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 14 of 39)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #502

Feb 232011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles


The plastic under the window in cracked. I see allot of Ford explores with this issue.. I call Ford and the person on the line gives me some Bullshit line that its not a safety issue therefore he doubts they will ever recall it. Hey look around every Ford explorer of these years 02-04 is having this issue.. Hey sure its a safety problem. THe glass window is enclosed in this.. What is it going to take... The window flying out and killing somebody? Its not covered under warranty or expended warranty and its over 1k to fix.. Give me a break Ford!! Step up to the plate and fix for your customers...

Mark .. GA

- , Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #501

Oct 312011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

I sent my car to Hack's Auto Body shop in Pacifica, California for repairs and the charges for to replace the panel are $600.00.

I expect some reimbursement from FORD.

- , Pacifica, CA, USA

problem #500

Aug 132011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,600 miles

click to see larger images

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

Pictures show the Explorer butt-crack when it first appeared. It is now extends to the bottom of the panel. On cold days the crack is about 3/32" wide, making me think the problem is thermal stress.

I live in Michigan and know lots of folks who work for Ford. I want to support both our local and national economies buy buying American, but Ford's total brush-off of this problem strains customer loyalty. Come on Ford, with so many complaints you know this is not an isolated problem. Do the right thing by your loyal customers, or they might not be so loyal next time they have to shell out $KKKK for their next vehicle.

- , Farmington Hills, MI, USA

problem #499

Nov 022011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,080 miles


I just purchased the SUV a month ago. Had I known this was an issue, I would have reconsidered the purchase. I don't know what to do. I should not have to pay for the repair out of pocket if Ford knows this is an issue.

- , Washington, District Of Columbia, USA

problem #498

Jul 132011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles

As so many others have mentioned the panel below the rear window is cracked all the way up through the middle. How can Ford honestly not do something to fix the ones that have broken? I have 5 cars in our family, 4 of which are Fords, but this issue along with several others that I have now reported are becoming an issue, and probably one that other manufactures are taking care of properly. time to compare higher quality cars...

- , Bath, PA, USA

problem #497

Jan 012006

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

My Ford Explorer's tailgate cracked near the logo. I have seen scores of Ford Explorers with the same problem. I have called the dealer and they will not fix it because there is not a recall. It is obviously a manufacturing/design problem. It is a shame that a company like Ford treats its customers this way. If this is not fixed I will not buy/recommend Ford again.

- , San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico

problem #496

Oct 012011

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


I spoke to the Service person at Jim Click Ford in Tucson and he said that it also happened to his car. He said there was no recall and it "only" cost $750 so he just got it fixed. He suggested that I call Ford Motor.

I called Ford Motor Customer Service. Very calm and soothing voice told me that there was not recall and there was no customer satisfaction program regarding the issue and that he recommended that I do take it in to a Ford dealership and have it diagnosed. I reminded him that I spoke to a Service Rep who had the same issue. Didn't need to have it "diagnosed". He recommended that I also save all my receipts in case it is recalled. Please. My next contact is Jim Click who owns the dealership.

- , Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #495

Sep 102011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I think Ford has a series design flaw that they should fix since it is so wide spread. I have babied the car when closing because of seeing so many vehicles with the problem. Mine finally broke too. It looks terrible and takes away from the value when it is time to trade or sell. Will seriously look at vehicles other than Ford if nothing is done about it.

- , Anderson, SC, Albania

problem #494

Oct 152010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles

Call this number its Fords Customer Satisfaction hotline. 1-800-392-3673 to skip the garbage and speak to a rep press 1,5,1,2,2.

I spoke with a rep and she said there were no other customer complaints about this. I attempted to direct her to this site but she refused to look. She stated, unless a customer calls in and complains then we have no idea of the issues, we do not look at online sources. Please call in and complain so we may avoid such a costly repair.

I'm so disappointed in Ford...

- , Inez, KY, USA

problem #493

May 102010

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

like other owners i noticed the crack and thought i caused it. then i started seeing others with the exact crack. whats going on

- , Indianapolis, IN, US

problem #492

Oct 052010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles


Last year I noticed a crack under my rear window and at first I thought one of the kids closed the lift gate too hard. So I took it in to a auto shop to have it repaired and not even a couple of months later it happens again! Then one of my friends noticed my crack and said that every ford explorer they see no matter what year, has a crack right there. So when I'm out driving I will look at every explorer that so happen to pass and notice that this is so true! Why does Ford not do anything about this? I

- , Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #491

Aug 192011

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

the crack in the rear panel is a problem in a lot of fords. after i noticed the crack in mine, i started noticing other fords that i passed and saw the same problem. With the same thing going on in so many fords, this should be a recall. There is nothing that the owners did to cause this crack. one day its not there, the next day it was. Has to be a defect and ford should be responsible for fixing.

- , Clinton, MD, USA

problem #490

Oct 192011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

Not sure how Ford cannot issue a recall as this is clearly a manufacturing defect. Looks ridiculous, and is a daily reminder that maybe Ford isn't so great after all. :(

- , Waxhaw, NC, US

problem #489

Sep 012011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

From what I see on the computer lots of people have the same problem. I think

Ford should stand behind their cars better than this. We went to a body shop

and they say it would cost 700.00 to 800.00 to replace the whole back window

and that was the only way it could be fixed.

- , Conchas Dam, NM, Uruguay

problem #488

Jun 012009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

My back window panel also cracked. My vehicle is garage kept both at home and work so it's not a sun or weather related issue.

It's annoying that so many people are having this problem and Ford is not addressing it.

- , St. Louis, MO, USA

problem #487

Sep 152011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

I thought I was one of the lucky ones. A crack in the paint yesterday turned into a full blown broken panel today. Dealer & Ford both said sorry 'bout your luck pal.My 1st car was an '85 Thunderbird & have owned/leased 10 brand new Fords since '95 with very few problems. I am just amazed at the total lack of customer service at all levels.

- , Canandaigua, NY, US

problem #486

May 012008

Explorer Limited 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

very ugly defect on back panel went too dealer said not their problem

- , Hot Springs National Park, AR, US

problem #485

Jan 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I went to my local dealership about my cracked panel, they said they've had other owners come in with the same problem. This was a design flaw. Dealership suggested I contact the Ford Motor Co. via email. Ford Motor Co said they will not fix the panel, because there's no recall. I've seen at least 5-6 other Ford Explorer's with the same crack on the back panel, slightly different locations on the panel around the Ford emblem. So there must be thousands nation wide. We've purchased other Ford's before and would have purchased again. But because of this, I informed them they have lost a loyal customer. I suggest that others do the same, if Ford can't stand by their product.

Bye, bye Ford.

- , San Lorenzo, CA, USA

problem #484

Jun 302011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

I was so excited when I purchased my beautiful mint condition 2004 ford explorer! Then the rear plastic panel under the window cracked!!!! I am so frustrated because every time I open and close the rear door it gets worse no matter how gentle I am. I feel that ford should definitely repair this problem because it is a faulty design and very expensive to repair and pointless because my ford mechanic has informed me that it would just crack again. The mileage is low and I intend to drive this car until it dies but I would not buy a ford again and would not recommend one to a friend. Stand up and take personal responsibility Ford! It may be cosmetic but when you spend thousands of dollars on a car that you love and are proud of you don't want a big crack down the back of your car!!!!!

- , Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #483

Sep 072010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Crack just appeared. Sometimes the back hatch opens on its own due to the crack. Has done this several times whether driving or parked. Have seen several other vehicles on the road with this same crack. My dad was a die-hard Ford believer and wouldn't buy anything else. Hence, I bought one. Now reqretting it due to Fords obvious (so far) refusal to recall and fix.

Update from Mar 15, 2012: I went to Ford and inquired about the crack in the rear hatch. I was told it was a stress fracture. I disagree as there are to many vehicles with this problem. I refuse to pay to fix it as I feel Ford should. I am looking to trade it in and get something else. I've always bought Ford but unless Ford honors this issue I won't be buying another Ford.

- , Lebanon, TN, US

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