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:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
45,102 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 #14

May 122011

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 48,266 miles


My 2004 Ford Explorer has a crack on the rear window panel by the Ford emblem, its been this was for awhile, just Thursday night I noticed glass on the ground behind my vehicle then looked up and it was my back window. It shattered, the panel bowed out as if it warped outward and shattered the window. Luckily it had been parked and no one was around when it happened. As a result of this the entire lift gate and rear window will need to be replaced. I'm still waiting for my insurance to come and appraise the damages.

- Bakersfield, CA, USA

problem #13

Mar 012011


  • miles
2004 Ford Explorer. Consumer states cross member support snapped forcing the vehicle to become inoperable an inspection revealed the cross-member support was not welded properly during the manufacturing process of the vehicle. (son wrote in on behalf of his father who owns the vehicle)

- Vernon, CT, USA

problem #12

Mar 012011


  • miles
2004 Ford Explorer. Consumer states rear cross member support snapped forcing the vehicle to become inoperable after further inspection by a Ford mechanic and the insurance company, they concluded it was due to a manufacturing defect as the cross member support was not welded properly when the vehicle was built.

- Vernon, CT, USA

problem #11

Sep 102010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While examining the vehicle the contact noticed a crack on the panel below the rear window. The vehicle has not been diagnosed and there were no prior warnings. The current and failure mileages were 89000. Updated 01/03/11

- Pompton Planes, NJ, USA

problem #10

Apr 142010


  • 71,292 miles
Tailgate/door with glass cracked and broke. Fiberglass was made far too weak and cracked. This is a common problem with this vehicle.

- Jackson, TN, USA

problem #9

Feb 022009


  • 52,000 miles
Rear panel on 2004 Ford Explorer is cracked. This happened in February of 2009. Nothing has been done to repair this due to the cost. This is a defect common to this model and should be repaired by Ford. This could cause shattering of glass window if it becomes loose.

- Murphy, NC, USA

problem #8

Sep 122009


  • 82,014 miles


The rear liftgate glass hatch on my model year 2004 Ford Explorer broke off and left the glass hatch hanging on one hinge almost falling off, while I was opening the glass hatch from the rear of my vehicle. I immediately called the dealer to report the problem. I brought the car to the dealer and was charged $415.01. Not including rental car cost, to repair my car. I literally open the hatch door and it fell off. No one should open a car door and it falls off. This could have been one of my children opening the door and they could have been injured badly by this defect in the car.

- Somerseet, NJ, USA

problem #7

May 312009


  • 97,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer XLT closing liftgate glass and hinges sheared on both sides. Hinges need to be replaced waiting for part. Have original hinge parts. No rear glass on vehicle until replacement parts are available.

- Glen Ellyn, IL, USA

problem #6

Jan 072009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving at an unknown speed, the contact heard a loud noise in the rear of his vehicle. He noticed that the panel under the rear window of the vehicle was cracked in half. He does not know how the failure occurred. The dealer stated that the failure was caused by a defect in the materials and changes in the temperature. The contact has to pay for the repair because there is no recall on this failure. The failure mileage was 64,000. Updated 03/09/09. Updated 03/10/09.

- Arlington, TX, USA

problem #5

Dec 292008


  • 21,381 miles
The rear window lift gate has cracked from the bottom of the rear window to the bottom of the liftgate causing the rear window to be unstable and possibly fall off while driving.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #4

Dec 112008


  • 45,000 miles


1. washed my 2004 Ford Explorer and the paint began peeling off the front of the roof. 2. the problem just started and now there is a 1.5 foot circle on the front roof where the paint has peeled. 3. the roof is going to be repainted.

- Pasco, WA, USA

problem #3

Aug 082008


  • 43,500 miles
On August 8, 2008 I opened the back glass of my 2004 Ford Explorer at which time the bracket at the top of the glass broke loose causing my glass to fall. It hit me in the head when it fell and would have possibly fell on me if the other bracket had not stayed in place. I contact Ford Motor Company but have been unable to determine what model years of the Ford Explorer were recalled previously for this same problem. My Explorer was not covered under the recall but I believe it should have been as Ford installed faulty brackets on my truck. Currently my husband purchased a "recall kit" from Ford to correct their faulty equipment and is in the process of trying to fix my back glass so that my vehicle is drivable again.

- Independence, MO, USA

problem #2

Jul 182008


  • miles
I noticed a paint bubble on the hood of my 2004 Ford Explorer. Is this a paint defect that is causing my vehicle to rust? I would like to know if Ford is doing anything to fix this problem since it seems that many other owners are having the same problem.

- Mays Landing , NJ, 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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