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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
63,417 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 #3

Oct 092011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 88,251 miles


I was at a grocery store with my young children, came outside, popped the tailgate (top half of the trunk on Ford Explorer) and loaded my groceries in the car. My 12 year old then went to close the trunk (top half only) and the left side of the tailgate came off of the hinges. The window/tailgate was extremely heavy, so I had to run to the back of the car and help her to hold the window up. Then, as we were trying to put the window/tailgate back onto the hinge, the other hinge broke and the whole window came down. The window was only connected by the wiring and the shocks that are inside the window. We easily could have been injured by this falling window/tailgate. Mind you I had no warning that these were going to cracks, no problems closing the tailgate, nothing! my daughter, a woman who was in the parking lot, and I could not get the window back on so I could drive it home (45 minutes away), so I had to call my brother in law to come help me because he was closeby. He ended up having to take the shocks of the window/tailgate off completely, so that we could put the window/tailgate into the car so I could drive it home. The wiring was still connected. I have contacted Ford directly, and they will not take responsibility for this failure...even though they have done recalls on the 2002 and 2003 Ford Explorer plastic hinges for the tailgate. Same problem, different year. I have researched online looking to find if my 2004 Explorer had a recall, and found that many people had this same things happen to them on their 2004 Explorer. I am not the only one.

- Bakersfield, VT, USA

problem #2

Nov 282010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 102,000 miles
Tailgate window hinges failed on 2004 Ford Explorer. The window fell out and damaged the lift struts. I was not injured.

- Stephenville, ME, USA

problem #1

Dec 302007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2004 Ford Explorer's rear hatch/tailgate hinges broke.

- Macedon, NY, USA

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