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:
75,160 miles
Total Complaints:
757 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 6 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #657

Sep 042013

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles


This first happened to my sister's Explorer. She said after it happened to her, she started noticing it on other Fords she was driving behind. Apparently, in researching it is very wide spread. It then happened to my parent's Ford Explorer. Mine was next. Like my sister, I notice that pretty much every Explorer I am behind of this period has the same issue. Obviously a design defect (just like the gear shift that broke off when I attempted to reverse my vehicle).

- , Piscataway, NJ, USA

problem #656

Feb 122014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

Common problem and Ford refuses to recall. Shame on Ford. This is my 4th Ford vehicle... and last.

- , Rochester, NY, US

problem #655

Apr 132014

Explorer XLS 4.0L 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 174,000 miles

I'm disappointed to find this is a common problem and Ford hasn't done anything about it. My car lasted longer than many before cracking, but that doesn't mean I'm any happier about it.

- , St. Louis, MO, USA

problem #654

Mar 092014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


This crack on back door beneath glass is really ugly and it's right next to Ford logo. It makes my vehicle look like crap and it's ridiculous to count the other Ford Explorers out there and see the same darn crack. Ford should be ashamed to not not address this issue, any class action lawsuits count me in. I called Ford and got report number but I have my doubts and have no faith they will fix it.

- , Chester, VA, USA

problem #653

Mar 032006

Explorer XLT 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

Its the little things, like attention to detail that a consumer cares about. Since I have to file each complaint separately (1 of 7), I will not go off yet. I will state this was my third "American" made vehicle (Chevy and Saturn), this is my last. Most of the overseas car manufactures are now IN THE STATES, providing jobs, I will be giving them my sale from now on.

- , Chattanooga, TN, USA

problem #652

Apr 012013

Explorer LS 6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

It's time for Ford to ante up and fix this problem, it's gotten to be a joke between my son and I when we drive around and am able to count the number of Ford Explorers that all have the same crack in the rear panel. It's actually a disgrace that Ford has not addressed this issue, when it's a defect that seems to affect almost all Ford Explorer's

- , Salisbury, NC, USA

problem #651

Jan 012009

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


The cracked panel does not appear to cause any other issues other than being an aesthetics problem.

- , Manhattan, KS, USA

problem #650

Apr 012013

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

One day, I looked at the back and saw this huge long vertical crack on my plastic rear panel. I feared the panel would just disintegrate every time I opened and closed the rear gate. It is also unsightly. To minimize further damage I applied a plastic weatherproof black caulking - it is still unsightly.

I don't understand why Ford won't recall and fix the problem - it is obvious that they have a defective part or defective quality because these online websites and forums are full of Ford owners with the same problem!!!

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #649

Apr 022007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

In addition to the 2004 automatic transmission problem, the 02-05 Explorers seem to have the same problem of a cracked rear cover panel beneath the rear door glass. The panel on my Explorer cracked in 2007 after the warranty had expired and Ford refused to fix it. I am a long time Ford owner but the transmission fiasco and the rear panel have caused me to stay away from Ford for my next vehicles.

- , Newington, CT, US

problem #648

Dec 132012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

I have a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT, I bought my car from on elderly woman when I turned eighteen. I take amazing care of my car, wash it whenever salt is occupying my reign. I have motorcycles and they are all foreign bikes. Never have any problems. My 1990 Ford Bronco is a great car and runs great and pushes snow like a champ.

I am complaining about the crack in the back window panel. It makes my car look like complete horrible mess and it is the most annoying thing to take care of something and have this ugly crack show everyone that you don't. Also my timing chains and guides went at 13,000 it was not a cheap fix, cost me 4,600 dollars. I love my car but think Ford had the poorest design of all time, this car was put together so poorly I will not buy Ford again.

- , Warrington, PA, USA

problem #647

Nov 122007

Explorer XLS 3.6L

  • Manual transmission
  • 21,000 miles


November 12 /2007 in the morning I got out to go to work truck was parked in driveway when I looked around I seen big crack in the back frame of the window was summer really hot the crack did not looked to bed when the weather got really cold that looked very bed crack

- , Westland, MI, US

problem #646

Mar 192014

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

When the crack first occurred, I took the car to Ford where they told me that I could pay to have it fixed. I also took it to a body shop where they would actually charge a lower price than Ford, but said that chances were it would happen again. I have always owned fords and am really angry about this. I take very good care of my car and have nothing else wrong with it. It looks like crap and I want them to recall and fix this.

- , Oro Valley, AZ, USA

problem #645

Jan 312008

Explorer LXT 6 Cylinder

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles

Is there a recall yet? Do I have to pay for this? How do I get it fixed?

- , Dearborn, MI, USA

problem #644

Dec 222013

Explorer LS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,043 miles

Can't believe Ford has allowed this problem to continue. Beautiful car, and how horrific the crack is. Sure pennies for Ford to fix with different material. Shame on you Ford!!!!

- , Whittier, CA, USA

problem #643

May 182013

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,525 miles

Have to keep black electrical tape over the crack to hold it together or I am afraid the lift gate glass will fall out. A friend of mine also has this problem as do others I've noticed on the road.

- , Lincoln Park, MI, USA

problem #642

Jul 012012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

The PLASTIC panel on the trunk hatch cracked all around the "Ford" logo. It is cracked on both sides, and i am surprised that the middle piece hasn't just fallen off yet. Ford won't pay for it. I see Explorers every day that have the same issue. obvisously it was a design flaw, and since it doesn't hinder the performace of the truck, Ford doesn't care.

- , Harrisburg, PA, USA

problem #641

Mar 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,500 miles

click to see larger images

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

I've avoided American built cars for years due to my perception of poor quality but took a chance on this '04. Bought off the dealers lot with only 2000 miles. Have had the rear end replaced 6 times( all covered by warranty). The tail gate panel crack is the last straw as far as I'm concerned. Was pleased that Ford didn't take a Govt bailout, but really disappointed in how the vehicle has held up compared to our 2000 Toyota, 200k and going with nearly no problems.

All things being equal I'd buy American, but all cars are not created (or supported by the manufacturer) equally.


- , Columbia, MO, USA

problem #640

Jan 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles

When crack first appeared on the center left of the ford emblem, I spoke to a dealership about recall warranty issues. The Service man said that at one time Ford acknowledged the problem and fixed some of the vehicles in question, but that they weren't any longer. He gave me an approximate repair cost then of around $500 and the phone number to Ford's Customer Service. I called Ford and filed a complaint with them only to no avail. Just recently a second crack appeared, now on the center right of the Ford emblem of this panel. I have seen MANY FORD EXPLORERS ON THE ROAD EVERYWHERE I HAVE TRAVELED WITH THIS SAME PROBLEM IN THE SAME GENERAL AREA. I have also seen the panel missing altogether. I have not replaced the panel for fear that the same this would happen again. My vehicle is 10 yrs. old and doesn't even have 60K miles on it yet. I keep my vehicles well maintained and find this problem extremely annoying and concerning every time I shut the back window hatch.

- , Pleasanton, CA, US

problem #639

Jan 062014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 154,356 miles

This problem just adds to the continuing list of problems I have had with this car. I am pretty much over owning a Ford.

- , Highlands Ranch, TX, USA

problem #638

Feb 102014

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,785 miles

Very upsetting that Ford will not accept responsibility for this defect and pay for replacement.

- , Stevensville, MD, USA

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