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:
10 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,058 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 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #38

Apr 132010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 74,800 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While sitting idle, the contact pressed the passenger rear window release button and the hinge fractured from the vehicle. The manufacturer would not provide any assistance. The vehicle had not yet been repaired. The current and failure mileages were 74,800. Updated 06/03/10 updated 06/07/10.

- Aston, PA, USA

problem #37

Feb 102010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 92,050 miles
2004 Ford Explorer right rear liftgate hinge pin has corrosion causing the hinge to break loose from the glass. When opening the window it broke and fell on my husband while loading cargo. The right side shock (strut) has seemed to get stuck at times making it hard to close the hatch.

- Moore, SC, USA

problem #36

Jan 202004


  • 115,000 miles
I have a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT and I was closing the rear hatch when the hinge pins snapped and luckily I was holding it when it broke. If there was a problem with other vehicles then I think there should be a recall on all 2004S.

- Culver, IN, USA

problem #35

Nov 272009


  • 69,400 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While manually opening the rear lift-gate, it spontaneously closed. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for inspection, and the lift-gate hinge kit was ordered for the repair, because the lift-gate hinge had fractured. The failure mileage was 69,400. The current mileage was 69,450.

- Delaware, OH, USA

problem #34

Jul 152009


  • 80,000 miles
1. the events leading to the failure were normal use of the vehicle. 2. rear lift-gate hinges on 2004 Ford Explorer XLT began failing with a loud bang from the rear of the vehicle. The rear window began to sag and over the course of several months cracks appeared in the hinge structure. I have purchased new hinges, but at this time I still need to install them.

- Sterling Heights, MI, USA

problem #33

Aug 122009


  • 150,000 miles
The rear lift glass hinges on our 2004 Ford Explorer broke during use of the lift glass. The pin broke right through the hinge. This is a vehicle that has been parked in a garage with only minimal use of the actual lift glass. We are now searching junk yards for replacement hinges but assume these will also be bad.

- Columbus Twp, MI, USA

problem #32

Mar 092009


  • 90,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the liftgate glass strut became disengaged from the hinge, which allowed the glass to loosen. The glass appears that it could fall out at any moment while driving various speeds. The contact found recalls on the 2002 and 2003 Explorer, but not for 2004. The dealer stated that there were no recalls for her vehicle and it could not be repaired according to NHTSA campaign id number 04V442000 (structure:body:hatchback/liftgate:hinge and attachments). The failure mileage was 90,000.

- Lino Lake, MN, USA

problem #31

Nov 062008

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the glass on the hinge of the rear windshield would glide up and down, as if it were not secured or molded properly. The manufacturer stated that the entire hatch needed to be replaced in order to correct the failure at an estimated cost of $1,200. The failure and current mileages were less than 40,000. Updated 12/30/08 updated 12/30/08.

- Danville, VA, USA

problem #30

Nov 202008


  • 90,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While attempting to shut the rear glass on the liftgate, the hinges failed and prevented the glass from closing. The hinges were bent back into place in order for the liftgate glass to close, but currently it cannot be used at all. The vehicle has not been taken to the dealer for repair. The contact is in the process of notifying the manufacturer. The failure mileage was 90,000 and current mileage was 91,000.

- Lansing, MI, USA

problem #29

Oct 062008


  • 92,000 miles
The rear hinges on my 2004 Ford Explorer are faulty, they cracked and are barely holding my glass window up. For Ford, this is not a new issue; the 2003, 2002, and 2007 models have a recall on this issue. Ford will not recall the 2004 models that have the same issue. This is costly and is dangerous. While driving, the hatch could possibly causing the glass to break.

- Edgewood, MD, USA

problem #28

Apr 012007


  • miles


I have 2 issues that I would like addressed. 1. I believe that I have an electrical short or something because my radio keeps going out on the drivers side. This has been happening for about a year or so now. Not sure how to go about correcting the issue because I don't know if it is covered under warranty or not. 2. my hatchback has a crack in it and I am wondering if it is on recall to be replaced since I see alot of the same crack on other Explorer.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #27

Oct 012008


  • miles
The back glass hinges on 2004 Explorer broke causing the glass to come off my vehicle. Luckily I caught it and had my husband come undo all the pieces so nothing else was broken.

- Pekin, IL, USA

problem #26

Sep 212008


  • 47,871 miles
2004 Ford Explorer was parked in my driveway and, after opening the liftgate and attempting to close it, the right hand hinge fractured and landed on my hand. Luckily my husband was right beside me and he was able to lift it and there was no injury to my hand. The left hand hinge was fractured on one side and we had to remove the hydraulic arms to close the liftgate and duct tape it closed. After reading online that the 2002/2003 Explorer had been recalled I hoped they would also include the 2004 models. I checked with the dealership and it was not covered. My truck was manufactured in March 2004 and there is a good chance that 2003 parts were used so Ford should stand by their product and honor the recall for the 2004 models. This is a major safety issue and I was lucky that this happened in my driveway with my husband beside me and not on the highway where it could have fractured and blown into the traffic behind me. I hope there are other drivers who come forward to report this problem as I know there have to be a lot more of us out there! the dealership replaced the fractured hinges at a cost of $122.

- Lindenhurst, IL, USA

problem #25

Aug 102008


  • 88,000 miles
The rear hinges on my 2004 Ford Explorer fell apart and the window fell off. This same issue was recalled for 2002 and 2003 Ford Explorer but Ford would not honor the recall for my 2004 vehicle using the same defective hinges.

- Mounds View, MN, USA

problem #24

Aug 022008


  • 15,500 miles
I was driving and just entered the expressway when I got to the bottom of the ramp my back window on my trunk raised up and halfway fell off and when I got out to look at the damage. The passenger side hinge is very loose and the driver side hinge completely broke off and the suspension shock that opens and closes that window. I was terrified when this happened and I panicked and luckily I was already so close to the exit ramp. I called Ford and was told how much the parts were and how much labor is but the service person mentioned that he has had alot of people complain about that shock that opens and closes the window. I am waiting for my parts to come in now.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #23

Jul 282008


  • 50,000 miles
1. opened rear hatch glass on 2004 Ford Explorer. 2. hinges failed on glass hatch disconnected from body. 3. this just happened. Have to buy replacement hinges.

- Baraga, MI, USA

problem #22

May 082008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
The rear window liftgate hinges on my 2004 Ford Explorer failed. Hinge pins are corroded and just sheared right off. Looks like the hinges become loose and go slightly out of alignment and when hatch is opened the pins break. Appears there was a recall for this same problem for the years prior to my model year. From the review of this website does not look like Ford has solved the hinge problems. The earlier recall was # 04V442000. Can the recall be extended to cover the 2004 (and maybe later years)?

- Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #21

Apr 222008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,115 miles
My Ford Explorer has a two part rear lift gate. The main liftgate works fine, however, the smaller glass lift gate "collapsed" when I was opening it. It is a hinged lift gate with hinges that attach to the glass. One of the hinges failed and the glass door collapsed (hitting me on the head and cutting my hand). The hinge that broke looks as if it may have cracked right where the retaining pin is located securing the glass door to the hinge attached to the body. The hinge appears to be made of a cast iron or "pot metal", which could be subject to breaking or cracking. When it broke it also caused the other hinge to come disconnected. The door is just "hanging" by the door shocks. The auto is a 2004 Ford Explorer. I am taking it in to have it repaired, but wanted to file this report due to the nature of the failure of the part and the potential for physical injury. Updated 05/05/08.

- Bristow, VA, USA

problem #20

Nov 212007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,551 miles
My wife and I noticed a crack under the rear window, (1/8 by 6") to the left of the Ford emblem in the center of the rear hatch.. there was no impact involved, it just appeared overnight. Later the rear window was raised and the hinge on the left side is loose, and cannot be tightened. Now we can't close the the rear window all the way. When is something going to be done about this ongoing problem with the 2004 Explorer? Ford is very aware of this problem and and they could care less. I could have taken our Explorer to a Kia dealer instead of a Ford dealer and received the same type of help at all. It seems that Ford doesn't care about quality anymore and only about the mighty dollar, no matter how they get it!

- Wheeling, WV, USA

problem #19

Nov 072007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The glass on the rear hatch door has cracked and the contact feels that it may shatter at any moment while driving. The dealer stated that it is not a defect and the contact would have to pay for the repair. The VIN, engine size, and number of cylinders were unknown. The current and failure mileages were 49,000.

- Pipe Creek, TX, USA

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