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 37 of 39)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

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

problem #42

Dec 312007

Explorer Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Forward your complaint to the following.

Write to Our Directors

Board of Directors Ford Motor Company P.O. Box 685 Dearborn, MI 48126-0685 U.S.A.

- , Gallatin, TN, USA

problem #41

Jan 052008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

I noticed when I was returning to my car from shopping that the rear panel below the window was cracked. I looked to make sure that nothing hit me as I was in a parking lot and never noticed it before but found no dents/dings around the crack. I have not called the dealership as I am out of warranty and have decided if I do get it fixed I will be taking it to a local bodyshop to hopefully get a better deal. I am completely fed up with Ford as this is not the first problem I have had with this vehicle which was brought brand new.I am and have vowed my next SUV purchase will be a Toyota.

- , Louisville, KY, US

problem #40

Jan 022008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles


My tail gate cracked yesterday. It was fine when I went into a store, came out, and it was cracked. It was the coldest weather we have had in Tampa a very long time but that is no excuse. My husband has a 2002 Explorer and this tail gate cracked months ago. Mine has an extended warranty but they are saying it is not covered. Obviously this is a known defect and Ford should be covering the cost.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #39

Dec 192007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,500 miles

I have a 2004 Ford Explorer that has a cracked panel in the back. It starts at the window and goes around the ford emblem. I am not exactly sure when it happened but we had a day of cold weather and it was right about that time I noticed it. I have called the dealership and they told me it would be around $300.00 to fix it. I called Ford to see if they would fix it since this is a defect with their vehicles. They said they talk to the dealership that I bought it from and they have said they would give me a 20% discount how thoughtful of them!! I have seen other Explorers around town with the exact same crack. I called the State of Florida and they said their is nothing they can do either. Please let me know if anyone has any more information. I am going to check into this further.

- , Stuart, FL, USA

problem #38

Dec 132006

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

We have an extended warranty and Ford is saying they do not cover this. The strip that is cracked under the rear window is plastic and it cracked under the heat of course. We are going to file as many complaints necessary until Ford fixes it. It's not like it's a $100 fix. They charge $850 to replace this stupid piece. Can somebody help me. There have been so many complaints about this same problem on all the new Ford Explorers.

- , Novato, CA, USA

problem #37

Jul 102007

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,352 miles


Closed the rear hatch one day and noticed the rear panel was cracked. The crack has gotten alot wider over time. Ford says it's not their problem and that the rear hatch must have been damaged due to contact with something. Wrong!!!!!!!!!

- , Jacksonville, AL, USA

problem #36

Nov 072007

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles

I'm so upset with Ford Motor Company. I have the same problem with the crack down the middle from the window through the Ford emblem where it opens. I noticed the

crack one morning as I was leaving for work. I took it the Red McCombs Dealership in San Antonio, and was told I had to pay for it. The service department said there were two to three other complaints about this same problem. It's about a quarter of an inch crack, and about 12 to 14 inches long. I was told by a service representative over the phone, that the whole panel was made out of plastic.

Something needs to be done about this. I'll never buy another Ford automobile again.

This is a defect and Ford should replace it, at no charge to the customer.

Belinda S.

- , Lakehills, TX, USA

problem #35

Dec 212007

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

The rear panel under the rear glass just cracked in the middle for no reason. I asked the dealership if this was uncommon and his reply was no, that he'd seen this many times for no reason. If Ford knows that they have a deficiency in their product then they should cover that item.

- , Hixson, TN, USA

problem #34

Aug 072007

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Ford told us this happens all the time, but does no real harm. What sort of company has body panels that crack all the time, and does nothing about it? A company I'll never do business with again...and we were about to buy a Ford F-250.

- , Vail, AZ, USA

problem #33

Nov 302007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


Mine is the same as everyone else I just haven't called my dealer yet.I am an employee at ford motor co. I really hope they make me happy and fix this pos

- , Fisherville, KY, US

problem #32

Nov 132007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

I am absolutely pissed off at Ford Mo. for the way they are handling this issue. Obviously this issue is not small as it ranges from 2000 to 2004 at least! The dealer doesn't want to deal with me and the corp. office keeps saying they will do what they can after I pay for a review of the vehicle BUT they know they will not be able to cover all the expenses. I have been Ford through and through since my first vehicle, but not it is time to go Toyota or GMC all the way. I use to tell everyone how I wouldn't own anything other than a F150, Mustang, or Explorer but the customer service of Ford has ruined my love for their vehicles.

This is about a 1/8th inch crack from right under the hatchback glass that goes around the Ford emblem and then continues down to the hatchback handle. A huge eye sore and even bigger loss on my part when I trade it in for a GMC!

- , Springfield, MO, US

problem #31

Nov 222007

Explorer EB V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,500 miles

As all the others, just noticed a crack on the rear lift window on my Explorer. Have not had any problems until now. Went to the service dept and was told this has happened to others but since it is not a "safety issue", Ford has not issued a recall. This is clearly a design defect, and I should not and will not agree to pay to have it replaced. If Ford won't replace it, then this will be the last Ford product I ever buy.

- , Sanford, FL, USA

problem #30

Nov 202007

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles

Ford needs to add this as a recall. More needs be done to protect the buyer of vehicles

- , Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #29

Nov 172007

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,000 miles

I was closing the upper half of tailgate (window portion) and did not slam or press hard on back and the plastic panel which runs the length under rear window and just to right of Ford Emblem cracked all the way thru and full length from window to latch. I am concerned that this problem seems prevalent for so many years (2002 had 271 complaints in this website alone)...god only knows how many were repaired and not reported. Ford needs to step up and help owners this is obviously a weak point in their manufacturing process.

- , Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #28

Nov 142007

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

Ford needs to own up for their defective parts. How is it that I am being put out of 400-500 dollars, when I can see now that it is pretty common. The SUV is 3 years old, there is absolutely no reason as to why this panel should be split down the middle. It is ironic that it split right down the middle of the ford symbol. I just want to be treated fairly.

- , Bowling Green, KY, USA

problem #27

Oct 012007

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,423 miles

I just returned from my Ford Dealership and one person told me he has seen some of these cracks. When the service manager came by he (probably thinking I was just a woman) told me it was my problem, I was to repair it and the only other ones he has seen were due to baseballs or some other trauma to the vehicle. My crack started small and then spread all the way around the Ford emblem in the back. I WILL NOT pay for this! This is definitely a problem Ford has to deal with or they should lose lots of customers. Lets all keep hounding Ford and get them to do something and be accountable for their product. IF not I will buy foreign next.

- , Spring, TX, US

problem #26

Oct 312007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,721 miles

My wife came home from work this last Monday, and told me that there was a crack in the back hatch. When she told me this, I immediately thought about our annoying neighbors. So, I went to look at the damage, and I notice that it was in the actual plastic molding below the window, past the Ford emblem to the bottom of the panel. The next thing I thought to look for was any physical strike, there was none. So I decided to do some looking online and I discovered that I am not the first one to have this happen. So if any one has any suggestions, or solutions please let me know.

- , Haysville, KS, USA

problem #25

Oct 222007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

FOLLOW UP * I just called FORD, they said that customers have to initiate complaint into FORD @ 1-800-392-3673 -- then, take it to a dealership (FORD) to make complaint & quote in the computer, then-- call FORD back and they will start the process. Now what they said it they are aware of the issue, that more people need to call directly into FORD, then go to the dealer and get an estimate, then follow through back to FORD. They said when they recieve enough official complaints through FORD, they will initate a actual RECALL.

Today, I spoke to TARA, badge # 723---at FORD -1-800-392-3673. Please, please, please call and go to FORD to get an estimate so we ALL can get our Explorers fixed!!!

- , Fort Bragg, NC, USA

problem #24

Sep 292007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

And we wonder why Americans are alienating the Big Three and choosing imports. Here we have an American staple Ford Motor Company and one of their top of the line products, Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer, with a crack on the body panel, extending from the back window, through the Ford logo, and extending to the end of the lift gate. This is an embarassment to Ford and to me as a driver of the vehicle. Also, why should I, the faithful consumer of your products, fork out additional money to correct defects in Ford products? They should be more than willing to offer compensation for such repairs.

I checked with the local Ford bodyshop, "not covered since warranty is out", checked with my insurance company..."not covered since this is a factory defect".

Rest assured..... this is the last Ford that I plan to own. I used to show offense when someone would state what the acronym F. O. R. D. meant(fix or repair daily), but seemingly I have been on the wrong team.

Time to check out the imports since Ford is not willing to stand behind their products and product defects.

- , Winston-salem, NC, USA

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