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 7 of 39)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #642

Jul 012012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


The PLASTIC panel on the trunk hatch cracked all around the "Ford" logo. It is cracked on both sides, and i am surprised that the middle piece hasn't just fallen off yet. Ford won't pay for it. I see Explorers every day that have the same issue. obvisously it was a design flaw, and since it doesn't hinder the performace of the truck, Ford doesn't care.

- , Harrisburg, PA, USA

problem #641

Mar 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,500 miles

click to see larger images

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

I've avoided American built cars for years due to my perception of poor quality but took a chance on this '04. Bought off the dealers lot with only 2000 miles. Have had the rear end replaced 6 times( all covered by warranty). The tail gate panel crack is the last straw as far as I'm concerned. Was pleased that Ford didn't take a Govt bailout, but really disappointed in how the vehicle has held up compared to our 2000 Toyota, 200k and going with nearly no problems.

All things being equal I'd buy American, but all cars are not created (or supported by the manufacturer) equally.


- , Columbia, MO, USA

problem #640

Jan 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles

When crack first appeared on the center left of the ford emblem, I spoke to a dealership about recall warranty issues. The Service man said that at one time Ford acknowledged the problem and fixed some of the vehicles in question, but that they weren't any longer. He gave me an approximate repair cost then of around $500 and the phone number to Ford's Customer Service. I called Ford and filed a complaint with them only to no avail. Just recently a second crack appeared, now on the center right of the Ford emblem of this panel. I have seen MANY FORD EXPLORERS ON THE ROAD EVERYWHERE I HAVE TRAVELED WITH THIS SAME PROBLEM IN THE SAME GENERAL AREA. I have also seen the panel missing altogether. I have not replaced the panel for fear that the same this would happen again. My vehicle is 10 yrs. old and doesn't even have 60K miles on it yet. I keep my vehicles well maintained and find this problem extremely annoying and concerning every time I shut the back window hatch.

- , Pleasanton, CA, US

problem #639

Jan 062014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 154,356 miles


This problem just adds to the continuing list of problems I have had with this car. I am pretty much over owning a Ford.

- , Highlands Ranch, TX, USA

problem #638

Feb 102014

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,785 miles

Very upsetting that Ford will not accept responsibility for this defect and pay for replacement.

- , Stevensville, MD, USA

problem #637

Oct 102012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

Ford should recall vehicles with this problem and fix it. I see a lot of Explorers with cracked rear panels, this should never have happened.

- , Dearborn, MI, USA

problem #636

Jan 012011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


I bought this news in 2005. Noticed this first in 2008. I complained to Ford, and they fixed it - just patched it up. I think I paid 100 bucks split the cost. Two years later, it came back, even worse. The crack is wider, and it is loose and I feel the window shifting. When it closes, it looks like it is not closed. The interior car light would not go off when it closed so I disabled it. There is a definite gap in the upper window hatch. I will never buy another Ford again. I don't think they can successfully fix the problem.

- , Camargo, IL, USA

problem #635

Feb 022010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Looks like crap . I siliconed the crack as good as i could.

- , Neenah, WI, USA

problem #634

Jan 052011

Explorer XLT 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Took car to dealer was told that i must of slam the door to hard which is a bunch of bull. i have spoken to a lot of drivers with the same problem at the store, gas station, and a few other places. when i see the car when i am driving i always look to see if it is cracked and most of the time it is either the left or right side of the ford emblem. has to be a defect for that many cars to have the same problem. there is a problem that ford doesn't want to address because of the time and money it would cost to repair. NOT MY PROBLEM. WILL NOT BUY ANY MORE FORD AUTOS.

- , Hayward, CA, USA

problem #633

Nov 142013

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

I have a 2004 Ford Explorer -- Two weeks ago I suddenly noticed a crack in the rear panel--there was no impact and numerous comments on the internet have indicated that Ford knew about this problem since 2002. I feel that Ford should repair the problem at their expense

- , Bear, DE, USA

problem #632

Dec 122009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles


Actually noticed this is a pretty common problem on Fords seeing every time I see a Ford Explorer driving down the road I notice they have almost the same crack.

- , Lady Lake, FL, USA

problem #631

Jan 012012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I got cracks on the bar right below my rear window. It looks horrible.

- , Marietta, GA, USA

problem #630

Jun 012009

Explorer Eddie Baur 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Add me to the list of Ford owners who have this same problem. Was just going to live with it until an ex-Ford Service Writer told me of possible wiper blade motor / assembly problems with water collecting inside, especially if it freezes which happens a lot here in Denver.

- , Highlands Ranch, CO, USA

problem #629

Jan 202014

Explorer XLS V6 4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,627 miles

So sickened to discover the crack today on my 2004 Explorer, after reading this site it sounds like there have been many. I feel that Ford knows of this problem and it should be repaired, that is a very sorry part to put on what was a nice looking car. Mine is always garage kept and only has 8600 miles on it. It was my pride and joy and still looked brand new, now I have an ugly crack on the back and understand that it will continue to crack more.

We can only hope that Ford will be made to do what is right. All of our cars are Ford, but that will not be the brand of choice in the future.

- , Lawton, OK, USA

problem #628

May 162008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

Crack in the middle of the panel that goes around the Ford Logo.

- , Detroit, MI, USA

problem #627

Oct 012013

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,500 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

It developed the crack in early fall as soon as we got a little colder weather. I think this is a defect that Ford should cover.

- , Madison, WI, USA

problem #626

Nov 032012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

this is the 3rd ford explorer that i have had this problem with, i think ford should replace.

may not buy another because of this

- , Dennison, OH, USA

problem #625

Dec 172011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

Bought the car in October 2010 used with 94,000 miles and 1 year later the rear panel cracks out of the blue. I drive all highway miles to work daily, but my once "like new" car now appears marred and it seems Ford is doing very little to help with the issue. I mentioned I drive highway miles and since the rear panel cracked, I have began to notice almost every Ford Explorer I see on the highway, also has cracked rear panels as well. This is complete BS that Ford is not stepping up to the plate and replacing this obviously defective part.

- , Greenfield, IN, USA

problem #624

Mar 162012

Explorer SU 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,200 miles

I went shopping and when I left my car there was no crack, when I came back to my car about an hour later, the back part of the lift gate was cracked from the top down to the FORD emblem, around the edge of it and then to the bottom of the panel.

When I got home, my husband called Ford asking about it and was told that they were aware of the problem and they had replaced them free for a couple of years but then discontinued because of the cost to repair them. He then told him it would cost between $300 - $500 to replace it. The last time he asked about it they told him they would replace it for $300 including painting it. Forget it! too expensive and not worth it. As long as it doesn't rain inside the car, I won't worry about it.

- , Loganville, GA, USA

problem #623

Sep 152013

Explorer XLT 4/4 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,940 miles

click to see larger images

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

I believe this problem should have been a recall by Ford, and Ford should have Ford away to solve this problem with the back panel.

- , Maywood, IL, USA

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