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:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
8 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,836 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 10 of 10)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #19

Sep 132008


  • 41,000 miles


I have a 2004 eddie bauer Explorer and piece below tailgate window cracked from top to bottom contacted my dealership and told me he would go 20/80 I figured that was better than nothing even though Ford should have paid it all.

- East Peoria , IL, USA

problem #18

Dec 032008


  • 71,000 miles
The rear hatch door cracked on my 2004 Explorer, next to the Ford emblem, for no apparent reason. Concerned safety of glass now. Dealer says to bad that they might fix it for around $250 I still have a warranty but not for the body.

- Hayward, CA, USA

problem #17

Sep 152008


  • 46,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer rear tailgate plastic panel cracked by the Ford logo. I've notice other Ford Explorer with the same problem. Also many complaints on the internet. Ford will do nothing!!!!!!

- West Seneca, NY, USA

problem #16

Nov 242008


  • 65,000 miles


I own a 2004 Explorer and a few weeks ago I noticed a crack in the back hatchback. I went to the Ford dealership to ask for a estimate and when I told the service attendant what the problem was, he stated that the cold weather contributed to the crack and he said that it has happened to at least 75% of the Explorer. I asked is it the Explorer only and he said "yes." My warranty has expired and therefore they do not want to pay for the repairs. It cost $350 and when I called the Ford company they referred me to the dealership where I purchased the vehicle and the service manager said" we deal with those on a case by case basis" which to me meant if you still have a warranty then you are covered. They didn't do a recall because if it is not broken then don't fix it. Unfortunately this crack occurred after my warranty expired. I would not have a problem repair the vehicle if it was due to negligence on my behalf or something that I did to cause the problem but this should not have happened even with everyday wear and tear on a vehicle. Could you please assist me in attempting to get the Ford company to repair my vehicle? I am concerned with the crack and moisture or water getting inside and possibly creating additional problems to the vehicle.

- Toano, VA, USA

problem #15

Dec 152008


  • 70,000 miles
This morning present on the backside of my 2004 Ford Explorer back hatch is a crack in the metal beginning under the back window proceeding vertically down to bottom where it stopped above my back license plate. The crack is 8-10 inches in length. It was not present prior to this morning when I approached my car to go to work. Research on the internet reveals 100's of complaints with the exact description. Ford is not addressing this defect since all the vehicles are past the mileage warranty. My sister also owns a Ford Explorer and she has the same crack in the back of her hatch. Both cracks are located to the left of the Ford emblem on the back hatch. Continues use of this vehicle will cause the metal crack to widen, thus impacting the back hatch window making it unable to close properly.

- Shiner, TX, USA

problem #14

Nov 122008


  • 13,636 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While cleaning the rear window of the vehicle, the contact noticed a crack between the window and the handle. The vehicle was driven to the dealer and they referred him to a local body shop. After arriving at the body shop, the mechanic stated that there were several Ford Explorer with this defect. The manufacturer stated that they were not liable for the repairs. The current mileage was 14,136 and failure mileage was 13,636.

- Stone Mountain, GA, USA

problem #13

Sep 302008


  • 75,000 miles


Have 2004 eddie bauer Explorer with crack in the rear gate. Needs to be recalled. I was online and foudn at least 200 people with the same crack. Ford will not replace.

- Mt. Pleasant, SC, USA

problem #12

Nov 262008


  • miles
Long crack under rear window of tailgate, beside Ford emblem, appeared overnight, no accidents, 39,00 miles, otherwise excellent condition.

- Foxboro, MA, USA

problem #11

Nov 012008


  • 57,000 miles
Plastic applique on liftgate cracked while vehicle was parked and liftgate was not being used. This is the second time this has happened since we purchased the vehicle five years ago. The crack continued to spread until now the piece is in two separate pieces. The pieces are loose and could possibly come off while driving which could be a dangerous situation. Ford refuses to fix this even though it is clearly a design flaw in all 2002-2005 Explorer. We have seen many Explorer on the road and on used car lots with this same defect.

- Fairfield, IL, USA

problem #10

Oct 202008


  • miles
I bought it brand new in 2004 and have taken very good care of this vehicle, but it hasn't returned the favor. I have had multiple transmission problems that Ford says that they all do it and won't fix it. My tailgate cracked next to the Ford symbol, once again won't fix it. My paint on my hood is peeling off. I only have 50,000 easy miles on it but looking at it and driving it you would think that it had 150,000 on it. I will never buy Ford again!

- Santee, CA, USA

problem #9

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 #8

Aug 162008


  • 50,000 miles
I bought a 2004 Ford Explorer XLS and just started to notice the paint on the roof is beginning to peel off, which is now happening in two locations. I searched online and did see other similar complaints due to a primer defect in these models. As of today no recall has been offered but I feel Ford should fix this problem. I complained to Ford and they told me that this is not covered under my warranty. I spent a lot of money on this vehicle and plan on using it for at least 4 to 5 more years. I am scared to get a car wash thinking more paint will come off.

- Denville, NJ, USA

problem #7

Nov 162007


  • 48,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer. A crack appeared on the rear tailgate panel directly below the tailgate glass and next to the Ford emblem. The dealer, summerville Ford, summerville, SC, informed me that although he sees this problem often on this Explorer body style, no recall has been issued and Ford would not pay for the repair. Obviously, Ford is aware of this poor design resulting in body integrity failure, based on the other Explorer I have witnessed on our roads with the same damage and the other complaints to NHTSA. But Ford is refusing to do anything to correct this failure. I notice the new Explorer no longer have this poor tailgate design. This is damage caused by Ford's poor design and should be acknowledged and repaired by Ford.

- Summerville, SC, USA

problem #6

Aug 302008


  • 35,747 miles
2004 Ford Explorer rear lift gate glass hinge snapped and allowed glass to fall. Issue appear to be similar to action # RQ08003.

- Saint Joseph, MI, USA

problem #5

Jul 252008


  • 65,000 miles
As I stopped to get gas I noticed my vehicle had a crack right on the plastic along the right side of the Ford emblem directly under the tail gate glass. I called the dealer and was told it is was a common issue but could not do anything about it unless I pay out off pocket for it or the company recall the part. I have no problem paying to resolve the issue, the problem I have is I take good care of my car alot (I own a show style car) and this seems to be a recurring issue everywhere else with this same type of vehicle and I would like to know what the Ford co is trying to do to address this issue? I go this site from a forums site ( ) what can be done to address this issue?

- New Windsor, NY, USA

problem #4

Jul 182008


  • miles
I noticed a paint bubble on the hood of my 2004 Ford Explorer. Is this a paint defect that is causing my vehicle to rust? I would like to know if Ford is doing anything to fix this problem since it seems that many other owners are having the same problem.

- Mays Landing , NJ, USA

problem #3

May 012008


  • 32,000 miles
Just noticed after 32,000 miles and about 3 and one-half years of ownership that paint on front edge of hood of 2004 Ford Explorer is blistered in several places and beginning to chip.

- Sun City Center, FL, USA

problem #2

Dec 102007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 58,000 miles
My gas gauge on my 2004 Ford Explorer has failed me many times. I took it to my dealership & they told me to add some fuel additive to my gas tank & this would cure the problem. Well it has not & my warranty is out!!! I'm very concerned for my wife's safety if she runs out of gas, so we have to keep a written log as to the mileage before fill-up's. I'm told the sensor is bad & would cost close to $1,000 to repair. I have complained to Ford & they refuse to repair since the warranty is out. I have also complained to Ford about a back hatch panel that has cracked for no apparent reason directly under the exterior Ford emblem & they will not repair this since it is out of warranty. These are both for sure manufacturer defects, that Ford should be made to repair at their cost.

- Hixson, TN, USA

problem #1

Feb 152007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles
Rear panel below rear window cracked.

- Bonita Springs, FL, USA

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