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:
75,272 miles
Total Complaints:
763 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 20 of 39)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #383

Dec 142010

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


My husband and I have 2 Ford Explorers. One is a 2003 and one is a 2004. Our 2003 explorer got the crack in the lift gate about 2 years ago. We ignorantly bought another explorer...this time a different model and a year newer. We have owned it a little over a year and a half. I was so happy that it didn't have or get the crack like the other. Wellllll......tonight while putting my groceries in the back I see it!! THE CRACK!! I am soooo annoyed and even more annoyed to know that Ford won't do anything about it. This is ridiculous. Not only do our Ford's have these cracks, but almost every Ford Explorer I have seen has this same exact crack. Does Ford really think this is going to influence consumers to buy another Ford? I know the next vehicle we purchase WILL NOT be a Ford Explorer or even a Ford at all.

- , Williamsburg, VA, US

problem #382

May 012009

Explorer XLT V6 Flex

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

I had no problem getting them to replace the back gate. As long as I brought it in before 100k hit in mileage.

- , Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #381

Nov 052010

Explorer 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles

I think that its ridiculous that all of a sudden that it just happens to cars and no one knows how. My car was fine and then just out of nowhere it has this huge crack and no one wants to do anything about it. I know have paid attention to other explorers and have seen lots of them like that. Just on this website there were almost 400 complaints when i signed up so why is no one doing anything about it. I definitely think this should be recalled or at the very least looked at.

- , Greenville, SC, USA

problem #380

Nov 292010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


I have been buying Fords for over 20 years and my kids and wife all drive fords. My wifes 2004 Ford Explorer is always parked in the garage one day when she got to work she noticed a crack next to the ford sign on the panel of the rear window lift gate. We took it to our dealer and they immediately new what i was talking about, but would not fix it. Their excuses were that piece is under stress and my car was 6 years old. First of all the stress that this piece may be under is negligible at best and the way that this piece broke was not due to stress of installation but by stress from the contraction on either side of a defect(microscopic crack) in the panel. When the temperature dropped as it does quite often here in Colorado, the plastic contracted which pulled it apart and created the larger crack.

So one, the Service manager has no idea how simple physics works and the other is Ford's apparent apathetic attitude displayed by their staff in supporting their customers. When a customer pays upwards of 30,000 dollars for a product they expect it to last more than 6 years. Additionally the fact that they know thw problem exists and refuse to address it for their customers is pathetic. When I started buying fords they used to talk about quality being job #1 unfortunately i guess that ideal has evolved since then. I am severely disappointed in my local dealer as well as the Ford corporation. Their conduct and policy regarding this issue is an insult to my long standing patronage and a discredit to their own tradition of excellence.

- , Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #379

Nov 192010

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,009 miles

My rear panel has cracked on both sides of the Ford logo under the window. It continues to get bigger and deeper. The cracked seemed to happend over night. It is amazing to me that Ford has known it was a problem for three model years and has not fixed the problem.

- , Milton, WA, USA

problem #378

Nov 172010

Explorer XLT 4.6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,150 miles

Called Ford at 800-392-3673 today, it was like talking on deaf ears. The crack in the rear panel is a madder of principle now, and I will let every body know that Ford could less that we have to drive around in there crap. Never again!!!

- , Wellington, FL, USA

problem #377

Apr 012010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles


Well having 6 Fords I was disappointed that even with my extended warranty that Ford refused to repair it. I take super car of my cars,just not fair. Apparently this is a bad design flaw.We bought a Honda.

- , Mattapoisett, MA, USA

problem #376

Feb 092010

Explorer 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,000 miles

click to see larger images

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

I bought my ford explorer new and all I have during this past five years are headaches. now a broken panel on such an expensive SUV.How come Ford has not done anything yet to fix this problem. I am fearful my back window will crack or fall.

- , Behtlehem, PA, USA

problem #375

Oct 122009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

This is very dangerous. I was driving down a very dark road at 6 am and BOOM! The back glass just popped. I thought it had been shot out. The Sheriff's Department showed up and he thought the same thing. But the only thing we found was between the hydraulics on the window itself, the crack in the panel and temperature outside it imploded. My insurance in KY paid for it, but it took two windows and it still isn’t right. The replacement parts aren’t worth a crap. The panels don’t fit right and the plastic panel bulge from the form. I have always been a Ford girl, but never again will I buy a 2004 model from Ford!

- , Central, SC, USA

problem #374

Nov 152010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I take very good care of my cars and can't believe the plastic panel below the rear window cracked for absolutely no reason. The car was parked in the garage over the weekend and when pulled out on Monday morning it had a large crack in the painted plastic trim below the rear window. The crack is all the way through the trim piece from top to bottom in the middle, and is very noticeable. Needless to say it is very disappointing to anyone who trys to take good care of their cars. I would like ford to offer to fix this.

Update from Apr 28, 2013: This is causing a very annoying squeaking sound when driving.

- , Shelton, CT, US

problem #373

Nov 222010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles


I went out to unload my groceries from the vehicle and closed my hatchback and saw a crack below the window. It just happened since it was not there the day before. I have never seen anything like this. I went online to see if others were having this problem and wow, did I find many people having this problem. There is something definitely wrong to have so many people have this same problem. I believe Ford should fix these problems because I don't know how bad this can get. It should be evident to Ford that there is a problem if this keeps happening. I plan on filing a complaint with several different companies until Ford takes action. This crack was not caused by anyone hitting my vehicle. This seems to be a manufactures defect in the vehicle so Ford should step up to the plate and fix this. I know this is going to give Ford a bad name if they do not take ownership in this problem.

- , Oklahoma City, OK, USA

problem #372

Nov 122010

Explorer XLT 4WD V-8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 141,156 miles

Ford Motor Company should own up to the poor quality of these rear hatch panels and recall the affected vehicles. I have noticed that on average, in the DC metro area, one out of every three Ford Explorers in the model years that have these style rear hatches, have the same problem with the cracked panels. This is just plain poor quality / material / workmanship. There is no preventing the problem - I parked my SUV in my garage one afternoon and all is fine; only to go out the next morning to find the crack in the rear panel (vertical, from the bottom of the window to the bottom edge of the upper rear hatch - just left of the Ford Emblem)

- , White Plains, MD, USA

problem #371

Nov 182010

Explorer Limited 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

I just bought my Exp used, the panel was already cracked. I am and energy engineer with aviation background. My 2 cents: It is a poor design where there is a base plastic is glued to the glass and an outer (painted) plasic panel that connects to the base. The glass and the plastic expand and contract (with temperature changes) at different rates causing the crack. If you look at the crack on a cold day where the sun is shining on it, the crack will be small. The darker the paint color, the more radiant heat it absorbs. Thats why some of the lighter colored Exp's haven't cracked yet. Sorry, I guess Ford figures there is supposed to be a crack on our back side.

- , Elyria, OH, US

problem #370

Nov 152010

Explorer XLT 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles

this is the second time that this has happened. Ford replaced it the first time at their expense. I phoned their customer hotline and they refused to acknowlege that it is their defective design and they should be responsible for full replacement cost. This is not an issue which should be subject to a timed or mileage warranty because this part is not a part subject to wear like tires or brakes. it should last the life of the vehicle and not crack. Ford should issue a recall for this part. It also happened to my daughters 2004 Explorer, she lives in a different state.

If Ford doesn't take responsibilty for this action I am done buying their products.

- , Palm City, FL, USA

problem #369

Nov 052010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

The first crack happened in 2009, this was below the rear window on the panel. The second crack happened this November 2010.

- , Natalia, TX, USA

problem #368

Nov 122010

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,242 miles

Noticed the crack in the panel below the window one morning. Really ticks me off because I always keep my car in perfect shape...clean and polished. Called Ford, they said it wasn't covered and there was no recall on it.

I'm now afraid that the whole piece will go flying off and hit a car behind me while I'm traveling on the highway.

Hate to have to spend $500 to get this repaired, which is what the body shop quoted, but I'll have to...since I don't want to be responsible for any injuries if this piece does fly off!!

- , Weymouth, MA, USA

problem #367

Sep 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

cracked panel below rear window of 2004 ford explorer.

- , Tigard, OR, USA

problem #366

Jan 102009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 8 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

how many cracked rears will it take before ford steps up to the plate and fixes this OBVIOUS flaw?? someone said it was caused by too much pressure when closing liftgate? no way this is the case on my explorer. pretty sure i don't have that much power and i have driven jeeps for years and never had a problem like this...INSANE that this hasn't been recalled!! i love my explorer, but this is just wrong!

- , Oak Ridge, TN, USA

problem #365

Aug 202010

Explorer NBX 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

UGH!!!! WHY?!? SO annoying - ever since I got the crack I have seen other explorers with the same crack so I don't feel so bad, but I don't feel this should be an expense out of my pocket but FORD should be paying this.

- , Elizabeth, CO, USA

problem #364

Dec 022008

Explorer 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

Noticed other Ford Explorers with the same issue and decided it couldn't have been my fault. It is a factory defect for sure.

- , Columbus, OH, USA

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