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 33 of 39)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #123

Feb 022007

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,515 miles


I have no idea why or how it happened. Then I start seeing other 2004 explorers all over the city of los Angeles with similar cracks in the rear panel. I don't know if someone is going to recall or if Ford even cares. There is no reason for the cracking other than faulty workmanship. I keep my car in very good condition and this is embarrassing. I don't feel I should have to fix it since it is a manufacturer problem.

- , Whittier, CA, USA

problem #122

Dec 012008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

We bought the car new and have had some minor issues, but this is unacceptable. This is a key component of the rear window functionality and stability. The panel just cracked without any event to cause. We are planning on replacing and hoping that this is a recall from Ford, but as we have found is on us. It appears that it was made of material that shrinks and develops strain in the center of the panel. For now our car will have a smelly crack that Ford needs to repair. Ford...Clean my crack!

- , Torrance, CA, USA

problem #121

Dec 162008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,900 miles

this is bullshit i see these explorers driving around with the same problem i always thought it was because of people shutting the hatch to hard till it happened to me you come outside from work and its cracked.

- , Goshen, OH, USA

problem #120

Dec 152008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


Just saw this morning where my back hatch panel cracked under the window down to where my license plate rest underneath. My sister drives a Ford as well and her vehicle did this last year. I called Ford and they told me my vehicle isn't under warranty and it will be up the dealership. I spoke with the Dealership and have to bring it in but it sounds as if I will have to pay for this out of my pocket which IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Anyone else have luck resolving this.

- , Shiner, TX, USA

problem #119

Dec 082008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

Can't believe this. Cracked from bottom of window to top of liftgate. Has anyone had success with ford fixing this problem?

- , Emerald Isle, NC, US

problem #118

Dec 062008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

We just bought this 2004 Explorer. When driving down the road we heard a pop at the rear of the car. We thought it might be a rock bouncing under the car. In the morning we discover the crack mentioned so may times here. For the last week I have been on the look out to see how many Explorers have this same issue. My estimate is about 80%. Seems like Ford should step to the plate and fix this issue.

- , Clayton, NC, USA

problem #117

Nov 012008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles


Mine cracked too. I just walked out in the garage and noticed it. No other damage, no sign of any "trama" to the vehicle, it just cracked. I don't know whether to take it to Ford and see what they will do for me or just pay a bodyshop to make the repairs.

- , Springfield, OH, USA

problem #116

Mar 202008

Explorer XLS 3.8L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

Here is another "happy" Ford customer!! LOL! I noticed the crack in my back hatch, and I too emailed Ford my problem! I didn't even get a response. Now I see why they are needing a hand out from our tax dollars! I feel like they could fly coach a couple of times and pay for all of our cars. I don't feel that I need to pay $350 to fix something on a 2004 car that is obviously a manufacturer issue! I think that Ford needs to make this right and get on this recall!!

- , Rock Hill, SC, USA

problem #115

Oct 302008

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

The panel on my Explorer has cracked for the second time. The first time at 28,000 miles and now three years later at 57,000. The first time I actually was in my vehicle and heard it crack with a loud pop.

This time I was able to practically watch it happen. A few days before it cracked it developed what I would describe as a crease about two inches long right next to the Ford emblem. I kept my eye on this crease for a few days, suspecting what was getting ready to happen. Sure enough after about 4-5 days I checked it and it had cracked right along that crease. The car hadn't even been out of my driveway nor had the liftgate been used. The first time the dealership fixed it under factory warranty but this such luck. It will cost $375 at our body shop. I have contacted Ford however I don't expect to get anywhere with them. I have driven nothing but Fords my entire adult life and I am just disgusted and appalled at the blatant disregard for their customers in this matter, Needless to say, Ford has lost us on this one. I will try to get rid of this one and then never again, Ford!

- , Fairfield, IL, USA

problem #114

Dec 062008

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

I bought this Explorer in 2004 and had the rear panel crack in 2006. Ford covered some of the costs that time and now it is 2008 and it has happened again. this product is defective, it only lasts for approx. 2 years. When i called Ford they told me there was nothing they could do to help cover the repair costs, even though there are alot of people with this problem. I will NEVER buy another Ford product again. NO

- , Keystone Heights, FL, USA

problem #113

Nov 302008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,275 miles


Correction on mileage when I posted the first time about the rear panel under the hatch window cracked.

- , Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #112

Nov 302008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,275 miles


I was loading my vehicle last night to head back to Baton Rouge. This morning while outside I couldn't believe what I was looking a "Crack". How does something like this just appear after having this vehicle this long? As my luck has it I just relocated to Baton Rouge and will not be able to take it to back to the dealer from where I bought the Explorer. I thought should I just super glue the stupid crack to prevent it from going even further! I will be at Ford (asap) once I get back to Baton Rouge. Is there any point in trying to file a comp claim with my insurance or will have just to suck up the cost to repair such a defect. This is my 3rd Explorer and this is the first time this has happened. Maybe it is time to switch to a different make of car!

- , Baton Rouge, LA, USA

problem #111

Oct 302008

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I think this stinks, I called Ford Motor Company in Detroit and they advised me if same was not under warranty, I would have to get same fixed on my own. I recently went to my parents house near Charlotte, NC and saw several explorers with the same problem, maybe if enough people come forward and complain, maybe Ford will be a true AMERICAN car company and fix this problem

- , Bear Creek, NC, USA

problem #110

Nov 292008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

Just noticed mine cracked a couple of days ago.I'll say something to the dealership where I bought it,but I know they will not fix it because I have 76,000 miles and they will tell me it is out of warranty.

- , Pleasant View, TN, USA

problem #109

Nov 172008

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,000 miles

Add me to the list.. This is the second time the hatch has cracked. I bought the car in Nov 2003 and it cracked the first time 2-1/2 years later in March 2006 at 17,000 miles. It was covered under warranty, but the service manager told me that he had seen the same problem many times - that it was a "defect." I wish I could have gotten it in writing. It never occurred to me it would happen again because I assumed that since they fixed the "defect" the problem was solved. Guess they just added in another defective part. It happened for the 2nd time - 2-1/2 years later at 31,000 miles. My story sounds the same as others. It wasn't there when I left for the grocery store, but when I went to put my groceries in, I noticed it. I called the service manager who knows me well - this is a small town and the second Ford I've purchased from them - and he told me I would have to call Ford Customer Service to see if I could get them to help me... I'm not optimistic.

- , Kailua, HI, USA

problem #108

Oct 152008

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,321 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

Bought the 04 Explorer used 7/14/08 with 82,899 miles showing on the odometer. I had previously looked at other used Explores (some had a crack in the tail gate trim) but mine did not when I bought it. Two to three months later the annoying crack appeared

(note the exact date and mileage previously listed are only estimates). When I took the vehicle in for its 3,000 mile oil change I mentioned the crack to a dealer representative. I was told it was a common problem that Ford would not acknowledge or repair at their cost. I then emailed Ford concerning the crack and a reply came back suggesting I take it to the dealer. Talk about buck passing. Ford apparently has no shame and issues like this turn potential future customers to look elsewhere

- , Lakeside, MI, USA

problem #107

Nov 212008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

I have owned Fords for over 20 years and have been very pleased, however, to have a problem like this that is so widespread is unacceptable to me. It is obviously a manufacturers defect and Ford should replace these panels.

- , Sylva, NC, USA

problem #106

Nov 162008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

I can't believe I found this many people with the exact same problem! I got home from the grocery store yesterday to unload and there it was staring at me. A giant crack in the hatch from just under the rear window all the way down to where the hatch opens. The guy at the dealership told me that "anything can happen to a vehicle with that many miles on it." I say BS!!! You don't see other vehicles, regardless of the mileage, driving down the road and have a spontaneous crack in the body work!!! The crack wasn't there when I was loading my groceries, and it's only a 10 - 15 minute drive home from the store. Ford needs to pay for this. And my next SUV will be a Toyota. No more Fords at my house.

- , Choctaw, OK, USA

problem #105

Oct 282008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles

click to see larger images

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

We noticed a crack starting right after the weather turned cold. Within a few days the whole panel had cracked from top to bottom. The dealership where I bought it says it's not covered under warranty and that it will cost $387 to fix. It's obviously a know issue as the service guy told me they are using "better materials" to fix it. It's BS if you ask me so I will be checking Ford's TSB and seeing if I can apply a little pressure to have it fixed for free. This is a factory defect.

- , Pilot, VA, USA

problem #104

Nov 122008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 31,162 miles

I've had some recent vandalism in my neighborhood and thought for sure someone just vandalized my vehicle, but after reading complaints from other Ford owners I realized this is an ongoing problem. I purchased a 2004 Explorer (EB) and opted for an extended warranty. I plan to call the dealership on Friday, but who wants to bet this is not covered under the extended warranty...

P.S. My ABS light kept coming on and if I remember correctly, that was covered under the extended warranty, so they replaced the switch for the deductible fee.

- , Waldorf, MD, USA

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