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 36 of 39)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #62

Sep 012007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles


2004 Ford Explorer XLT 42000 miles same problem with rear panel cracked next to ford plate, I think ford needs to recall this problem and get it fixed right,if they don't take action to this matter, we the costumers need to get together and go to ford dealerships and alert new costumers about ford's poor quality, I should stay with CHEVROLET

- , Waxahachie, TX, USA

problem #61

Feb 122008

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

click to see larger images

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

Well, it looks like I can join the 2004 chapter of the Ford Explorer "Butt-Crack" club. I Went to the store, no crack when loading groceries, drove 2 miles home and there it was, the famous cracked panel above and below the emblem. I hate to waste money fixing this only to have it happen again.

I have created a flicker group account where we can all post pictures of our "Butt-Cracks". Maybe if we all post pictures it will get Fords attention and/or we can email the link when sending a complaint to customer service.

- , Orange Park, FL, USA

problem #60

Feb 222008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

It is ridiculous the number of Explorers that have this problem and Ford should definitely recall their defective product.

- , Gainesville, GA, US

problem #59

Feb 202008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,000 miles


Well, let me add my two cents. My 2004 Ford Explorer developed a crack on the rear hatch just below the window. Called Ford and they said they could do nothing. Too bad. Then I talked to a body shop guy and he says it will cost $300. Like everyone else here Ford assumes no responsibility for the crack. Probably won�t buy a Ford again. Doesn�t bother them.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #58

Apr 242007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

I bought my vehicle in May 2006. I just happened to Google 2004 Ford Explorer complaints and found that I was not the only person that has this problem. This morning when I was leaving to go to work, I noticed the crack under the rear panel. It curves along the left of the Ford logo and extends diagonally to the end of the panel. I have not researched to see if a dealer will repair it without it being at my expense. However I seriously doubt it because I am beyond the 50,000 mile warranty. If that is the case, then it can just remained cracked and hopefully it will not worsen. My only concern is that water may seep into the crack and collect inside the hatch/door. Has anyone had that happen?

- , Natchitoches, LA, USA

problem #57

Mar 032008

Explorer EX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

This is a flaw in manufacturing and should be fixed by Ford. I have called customer service and I was told by a supervisor by the name of Randy "There is nothing more we can do for you here at Ford." Not a very customer service statement. If Ford does not do the right thing here and fix this issue, it will determine if I purchase another Ford. I have had Ford autos for many years and currently my family owns many trucks. I did not pay $30,000.00 for a vehicle to have the body start exploding. I was told by a dealership this was a known problem and they did not know why Ford did not recall the vehicles. They kept the part in stock but I was over the mileage. I am not sure what mileage has to do with a manufacturing flaw on Ford's part. This is most disturbing to me as a customer.

- , Burlison, TN, USA

problem #56

Jan 012008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


I see I'm not the only one. And it wasn't until my rear Liftgate applique cracked that I noticed the many others out there on the road with similar cracks. I got no results from the Ford dealers in SoCal (Oxnard, Santa Paula & Ventura) as they all play ignorant on this issue. It amazes me how these service managers look surprised when they see the crack. Ford should take full responsibility and come up with a solution to remedy this obvious defect. I realize it is not a safety issue however, the pride and integrity of "Built Ford Tough" should hold water. These ugly cracks are located next to their Ford emblem for every person to see and judge. I own three Fords and I am sorry to say that I am leaving the Ford family for another company. May I suggest a fiberglass or composite material cover 24" in length painted black or color-coated with a new emblem that could be placed over these cracks (similar to the tailgate covers on Nissan Titans). Thanks for listening, I feel better.

- , Oak View, CA, USA

problem #55

Mar 032008


  • Manual transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I have owned Fords for several years and I am so disappointed in their customer service. I was on the phone and looking up the issue on-line and I couldn�t believe how many complaints. The customer service person basically told me no one was complaining and when I told him I was on-line looking at the complaints he basically told me I need to go to a dealership and work it out with them. Oh, yeah this is not cause for a recall because it is not endangering anyone. I told him what will happen if the window cracks while I am driving and it shatters, will that be cause for a recall or a major law-suit. I should not have to pay for something the manufacture is responsible for. Oh, he told me Ford is improving their cars every year. Good luck with that, this is the last time I will buy a Ford or have one in my drive way again. Please pursue this issue to the highest, because I will there riding them.

- , Harker Heights, TX, US

problem #54

Mar 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,500 miles

Ford needs to recall this issue. I have been given 3 quotes. $300.00 Ford Dealer, $800.00 Ford Dealer, $275.00 Private Body Shop.

I came out one morning and found the crack on my rear tailgate. Car is in immaculate condition. I washed the car earlier in the morning and it was cold outside. This is obviously a manufacturing defect!

- , Woodstock, GA, US

problem #53

Mar 082008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,200 miles

I will never buy another Ford. The ABS light is constantly coming on. The sun visor

falls open over the driver side already had replace twice.

- , Colbert, GA, USA

problem #52

May 082007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


My Explorer had not even reached the $50,000 mile mark. Do to a job change, I was not able to address the issue right away. Now it is not covered under my warranty.

- , Hemet, CA, US

problem #51

Feb 222008

Explorer XLS Sport 4x2 4.0L Vs

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,200 miles

Just noticed the crack in the panel of the tailgate under the rear windshield. It goes from the windshield to the Ford emblem and then down to the handle of the hatchback. I'm taking the vehicle to a dealership this week and will post more of what I found. Doesn't look good thus far with all the above comments and information.

- , Virginia Beach, VA, US

problem #50

Sep 192007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,091 miles

After the piece under my tailgate window cracked took it to ford. they said it happens all the time but they were not responsible because warranty had just expired. I had just bought car a few weeks before. And we did nothing to make happen. A week weeks after that ai was in a drive through and saw the explorer in front of me had the same problem. I got out of my car and talked with the lady in the explorer in front of me. She said her car and her son's exact same model had both done that. Tell me if you are making crap how con it not be their responsibility when it breaks. (over and over)! I want it RECALled. I can't afford to get it fixed... about $400.00

- , Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #49

Sep 202007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

I have owned 3 explorers, and have passed them on to other family members. I have always felt good knowing that they were in good working condition and the body had been taken care of. I was looking forward to giving my 2004 explorer to my son this year for his birthday.I came home from a trip, and my wife said, what did you do to the car. I looked and there was a crack on the back panel around the ford logo on the tailgate. I went to the local dealership and I got know where. They said that it looked like it had been hit, or been slammed shut to hard. They quoted $450.00 to fix it. I shopped around to other autobody places, they then told me this wasn't the only one of these they had seen in recent months. I too started to notice, I wasn't the only explorer out there with a (CRACK). I called Ford, and got the same run around. They know there is a problem. I would like to see them set up to the plate and fix the problem. I even noticed a explorer on the way to work for sell with a (CRACK) I called the # and told them to complain also.

- , Layton, UT, USA

problem #48

Jan 292008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

This just happened and I haven't had a chance to fix it yet, but it already is a pain in the ass. By they way....pain in the ass (a 5 rating) sounds much worse than really awful (a 5 rating).

The crack is deep. I imagine I got it from using my rear window defrost on a cold, cold day. But that's how you get frost off the window. Frost usually happens on cold days. If this problem is due to a design flaw (which it is) Ford should fix it.

I guess I'll just trade it in for a Saturn Outlook. Better quality.

- , Cabot, AR, USA

problem #47

Jan 302008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I just found this yesterday. I'd never heard of the body of a car just cracking, but clearly from this it's a common problem. I'm going to point it out to the dealer, but don't expect any help. The crack goes from the window past the logo all the way down, with a second smaller crack from the window to the first crack in a sort of y. I've had other annoying problems with my 2004 Explorer (gas gauge not resetting, sun visors had to be replaced because little plastic part holding it in breaks). My service guy at the dealership acknowledges some shoddy manufacturing. I think I've bought my last American car. That's really sad.

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #46

Jan 282008

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

Everytime I see an Explorer on the road I take a moment to check if my problem exists with their vehicle. I've noticed over 20 such instances. Ford Quality one....I don't think so.

- , Kathleen, GA, US

problem #45

Jan 252008

(reported on)

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

Just wanted to update everyone on my Explorer. Ford Dealership in San Antonio is going to fix the crack on the back window of my Explorer. They are going to to pay 80% and I'm going to pay 20%. My costs is only $100.00. I'm happy that they are going to fix this problem. Now that they are working with me, I'll buy another car from Ford.

Belinda S.

Lakehills, Texas

- , Lakehills, TX, USA

problem #44

Nov 142007

Explorer ES 3.4V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,685 miles

From what I've seen, this is a "MUST RECALL" problem and it should be fixed by dealers.

- , Caguas, PR, Puerto Rico

problem #43

Nov 152007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,000 miles

I don't know if I feel better or worse now that I know so many people have the same problems with their Explorer as I do, namely the cracked lift gate! (But also includes the hard shifting and unreliable window motors) I have noticed the newer models have an all-glass lift gate now. So, Ford fixed the problem, but too late for us.

- , Murphy, TX, USA

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