, wouldn't have purchased it. I was looking at GMC Envoy, decided to buy the Explorer. The crack looks bad. It happened in 2010. I hope it doesn't get worse and the entire panel falls off before I get rid of it. I have seen many cracked Explorer's in my area and Mountaineer's. I went to Montrose Ford, Akron,OH where I purchased the Explorer, they did nothing. The mechanic hardly said anything about it. Heard it costs about $500-700 ? to fix it. I'm not fixing it. I'm waiting for recall !!!! or get rid of it. I'm not buying another Ford! Also had a Ford Windstar that was junk but they had a recall on it and covered it.

- , Seven Hills, OH, USA

problem #678

Jul 022012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

Way too much flex in the back door. Seen it happen to others so was being really careful.

Someone else closed it with uneven force, cracked straight away.

Come on Ford, this is not good enough.

- , Haymarket, VA, USA

problem #677

Sep 102010

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Every Ford Explorer I see on the road has the same crack.

- , Graysville, TN, USA

problem #676

Dec 012011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I think that Ford should fix the cracked rear panel. When you pay $45000.00 for a vehicle you would expect the company to honor the defect.

- , Norwalk, CA, USA

problem #675

May 092011

Explorer LXT 4000cc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


- , Turkey, NC, USA

problem #674

Apr 012008

Explorer XLT 4.0ltr

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Ford needs to stand behind their product.The crack appeared just after the warranty was up, just simply from closing the rear gate.

- , Madison, AL, USA

problem #673

Jul 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

The cracked lift gate, should be something that Ford should have to fix. I hate how it looks and think eventually it will cause other problems.

- , Dallas, GA, USA

problem #672

Oct 202014

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles

I'm like hundreds of others of owners of Explorers, Mounteneers, and Lincolns that are waiting on Ford to do the right thing and fix this thing and other problems that plague his model. I also have a problem with the heater control that makes a thumping sound when turning it on. I have solved part of this problem by the way I turn it on. I don't turn the heat knob all the way up and I turn the fan knob all the way up until the thumping stops, (usually in a short time). Then, turning the heat back down, I turn the heat control down to any setting and then turn the fan to a low setting. Seems to work so far, but I have seen this on the internet as well and this a factory defect as well.

I will add that I believe in American cars and American craftsmanship, and never, ever, would I buy a Japanese or Asian car. These people claim they are made in America, hire American workers, but they take our money and run!! I say for me: BUY AMERICAN IN AMERICA. I know that will ruffle some feathers out there.

- , Kennard, IN, USA

problem #671

Jul 152010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

This situation is ridiculous! Came out of work one day and I see these black lines on the lift gate. As I got closer I see it's cracked. No other damage to indicate it had been hit or even touched. Really makes the truck look nasty.

After it happened, I started to notice other Ford Explorers with the same exact damage. I decided to look online. This couldn't be coincidence. That's how I found out there is a class action suit against Ford. When I go to the dealership that services my Explorer, I mention the lawsuit and they play they never heard this complaint before! Just disgusting that a vehicle can cost so much money and be made with defective materials. Ford, DO SOMETHING !!!!

- , Medford, NY, USA

problem #670

Apr 012009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

click to see larger images

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

I had the car less than a year. I bought in 2008 from a dealer who gave no insight to any possible issue (of course). Anyhow, when I reported the issue to my local Ford dealer service center, they would not repair the crack under my existing extended warranty I had purchased. The repair was going to cost $500-$1200 because they couldn't tell me for sure. They said it was considered a cosmetic issue and not a safety issue. I thought to myself "It will be a safety issue when the whole panel falls off and hits someone's car or worse!"

The panel is still in tact, but I notice the crack moves and changes depending on the weather. I've also had issues with the bearings, replacing the fronts earlier this year for over $1500. I'm told the rears might be in danger of needing replacement as well. My A/C temperature control actuator does the clicking thing if you try to change the temperature to warm, so I have no heater anymore. That repair has a part that costs $65, but Ford wants to charge over $1800 to open up my dash and replace it! This was a beautiful car and does drive well, but little annoyances are just unbearable and I don't think I'll be buying another Ford anytime soon. Just hope this car makes it a couple more years. Currently have 132K miles on it.

Hope the case wins so we can all get our cracks fixed. At least if I do try to sell it, it won't look like it's been in an accident.

- , Fairfield, CA, USA

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