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 4 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #20

Dec 232008


  • 64,000 miles


Crack on panel on hatchback below window to the emblem below emblem and then off to the right back to the main crack making a piece of pie look. Motor to the back wiper blade under there where rain can short it out. Also if pie shape flies loose could hurt someone out side the SUV.

- Salem, IN, USA

problem #19

Dec 222008


  • 58,000 miles
Engaged release button to lift rear glass hatch. Glass was lifted and as I reached in to get something out of vehicle, glass fell on top of my head. I was dazed for a few seconds unsure of what had happened. When I pulled myself from under glass, I saw glass was hanging off of one side of vehicle. My husband inspected vehicle and found that left hinge on glass had broken causing glass to fall. He contacted Ford corporate office and was instructed to take vehicle to local Ford dealership where they would inspect vehicle. This was done and local dealership inspected and stated that this was a defected part and contacted Ford corporate office. Corporate office refused to cover this repair. We decided to have other hinge replaced also instead of risking chance of injury again. Cost $80 + several nights of headaches (literally) from injury.

- Orangeburg, SC, USA

problem #18

Dec 162008


  • 38,500 miles
While driving 2004 Ford Explorer we heard loud noise, then noticed the rear hatch door had a 6 inch crack to the left of the Ford emblem. I believe this could become a road hazard to other vehicles while driving. I have also written down other local license plates with same problem with Ford Explorer.

- Mcallen, TX, USA

problem #17

Oct 282005


  • 30,000 miles


Plastic body part just under rear lift gate has cracked in the middle. Local Ford dealer said they were aware of a problem, but Ford has declined action. This vehicle had approx. 30,000 miles when noticed. Ford should have to fix it.

- Jonesboro, AR, USA

problem #16

Nov 012008


  • 66,783 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact noticed that the frame supporting the side/rear glass was fractured. The dealer stated that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 07E104000 (visibility:glass, side/rear); therefore, the contact would be responsible for the repair costs. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were 66,783.

- Temple, TX, USA

problem #15

Sep 012008


  • 47,000 miles
Of the numerous issues with this vehicle, the worst is the transmission (40,000 miles ). same old story. Started with clunking and hesitation and surging when shifting into reverse and now is 'clunking' into gears 2 and 3 during normal driving. The rear drivers side window motor has been replaced twice. The rear window panel has a vertical crack to the left of the Ford symbol that just mysteriously occurred even though we don't even use the window. The truck stalls when the cruise control is applied below 45 miles an hour. My wife and I really loved this truck but like many others we have become embarrassed by our purchase. If this kind of fraud were to occur with any other product we would have some sort of recourse but not surprisingly the motor company's seem to enjoy a certain level of protection. The 'better business bureau' won't even listen to car complaints. Given the severe and ubiquitous nature of the complaints about this vehicle it comes as no surprise that no remediations is forth coming from this organization, the manufacturer or any other. The cost of these vehicles is a burden to say the least and is financially devastating to those of us who purchased them in good faith only to have a 30,000 dollar vehicle become useless and dangerous before reaching 50000 miles. Like all the other 'victims' of fraud, I am wasting yet more of my time by complaining about it.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #14

Aug 232008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 60,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While the contact was attempting to close the rear glass door, the door completely detached from the hinge, which connected it to the vehicle. The failure occurred without prior warning. The vehicle has not been diagnosed by the dealer. The current and failure mileages were 60,000. Updated 10/14/08 updated 10/23/08.

- Exter, NH, USA

problem #13

May 262008


  • 77,000 miles
Paint has started to bubble and peel off of the hood of my 2004 Explorer. I was told by a Ford mechanic they have been seeing alot of this because of the metal used in the hoods- should not be happening for a car barely 4 years old. My old Explorer was much older and never had this problem.

- Florence, WI, USA

problem #12

May 302008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 36,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer rear back panel has a significant crack which came on suddenly. I did not realize that this problem has happened to others until I started checking on how to fix it via the net.

- San Lorenzo, CA, USA

problem #11

Mar 012008


  • miles
Exterior paint on the hood of my Ford Explorer 2004 is blistering and chipping. I don't think this should be happening.

- Pascoag, RI, USA

problem #10

Mar 232008


  • 48,000 miles


Closed the back glass of the tailgate with normal amount of force and crack appears from glass to fiberglass ( right next to Ford symbol).

- Alexandria, LA, USA

problem #9

Mar 092008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I have a 2004 Ford Explorer with peeling paint on the roof of the vehicle. I contacted Ford's home office and was told that their mechanism to repair the defect expired after 12 months or 12,000 miles. The vehicle is not old enough or exposed enough to the elements for this to happen.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #8

Sep 052007


  • miles
A crack has appeared in the plastic panel below the window on the rear lift gate. It extends from top to bottom just left of through Ford emblem. It has not been hit or damaged in any way. It split on its own.

- Greenville, SC, USA

problem #7

Sep 212007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start. She depressed the accelerator pedal and the vehicle started and began to vibrate. She then placed the vehicle in reverse and heard a loud clunking noise. She smelled a strong gas odor inside the passenger compartment. The contact looked in her rearview mirror and noticed a large amount of smoke coming from the exhaust system. She parked the vehicle and had it towed. She then noticed that all of the radiator fluid leaked out. The mechanic stated that the valve failed and damaged the entire engine. The mechanic also stated that the engine needed to be replaced and appeared to be a manufacturer defect. The current and failure mileages were 63,000. The consumer also stated had problems prior to incident with sun visor falling off, gear shaft would not shift into park, engine sluggish, and while using cruise control vehicle would just shut off. Updated 10/22/07

- The Woodlands, TX, USA

problem #6

Sep 032007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,500 miles
Crack in panel below rear window next to Ford emblem. Both rear windows will not go up or down.

- Overland, MO, USA

problem #5

May 052007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,500 miles
Rear panel to the left below the back window, next to the Ford emblem is cracked. The vehicle has not been involved in any accident, it just happened on it's own. After searching the internet, I have found that many 2004 Ford Explorer have had the same problem. I was told it would cost approx. $400 to repair. I think there should be a recall on this issue, as it seems to be a defect.

- Mt. Pleasant, SC, USA

problem #4

Nov 102005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,601 miles
On three separate occasions my Ford Explorer 4door Sport Trac has stalled, because my teenage children have accidentally bumped/kicked the inertia control device for fuel shut off while the vehicle was moving/driving. This device has its own push start button to restart fuel operations once the vehicle stopped. I was on the beltway 495 doing 65 mph the last time it happened. I had to make an emergency pull off and almost got hit by a tractor trailer on two occasions. On 11-18-2005 the dealer failed to cover this device saying there was nothing wrong with it. However the technician stated he has seen several cars returned for the same thing.

- College Park, MD, USA

problem #3

Jun 232004


  • miles
While driving smoke began coming from the engine compartment, the engine bogged down and the engine stalled. The engine ran roughly and smoke emitted from the vehicle. Since the repair the consumer noticed a hissing noise coming from the air conditioner. Air coming through the windshield was the reason for the noise coming from the air conditioner. The winshield was removed and resealed.

- Imperial, CA, USA

problem #2

Jun 052004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,010 miles
Paint is coming off drivers running board. I have owned this vehicle for only 3 weeks.

- Yankton, SD, USA

problem #1

Feb 182004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47 miles
Othe vehicle was received on 2/16/2004, on 2/18/2004 the drivers side running board broke when I stepped onto it when entering the vehicle on the drivers side I stepped up onto the running board and it cracked at the seam causing me to fall back into the driving lane. The dealer replaced the drivers side running board on 2/24/2004. On 2/26/2004, the passenger side running board crack in the same place, this was only the second time someone entered on the passenger side of the vehicle. I am waiting for the dealer to replace this one. Should this happen while there is traffic moving near the vehicle a person could fall back and be struck by another vehicle.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

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