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 4 of 10)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #139

Jun 062012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 92,000 miles


The plastic piece of molding underneath the rear glass window cracked and fell off. Nothing was done to prompt this. I have read that thousands of other vehicles have this same issue.

- Sparta, MI, USA

problem #138

May 192012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
The left rear lift gate window hinge broke causing the window to fall and bruise my daughter's arm. Terrible design and fraught with peril.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #137

Apr 222012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 134,000 miles
My 11 year old daughter went to close the rear window gate and the right hinge broke off at where the hinge attaches to the window. My wife and daughter tried to get it lined up with the hinge again but was not able to do anything with it and had to drive home with the windows hanging by the struts. Later when I got home I noticed that the right strut was not decompressing as well which probably put some pressure on the hinge. I tried to push it back up manually it wouldn't budge. I was able to remove the right strut and close and latch the window but now it's crooked and obviously not working. I did research and see there are tons of complaints about this same thing happening on 04 Explorer. I am very concerned that the window will fall off and this almost caused bodily harm to my daughter when it failed and fell.

- Chapel Hill, NC, USA

problem #136

Feb 162012


  • 70,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that there was a 6-inch crack from the base of the rear window to the license plate. The dealer was not contacted. The manufacturer was contacted, but denied any assistance with repairs to the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 70,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Trussville, AL, USA

problem #135

Jan 222012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
After a cold spell in January the panel under the rear window fractured from the window down. We took the car to the Ford dealer and was told this is very common and it would be around $400 dollars to fix. If this is common why is Ford not correcting this without the customer having to pay out of pocket. It seems this is a manufacturing problem not a consumers!

- Canton, OH, USA

problem #134

Dec 082011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
Rear body panel applique Ford series part #402A30.

- Greensboro, NC, USA

problem #133

Dec 212011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 103,000 miles


When we had the cold snap a few weeks ago, a plastic panel, under the rear window cracked. The cost to repair this is about $450 to $550. Searching on line, this seems to be a problem over a number of model years, as there are several hundred reports. In the past week, I have seen 7 more Explorer with a similar crack. Ford customer service says there is no recall. It is not a safety issue, but it is expensive to repair.

- West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #132

Jan 182012


  • miles
Update on rear cracked panel: Rear back panel replaced twice. Ford service told me it would cost approx $800 to replace cracked panel again then suggested I take my '04 Ford Explorer to a body shop for a repair at a cost of approx $200 which I did. That repair lasted about 3 months...panel has cracked again. If the glass falls out someone is going to get hurt. It is ridiculous that Ford will not take full responsibility for this defective part.

- San Lorenzo, CA, USA

problem #131

Nov 092010


  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear liftgate exhibited a fracture that started from the top of the manufacturing emblem and down to the bottom of the liftgate. The contact spoke with the manufacturer but was advised that there was nothing that could be done to assist. The vehicle was not repaired. The current mileage was 89,000 and the failure mileage was unknown.

- Borlingbrook, IL, USA

problem #130

Oct 212011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
The rear passenger window hinge broke causing the glass to fall on top of me and hit me in the head and knock me down to the ground.

- Wichita, KS, USA

problem #129

Nov 142011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 51,000 miles


Cracked panel below rear window. Also, rear window appears loose.

- Paradise, CA, USA

problem #128

Aug 022011


  • 58,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer limited. The contact stated that the rear liftgate was fractured and the contact was concerned that the window would possibly fall out while driving. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where they advised him that the failure was not a safety concern and offered no further assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 58,000.

- Saugus, MA, USA

problem #127

Jan 082010


  • miles
I have this crack in the middle of my liftgate and I have seen some other Ford Explorer and found on internet complaints about it. I called Ford dealer and they said there was no recall for this. As I have said. I have seen other Ford with the same crack on the middle of the lift gate.

- Wesley Chapel, FL, USA

problem #126

Oct 242011


  • miles
Rear liftgate glass hatch failure hinge and attachments back glass fail off.

- Wallins, KY, USA

problem #125

Oct 012008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
Paint bubbles in the hood. The dealer just responded that it was a manufacturers problem and that I would just need to replace the entire hood at a large cost.

- Greenwich, CT, USA

problem #124

Feb 092011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
Rear panel cracked under window. There was no damage to vehicle, an di have seen several Ford Explorer with the same crack.

- Richlands, NC, USA

problem #123

Aug 282011


  • 70,900 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that when opening the rear lift gate, the hinge fractured and fell back, striking him in the head. The contact received a minor injury as a result. The vehicle was not inspected by a dealer nor repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 70,900.

- Newmark, DE, USA

problem #122

Dec 012009


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT. The contact stated that the panel below the rear window of the tail gate developed a crack. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated it was a design flaw and the panel needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure but did not offer any assistance since the warranty had expired. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 60,000 and the current mileage was 75,000.

- Edmond, OK, USA

problem #121

Jul 012011


  • miles
The paint on the roof of my 2004 Ford Explorer is chipping. I spoke with two auto body shops and 1 Ford dealer, and they all said that the chipping is due to the fact that the primer did not adhere properly to the vehicle, so the paint is chipping. In reviewing this issue, I read online that there is a multitude of people experiencing the same issue. I spoke with Ford, and they told me that there is no financial assistance available to help me, although they acknowledged that this issue is their fault. I would like there to be a recall so that I can get this issue resolved.

- Iron Mountain, MI, USA

problem #120

Jun 102011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 68,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer. In 2008 the rear back panel cracked and was replaced by Ford at a cost of $100 to me. It is now 2011 and the rear back panel has cracked again but this time the crack(s) appear on either side of the Ford emblem. Ford needs to recall these back panels because they are defective.

- San Lorenzo, CA, USA

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