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 3 of 10)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #159

Apr 262013


  • 80,000 miles


My daughter weighs 99 lbs she opened hatch at gas station and the window portion of the entire hatchback fell off also there is a crack in the plastic down the hatch which I see on every old Explorer.

- Lewiston, NY, USA

problem #158

Apr 012008


  • 40,000 miles
Rear body panel around back window split

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #157

Nov 192007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 21,652 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that as she approached the vehicle, she noticed that the horizontal panel under the rear lift gate was fractured. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where they advised her that the panel needed to be replaced. The vehicle was replaced for the horizontal panel and emblem. The manufacturer was contacted and offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 21,652. The current mileage was approximately 36,000.

- Safety Harbor, FL, USA

problem #156

Feb 152013


  • 50,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that there was an excessively long fracture in the rear liftgate near the manufacturing emblem below the rearview window. The vehicle was not inspected or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 50,000.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #155

Oct 312012


  • 57,000 miles
The rear panel cracked for no apparent reason.

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #154

Jan 022013


  • 63,000 miles
While the vehicle was parked for 2 or 3 days under the carport in the driveway, the back panel under the window cracked for absolutely no reason.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #153

Dec 202012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 83,658 miles


The rear window hinge pin (passenger side) has corroded and broken allowing the window to fall off of the rear tail gate. I noticed the broken hinge before using the lift gate which has prevented it from falling off thus far. I have read that this is a very common problem on this vehicle and Ford will not own up to the problem.

- Massillon, OH, USA

problem #152

Nov 302012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 92,850 miles
There is a crack to the left of the Ford isignia on the rear lift tail gate. The crack runs from the bottom of the rear panel just below the rear window to the bottom of that panel. The panel is the top half of the lift gate where the gate opens to enter items without opening the entire tail gate. I understand from other Ford Explorer owners that this can cause the rear window to blow out because the panel is no longer secure due to the crack. Obi# 10487645

- Clear Spring, MD, USA

problem #151

Nov 302012


  • 92,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that after exiting the vehicle, she noticed that the rear hatchback window panel was fractured. The vehicle was not taken to a mechanic. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted about the failure and advised the contact that they were unaware of the issue. The failure and current mileages were approximately 92,000.

- Clear Spring, MD, USA

problem #150

Nov 192012


  • 160,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the panel on the exterior of the rear lift gate was fractured. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 160,000.

- Brandon, FL, USA

problem #149

Nov 202012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 84,238 miles


Vehicle was parked. Operator opened rear hatch glass, at which time the right hinge separated. This caused the glass to slam down. Fortunately, the operator was able to jump out of the way to avoid injury. The glass did not break, but the struts are bent. Both the right and left hinges appear to be defective and in need of replacement. The rear hatch is not usable until the hinges and struts are replaced.

- Woburn, MA, USA

problem #148

Aug 182012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 92,900 miles
The hinge on the right side of the rear liftgate glass is falling off. I purchased this vehicle used in August 2012. The hinge seemed to be in tact then but has slowly been corroding and falling off. The glass makes an awful noise when I drive over pot holes, bumps, etc. I do not use the glass in fear it will fall on me. There have been times when I turn my vehicle on and the message center says "rear liftgate ajar" only to find that somehow the glass liftgate is not latched. Nobody uses it so unsure if the corrosion and broken hinge is causing the glass to ajar from the latch. I called a local Ford dealership to see if this has been recalled on my vehicle, as it has on numerous other 2004 Ford Explorer. I was told it was not recalled and the part is $50/piece. The left hinge is starting to do the same as well. I am scared that this will eventually fall off while I am driving the vehicle and think this should be recalled as it is a huge safety issue.

- Tremont, IL, USA

problem #147

Nov 102012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 77,614 miles
After a day of shopping I pulled into my driveway and parked my SUV. I went to open the rear window hatch when the left side came apart from the vehicle and landed on top of me. Fortunately the right side of the window was able to stay intact while my husband was able to run to my aid to lift the door up. I am four months pregnant and my three year old son was standing by my side. I have read that many complaints about this issue have been made to the Ford corporation regarding this problem but they continue not to rectify the issue at hand; while leaving vehicle owners helpless when this situation occurs. I read that this was a good avenue to report this issue since Ford continues to ignore the problem and wonder if my husband would not have been in shouting distance what would've happen to my son, unborn child and myself!!!!!

- North Olmsted, OH, USA

problem #146

Oct 192012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 112,000 miles
Rear hatch window hinge (left side) broke and released the glass while driving. Window fell to one side. I had to make an immediate emergency stop. It was difficult to prop window to a safe position and lock down. It must remain locked down until I can fix it.

- Chico, CA, USA

problem #145

Oct 232012

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
The rear liftgate window hinge broke off and the entire rear window fell on my wife. The hinges are made of a white type of metal that has corroded and sheared off. The pins inside apparently broke and it didn't appear to be falling off, it just came off. The window hit my wife in the arm and leg. We were lucky it wasn't one of our kids closing the gate at the time or that they weren't inside when it happened or this could have been a lot worse. After searching online for information about this issue I found thousands of complaints about this exact issue and hundreds of post of injuries incurred from this. Ford recalled other vehicles with the same issue with the same part and yet the 2004 was never included. Something needs to be done. A part over time shouldn't break off and cause a safety hazard.

- Muskego, WI, USA

problem #144

Sep 262012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
When closing the rear window hatch, the left hinge that holds the glass completely let go of the glass. Fortunatley my husband was the one closing it and was able to catch the glass before it broke the other hinge and pulled the glass off completely. The right hinge was also bent, as the window will now not sit level to be put back into place. This should be recalled, as there is a large hazard of th window falling. What if my daughter had been standing underneath as usual, or he had not been able to catch the window and it broke and sen "exploding" glass pieces everywhere. I see that this appears to be a very widespead issue when looking through complaints. Also, the tailgate in my Explorer has also experienced the same mysterious crack that so many other vehicles have had. One day it was fine, then it was cracked. Could these issues be somehow releated? or is the entire hatch just full of flaws.

- Naples, FL, USA

problem #143

May 162012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 92,000 miles
The pins on the liftgate window are breaking through the hinge. The driver side has broken clean through and the passenger side is beginning to break through even though I haven't used it since the other one broke. There is also a crack under the window on the back lift door.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #142

Jul 232012


  • 160,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the hinges on the rear liftgate broke and the window fell down on the contact's shoulder, resulting in a shoulder injury. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer and was informed that the hinges on the rear liftgate needed to be replaced. The dealer also stated that the vehicle was not included in the recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number: 04V442000 (structure: Body: Hatchback/lifgate: Hinge and attachments). The failure and current mileages were 160,000.

- Monticello, NY, USA

problem #141

Jul 052012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 61,800 miles
The hinges that hold on the rear window are starting to break. The 02 and 03 model Explorer were recalled for this but Ford refuses to issue a recall for the 2004 models even though this appears to be a huge issue affecting a large numbers of Explorer. I have caught it before total failure but many people have had the glass come loose and injure them. It is a huge safety issue.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #140

Jun 112012


  • 69,000 miles
The contact owns a Ford 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the lower portion of the lift gate glass exhibited a long stress crack. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and the vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 69,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Covington, FL, USA

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