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 9 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #596

Jan 122013

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 175,000 miles


Cracked panel occurred during cold weather. Crack goes down right side from window to bottom.

- , Miamisburg, OH, USA

problem #595

Jan 022013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

Vehicle was parked under the carport in my driveway for 2 or 3 days and the crack appeared.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #594

Oct 012012

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,300 miles

Never buy a ford!! They are junk, need to buy a new car and will not look at ANY FORDS.

- , Delmont, PA, USA

problem #593

Sep 152010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,000 miles


I checked with my dealer, and since the car is out of warranty, he said I would have to replace the entire window at a cos t of $1200! I have had a few Ford products, this is the only one with multiple problems,which I feel are design-related.The dealer's solution sounds funky to me...there must be a less expensive Ford paying for repairs.

- , Costa Mesa, CA, USA

problem #592

Dec 042006

Explorer XLS 4DR 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

Every explorer you will ever see with either have this Panel with the Crack or it's been repaired by buying the panel for at least $245.00 Painting to Match 125 Labor to remove and reaffix 200.00 and put the nice Ford Blue Oval back on the Panel. Have fun because POS Ford will never fix this under or out of Warranty. Life's a Beach

- , Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #591

Feb 272012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

Rear panel cracked right through ford logo, doesn't look too bad but definitely annoying.

- , Hammond, IN, USA

problem #590

Dec 252012

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles


Bought this car 3 weeks ago..105,000 miles. Have only had the tailgate open 3 times, today being the third. Today while the gate was lifted and no one was touching it, the tailgate cracked downward right next to the Ford emblem. Upset that, to me, this car is only 3 weeks old..I wanted to have it fixed. So after reading up on this problem on the internet, I realized it wasn't just me. This is quite a common problem and nearly a $500 fix. How ridiculous. Ford needs to recall this. If there is no resolve, I will not buy another Ford.

- , Edgewood, MD, USA

problem #589

Jan 012009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Broke while sitting in the garage. Not worth fixing but should be a recall.

- , Venice, FL, USA

problem #588

May 072012

Explorer LX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

I first thought someone hit it with something...but found out from friends and after hearing I myself saw several Ford Explorers with the same crack by more then over a dozen or more. This brought it to my attention......... and made it known to me that this was definitely a manufacturers defect. I feel that Ford should make this a recall and replace it for their customers who bought in the trust of the Ford name.

- , Santee, CA, USA

problem #587

May 282008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

cracked plastic on rear tailgate 2004 ford explorer quoted $500. to repair with no guaratee it won't break again.If not resolved will not by another Ford.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #586

Jun 232012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


I just purchased this 2004 Explorer and tried to convince dealer to fix the rear panel crack, but was told that it would just crack again, so they wouldn't fix it. What moron engineer at Ford sealed this panel to the rear glass, thus insuring it would crack as the window flexed? Unfortunately, that's a rhetorical question.

- , Katy, TX, US

problem #585

Feb 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

We came outside one cold morning to find the back panel on our Ford Explorer cracked. As the day progressed and warmed up a bit, the crack became less visible. At nightfall, when the temperature dropped, it was once again HUGE! My husband called the local dealership, who confirmed that many othe had been complaining about the same problem, BUT that Ford was not covering the repairs and it could cost us up to $500. We contacted Ford and never received a response. As the years have passed, I've noticed MORE and MORE...about 85-90%...Ford Explorers driving around town with the SAME EXACT PROBLEM! This is ridiculous. Ford still refuses to cover the repairs and I plan to file a complaint with the BBB. It it NOT a coincidence that most of the Ford Explorers of this make/model have the same issue and that since then, Ford has changed the rear door to exclude this panel.

- , Pensacola, FL, USA

problem #584

Sep 212012

Explorer XL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I've read many complaints about this problem. Ford needs to recall these panels.

- , Chino, CA, USA

problem #583

Oct 082012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

I traded in a 2000 Explorer XLT that had approx. 120,000 miles with a bad transmission in June of 2012, for a newer 2004 Eddie Bauer Edition with approx. 121,000 miles on it. Three weeks later with 122,000 miles on it, the transmission went out on IT. It was covered under warranty because I bought it from a Ford Dealer. Yesterday 10/12/2012, there was the "tailgate crack", that I just found out is a common problem. I will be contacting the dealer, ford motor credit and the Missouri State Attorney's General's office to see if anything can be done to find fault with Ford's denial of any manufacturing defect.

- , Ofallon, MO, USA

problem #582

Sep 012012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,261 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

Ours happened at 121,000 to our car,our neighbor down the street same year happened 5 years ago and right now she only has 35,000. There car is outside all the time, ours was always in a garage, that is until a few weeks ago when we had to put the car out for the evening. Next morning we woke up to the crack. When it's hot outside the crack is barely visible. When it's cold, it is huge.

- , Redmond, WA, USA

problem #581

Dec 232011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles

I had an estimate done to fix it. the dealer said the problem is only cosmetic, and it will not cause rusting or water damage from rain. A replacement would come from a junk yard and cost roughly $350 with labor

- , Perrysburg, OH, USA

problem #580

Feb 092012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

I have noticed many Explorers with this same problem, crack left of the Ford emblem below the glass panel on the hatch and then it happened to me this past winter! When the temp. is very HOT the crack is hardly noticable then it returns with normal temperatures. I haven't heard any recalls from Ford regarding this issue? HELP!!! I would like to have this replaced without cost to me!!!

- , Independence, OH, US

problem #579

Nov 122010

Explorer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

I see it on most all 2004 Explorers some have fallen off.

- , Lapeer, MI, US

problem #578

Aug 012012

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

Panel on the back cracked on the left side of the emblem it is very annoying to see it everyday but hoping for a recall to get fixed

- , Mechanicsburg, PA, USA

problem #577

Jul 012006

Explorer XLT 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

Frustrated as I see this broken on many Ford Explorers and cannot understand why Ford fails to recognize the error or offers a valuable solution. It is clearly defunct manufacturing.

- , Detroit, MI, USA

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