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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
40,100 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

problem #5

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 #4

Mar 202008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Paint on top of hood bubbling at two spots on front passenger side and also on numerous locations on under side edge on front of hood, a large paint blister on underside at hood latch and several paint blisters on back under side of hood by driver windshield.

- Fennville, MI, USA

problem #3

Feb 122008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles
The paint on my hood is peeling away. I did not notice some paint "bubbling" on the hood of my 2004 Ford Explorer when I bought it brand new. After washing it I saw the paint was clearly defected. It did not bother me at first, but now after 3 years and 52,000 miles the paint is chipping away where it was "bubbled". the area in question is the front left corner of the hood, in two small places. When I noticed it was chipping away there was already 4" square inches of sheet metal showing. I took it to the dealer where I bought it and they said it was a known issue (Ford tsb 04-25-1) but they could not do anything about it since my truck is out of the warranty period. They explained the aluminum hood is the problem and an entire new hood would cost $1300. They explained that Ford knows about the problem but has decided not to issue a recall.

- Westland, MI, USA

problem #2

Sep 292006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles
Bubbling and blistering of the paint from the hood of 2004 Ford Explorer.

- Hartville, OH, USA

problem #1

Aug 172007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,500 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. After driving 55 mph, the contact noticed paint chipping on the hood of the vehicle. She took the vehicle to the dealer and they stated that the failure was not covered by the warranty and advised her to repair it herself. She took the vehicle to a mechanic and he stated that the failure was a manufacturer defect and she should not have to pay for the paint job. The current and failure mileages were 46,500.

- New Haven, CT, USA

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