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 3 of 39)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #722

Sep 242011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


Panel cracked right by the emblem with the Ford symbol. Now I have two cracks. Called Ford and they said that there was not a recall for it. I would need to repair and pay for it. Strange thing is...Ford also made the Lincoln Aviator same year had the exact same problem and they did do a recall for that. Not cool on Ford. Not happy

- , Kansas City, MO, US

problem #721

Mar 012015

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

click to see larger images

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

I had heard about this problem and my hatch didn't crack till after this cold winter. But, this is the first winter that this explorer has been kept outside, not garaged. My garaged is under my house and insulated. It never gets below freezing in the garage. I called Ford and asked them if they can help financially with the repairs. They said no.

- , Windsor Locks, CT, USA

problem #720

Jul 032013

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles

Body of Explorer looks great except this! Being this is a problem across the board, Ford should make it right or disclose the flaw!

- , Orange Park, FL, US

problem #719

Jan 012014

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


Ford needs to fix this defective part. I'm now seeing cracked Ford Explorers every time I'm driving on the road or pulling into store parking lots. Why should the consumer pay for what is clearly a defective part?????

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #718

Jan 012007


  • 20,000 miles

I am petrified that these two cracks in my rear panel are going to cause harm to me or someone else. I am afraid that when opening or closing of the rear hatch panel the entire glass is going to come crashing down on whoever is there!!!!

This to me seems very dangerous!!!!!!!!!!!

And should have been noticed a very long time ago...I see PLENTY of explorers with the same problem just in my everyday driving. How could this not be seen as a RECALL???????

- , Bronx, NY, USA

problem #717

Sep 012008

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,125 miles

I drive down the road and see Explorer after Explorer with this same problem, yet when I called Ford customer service to complain they stated there was no such issue with the Ford Explorer. They decided to be willfully blind, even though at least 99% of the vehicles have this very same crack across the back of the rear panel, below the glass window. Ford's lack of action in addressing this obvious engineering flaw is ground for a class action lawsuit.

- , Frisco, TX, USA

problem #716

Sep 132008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,523 miles


Ford sucks, this vehicle has had the best of care, always garaged at night, low miles and the back lift gate cracked and the assholes won't fix it. I only buy Dodge for my two companies now. Chevrolet isn't any better. These jerks wonder why the Japanese and European car companies do so well in the US.

- , Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #715

Oct 012014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

Water does leak through the crack. Ford needs to fix this.

- , Blue Island, IL, USA

problem #714

Jun 242009

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,899 miles

On a sunny June day in 2009 I drove to a country furniture store within 10 miles of my home. I purchase a table for my kitchen with chairs. The furniture was loaded into the back of my 2004 Explorer by the store owner. Within 1 mile of my leaving the store I was startled by a very loud pop. I quickly pulled to the side of the road to check the furniture, thinking a chair shifted. I could find nothing to explain the noise. However later while unloading the furniture I noticed a crack starting at the top of the panel around the FORD logo in the back door. I concluded this was the cause of the loud pop noise.

Shortly afterwards I called Ford's toll free number and complained but received no satisfaction. I have continued to complain whenever the Explorer is in for service at the dealerships in Richmond & Lexington, Kentucky. Now when I'm out on the roads I always check out all Explorers 2002-2005 for the is no surprise to see most of them with the same or similar annoying crack. I take excellent care of my Explorer and believe faulty materials or poor design caused this crack. I hold Ford Motor Company accountable for this defect.

- , Irvine, KY, USA

problem #713

Jan 072015

Explorer XLT Sport 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

Concerned about water intrusion into latch area or other issues due to crack.

- , Chanhassen, MN, USA

problem #712

Jan 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


A second crack has occurred this past weekend 1/2/15. I'll post photos later.

- , Canyon Country, CA, USA

problem #711

Sep 012014

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,800 miles

The crack on the rear lift gate on my Explorer really looks bad. This is my third Explorer and if Ford does not fix this, there is not going to be a number 4.

- , Mission, TX, USA

problem #710

Mar 012011

Explorer LS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

When my wife discovered the crack it was 1 inch long. I was washing the car 2 weeks later and noticed the crack went from the top just under the window to the bottom of the door. Went to get an estimate from the body shop and was quoted $450 to repair. I have not had it repaired yet.

- , Lake Havasu City, AZ, USA

problem #709

Feb 102010

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

There are two cracks in the rear panel that are an eyesore. Not happy with this vehicle. Would not recommend to others.

- , La Vernia, TX, US

problem #708

Oct 012006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

My 2004 Ford Explorer is like every other one I see; it has an open crack on the back hatch that extends downward below the rear window hatch. You cant blame this on the owner or on poor quality workmanship. This is clearly the result of poor design, poor materials for manufacture, or a combination of both. The Ford obviously Corporation knows this defect exists and is widespread; not to know it would indicate an organization clueless of product aftermarket business such as parts and repair sales. Every report is almost exactly the same in reporting. its time for Ford to do the right thing - Issue a Vehicle Recall for rear door replacement at no cost to the owner.

- , Culloden, GA, USA

problem #707

Feb 062012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

First one crack came up on left side of Ford emblem and now another also came up on left side. Both go from top to bottom of small panel just below rear tailgate window. Ford has known about this for years and yet won't do anything about it. I know from seeing other Explorers on the road I have seen and from all the people online that have this same problem. I hear there is a possible Class Action Lawsuit...I would like to know how to become a member of this lawsuit? Randy

- , Queen City, TX, USA

problem #706

Dec 262009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I like to keep any vehicle as long as possible. Taking care of it, maintenance, have necessary repairs done, etc. Usually my vehicles last for years and years. My Ford Explorer is now 10 years old with less than 80K miles. If I had wrecked my car in some way I would have had it repaired. I like my vehicle to look nice. From no abuse or neglect or accident of the owner, the body of my vehicle just cracks! Ridiculous!! Cracked body, what am I driving, an egg?????? So far I haven't had any problems related to the crack in the back hatch, but wouldn't it be expected that water seeping in through the cracks would damage the electronic door lock assembly? It seems the integrity of the Ford Company is nonexistent concerning this issue.

Ford Company had the government's help in bailing them out of financial failure. Now they are producing many vehicles that seem quite popular and the company's sales are up. I think more of their potential customers should be made aware of this silly problem that Explorer owners experience and the fact that Ford just doesn't stand behind their product, pure and simple.

Why don't we design a back panel sticker to cover the crack that reads, "Ford Motor Company doesn't cover the crack that appeared on this door because of poor design. What am I driving, an egg or a big tough vehicle? Buyer beware of Ford Motor Vehicles."

- , Willow Spring, NC, USA

problem #705

Dec 152014

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles

What can you say the Vehicle is ten yrs old the hinges had to be replaced and the pistons as well. I guess the stress was too much and one cold night the panel cracked, just to the right of the emblem from the top to bottom of the panel. I wouldn't waste my time with Ford they will just say how sorry they are to hear of my problem and is their any other way that we can help you.

- , Bradenton, FL, US

problem #704

Nov 012014

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

Mine is not the only car this happened to and Ford should repair

- , Millburn, NJ, USA

problem #703

Nov 062013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

So everyone and their mother with a Ford Explorer XLT 2004 (certain years) has experienced the crack below the rear tailgate window... and what has FORD done... NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!! NOT HAPPY

- , Scotch Plains, NJ, USA

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