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:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
8 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,836 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 6 of 10)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #99

Oct 072010


  • 98,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact noticed two cracks below the rear window on the tailgate. The contact called the manufacturer who offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 98,000.

- North Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #98

Jul 012010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer has a cracked rear panel splitting the entire back panel. I contacted Ford and they will not do anything about it. I think it could be a safety concern as the whole panel could break off by the rear window. I've researched this on line and this appears to be a common issue with my year Explorer. Ford should take responsibility for their faulty product.

- Tigard, OR, USA

problem #97

Nov 092010


  • 56,242 miles
Crack suddenly appeared in the rear panel below the window, from the glass to the bottom of the hatch.

- Weymouth, MA, USA

problem #96

Nov 062010


  • 47,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear lift gate panel was fractured below the glass. The vehicle was never involved in a crash. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer for repairs nor was the manufacturer notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 47,000.

- Spring Valley, NY, USA

problem #95

May 012005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 32,000 miles
Ford 2004 Explorer paint bubbling at front of aluminum hood. Clearly a defect. Took to dealer where the body shop manager said he repainted 70 so far this year but Ford will not take care of it. Asked to meet with the district supervisor. Set up a meeting when he would be in town. He would not even come out to talk to me and sent someone else out to tell me Ford will not fix it because in my warranty it reads, "rust must permanent from the inside out". I argued that it is an aluminum hood and will never rust! I then wrote Ford Motor Company and have never heard back from them. I keep checking for recalls and have seen nothing to date. My wife and I see many of the same vehicles with this same problem all the time. Shame on Ford!! I would like to see something taken care of with this. This is clearly a defect and not something any of us consumers ever did to make this happen.

- Saginaw, MI, USA

problem #94

Oct 202010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
10/20/2010 - spokane, Washington - rear panel under back glass around Ford logo cracked after a cool morning 32-35 degrees. The crack extends from the window all the way to the bottom of the panel.

- Spokane Valley, WA, USA

problem #93

Oct 072010


  • 57,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. On October 7, 2010, the contact noticed that the rear liftgate glass had a crack in the panel. The dealer stated that there were no related recalls. The contact called the manufacturer who stated she might be eligible for reimbursement, if there failure became a recall. The current and failure mileages were approximately 57,000.

- Riverview, FL, USA

problem #92

Oct 152010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 52,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer cracked panel below the rear window.

- South St Paul, MN, USA

problem #91

Sep 202010


  • 74,000 miles
A crack has formed in the rear lift gate panel. It occurred overnight while not in use about 2 weeks ago. I didn't think much of it until I began noticing many other Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer of about the same year (2002-2004) with the same defect. I decided to see if there was a recall, but all I could find was a lot of people complaining and no action from Ford. I don't know how many others have filed a complaint with you, but at one website there are at least 290 other owners who have posted a complaint. If your interested, here is the link:

- Lewistown, PA, USA

problem #90

Sep 132010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • miles
There is a crack in the rear panel under the windshield of my 2004 Ford Explorer XLT. Aside from being unsightly, I'm afraid that this crack will weaken the panel which is integral to keeping the rear windshield seated properly.

- Glen Allen, VA, USA

problem #89

Sep 082010


  • 111,000 miles


Panel beneath rear glass cracks on Ford Explorer. Several reports of same occurrence on internet and 3 (including myself) where I work. Almost all same description, "panel breaks near Ford emblem".

- Franklin, KY, USA

problem #88

Aug 272010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 89,000 miles
Cracked rear panel on 2004 Ford Explorer. Drove it through a car wash and it shattered. It can fly off and hit someone.

- Huntsville, AL, USA

problem #87

Aug 182010


  • 115,000 miles
I discovered a crack in the plastic panel below the rear window of my 2004 Ford Explorer last night while unloading groceries. There had been no impact to this area of the vehicle so I had no idea where it came from. I checked with a local body shop and the estimator told me this is a very common issue with Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer. It was apparently a manufacturing defect and that I should check with Ford. I stopped by the local Ford dealership but the service manager was out to lunch. The salesman I talked to said he saw the problem a number of time when he worked at the Lincoln Mercury dealer. Waiting for the service manager to call me.

- Reinholds, PA, USA

problem #86

Jun 102010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 46,000 miles
I noticed a crack in the panel beneath my rear window in my 2004 Ford Explorer. The crack has continued to get larger since I noticed it a couple months ago.

- Kent, WA, USA

problem #85

May 012008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer transmission clunking and shifting roughly, taking long time to engage cause vehicle to roll back, does not seem to engage for a period of time. Also whines so loud folks in back seat can't hear front seat people talking. Appears each time driven. Was that way when purchased new and dealer fixed it, now once again same issue.

- Annandale, VA, USA

problem #84

Jan 012008


  • 60,000 miles
Defect in hatch area of Ford Explorer causing a crack near the Ford emblem. Happened when vehicle had less than 60K miles. Called Ford dealer who said not covered under warranty.

- Woodbury Heights, NJ, USA

problem #83

Jul 012009


  • 80,000 miles
The panel under the rear hatch window has cracked and keeps getting wider.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #82

Aug 062009


  • miles
2004 Ford Explorer crack back trunk lift.

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #81

Jan 102009


  • 53,000 miles
The rear hatch panel on my Ford 2004 Explorer cracked for no apparent reason. When I went to the local dealer he said it is a common defect. When I asked how much it would cost to repair he quoted me $650 I have seen dozens of this model in my daily driving experience in AZ. Why hasn't Ford made a replacement for all of us who have this problem. It irritates me that they say quality is number one but won't own up to a defect that is replete in emails on line?

- Scottsdale, AZ, USA

problem #80

May 092010


  • 113,430 miles
Rear hatch cracked on my 2004 Ford Explorer.

- Leland, NC, USA

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