Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. 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 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
84,945 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 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #34

Oct 172010


  • 55,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear panel was cracked by the emblem in the rear liftgate. The vehicle had not been inspected or repaired at the time of the complaint. The contact called the manufacturer who stated that there was no recall related to the failure. The current and failure mileages were approximately 55,000.

- Cumming, GA, USA

problem #33

Sep 062010


  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the panel in the rear liftgate was split. The contact called the dealer who stated that the failure was common. The contact called the manufacturer who stated that there were no recalls and repairs would be at his expense. The failure mileage was approximately 62,000.

- Morgantown, WV, USA

problem #32

Aug 162010

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the liftgate was fractured down the center. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed that he would be responsible for replacing the entire liftgate. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 45,000 and the current mileage was approximately 48,000. Updated 12/21/10 the consumer stated no repairs were made. He believed the integrity of the rear window liftgate has been compromised. Updated 12/29/10

- Glen Allen, VA, USA

problem #31

Jul 102010


  • 78,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated there was a crack on the rear lift gate from the vehicle logo toward the rear door. The contact stated in cold temperatures, the crack was barely visible yet in warmer temperatures, the crack would expand. The dealer advised the failure was common in his year, make and model but was not under recall. The failure mileage was 78,000 and the current mileage 78,500.

- Grants Pass, OR, USA

problem #30

Aug 052010


  • 80,000 miles
I have a 2004 Explorer and I lifted the glass hatch today and it broke and began to fall on my head, luckily I reacted and grabbed it before it knocked me out. I had to get help because it was to heavy for me because I have a bad back, had surgery and was afraid that I was going to re damage. I had to have my husband come up there while we held it because struts would not fold it in. Took it to Ford and am being charged a diagnostic charge to diagnosis it I am not sure that is needed, and parts are going to be $155, and I was told that they are not responsible for the window if it breaks! parts are not available they said they will order. I have no car, no warranty, and a sore back from another problem Ford is aware of but refuses to accept responsibility for. Thank god it did not hit my 11 year old in the head or neck this could be very dangerous even deadly.

- Harrison Township, MI, USA

problem #29

Jan 012010


  • 34,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear lift gate panel was cracked below the glass and the vehicle had never been involved in any accidents. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealership where the contact was informed that the failure was known but she would be responsible for repair costs. The vehicle had not been repaired at the time of the complaint. The failure mileage was approximately 34,000. The current mileage was 35,373.

- Raven, VA, USA

problem #28

May 282010


  • 118,000 miles


On Friday, May 28, 2010 my husband attempted to open the liftgate on our 2004 Ford Explorer when the glass separated from the vehicle and landed in his hands. It did not shatter because he was holding onto it. Upon inspection, we discovered that the left hinge that connects the liftgate to the vehicle had snapped. The liftgate is currently hanging on the right hinge as we do not have the resources at this time to have it repaired. I have since learned that investigation of the same part was opened in June 23, 2004 and closed on October 24, 2008. Although on page 12 of the response to NHTSA Ford Motor Company admits that this failure is caused by "the use of non-optimal coating on the steel pin that joins the two zinc die-cast sections of the hinge", the company assumes no financial responsibility in covering the repairs because no recall has been issued. I urge you to take a proactive approach to this issue as it could cause serious injury and there are numerous complaints from consumers who are not aware that they can report them to this Agency.

- Newark, NJ, USA

problem #27

May 012005

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 52,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated the plastic lining under the tailgate window was cracked. The manufacturer was contacted several times but would not provide any assistance. The dealer advised they were aware of the failure however they were not liable for the failure without a recall. The contact stated that every year and model of his vehicle that he has observed exhibits the same failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were approximately 52,000. Updated 07/23/10

- Naples , FL, USA

problem #26

Mar 012009


  • 87,000 miles
Liftgate glass applique cracked.

- Burlington, NC, USA

problem #25

Nov 012008


  • 56,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the plastic underneath the window of the rear liftgate has cracked. The manufacturer stated that the failure was not covered under warranty; therefore, the contact would have to pay for the repairs. She feels that this is a safety issue because the frame around the window could crack and cause the window to fall out. The current mileage was 79,900 and failure mileage was 56,000.

- Spring Hill, FL, USA

problem #24

Dec 202008


  • 80,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear panel was cracking on her vehicle near the Ford emblem. The manufacturer could not assist with the repairs. The motor for the rear windshield wipers caused the rear panel to crack. The current and failure mileages were less than 80,000.

- Laguna Niguel, CA, USA

problem #23

May 302009


  • 54,283 miles
Failure of the lift gate hinge pin.

- Endicott, NY, USA

problem #22

Apr 042008


  • 55,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact noticed a crack on the rear liftgate panel. The manufacturer advised him to take the vehicle to the dealer for inspection. The failure mileage was 55,000.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #21

Mar 072009


  • 67,564 miles
Ford Explorer lift gate panel cracked I have not replaced it yet I see a lot of these on the road since my has cracked.

- Miamisburg, OH, USA

problem #20

Jan 172009


  • miles
I take very good care of my 2004 Ford Explorer. When I was hand washing it I noticed a crack in my back hatch.

- Dardanelle, AR, USA

problem #19

Nov 112008


  • miles
The trim panel below the rear hatchback window has cracked. According to internet sources, this is common for the make and year of our Ford Explorer. There have been hundreds of complaints and appears to be a factory defect. The crack appears on it's own without impact of any kind.

- Battlefield, MO, USA

problem #18

Jan 062009

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact noticed a crack on the rear hatch and near the emblem. The dealer stated that nothing could be done. There was no recall; however, a service bulletin was available for the vehicle. The failure and current mileages were unknown. Updated 03-09-09 updated 03/12/09.

- Albemarie, NC, USA

problem #17

Nov 182008


  • 49,000 miles
The plastic below the glass on my rear hatch- 04 Ford Explorer. I have gone through two dealers and I have spoken with over 10 people and this includes service managers. I have only 49,000 miles on my vehicle and every day I drive around and I see this problem. They say it is not a safety defect, but what happens when a 2" by 3' piece flies off and a old lady swerves into a semi. Now look what it will cost. If this was an isolated case I would have no problem. If nothing is done in the next week, I am currently in the process of photographing everyone that I see. Then I am going to trouble shooter tv. And I want people to see why you should never buy a Ford. There is no wonder they need a bail out. If I choose to run my business to the ground, I don't get government assistance. Ford Motor Company what a joke. Please never buy one. When a company makes a mistake admit it and people will respect you. Look at what a $200 piece of plastic can cost you. Just google the problem and you can see it is not isolated.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #16

Apr 112008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,985 miles
My 2004 back rear window panel cracked- defective panel from Ford, approx every Ford Explorer has the same problem and Ford will not recall as a mfg defect you can find hundreds of complaints for the same problems on all Ford Explorer 2002 to 2005.

- Lakeside, CA, USA

problem #15

Jun 022006

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
A crack appeared above and below the Ford emblem on the back flip up window at approx 50,000 miles.

- Salisbury, NC, USA

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