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:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
74,441 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 #17

Jun 302014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 111,000 miles


The rear window latch on the right side facing the vehicle broke off and nearly caused the right side to also break. I am uncertain as to whether or not the hydraulic lift for the window failed or the latch just broke.

- Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #16

Jun 042011


  • 86,000 miles
Concerning my 2004 Explorer XLT. The rear hatchback that opens the back windows has a broken latch. I am very upset that this part just seemed to implode and left me unable to close the rear back window. The garage I took it to said Ford informed them the part was on back order until 07-18-2011. I am wondering if this is going to be a recalled item for the garage informed me it happens quite regularly. Please let me know if I have any recourse or am entitled to reimbursement for the needed repair..

- Binghamton, NY, USA

problem #15

May 072011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 127,000 miles
A couple of weekends ago, the passenger side hinge on our rear window hatch broke. My mom opened the back window hatch on my vehicle & when she went to shut it, the entire window came down on her. Then we could not get it shut. We had to stand there in 80+ degree heat holding the entire window (which is quite heavy), while my 2 year old baked in the car, until my dad & brother could get to the store we were at to rescue us. We were able to get it to shut (though we were terrified the glass was going to shatter at any moment due to the tension on it) & we duct taped it to keep it in place. We had the hinge repaired by our local body shop, & had them replace both hinges to be proactive. It cost about $200. After this happened I did some internet searches & was upset to find so many other 2004 Ford Explorer owners had experienced the exact same problem & I also found out that Ford has recalled the same hinges on 2002 & 2003 models. I don't understand why the 2004 Explorer has not had the same recall when they're the same hinges? this seems like such a blatant disregard by Ford. People could be seriously injured by this window either falling on their head, or falling off while driving. The 2003 Ford Explorer recall was explained as this: On certain sport utility vehicles, the liftgate glass strut may become disengaged or the hinge may fracture allowing the glass to fall and possibly break. The exact same thing could be said of 2004 Ford Explorer. I am writing this in the hopes that a recall can be made on this equipment. It needs to be recalled before someone is hurt. Thank goodness my 11 yr old wasn't the one under this window when it broke!! I did email Ford regarding this issue & they weren't exactly helpful. They basically said, sorry & that there were no recalls on the 04 at this time & that they work with NHTSA to stay on top of areas of concern.

- Stromsburg, NE, USA

problem #14

Dec 032010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • miles


I have had my 2004 Ford Explorer for 3 years now. Today I went to open my rear hatch and the window hinges just broke. Now my window is hanging thereand I don't know how I am going to get them fixed since I don't have any extra money. I think this should be a recall since there has been a lot of complaints about this problem.

- Roy, UT, USA

problem #13

Nov 282010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 102,000 miles
Tailgate window hinges failed on 2004 Ford Explorer. The window fell out and damaged the lift struts. I was not injured.

- Stephenville, ME, USA

problem #12

Sep 292010


  • 110,000 miles
2004 Explorer with 110K miles - developed crack in liftgate panel app Dec 2008. Ford covered 80% of repair cost of $750 since vehicle was under 75K miles, even though an obvious design flaw. Sept 29, 2010 rear hatch window hinge breaks causing door to fall onto my hands and legs...sore but not permanent. Two co-workers had to help me raise it up enough to lock it in place. Dealer repaired for $65 parts in $170 labor. Dangerous and unsafe.

- Newport News, VA, USA

problem #11

Jul 262010


  • 86,000 miles


In July 2010, I noticed a crack in the panel portion of the back window hatch of my 2004 Ford Explorer. I reported this to my dealer, who more or less said welcome to the club, and told me to contact the body shop. The cost of $500-600 would have to be paid by me and there is no reason to think that it won't happen again. I am so disappointed in Ford Motor Co., I thought I could expect more from a local manufacturer. It seems to me that this is something that should have been discovered in product tests and/or trials. Why didn't Ford know that the material they used was not capable of standing up to the use in the area they placed it?

- Frankfort, KY, USA

problem #10

Aug 222010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 51,283 miles
Defective rear window hinges on my 2004 Ford Explorer. I rarely use the window hatch and today I am sorry I did. While opening the rear window it fell on to my head. The brackets on the window broke. I am waiting for my mech. To help me remove the window so I can bring it into to get repaired. I own a 2002 Ford Explorer and it had a recall for the same thing. So why not the 2004, it is the same hinge.

- Oakbrook Terrace, IL, USA

problem #9

Apr 142010


  • 130,000 miles
Rear rh hinge failed on 2004 Ford Explorer, when wife was closing glass hatch, she was very lucky she did not get hurt, because it put to much strain on LH hinge, damaging it almost to point of failure also.

- Metropolis, IL, USA

problem #8

Apr 052010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 74,000 miles
The hatchback hinge on my 2004 Ford Explorer broke yesterday, luckily I caught it before it hit my 4 year old in the head. The same thing happened on a 2002 Ford Explorer I owned before, but that was recalled and Ford fixed it. This model is not included in the recall, but the part is obviously defective. It could have easily hit someone and hurt them, or fallen off while I was driving and caused an accident.

- Uniontown, PA, USA

problem #7

Aug 232009


  • 71,000 miles


2004 Ford Explorer, rear lift hatch failure. The hinge simply broke while the hatch was being closed. There were no injuries but could have been serious issues. The part was ordered and replaced at Ford in annapolis, md for $150. I note there have been several recalls for prior years and investigations for the 2004 model.

- Annapolis, MD, USA

problem #6

Oct 072007


  • 51,215 miles
While opening the rear liftgate of our 2004 Explorer and reaching the max extension of the left strut, the strut became lock and wouldn't retrieve causing the left hinge to come off and the entire liftgate to hang from the right hinge. The dealer looked at the strut and tried to repair it. I requested a new one to be installed since I had serious concerns about the same problem happening again. The dealer agreed and my extended warranty covered the expense. However, my deductible applied.

- Novi, MI, USA

problem #5

Jul 082009


  • 145,000 miles
I noticed my 2004 Ford Explorer has developed a vertical crack in the plastic tailgate attached to the rear window left of the Ford emblem. I took it to the dealership and they recognized it as a common problem with the 2004 Explorer and also warned me the hinges on the rear glass fail often as was the case on my vehicle. Service tech stated there was no recall as yet and I got to pay for the new hinges and holding off on the crack thinking Ford made do the right thing and repair the fault.

- Paradise Valley, AZ, USA

problem #4

Jun 212009


  • miles
Rear hatch hinge pin broke breaking glass.

- Mooresville, NC, USA

problem #3

Aug 012008


  • 66,000 miles
Hinge oh rear lift-gate fractured causing lift gate to sag down and break hydraulic lift on that side.

- Chesterfield, MO, USA

problem #2

Oct 192008


  • 55,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer right rear liftgate glass hatch hinge has failed. Glass hatch did not fall but is hanging by remaining hinge and is unstable or unsafe. Issue same as NHTSA action number: RQ08003.

- Gastonia, NC, USA

problem #1

Jun 022008


  • miles
I own a 2004 Ford Explorer 4X4 XLT. I opened the top portion of the hatch and 100+ lbs. Came crashing on my head. (the weight is from more than just glass.) I am pregnant and almost passed out on my concrete drive. The left hinge broke off and obviously did not support the weight anymore. I was told there was not a recall and was given a $500 bill. I still believe this is a safety issue and there was nothing I could have done to warrant it falling on my head. I guess my question is, "when does a safety issue become a recall?"

- Lima, OH, USA

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