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:
112,437 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 #11

Dec 132015


  • 172,000 miles


Was driving on the road almost to my parents house when I heard an explosive sound. I look in my mirror to discover that my rear windshield had exploded. At first I thought a rock had hit it but when I got out I discovered that the hydraulic arms had expanded and pushed out the sides of the hatch, which resulted in the shattering of the windshield. My children were in the car but fortunately the glass only exploded into the back of the car and not into their seats.

- Mckinney, TX, USA

problem #10

Aug 012014


  • 130,000 miles
Sun visor bracket cracked and disintegrated leaving sun visor blocking my view. Had to pull over and disconnect the wire and remove visor. 2nd incident, pressed button to open rear glass and the hinges snapped ejecting the heavy glass panel at me. Had a child been opening it, they could have been killed. As it was, I caught the glass panel.

- Haymarket, VA, USA

problem #9

Jan 142014

Explorer 8-cyl

  • miles
Every since we've financed this lousy SUV 08/2012 we've had a clicking noise from the rear and still cant figured out what that is, but the transmission has been slipping and shifting hard, we have replace front left wheel bearing and ABS sensor just a few months ago and the bearing is bad again and the front right wheel has a bad ball joint and the visibility thru windshield is horrible, always have a hard time seeing, cna only see a few inches ahead!!! this car needs serious recalls the air conditioner stopped working in less then a yr!!! and we bought this car with only 68,506 miles!! we already spend over a grand for a fuel pump!!! this car sucks!!! plz help we still owe thousands and everytime we blink an eye it's not safe to drive because of wheel problems!!!!

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #8

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 #7

Nov 282013


  • 160,000 miles
In winter the blend for actuator went out in Explorer and left me with no great so when I drive I have to continue to try and wipe frost off of the inside of windshield it is dangerous to have to drive vehicle in winter and always wiping windows especially with kids in the car there are many reports of this happening in this model and year of vehicle this is definitely a safety issue you are driving down road at night and as soon as you pass a car the cars headlights mess with frost on window and it is blinding not to mention when it rains and the windows steam up and you can't see then either.

- Shermansdale, PA, USA

problem #6

Feb 202014


  • 127,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while loading the vehicle, the hydraulic arm failed and the glass of the lift gate struck a passenger in the head. The passenger suffered a laceration to the head. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was 127,000.

- Delano, MN, USA

problem #5

Jan 012009


  • 65,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the hinges for both the driver and passenger's side sun visors became fractured, making the visors unusable. The contact stated that due to the defect he was unable to reposition the visors in order to block the sun when driving. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified and no solution was offered. The failure mileage was 65,000.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #4

Jun 092013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 139,000 miles
I opened the lift gate window to load groceries when the right side of the window suddenly let go up near the hinge. This caused the right side of the window to drop and then the left hinge broke, causing the entire rear window to drop. I was able to catch it so it didn't break and eventually release the support struts so I could get it into the back of the vehicle. It appears that the fastener near the hinge was corroded through and when I tried to open the window the weight was finally too much for it so it snapped, releasing the window on that side. Fortunately this fastener failed in a parking lot and not on a freeway or the whole rear window may have come off and posed a danger to the cars behind. Ford has already issued a recall for 2002 and 2003 models which used the same hinge assembly, don't know why 2004 was not included.

- Broadview Heights, OH, USA

problem #3

May 312013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 155,700 miles
On May 31st of 2013 at approx. 4pm, after removing some items from the back of my 2004 Ford Explorer via the window hatch, I proceeded to shut the window and I heard a snap followed by the right side (as I am facing the vehicle)of the window fall. I was able to catch the window and began to try and line the window back up and close it by securing it to the locking mechanism at the base. Noticing me struggle with the window a gentleman came over and began trying to help me, only to find that the window would not budge due to the right side (as I am facing the vehicle) shock/support/strut being froze. We could not get the shock to retract which prevented the window from closing. While I continued to hold the window up the gentleman went to get his tools to remove the shock/support/strut. With the shock/ support/ strut removed we could then align the window and close it by locking it into the locking mechanism at the base. I strongly believe that due to the sock/support/strut on the right side freezing up, it prevented the window hatch from closing properly which in turn caused the right side hinge to snap under the pressure. I have not opened the rear window hatch since and will be contacting Ford as to what their course of action will be for such a failure. Any assistance with this issue would be greatly appreciated.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #2

Sep 292012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
4 years ago the plastic next to the Ford emblem cracked right of the emblem on my back hatch. I looked into it and there was 10's of thousands of the same complaint that I had at an average cost of only $800. Then tonight my wife got some chairs out of the rear hatch then when closing it the rear glass falls out of the Explorer because " the aluminum rear hatch hinge on the right side broke" which has an average cost of $300. Mind you the little piece that holds the window hinge on is only the size of an eraser head, both of the rear hatch defects are not under any recall yet many complaints have been filed and or posted via the internet. This is a safety concern to families as it should be to the Ford Motor Company " which seems not to care " and also to the NHTSA as it could be a huge safety issue if this was to have happened traveling down the high way at 70 mph.

- Terre Haute, IN, USA

problem #1

Jun 132012


  • 97,102 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the hinge of rear passenger glass fractured, causing the window glass to shatter. The contact was able to notice wear on the rear driver's side, but the driver side had not broken. The vehicle was taken to dealer for inspection, but no repair was made. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The current and failure mileage was 97,102.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

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