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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
27,883 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 accessories - exterior problems

accessories - exterior problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #6

Mar 072008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,300 miles


On Friday the 7th of March 2008 I went to open the tailgate of my 2004 Ford Explorer when the hinges broke and the gate fell off. I called the Ford dealer where I purchased my car and was initially told that the hinges were on a recall. The collision center of the dealer picked up my vehicle and took it in for repair. When I got to my place of employment I had a call from the dealer stating that my car was not on the recall. I called Ford motor and was told that my car was indeed not on the recall and that the recall had been on the 2002 and 2003 models. I felt that maybe the problem had not been fixed on the 04 models as they stated because it was obviously still happening. I took my car to another body shop that was quite reputable and had it repaired at a considerable lower rate per labor hour. Why would the hinges just break; supposed my grand child had gone to get something out of the back, he could have been hurt when that gate fell. I feel that Ford had not corrected the problem of the faulty tail gate hinges by the time they got to the 2004 models or at least not all were replaced with the updated ones. I was told that recalls are VIN specific, but I feel that if you have a parts problem on a grand scale some may have been put on other cars without being recognized on a specific VIN. I think this problem needs to be addressed as there maybe more trucks out there that this has happened to or can happen to.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #5

Feb 022008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
While going to open the rear hatch of my 2004 Ford Explorer, I noticed a crack in the hatch door from just below the window down to the next panel. When I opened the window on the hatch door, I noticed that the left hinge that holds the glass is coming loose. I am unable to utilize the rear cargo area of my vehicle now for fear that the left hinge will break off resulting in the entire door coming off the vehicle and falling or dropping onto me or one of my children, causing severe personal injuries. The mileage on my vehicle is approximately 70,000 miles. Nothing has been done yet to correct this failure because after reading other people's experience with having Ford refuse to acknowledge the problem and the government thus far refusing to issue a recall, my hands are tied. I do not want to pay for the repair myself because I have already been burned by Ford on other issues relating to this vehicle, I.e., the ABS module and the air conditioning system.

- Cypress, TX, USA

problem #4

Aug 102007

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Rear hatchback window panel cracked down the center. The window seemed hard to close, did not seem to align with the latch.

- Longwood, FL, USA

problem #3

Nov 292007


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Rear hatch window dropped off hinges.

- Rice, TX, USA

problem #2

Jan 012005

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,000 miles
We have experienced multiple problems with the electrical systems of our 2004 Ford Explorer along with other miscellaneous problems. The electrical problems have not been corrected to date. In November 2006, the rear window of the liftgate broke off the hinge. We were told there were no recalls for this problem and had to pay for this repair out of our pocket. Today, January 16, 2007 the frame of the rear liftgate cracked in the middle.

- Mesquite, TX, USA

problem #1

Sep 252006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 26,998 miles
2004 Explorer had problems with brakes and windows. Three months after the vehicle was purchased thee was a recall on the transmission. The ABS malfunctioned and the power windows would not go down. The rear hatch door would not open. The transmission began to slam into gear. The rotors vibrated in the rear. Consumer heard a howling noise at 40-55 mph. The dealer replaced the ring and pinion.

- Lakewood, CA, USA

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