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 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
84,945 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 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #14

Mar 232008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles


2004 Ford Explorer eddie bauer edition. Rear lift gate cracks without cause. Research has indicated this is a known problem since early 2000 with no corrective resolution by Ford. What happens if these pieces fall off during initial cracks without drive awareness and injuires someone or property? I believe Ford should be made to fix this known error before accidents occur and notify customers the chances of this occurring is high.

- Lithonia, GA, USA

problem #13

Nov 212007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,551 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. In an attempt to load the rear of the vehicle, the contact noticed an 1/8 inch wide and 6 inch long crack in the center below the rear window. The rear window would not close due to the crack. The dealer was notified of the failure. The current mileage was 52,000 and failure mileage was 49,551. Updated 05/06/08. The top portion of the hatch has shifted. Updated 05/06/08

- Wheeling , WV, USA

problem #12

Feb 162008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles
The back panel of the car underneath the window has developed a 4 inch vertical crack overnight. The hatch has not been open or closed for several weeks and has not been bumped or hit to my knowledge.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #11

Jan 152006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


A large crack has formed on the rear lift gate panel right next to the Ford emblem. The crack runs vertically and runs the length of the panel which is several inches. This crack is not due to any physical damage and appears to expand/contract in different outdoor temperatures. This panel supports the glass in the rear lift gate.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #10

Nov 222007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,846 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact noticed a crack on the rear hatch of the liftgate. The dealer inspected the vehicle and stated that the failure is a common occurrence. As of December 4, 2007, the dealer had not repaired the vehicle. The manufacturer offered restitution of $150; however, the contact declined the offer. The failure mileage was 27,846 and current mileage was 27,946. Updated 01-11-08. The consumer stated the cost of repairs should not be passed onto the consumer. Updated 12/31/07

- Littlestown, PA, USA

problem #9

Nov 072007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I have a crack on the rear lift gate of my 2004 Ford Explorer. It runs vertically from under the window, around the left side of emblem, to the bottom of panel. I understand that this is a common design flaw. I had this repaired once already in September 2006. This is the 2nd occurrence and Ford is not repairing it under warranty, because my 12 month period ended 6 weeks ago. I feel this needs to be rectified, as it is a 2nd occurrence and obviously a manufacturer flaw.

- Ocoee, FL, USA

problem #8

Oct 232007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The lift gate fell off the hinges when it was being closed. The contact was forced to drive the vehicle with the lift gate disconnected. A mechanic stated that it needed two glass brackets and the hinges needed to be replaced. The repair cost would be more than $600 at the owner's expense. There were no warning signs that the lift gate was loose. The dealer stated that there was no warranty available. The fuel system was unknown. The failure and current mileages were 45,000. Updated 11/14/07

- Saratoga Springs , NY, USA

problem #7

Oct 122007

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Found a crack in the liftgate panel. No impact was suffered to the panel. Crack goes from top to bottom right though the Ford emblem.

- Rio Rancho, NM, USA

problem #6

Sep 152007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,663 miles
2004 Ford Explorer 33,663. Miles panel under window of hatchback has cracked down the middle. After viewing the same complaint from owners of this same vehicle, I do not understand why their has not been a recall.

- Frederick, MD, USA

problem #5

Aug 252007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,290 miles
Developed crack in back panel under rear window on liftgate. Nothing touched it. Came out one morning and found it there. Ford will not fix it without me paying $150. I've seen 200+ complaints on the internet with the same problem. I bet over 50% of the Explorer sold do this. This is not normal.

- Florence, KY, USA

problem #4

Aug 202007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,500 miles


Y 2004 Explorer (bought in Nov. 2004) has the same problem with the crack in the panel below the liftgate window. The crack just miraculously appeared about three weeks ago. The crack starts right below the window then curves around the right side of the Ford logo before traveling straight down again for another 3-4 inches. The dealer stated it was not covered by my warranty. I have noticed a few other Explorer around town with the same issue. I searched the web a found the same issue as well.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #3

Apr 242007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,426 miles
Crack in panel below rear window of my 2004 Ford Explorer.

- Natchitoches, LA, USA

problem #2

Mar 012007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 45,000 miles
The area on the back hatch underneath the glass cracked in a straight line. I came out of my house after a cold morning and that's what I found.

- St. Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #1

Nov 012004

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,000 miles
The consumer experienced a problem with the cruise control. The consumer would set the cruise control and then it will shut down by itself. The consumer took the vehicle to the dealer who as of today, was unable to find a defect. The failure resulted in a life threatening situation when the vehicle reached speeds in excess of 100 mph on it's own while hitting the resume button in cruise control. The vehicle had been in to the dealer for the repair of the braking and tire pressure gauges, throttle control, transmission slippage, cruise control, traction control default, general computer defaults and the rear trim piece at the liftgate opening was distorted.

- Long Lake, MN, USA

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