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 9 of 38)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

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, USA

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!!!

- , Seven Hills, OH, USA

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, USA

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

problem #576

Nov 112008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Ford told me i must have shut the window to hard and refused to fix on my still under warranty car.

- , Xenia, OH, USA

problem #575

Oct 072011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

My rear exterior trim panel below the glass is bowed out on the left side starting at the Ford emblem. Being that it is black, the sun swells it on hot days. The car wash brushes get caught in it also. The entire driver's side came unglued, I have since tried to re-glue with silicone adhesive it but it isn't holding completely. I got the same BS at the local dealer whose only answer was that they see a lot of these and a fix is about $500. Seems unfair that this is an obvious recognized design flaw that was corrected on newer models. I'm thinking about trying to fix it myself by removing it before it cracks or breaks and try to reglue it with some kind of industrial strength automotive adhesive. The only thing stopping me from doing that is that I don't know how involved it is to remove the emblem and trim piece. If I ever get that info and feel ambitious enough to attempt the repair, and am successful, I will update this complaint with pictures and step-by-step instructions, including what product I used to reattach it.

- , Spartanburg, SC, USA

problem #574

Nov 112008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Every ford explorer this year that I see has same problem. Can't believe ford will not fix. Never buy a ford again because of lousy customer service.

- , Frisco, CO, USA

problem #573

Jun 062012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

This is apparently a known defect in the 2002-2004 Ford Explorers and Ford doesn't care. They won't recall, they won't help with replacement costs and they say that it's not their problem.

- , Sparta, MI, USA

problem #572

Dec 142011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

The rear hatch stopped closing due to faulty screws that attach the rear window wiper. This panel then started holding water and in the dead of winter the freezing temperatures caused the rear panel to crack. It looks terrible!

- , Springfield, MO, USA

problem #571

Jun 072012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Add my name to this growing list of complainants. It seems apparent that Ford has no desire to resolve this. I found reference to this class action lawsuit if anyone is interested.

I have already had this vehicles doors repainted due to premature fading and have also had to replace the transmission.

I will NEVER own another Ford product and will make sure everyone I meet knows why.

- , Xenia, OH, USA

problem #570

Jun 122012

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 139,800 miles

I just noticed the crack in the rear panel below the rear window. Ford says that it is not covered by any recall, at this time.

- , Normal, IL, USA

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