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 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #18

Oct 282007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles


The rear window liftgate hinge on my 2004 Ford Explorer fractured. This was obviously a defective hinge in that it shouldn't have worn out like it did. I had to bring it to the dealer who replaced both hinges for approx $165. They told me there was a recall for this same problem for the years prior to my model year. They also said that the hinge was the same type that was failing in the prior model years. I am filing this complaint in order to have any of this type of hinge that was used to be included in the recall. The recall was # 04V442000.

- Harwich, MA, USA

problem #17

Oct 142007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,500 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While using the remote to open the rear window, the glass hinge failed and caused the window to fall from the window frame. The contact notified the dealer and manufacturer and they stated that his vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 01I010000 (visibility:glass, side/rear). The window has yet to be repaired. The current and failure mileages were 33,500 updated 01/02/08. Updated 01/02/08.

- Felton, CA, USA

problem #16

Aug 072007

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Ford Explorer 2004, back tailgate window fell off vehicle. There was a recall for the 2003, Ford refuses to pay for repair, claiming that they haven't had enough complaints to warrant an additional recall. This back windshield fell off the vehicle into my husbands hands. Thank god my children weren't the in the way or injured. This recall of the 2003, to place on September 13,2004, well after my vehicle was made and purchased. I fear for the owners of this $35,000 vehicle, and what may happen while Ford drags their feet with this recall. I is somewhat apparent that the same hinges were used on this vehicle as the 2003. Please let the public know. Thanks.

- Grand Island, NY, USA

problem #15

Jul 082007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles


The hinges on the lift gate window on my 2004 Ford Explorer broke causing the rear window to fall out of the window frame. Ford Motor Company told me that there is a recall for the problem on the 2002 and 2003 models but were not "aware" of any similar problems with the 2004 model.

- Plymouth, MN, USA

problem #14

Jul 052007

Explorer 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles
I own a 2004 Ford Explorer 4 door. On July 5, 2007 while closing the window portion of the back hatch the glass came loose from the hinges. I took the vehicle to gullo-hass Ford in conroe Texas to have them repair it, and I was told that the hinges and back window section were the subject of a technical service bulletin. It was apparent that Ford was aware of a potential problem with the back hatch window and the hinges, since, it sent out a tsb advising its service personnel on the best way to fix the problem. Research showed that the tsb was issued on 1/1/05. Ford was aware of this problem and the quickest way to fix it while my vehicle was still under warranty. Ford failed to advise me as an owner that there was a potential problem with the rear window hatch area. This concerns me as a safety issue. If the glass had been open and I was standing under the glass while loading or unloading my vehicle, I could have been seriously hurt by the falling glass or killed as well as any other person standing next to me or a child next to me. Ford advised me that because it had not been forced by the government to issue a recall they didn't have to advise vehicle owners of the problem.

- Spring, TX, USA

problem #13

Jun 042007

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
On June 4 2007, I opened the hatch on my 2004 Ford Explorer XLT. When I shut the hatch, the whole assembly fell and the glass hatch shattered showering me and the Explorer and the garage with thousands of shards. I sustained some small cuts on my face. I was lucky that my son was already in the carseat and not outside by the suvlike he usually does. Otherwise he would have been hurt by the thousands of glass shards. Later, I noted that the hinge on which the hatch was suspended, the one side broke off causing the whole hatch assembly to fall and the glass to shatter.I was also lucky I was wearing my sunglasses(which broke). I noticed that the metal part on which the hatch was hung was put on cockeyed which probably caused the problem. Hatches are meant to be opened and closed and the whole hatch assembly is not supposed to fall down on simply closing the hatch. I E mailed Ford and told them about the defect but they were less than helpful. My SUV is still in the shop. I took it to a Ford dealer. I have pictures of the damage and the glass shards which went over the Explorer all the way to the front windshield.

- Corning, NY, USA

problem #12

Jun 212007


  • miles


On June 21, 2007 I used the keyless entry remote to open the rear window of the 2004 Ford Explorer for my 11 old daughter to put my son's baby bag in the back. When the glass opened the driver's side hinge fatigued and broke, twisting the glass hard enough to cause a dent in the window recess and falling on my daughter's head, bending both struts. After investigating other models I discovered that model years up to 2003 were covered under a recall, but the 2004 was not. I contacted Ford Motor Company and explained the situation, and they were absolutely no help, telling me that the vehicle was not covered under any warranty at the time. The vehicle has 72,000 miles on it. The local dealership was not much more help, replacing my hinges with the 2003 recall package and informing me that 33% of the time when they replace the hinges the glass breaks and the replacement cost will be at the owner's expense. The parts were $102 and the labor $100.

- Saint Johns, MI, USA

problem #11

Mar 082007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,050 miles
- the contact stated that the back of the hatch of the 2004 Ford Explorer with 74050 failure mileage was cracked. The contact was concerned that the hatchback glass could fall out and injure her children. The vehicle had not been taken to the dealer, but they have been contacted and were aware of the problem. The current mileage was 75,000.

- Port Charlotte, FL, USA

problem #10

Mar 012007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,283 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While opening the rear glass hatch the contact heard the glass crack, and noticed that the hinge came loose on the right hand side of the hatch. The contact can provide pictures. The current and failure mileage was 51,283.

- Burkburnett, TX, USA

problem #9

Jan 012005

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,000 miles
We have experienced multiple problems with the electrical systems of our 2004 Ford Explorer along with other miscellaneous problems. The electrical problems have not been corrected to date. In November 2006, the rear window of the liftgate broke off the hinge. We were told there were no recalls for this problem and had to pay for this repair out of our pocket. Today, January 16, 2007 the frame of the rear liftgate cracked in the middle.

- Mesquite, TX, USA

problem #8

Nov 232006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,716 miles


On 11/23/2006, my wife, put something in our 2004 Ford Explorer via the rear hatch when the drivers side glass hinge broke. The glass remained in tact, but to be able to close the hatch I had to remove the two struts. This appears to be similar to recall #04V442000 on the same model vehicle in 2002.

- Tamworth, NH, USA

problem #7

Nov 192006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,060 miles
: the contact stated the window hinge in the rear lift gate fractured, and then the weight of the window fractured the second hinge. The vehicle was taken to a service dealer and the manufacturer was notified. The manufacturer informed the contact the vehicle was not included in recall #04V442000 regarding the structure: Body: Hatchback/liftgate: Hinge and attachments, although the failure was the same.

- Norristown, PA, USA

problem #6

Sep 212006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles
The hinge on the rear tailgate window came apart unexpectedly. I had popped it open using my keyfob release button to load some bags into it and the hinge immediately failed. The window itself twisted and was hanging by the 2nd hinge that hadn't failed and the gas shocks that enable the window to stay open without holding it. I was able to fit it back together to close it. The following day, I contacted the dealership to order parts. What I was told was that there was a recall on the 2003 but no the 2004 model. I was actually able to pick up a recall pack that contained both hinges. The parts manager sold them to me @ cost because this is apparently a common problem. There were no injuries, however, if one of my children had been standing nearby it is quite possible that the would have gotten hit by the glass as it came down. Finally, I walked away about $20 poorer (because I repaired it myself) and with several scratches on the paint around the hinge and the back tailgate.

- Gloucester City, NJ, USA

problem #5

Jul 192006


  • 26,625 miles
The left hinge on the glass hatch failed during a normal closing operation. The light aluminum casting failed as a result of metal fatigue causing the full weight of the hatch to fall on my wife. The Ford dealer claims this failure is not covered under NHTSA recall campaign number 04V442000 and that my wife must have brutalized this truck. The replacement parts that I purchased from the dealer and installed are clearly much heavier castings. The issues concerning campaign number 04V442000 still exist on this 2004 model year vehicle. I have the old parts and pictures comparing them to the new ones.

- Rio Rancho, NM, USA

problem #4

May 182006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,961 miles
Rear liftgate glass hinge failed and glass struck me in arm and chest as I lowered glass.

- Madison, OH, USA

problem #3

Jan 042006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles
The contact stated there was NHTSA recall campaign 04V442000 regarding hatchback hinge and attachments. The vehicle has the same problems as indicated in the recall; however, it is not included in the recall due to the VIN. The contact took the vehicle to an independent repair shop but no repairs were made. Updated 1/25/2006 - the hinges sheared off and the hatch on the liftgate fell off when opening. The part has been replaced but Ford replacement hinges have not been modified to correct the problem. Ford refused to pay for repair.

- Ankeny , IA, USA

problem #2

Dec 062005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,842 miles
1. opened the back hatch glass 2. the left hinge broke and the glass fell. I was able to catch the glass to keep it from falling. I pushed the glass back up and was able to get the glass closed and latched. My left shoulder has been hurting since the incident. 3. I took the truck to the dealer and they replaced the hinge bracket. They replaced both the left and right hinges.

- Lees Summit, MO, USA

problem #1

Sep 162005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,978 miles
While driving on September 16, 2005 the ABS failed. When this occurred it caused the consumer's vehicle to almost hit another vehicle. The ABS, maintenance, and four wheel lights came on and blinked when he lost the brakes. A diagnosis test was performed, and it showed that there was a problem with the speed sensor. The dealership replaced the speed sensor in the rear which was called asy-T. the fuel gauge broke. It showed the fuel tank level was higher than what it really was. The driver's rear window motor had to be replaced. The cover over the hatchback handle had to be replaced. Also, had to replace the weather stripping. There has been a repair done to the four by four unit. There were multiple problems with the vehicle.

- Watertown, NY, USA

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