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 34 of 39)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #103

Oct 222008

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,500 miles





- , Turnersville, NJ, USA

problem #102

Nov 032008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles

Noticed it after a trip to the supermarket. Its grown from about an inch to the full depth of the panel. On hot days you don't notice it, on cold days it looks like a gaping hole!

- , Seabrook, TX, USA

problem #101

Nov 012008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

It looks like I'm not alone with this stupid Ford defect (see pic). How many complaints does it take to get Ford to step up (like a real auto maker should) to fix it?! Because that's what they should do, FIX IT! AM I RIGHT, PEOPLE? FIX! IT!

I guess if the gate was falling off the back and killing people behind you it would be a big deal, but it's just a crack. Nothing to see here, just move along.

Note to FORD MOTOR COMPANY: This is the LAST vehicle I buy from you! Unless, of course, you FIX IT!

- , Scottsdale, AZ, USA

problem #100

Nov 082007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


I like this vehicle, but the crack in the back really distracts from the looks. I have noticed several others while driving with the same problem. I can't believe Ford would let a problem like this go, with all the bad pub they had on the tires blowing. When you pay as much as these vehicles cost, the body shouldn't crack.

- , Tuttle, OK, USA

problem #99

Oct 012008

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

Unbelievable! I'm only sorry I didn't find this web site before I bought my Explorer. The cracked panel is the least of my car's problems, all of which have surfaced within the last 6 weeks. Last week, it was my brakes and rotors: replaced for $900. This week, it's my transmission...and most of you already know about that little bonus feature.

- , Charlottesville, VA, US

problem #98

Sep 202008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

this is bull i just bought this car and it cracked for absolutely no reason at all. ive never seen anything like it before. they better fix it for me.

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #97

Oct 292008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 143,000 miles


This is for all of the men who think that their wives cracked the body of the car below the rear window...not true! This is a problem that we were told by previous Ford 2004 Explorer owners....they were shocked to hear that it had not happened to our car finally did...I awoke just last week to an early morning frost that covered the car...after the car had warmed up I continued down the road to do my weekly grocery shopping only to find when I approached my vehicle to put my groceries in...the crack was there! I am so upset about this.....last American car we will ever purchase....should have known better..we love our Toyota Camry:)

It's great to have access to websites like this..but at the same time up setting to see that this is a problem that Ford needs to be responsible do we get Ford to fix this problem....we were in the process of trading the car in for a newer model...not a chance!!!!

- , Street, MD, USA

problem #96

Dec 202007

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Ford will not fix and now every where I go I see the same model with a crack. My brother has an explorer same model year and his did it about 3 months after mine. I also have a neighbor who has the same problem. If you look around you will see the cracks everywhere on 2004 Explorers. A family friend worked on the Ford assembly line in STL MO and he said it was a problem on the line and Ford knew about it then but did nothing to fix it. Last Ford for me. Be accountable for your product failures!!!!!

- , Wentzville, MO, USA

problem #95

May 182008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,600 miles

Purchased new Eddie Bauer 3/2005, 2 months after 36 month warranty noticed crack. I have extended warrant. Ford Advised not covered and would not cover. Geweke Ford , Yuba City California Body Shop advised the cost is $594.00. I am waiting for the Government to act.

- , Modesto, CA, USA

problem #94

Aug 042008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

I can't imagine with so many complaints why this is not a recall. I thought it was a scratch, but it got bigger and bigger. It now runs from the window to the edge of the panel that opens up. I worry about water/moisture getting inside and causing rust, but I do not want to pay the huge amount of money to replace it.

Even if I did, would it happen again?????

- , Apex, NC, USA

problem #93

Oct 162008

Explorer XLS 4.0L Sohc V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,000 miles


Just like many of the other I have read about here, a crack appeared on the rear tailgate panel directly below the tailgate glass and next to the Ford emblem. I contacted the car shop where I normally take my vehicles for any body problems. They told me this is a frequent problem and that there is nothing they can do about it, if you try to repair the crack, it will crack again on that same spot. They also told me Ford does not sell this panel, that you have to buy the whole tailgate window if you want to replace it. Everyone here know how much that is going to cost, not to mention the paint job afterwards to have it match your color. This panel is glued to the glass, and it seems that there seems to be no way of removing it without damaging the glass. In light of how many people have complaint about this problem, this seems to be a factory problem and Ford should do a recall on these panels to have them replaced/upgraded to one that will not crack. It is really annoying to keep your car looking like new and then have, through no fault of yours, a crack appear on your shiny nicely waxed panel. Stand behind your product Ford!

- , San Juan, PR, Puerto Rico

problem #92

Oct 152008

Explorer Eddie Baur V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles

called ford spoke with a rep by the name of BRIAN who told me that "we at ford can not help you in regards to this" informed me to contact my local dealer ship in regards to this, but this is a common problem--- based on the complaints on this sites year after year you would think if we complain here, knowing we started from the top and landed here, that ford would take ownership-- my next car will not be a Ford but I love driving a ford, -- like i told BRIAN, maybe "ford" does stand behind it's name more then we think "fixed or repaired daily" sad to think this, but I truly feel this now---

- , Phoenix, AZ, US

problem #91

Oct 072008

Explorer Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

well i noticed the crack ,,i really am not happy,,,and does any one else's window just open on its own and the hatch to

- , Wildwood, NJ, USA

problem #90

Mar 032006

Explorer NBX 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles

Happened right after the warranty was up and while I was deployed. Vehicle was parked in garage the entire time I was gone. Not sure how it happened...might have been a cold snap. Took to ford dealer after return from deployment (11 months). They refused to do anything to it. That is what I call shady.

- , Clayton, NC, USA

problem #89

Nov 162007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

2004 Ford Explorer. A crack appeared on the rear tailgate panel directly below the tailgate glass and next to the Ford emblem. The dealer, Summerville Ford, Summerville, SC, informed me that although he sees this problem OFTEN on this Explorer body style, no recall has been issued and Ford would not pay for the repair. Obviously, Ford is aware of this poor design resulting in body integrity failure, based

on the other Explorers I have witnessed on our roads with the same damage and the other complaints to NHTSA and CarComplaints. But Ford is refusing to do anything to correct this failure. I notice the new Explorers no longer have this poor tailgate design. This is damage caused by Ford's poor design and should be acknowledged and repaired by Ford. I keep my vehicles in pristine condition and every time I see this unnecessary damage, caused by Ford, I'm livid!

- , Summerville, SC, US

problem #88

Jul 152008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

Unfortunately, as a single mother, I do not have an extra $500 or $600 laying around to have a problem fixed that FORD should be accepting responsibility for. This is my second Explorer and if the problem would have occurred with the first, I would not have bought the second. This one will definitely be my last Explorer, and probably my last FORD. Hopefully, FORD will accept responsibility and issue a recall on the panel. This is completely unacceptable!!!!!

- , Sheridan, WY, US

problem #87

Apr 152008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,389 miles

I was about to open my tailgate one day and noticed that there was a cracked panel (vertical crack) under the rear window. I went to the Ford dealership and they stated that the car was no longer under warranty, so it could not be fixed unless I wanted to pay around $650.00 ( the part only costs $96.00). I stated that there was no fault on my part, but that made no difference to them. The Service Manager did say that he has seen this numerous times and said that I should contact Ford Canada. I contacted customer service at Ford Canada, this August and they said that this was a complaint that was new to them and that they would record the information, and obviously looking at this website, this is not the first. The service agent once again said that the car was no longer under warranty, so it could not be fixed by Ford. They basically brushed me off, saying that this was a new problem. If this is the kind of service that Ford Canada offers, I will probably look for a different vehicle in the future. What ever happened to "The Customer".

- , North Vancouver, BC, Canada

problem #86

Jun 262008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I spoke with my local Ford dealership that i purchased it from and they said that it is not a recall and it is my responsibility to fix it!!!! But i see on here many people are having this problem and i know of several of my friends that have the same problem!!!!

- , Lakeland, FL, USA

problem #85

Aug 092008

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

My husband and I saw what we thought was a scratch under the back window. We looked closer and the panel has cracked on each side of the Ford emblem on the back. From what I'm reading, this isn't something strange, but rather common. I'm going to contact Ford and see what happens.

- , Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #84

May 062007

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

replaced it once under warranty and it crack again and ford say it is out of warranty.I will never buy a ford again in my life.sorry I will buy a Japanese make car next

- , Lakewood, CA, USA

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