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:
75,318 miles
Total Complaints:
762 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (294 reports)
  2. not sure (204 reports)
  3. replace panel (117 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 10 of 39)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

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

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, US

problem #569

Sep 012009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Another thing Ford should pay for because of shoddy design.

- , Moore, OK, USA

problem #568

Nov 032011

Explorer ES 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

I went to open the back to load groceries and the panel was cracked. I have noticed so many Ford Explorers with cracks. Whenever it rains for some reason my door ajar light stays on and my interior and exterior light under my rear view mirror stays on? I think this should be a recall. I loved my explorer but thinking of selling and never getting another ford product.

- , Salem, NH, USA

problem #567

Feb 132012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

Noticed the crack to the right of the Ford emblem the other day. My friend had an 02 Explorer with the same problem and told me it is very common.

- , Oak Park, IL, USA

problem #566

Feb 252012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,200 miles

I didn't realize the issue of the panel under the rear window cracking was so prevalent until I did a search on it.. I noticed mine cracked sometime within the last month. I bought my Explorer used five years ago with only 42000 miles on it. Now I only have 73000 so you can see it gets driven infrequently. It has been garaged the whole time I've had it so it hasn't been out in the elements.. Obviously this is a construction (design or material) flaw and should be addressed by Ford.

- , Randolph, VA, USA

problem #565

Jan 042012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Have had my 2004 Ford Explorer since 2004- purchased new. Crack appeared out of the blue a couple months ago. Ever since it appeared I've noticed it on numerous other Ford Explorers- many times on a daily basis. It has gotten to the point where whenever I see one of them I check to see if there is a crack. Most of the time there is one- typically see at least 1 other car w/ the crack on a daily basis and I only drive about 10 miles during my work commute. Not all that shocked to see the numerous posts on this website about the same problem. Have been a loyal Ford customer all my life-- My dad is a Ford retiree- worked there 30 years. Probably won't buy one again if the company doesn't man-up, do the right thing, and fix this problem free of charge. So far it's not looking good.

- , Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #564

Feb 242012

Explorer XLS 6.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,062 miles

If all of the Explorers i have been seeing fo so long have the same problem why don't they fix it?????????

- , Mooresville, IN, USA

problem #563

Jan 102012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 248,000 miles

Since this crack appeared, we have noticed similar cracks on over a dozen other Ford Explorers. The majority of the cracks are to the LEFT of the emblem. I cannot believe that Ford has not taken some sort of responsibility for this obvious defect in the construction of the panel.

- , Chico, CA, USA

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