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:
66,188 miles
Total Complaints:
17 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (16 reports)
  2. replace panel (1 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #17

Nov 112016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles


So contacted the Ford Company about the cracked back hatch and this is what they tell me:

That there are not recalls or other Field Service Actions active for my vehicle (duh Ford does not want to issue a recall on this because it would cost them too much as most Ford Explorers and Mountaineers have this problem!!!) So then I would have to go to a Ford dealership (yea that will help) to have them inspect it and they (dealership) is best equipped to advise if this concern is a defect and therefore would be covered under warranty - um its and 04 Explorer of coarse it doesn't have a warranty on it anymore. If there are no warranties then I would have to pay to have it fixed (that sounds awesome because its just not my vehicle that has this issue right). There should be a recall on this and I am just afraid it will cause other issues with having moisture getting in the crack and so on!!

- , Oshkosh, WI, USA

problem #16

Aug 252015

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

I need to be in contact with the law firm who is taking care of the ongoing class action suit on this problem. The problem is that it effects the appearance of the vehicle and will not get any better but eventually get worse.

- , Denver, CO, US

problem #15

Nov 142014

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles

click to see larger images

black plastic panels on doors fade and crack

I'm very upset that Ford Motors won't admit that this a defect in there product. I have seen countless Ford Explorers with the same problem. My co-worker and his father both have 2004 Ford Explorers, and both of them have the same problem on their Explorers. I started a FaceBook Page about this problem, it's 2002-2004 Ford Explorer. Check it out, please post your pictures and gripe.

- , Phila, PA, USA

problem #14

Jul 032009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles


It appears this is happening to many other people. Ford should do a recall on this.

- , lynn, Ma, USA

problem #13

Dec 022013

Explorer Limited 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,351 miles

how can i A/S in Korea?

enrolled number is 01์กฐ8021

- , Suwon, Gyonggi, South Korea

problem #12

Sep 012011

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,430 miles

Add me to the crack club ! I think we should all post our complaints on on their ford social site, I'm sure they will pay attention then and note this as a recall.

- , Boston, MA, USA

problem #11

Jan 012005

Explorer Limited 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,921 miles


In Jan 2005 the rear plastic panel cracked. They replaced it but it cost me just over $100. I asked them if this could be a design flaw since I could not figure out how this happened. They of course said no. After the extended warranty expired the panel cracked again. One day my daughter asked me if I had noticed how many Explorers on the road had this cracked panel. I had not but have since paid attention and noticed countless Explorers with this cracked panel. Yet Ford again denied any responsibility for this problem. I have often toyed with the idea of taking yellow marker and draw arrows to the crack and write "Beware, this is Ford's workmanship and quality." I have not had it repaired because I refuse to pay for it again only to have it crack again.

Update from Jul 6, 2012: This initially occurred in 2007 not 2005 (typo)

Update from Oct 2, 2013: Sold vehicle tired of the unwillingness for Ford Motor Company to stand behind its product.

- , Niceville, FL, USA

problem #10

Feb 202011

Explorer Eddy Baeur 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I have seen a lot of other Explorers with this problem - Ford Motor Co. should do a recall because they know it is a problem with a lot of Explorers; I will be looking at a new vehicle in the future but might not buy another Explorer because Ford does not fix their broken parts.

- , Moorpark, CA, USA

problem #9

Jan 012011

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

I am sure Ford doesn't see this as a repairable problem but the "milky gray" plastic really takes away from the appearance of my vehicle. Faded running boards, door handles, insert at base of windshield, luggage rack and mirrors. Other than total replacements, does anyone have any suggestions?

- , Flowery Branch, GA, USA

problem #8

Jun 012009

Explorer XLS 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

Again another job well done NOT. The thing is Ford knows what is wrong but yet cant seem to help they just must think we are all made of money.

- , Lincoln Park, MI, USA

problem #7

Jul 072005

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles


the door panels fade around the window! and the plastic trim around the wheel wells and the door handles and the black plastic on the bumper!

- , Fisherville, KY, US

problem #6

Jan 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I didn't even realize more people have had this issue with the panel. I don't think it should be wearing out so much like this. I don't know when I first noticed this or what the actual mileage was.

- , Pompano Beach, FL, US

problem #5

Nov 172010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,500 miles

the plastic piece cracked and during the cold weather the cracks expands and retracts when the sun shine on it. i can not believe there is not a recall on this problem. I notice many ford explorers with the same issue. should be a factory recall to fix problem

- , Wilmington, MA, US

problem #4

Nov 012010

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

99.9% of these vehicles have the cracked rear door panel.

- , Frisco, TX, USA

problem #3

Dec 122009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

did somebody knows if we can appear a law or take legal attorney about this problem....

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #2

Apr 022009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

After my window lift gate cracked I began noticing around town, many of my year model almost all had the same cracks. Some to the left of the logo like mine and some to the right. If you look at later models, you will see the gate and window are no longer combined units. I agree Ford needs to fix this and this is the first time I have had a body issue and this is my 8th Ford. This model , my second explorer has had numerous quality issues on the interior, visors already broken, escutheon broke on drivers door, stereo speakers have never been right, moon roof swithing issues and cable issues, transmission problems, makes me wonder if I need to switch.

- , Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #1

Jun 042007

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles

Plastic panel on driver's door cracked for no reason at all, the crack just showed up one day. That was about 18 months ago, now the panels are starting to fade from the top on the passenger side. My cousin has a 2002 Explorer, and all his panels are faded to about halfway down, it looks HORRIBLE, really makes this high price SUV look like a cheap piece of crap. Unbelievable to me how Ford is willing to let people drive around in these Explorers looking like they do, with the cracked liftgate, peeling paint, and faded panels. What a terrible advertisement for their product, its just a shame really. It looks like Ford is just going to sit back and ignore these problems until all the Explorers from this body style are junked and sitting in salvage yards, then they will breath a sigh of relief and say "whew, glad that's over". They probably cringe every time they get an e-mail or call from someone saying "Yes, I have a problem with my '02/'03/'04/'05 Explorer." I have been a loyal Ford customer for 25 years, now I will be looking elsewhere for my next new vehicle.

- , Fairfield, IL, USA

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