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:
71,036 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 #7

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 #6

Nov 102010


  • 131,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the rear hinge on the tailgate was broken where the glass was hanging. The dealer was informed about the failure and stated that there were no related recalls. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 131,000.

- San Charles , MO, USA

problem #5

Jan 112008


  • 95,000 miles
The tailgate on my 2004 Ford Explorer cracked last winter. I took it to the dealer and they said that it was not recalled. I noticed many of the same vehicles with the same problem. I believe that this is a manufacturing issue that should be resolved by Ford.

- Blandon, PA, USA

problem #4

Jan 102009


  • 35,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that there was a plastic trim piece in the rear of the vehicle that was glued onto the rear liftgate window, which holds the Ford emblem. He noticed that the piece was cracked right down the middle and that several other vehicles of the same year, make, and model had the same failures. He consulted a plastic expert, who stated that the part was defective and molded incorrectly. The contact feels that the failure was due to a manufacturer defect. The manufacturer stated that the complaint would be escalated. The local dealer stated that they could not assist with the defective part. The failure and current mileages were less than 35,000.

- Liberal, KS, USA

problem #3

Apr 052008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles
Our 2003 Ford Explorer tailgate back panel with the Ford emblem cracked from top to bottom on this panel right next to the emblem. Know idea how it happened but we see most of the Explorer have this same problem. Cheap materials by Ford to cut costs to make a profit..updated 09/16/08.

- Land O Lakes, FL, USA

problem #2

Nov 202007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles
Cracked panel below the rear window.

- Ball Ground, GA, USA

problem #1

Oct 132007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2004 Ford Explorer eddie bauer. Panel under tailgate cracked. Clear crack from top to bottom where Ford emblem is, appeared overnight. Was not involved in any accident. 53,385 miles

- Saint Charles, MO, USA

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