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 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
55,446 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 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #60

Jan 202011


  • 74,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear door panel cracked underneath the window. The contact was concerned because the windows were not secure and could fall out at any time. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer stated that there were no recalls. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 74,000.

- West Jordan , UT, USA

problem #59

Dec 232010


  • 110,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated the hatch back fiber glass failed. The fiber glass cracked in half. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that the fiber glass failed due to stress. The contact stated the fiber class was defective. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was contacted but refused to assist with the repair. The failure and the current mileages were 110,000.

- Russellville , AR, USA

problem #58

Nov 252010

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 79,000 miles
Rear panel vertical crack below window.

- Fort Washington, MD, USA

problem #57

Dec 082010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 85,000 miles


I awoke one morning and I found a large crack in the rear hatch of my 04 Ford Explorer. It was not like that the previous evening when I got home. I researched the problem online and found many similar stories. I also found that there is currently no manufacturer recall to remedy the situation. Plastic rear hatch cracked under extreme temperature. Rear glass may break while driving and pose hazard to other drivers. Plan on replacing, however I don't believe I should pay for it because of the poor quality of the original part.

- Clarksville, TN, USA

problem #56

Oct 272010


  • miles
Crack suddenly appeared in the rear panel below the window. From the glass to the bottom of the hatch. Had window tightened.

- Van Buren, AR, USA

problem #55

Nov 112010


  • 93,000 miles
Were a family a Ford Explorer my family has 4 of them ranging from the years 1996,99,2002,2004 and everyone of these vehicles have serious issues. Ranging from rotting suspension parts, to wheel bearing issues on newer models, rotting fuel and brake lines, this is supposed to be an american made company that is jeopardizing the lives of american and children with total disregard of human life, but I bet you the owners of Ford don't have these issues they probably drives foreign haha but seriously someone will get hurt by this and it costing thousands of dollars out of pocket to fix an ongoing problem with these trucks please do a recall its so unfair at this point.

- Hillburn, NY, USA

problem #54

Oct 152010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact observed a long hair line fracture along the panel below the rear windshield. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where they informed the contact that the rear windshield panel would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 44,000. The consumer also stated he had difficulty shifting the gear into reverse. Updated 01/06/11 updated 01/24/11 updated 02/03/11

- Douglaston , NY, USA

problem #53

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 #52

Aug 152008


  • 35,000 miles
Cracked rear panel in tailgate below window.

- Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #51

Sep 042010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 110,375 miles
1. panel below rear window cracked Nov 2009; crack is located to the left of Ford emblem and is the length of the panel. Ford refused to repair free of charge; we did not repair it. 2. this morning tailgate glass blew out while car was parked in our garage and thankfully no one was near it when it happened as glass flew everywhere. Car had not been driven for over 24 hrs.

- Crane Hill, AL, USA

problem #50

Feb 052010


  • 90,700 miles


Have a 2004 Ford Explorer I bought new. It now has approximately 95250 miles. After washing car 2-5-10, a mild day here in ct though wintertime, I noticed trim panel under rear window showed vertical crack most all the way through. Several days later crack had migrated all the way through to bottom of panel. Contacted Ford customer service online 2-17-10 asking if this was a safety concern as had read others had it happen to them as well on various automobile websites like edmunds. Understood before writing it was not a recall at that time. Got a polite response 2-18-10 that though sorry for the inconvenience, I should bring it to the dealer for assessment. I never thought it was bad enough to warrant such a trip. However, I am noticing that the window how seems to rattle when closing if only the window portion is opened rather than the entire rear door. I really want to believe that the window is not in jeopardy of separating from the frame when I'm driving down the road. Can you confirm that other Explorer owners of this vintage have in fact registered complaints with NHTSA as I am doing tonight. Will Ford be asked to make repairs to owner's vehicles for this defect? thank you in advance for your feedback.

- East Lyme, CT, USA

problem #49

Jul 112010


  • 84,500 miles
Closing the glass liftgate on a 2004 Ford Explorer, the hinge pin pulled through the hinge structure causing the glass to drop. While attempting to catch the glass hand was pinned, but no injury was suffered.

- Barre, MA, USA

problem #48

May 102010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
Letter to the deputy administrator from senator burr on behalf of constituent concerning a crack in the plastic surrounding the rear window of her 2004 Ford Explorer

- Windsor, NC, USA

problem #47

Apr 302010


  • miles
Noticed the lift gate hinge of our 2004 Ford Explorer is cracked. We've now removed the glass from the lift gate and are trying to find parts for it. This is a potential danger, not knowing when the glass can crack/shatter. This is obviously a defect in the manufacturing of the part.

- Sun Prairie, WI, USA

problem #46

Jul 152008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
The back panel under the back widow cracked and Ford was contacted to see if any recalls were in place for that part. We were told there was not a recall for that issue. My husband was slowing down to turn into a parking lot and went over a bump. Because the glass runs under the panel, it got stressed and busted. We have replaced the part with another Ford back hatch.

- Allentown, PA, USA

problem #45

May 012009


  • miles
2004 Ford Explorer. Large crack in hatch back between glass and handle (around the Ford logo). This occurred with normal vehicle use and dealer refuses to fix. Crack continues to expand. Afraid that if crack is left unfixed it will eventually cause the back glass to fall out of the hatch due to lack of proper support.

- Louisville, KY, USA

problem #44

Jan 142010


  • 42,712 miles
I own a 2004 Ford Explorer that has just experienced a random crack in the body in the hatchback. The crack appears immediately below the rear window, above and below the Ford emblem. There was no precipitant to the event and there is no obvious trauma to the vehicle. I have had no repairs or problems with this area previously. The Ford dealership I do business with said they have seen several vehicles with the same issue and could fix it for between $600 & $700. I spoke to Ford Motor Co. Who said this is not under my warranty because it is not a recall. I do not understand how a structural defect on my vehicle, not caused by myself or a 3rd party, can not constitute a recall. How can Ford say this isn't dangerous" if a piece of the body were to fly into another vehicle while I am driving or the glass cracks and shatters, there could be serious damage to someone else. Why would a "recall" only be instated if someone were to be hurt? why wait" I think Ford should fix this issue at no charge to me, the owner.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #43

Jan 112010


  • 60,000 miles
Went to open rear door and noticed a crack running down the back panel below the rear window. My Ford Explorer is a 2004 with less than 60,000 miles this should not of happened this is a defect that Ford should take care of. Instead I was told to call my insurance company are you kidding this is Ford problem not mine. It could fall off while I'm driving and hurt someone what is going on in America.

- Cumming, GA, USA

problem #42

Dec 212009


  • 62,595 miles
No accident involved, walked out of my house into the driveway and noticed "the Explorer crack" on the left side of the Ford emblem. Temp was 26 degrees that night.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #41

Mar 012008


  • 50,000 miles
The back hatch has a crack underneath the window in the middle around the Ford emblem. Just I've noticed several Ford 2004 Explorer in this area have the exact same defect. Recall is very much necessary. As well as the car jolting into drive and reverse....I still owe several thousand dollars on this loan and refuse to pay for any repairs....Ford should do a recall on both...they need to hire some Japanese workers since their cars seem not to have these types of issues.....I bought this car in Feb of 2008 and had the transmission problems right after only had 48K miles on it.

- Norfolk, VA, USA

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