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 5 of 10)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #119

May 132011


  • 65,000 miles


1-"miles to E" have always registered as dashes after a fill up since 2004. Dealer says nothing is wrong and to add gas additive (which doesn't work) or I can have it fixed at my expense. Dealer has been sold and new dealer now has "no record" of my previous complaints-- whenever I had the car in for service I asked them to check it. I see plenty of other complaints for this same problem but Ford refuses to fix this as well. 2-back hatch below window has cracked recently. Husband had same vehicle different year and his cracked as well. Dealer acknowledges many vehicles with same problem but says there is no recall and Ford will not fix it. I see there is now a class action suit for this defect. Just wanted to go "on record" as another unhappy Ford owner (of over 40 yrs).

- Salisbury, MD, USA

problem #118

May 092011


  • 128,000 miles
My 2004 Ford Explorer's rear trim underneath the rear window blew off the truck at 60mph. The (whole trim) shot through the sky like a boomerang. It sent a motorcyclist behind me off roading. It very well could have lead to his death as there were tree's a few feet away. I have not replaced any parts yet in fear it may happen again.

- Summerville, SC, USA

problem #117

Jun 012010


  • 79,500 miles
Vertical crack under the rear window.

- Bow , NH, USA

problem #116

May 052011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 82,066 miles


While removing grocery bags from the rear of my 2004 Ford Explorer XLT, the left liftgate hinge snapped and the window half of the rear liftgate door came apart leaving the left side of the door still attached to the hydraulic liftgate bar but otherwise dangling and unsupported. Then I could not shut the door so we propped it with pillows to ease the stress on the left side. I had problems with the liftgate hydraulic bar collapsing on my prior Ford Explorer but those repairs were covered under a recall. This morning Ford denied there was a recall for my present vehicle and refused to provide any information on prior recalls involving the same liftgate apparatus failure that occurred to my 2004 model. I called the Ford dealer who said they would have to charge me for towing to bring my SUV for repair there. My local repair shop that is less than one mile away is coming to pick up the vehicle and repair it. I think Ford has still not resolve these liftgate apparatus problems after all these years of being on notice of the structural problem and even having prior recalls for 2002-03 Explorer!! I could have been seriously injured had the door collapsed on me. It also could have caused the window to shatter and my liftgate glass door fully breaks away from the car, it will result in body damage to the rear bumper.

- New Canaan, CT, USA

problem #115

Apr 182011


  • 55,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer eb. Back liftgate cracked below glass. No accident or impact occurred.

- Irwin, PA, USA

problem #114

Nov 012010


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While the vehicle was parked, the contact stated that the lift gate strut fractured without warning. The failure was similar to NHTSA campaign id number:04V442000 (structure:body:hatchback/liftgate:hinge and attachments). The dealer and manufacturer informed the contact that his vehicle was not included in the recall and offered no additional assistance. No repairs were made. The current mileage was 35,000 and the failure mileage was 30,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Pasadena, MD, USA

problem #113

May 222007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles


Hello, I have a 2004 Ford Explorer truck with a crack on the back of the hatch door. I don't know where this crack came from. I contacted the Ford company about this issue but since my vehicle is no longer under warranty they aren't willing to help. I first notice the crack about a year ago. When I contacted Ford to find out if this was a recall they said no. Recently I have been noticing that a lot of the Ford Explorer trucks I see all have a crack on the same portion of the truck. I spoke to another individual with a Ford Explorer and she doesn't know where the crack on the back of her truck came from either. We think this maybe a recall issue. I just started writing down the license plate numbers of the various Explorer trucks I see with the same or similar crack on the back hatch. Although I only have six tag numbers right now, I know that their are many more trucks with this problem. I seen more trucks but at the time I wasn't documenting the license plate numbers. There was also a recall on the hatch window in 2003 for the Ford Explorer truck. In 2007, I had the same issue as the 2003 recall on my 2004 vehicle but was told I had to pay to get it fixed myself because there wasn't a recall reported for 2004. Although it was a year later. It is obvious that the issue wasn't resolved because I had the same problem. There is also a break light switch problem. This issue has your break lights randomly coming on although the vehicle is turned off. Which drains the battery and causes you to have to get the brake switch fixed and a new battery. Please help me. I had no luck with the Ford Motor Company in resolving these issues.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #112

Dec 222010


  • 68,000 miles
Rear applique has cracked down the middle for no reason. I contacted the a dealer and they were aware that this was a defective item from Ford, but Ford has not issued a recall. I contacted Ford and was told they are not aware of this issued.

- Poquoson, VA, USA

problem #111

Jan 252011


  • 87,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT. The contact stated that the rear tailgate metal was fractured in half in the center near the Ford emblem. The contact was concerned that the rear windshield could shatter because of the failure. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer or a local mechanic for the failure. The VIN was unavailable. The failure mileage was 87,000 and the current mileage 88,200.

- Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #110

Jan 092011


  • miles
I have a 2004 Ford Explorer, and one day the car is fine the next there is a crack on the rear panel I though it was my fault but then I started seeing more explores with the same crack it has to be a defect.

- Louisiana, LA, USA

problem #109

Jan 032011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 95,500 miles


The rear door panel underneath the glass on my 2004 Ford Explorer cracked. This is a common problem with hundreds of complaints filed. Ford Motor Co should fix the problem.

- Blounts Creek, NC, USA

problem #108

Jan 292011


  • 53,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer: Engine seized for no apparent or obvious reason at 53,000 miles. Not repairable. Also, rear plastic panel beneath window cracked. Just read that this is a very common occurrence.

- Chantilly, VA, USA

problem #107

Apr 162010


  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact noticed that the rear plastic tailgate strip was cracked in the center. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for inspection. The technician informed that the manufacturer would be responsible for the expense of replacing the plastic strip for vehicles that do not exceed 36,000 miled. The vehicle was not repaired because the contact exceeded the required mileage. The failure mileage was approximately 40,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Weymouth, MA, USA

problem #106

Jan 222011


  • miles
I am the owner of a 2004 Ford Explorer, with apprx. 50,000 highway miles. In 2007 I walked outside to find the rear back panel under the window with the Ford emblem was cracked. I took it to the Ford dealership, it was still under warranty. The total cost for repair was $403.47, I had to pay $250 & the warranty covered the difference of $153.47. Here it is 2011, I walk outside to find the rear panel under the window with the Ford emblem cracked again, the only difference this time is, I have no warranty. This apparently is a defect on Ford part, the same crack 2 times on the same vehicle after being replaced and Ford has not recalled yet. Their is not one day you drive and not find Ford Explorer owners driving around with cracks on the rear panel. Come on Ford own up or lose consumers.

- Frederick, MD, USA

problem #105

Dec 242010


  • 92,000 miles
Crack appeared on plastic panel just to the left of Ford emblem the car had 92K miles when occurred. Body shop estimate $500 to repair.

- Cold Spring, NY, USA

problem #104

Oct 252010


  • 46,673 miles
Vertical crack in the plastic tailgate attached to the rear window left of the Ford emblem. Ford dealer said they have seen many of these, so I feel this is a design flaw & Ford should fix for free. Ford giving me run a round. So much for Ford tough. Who should I contact to get this fixed for free? or should I take it to the news station about just how tough Ford trucks are.... they crack like easter eggs....... I have never had this off road and keep it in a garage.

- St. Peters, MO, USA

problem #103

Dec 252010


  • 82,000 miles
The tail gate on the 2004 Explorer should be recalled, it will only get worse and lots of people will die when the back windows just start falling out. Every Explorer I see it like this! built Ford guess it's ok for a few hundred to die until Ford maybe recall it, it's there responsibility!!!!!!! I will never buy another Ford till this gets fixed. Think of all the lawsuits in the making Ford..bad business!!! fix my found on road...before you get back window will fall out soon and guess who`S getting sued. Fix your junk Ford you lied to me quality is job 1000 making money and lying is job 1..your sickling boycott Ford I already have 3000 plus with this problem just wait Ford you'll get yours...

- Mechanicburg, PA, USA

problem #102

Jan 302009


  • 45,000 miles
Noticed a number of cracked rear panels on late model Ford Explorer (2004-2006)- this problem is widespread on the Ford Explorer- Ford has failed to acknowledge that this defect in workmanship exist- Ford should recall these vehicles or offer a goodwill repair these Ford Explorer owners.

- Greensboro, NC, USA

problem #101

Nov 252010

Explorer 8-cyl

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

- Fort Washington, MD, USA

problem #100

Nov 192010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 106,090 miles
The hatch below my rear window has cracked on both sides of the Ford logo on my Explorer. It seemed to have happened over night. I am concerned that it may not be strong enough to hold the window in while driving. Ford has had three years of models with this some problem and hasn't made it right by it's owners.

- Milton, WA, USA

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