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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
55,446 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 3 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #40

Nov 272009


  • 61,000 miles


Cracked tailgate panel where "Ford" emblem is. Cracked while vehicle was sitting in driveway. Have noticed a lot of other Explorer with same cracks. I believe it's defective materials being used and Ford should take care of the problem.

- St Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #39

Feb 012009


  • miles
Paint on the roof of my vehicle has peeled off only to reveal rust. Of course, the warranty states that if there is no perforation then not their fault if more than 60 months have passed.

- Stone Mountain, GA, USA

problem #38

Sep 012009


  • 62,000 miles
Cracked rear panel below window, this crack one day, no apparent reason.

- Newcomb, NY, USA

problem #37

Sep 112009


  • 86,000 miles


Ford designed a plastic piece of molding that is glued to the back glass of every Explorer. This has cracked on every Explorer I have seen. It has been fixed once by Ford, but it has broke again. I assume that if it has broke every two years so far, it will continue to break. Ford has refused to fix this defect.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #36

Sep 272009

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 76,356 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. He stated that his vehicle developed a vertical crack in the plastic tailgate which is attached to the rear glass. The crack appeared to the left of the Ford emblem. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and they stated that they would repair it at the owners expense with a discount. The dealer also stated that the warranty does not apply. The upper part of the glass is made of fiber glass and the bottom is made of metal. The contact stated the material is defective and that he was not aware that fiber glass was included. The cold weather could cause the crack in the window to expand. The failure and current mileages were 76356. Updated 10/20/09 the consumer stated the crack is at the center of the emblem as well as in the fiber glass part, not the glass. Updated 10/22/09.

- York , PA, USA

problem #35

Sep 072009


  • 55,000 miles
My 2004 Explorer developed a vertical crack in the plastic tailgate attached to the back glass. Crack appeared to the left of the Ford emblem. Once the crack appeared it eventually started to move down the plastic piece, was visible on my vehicle for approximately 5 months. On September 7, 2009 as I was driving down the highway and my back glass shattered and the plastic tailgate piece unattached itself at the sides from the vehicle. Very dangerous. Could have affected other drivers on the road had someone been behind me. I also have a 3rd row seat in vehicle which was not in use at the time or they could have been hit be debris as well.

- Independence, MO, USA

problem #34

May 012009


  • 80,000 miles


My vehicle is a 2004 Ford Explorer - eddie bauer. In may of 2009 the paint began to bubble in places along the front of the hood. These spots became larger and eventually the paint chipped off, revealing a corroded bare aluminum surface. The hood is not metal, therefore it can not rust. It must be a paint defect.

- Florissant, MO, USA

problem #33

Jun 022009


  • miles
I have 2004 Ford Explorer. I have a cracked panel below the rear window, it cracked in two places. While driving that piece can fall off and hit a person walking or hit the car behind, which would result in paying the other person for damages or hospital bills. This problem or defect, recall which ever you want to call it, Ford hasn't done anything about it so far. There are numerous people with the same vehicles, with the problem. I thought can bring this up to your company and see where this goes. Thank you for time hope to hear that this can be resolved.

- St. Cloud, FL, USA

problem #32

May 252009


  • 70,000 miles
I have a 2004 Ford Explorer. I have two complaints with this vehicle. The first is that the back gate cracked from the window. The second complaint is that my truck is making a loud thump in reverse, and after I put it in drive after being in reverse, the transmission is slipping making it dangerous to pull out into traffic. I was almost hit twice pulling into traffic from the engine slipping.

- Coraopolis, PA, USA

problem #31

Apr 042009


  • 73,069 miles
Noticed my 2004 Ford Explorer had a crack in the plastic panel under the rear window when I was washing it in my driveway. Not sure if this is a recall but I see about 100 others have filed a complaint about it. It should be a recall.

- Auburndale, FL, USA

problem #30

Oct 042008


  • 62,000 miles


Crack in panel under back glass.

- Bristow, OK, USA

problem #29

Jan 142008


  • miles
All of the paint on my 2004 Ford Explorer is falling off just on the roof.

- Bridgeville, PA, USA

problem #28

Nov 262008


  • 76,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer with the back plastic door been split in half, it looks like this is happening to a lot of Ford Explorer, we have taken the truck to the dealer. The problem is not on a recall and it will be on our own expenses.

- Columbia, MD, USA

problem #27

Mar 092009


  • 75,473 miles
Paint cracked and peeling on both sides of roof rack. Dealer was notified and said there wouldn't be any problem in submitting the claim on the paint. After my research and a month of run around the dealer finally acknowledged there was a paint problem. I was told by dealership that I was wasting my time on the claim because Ford was not going to back it's vehicle up..what a waste of time and money on my part. Ford will never see my business again!!! I hope this goes along with alot of other people concerning this matter!!

- Irwin, PA, USA

problem #26

Jul 202008


  • miles
Went into my garage to get into my Explorer and noticed a cracked panel below rear window. Seen other Ford SUV's with same cracked panel by the Ford emblem on rear panel. Called Ford and asked if there was a recall on this and they told me no and refused to help me get the problem fixed. I did nothing. The crack just came out of no where. It wasn't something I did. Its a manufacture problem seeing that there is other SUV just like mine with the same problem and a crack in the exact same area!

- Bethel, OH, USA

problem #25

Sep 142006


  • 40,000 miles
Paint is peeling on the roof of my 2004 Ford Explorer. Went to the dealer where I bought the vehicle and had them look at it. They said I"N 6 years I am only the 2nd person to have this problem" and "that it is not covered under warranty". they would not acknowledge a manufacturer defect or problem. I am just writing here to get this information on record, because it is my understanding that this is not an uncommon problem and that this is very typical with Ford vehicles. Thank you

- Centreville, VA, USA

problem #24

Feb 082009


  • 89,000 miles
I have had 2 problems with my Ford Explorer. 1. crack in the rear window panel, Ford won't fix. 2. total transmission failure, had to replace at my cost.

- Cypress, TX, USA

problem #23

Feb 092009


  • 76,000 miles
On my roof I noticed that the paint is peeling just to the outside of both sides of the roof rack. The paint is cracked and peeling uniformly on both side which indicated it is a defect in the painting process.

- Bloomingburg, NY, USA

problem #22

Nov 212008


  • miles
I wanted to file a concern/complaint about my 2004 Ford Explorer. The hatch door below my rear window has cracked. I am very disappointed in this as I have seen and found on the internet that this is very common in this make and model. Ford has no recall on this to my knowledge and should investigate the commonness of this problem and do right by their customers. Thank you,

- Angleton, TX, USA

problem #21

Oct 202008


  • 58,723 miles
Tailgate, plastic which run around "Ford" the width of the gate cracked. Cold weather the crack gets large, hot weather it closes up. It cracked on its own.

- Winnabow, NC, USA

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