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 16 of 39)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #462

Nov 232010

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles


It may seem insignificant but I'm really the type to complain this crack came about while the car was parked ,no impact , slamming doors, nor extreme weather conditions were to cause this crack and the fact that almost 500 people have complained regarding this same problem means there is some flaw in the manufacture or installation of this piece.


- , Greenwell Springs, LA, US

problem #461

Jan 202011

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,500 miles

Ford should recall the Ford Explorers with rear panel cracks and fix, or reinbruise whom has already shell out the money to get theres fixed.

- , Elkton, MD, USA

problem #460

Oct 142009

Explorer EX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

My beautiful car is ugly and I want Ford Motor Company to pay for it. The broken tail gate lowers the value of my car

- , Summerville, SC, US

problem #459

Feb 172011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,500 miles


This is really aggravating to say the least. Out of the blue, one beautiful 60 degree sunny day, I come out to find an ugly crack straight down the panel, to the left of the FORD emblem under the rear window! My Explorer, paid in full, has always been kept in very nice condition, low mileage, wash it regularly. Now has this awful, ugly crack! And to top it off, FORD has no recalls or acknowledgement of this faulty design/poor workmanship of their product. I see one Explorer after the other now on the road with the very same crack, in the very same place. In fact, one of the the firefighters at my station has a 2003 Explorer which just developed the same crack in the same place last week!! Coincidence? Absolutely not!

Something has to be done about this. If FORD truly believes in the quality of their product, that it can stand up against any comparable import model, then they need to stand behind their product, to address and fix any defects that do come to light. I will soon be adding a photo of my Explorers' crack, which you will find looks exactly like so many, many others.

- , Liberty, MO, USA

problem #458

Mar 132011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,895 miles

Very disappointed in the obvious design defect in a company you should be able to trust. Since my truck is not under warranty, I'm told I'm out of luck. That's okay, I can buy another brand next time.

- , Cambridge, MD, USA

problem #457

Jan 042011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

the crack just appeared. after reading these complaints, i am contacting the federal trade commission, then ford

- , Cape May, NJ, USA

problem #456

Feb 172011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,000 miles


It is very aggravating to leave home and arrive at work to find the rear panel under the rear window completely split up and down at no fault of my own. I AM FURIOUS! Helllooo Ford! Issue a recall or you have forever lost a true blue Ford fan and customer!

- , Bowie, MD, USA

problem #455

May 052006

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Sounds like everybody else. crack along the ford emblem below back window. I've seen about every ford explorer in my town with the same problem!!!!! Big surprise!!!

- , Burlington, IA, USA

problem #454

Jun 012010

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,500 miles

Annoying and very noticeable vertical crack below the rear window.... I have noticed more than 6-10 in my travels. Where is the recall for this!!

- , Bow, NH, USA

problem #453

Jan 102011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

also have rear cracked panel and i have sen three other explorers with same problem parked around town, arrgghhhh!

- , Cloverdale, CA, USA

problem #452

Dec 082010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles


I have a 2000 Chevy pickup that I bought in 2002 with 32000 miles on it .I have always washed it weekly and had serviced every 3000 miles.Have never gotten a rust spot or had any expense other than tires and brakes.I bought a 2004 explorer in 2006 with 33000 miles on it.This explorer has had the same care but I have had problems with the panel under the rear glass breaking,trans.problems,paint on the hood falling off,and wheel bearings going out.This vehicle has 15000 less miles on it then my pickup.It will be traded in on another vehicle before my truck and it won't be a Ford!

- , Cascade, IA, USA

problem #451

Aug 022010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Wonder how much a dealer discounts this on a trade in?

- , Vp, IL, USA

problem #450

Feb 072011

Explorer XLS 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,670 miles

I have had my Explorer for about 2 years now, so far i have had to fix the transmission because when you buy a Ford expect the transmission to blow> if that wasn't bad enough this Feb I noticed the rear panel on the left side of the logo was split straight down the entire panel, if that wasn't enough of an eye sore the tailgate hatch handle(the plastic piece that covers the trunk handle) cracked right off as well. I have tried to find an economical way to repair the pieces but as per usual the pieces aren't available for my vehicle unless you spend $700 at a ford service center. in a recession like ours i am opting to wait for a recall to fix the problems!!! As it stands now I will never buy another Ford Ever!!!!!!

- , Bristol, RI, USA

problem #449

Apr 262011

Explorer Eddy Bouer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,951 miles

My 7 year old Explorer, garage kept, washed and cleaned weekly, waxed monthly, looks like it is just off the show room floor, WITH A LARGE CRACK IN THE DECK LID by the FORD emblem, how to show off your FORD, "CRACKED"

Update from May 17, 2011: Ford Program $$$ ran out!

Update from Jun 21, 2011: I called Ford thy said they had a program out last year but the funds were used up!

What about the rest of us! I did not brake it, it cracked due to a manufacturing defect that does not stand up. If they had uses (a strange work) metal it would not have cracked!l It may have corroded, warped, plastic in our hot sun in Florida does not stand up. They should fix this eye sore! Not a good advertisement for FORD. May be a good place to plant a LEMON not wax to have a shiny cracked deck lid>

Update from Aug 8, 2011: This product is not designed for hot climates. I see most older Explores in Florida have it. 1/8 of an inch wide and getting larger!. My EDDIE BAUER is designed for Michigan Only! This is not a wear item. It is made of cheap plastic not engeneered for all climates!

- , Leesburg, FL, USA

problem #448

Jan 112011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,980 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

My vehicle has always been kept in a garage. To find a crack in the back panel was a total SHOCK! Then I go online and see literally hundreds if not thousands have the same problem. I put a pic and a comment on Town & Country Ford's (where we bought it) Facebook page and was told to take it to the service dept. Which I will if life slows down a bit. From what I have read it will be a wasted trip but I will try. IF I get no satisfaction I will contact others and possibly try to file a class action lawsuit.

- , McCalla, AL, USA

problem #447

Nov 212010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

The read hatch panel cracked. I found out that because the panel was installed with no glue under the emblem and on either side the act of simply closing the hatch caused it to crack. I also had them check the hinges on the panel because I read reports about the hatch falling down. I was told that the hinges definitely needed replacing.

- , North Brunswick, NJ, USA

problem #446

Mar 102011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

NOT SURE why this happened out of the blue, not only was it a pain, it took the ford dealership over a week to get the part and took them way to long to fix .

- , Corona, CA, USA

problem #445

Nov 012010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

What else will go wrong with this EXPLORER! Why does an exterior panel just crack in half...Wife has started taking pictures of everyone she sees on way to work.. Picture daily..Major TRANS problem first, alternator, suspension, REAR Diff. ... This is the worst vehicle I have ever owned... What a lemon..

FORD Fix Or Repair Daily.

- , Warrenton, VA, USA

problem #444

Feb 022011

Explorer ATS

  • 120,000 miles

I am very upset about this rear panel cracking. I could not imagine how this happened . Yesterday morning as I was driving to work I stopped at a stoplight and noticed there was a Ford Explorer identical to mine with the very same crack, even the same shape and place of the crack. I am sure Ford is aware of this defect and I plan to contact them. I think this is a shame...I just finished paying for mine.

- , Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #443

Jan 032011

Explorer Limited 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,922 miles

your back panel should not crack unless there is a recall for this problem

- , Pittsburgh, PA, US

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