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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
66,318 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 miscellaneous problems

miscellaneous problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #26

Jan 082013


  • 158,000 miles


Both hinges on the rear hatch glass broken. Window ready to fall out of vehicle. Can't believe this item hasn't been recalled as there are tons of complaints about these hinges.

- Ypsilanti, MI, USA

problem #25

May 292016


  • 152,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer limited edition transmission went out. It does not gear back when at a stop and fixing to go. It goes very slow until it switches gears.

- Kyle, TX, USA

problem #24

Sep 072015


  • miles
Transmission went out at approx 93,000 miles, heat went out around 85,000 miles, seat belts have been replaced once under warranty and again don't work, electric seat doesn't work, misc. Other things

- Glendale, AZ, USA

problem #23

Dec 012014


  • 60,000 miles


In the middle of the rear panel under the rear glass near the rear wiper cracks. The first time we paid to have the panel replaced. Because we were concerned that the glass would come loose causing an accident. Less than 18 months and the cracks have reappeared only now there are two cracks in the same location. We have seen multiple cars on the road with this same crack. The dealer says they have seen as well. Called Ford regarding this issue. However, Ford refuses to acknowledge that there is a default in the panel which can causes the rear glass to fall out causing serious accidents.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #22

Nov 022015


  • miles
When driving and you then shifting from drive to reverse it goes into reverse hard. Sometimes it eases into gear and other times it is very hard. I thought well maybe it was me did my foot slip off brake or something?? it wasn't that I made a very conscious effort to make sure I did it correctly and still had the same problems. I also noticed that the vehicle doesn't shift from drive to park correctly kind of stops you before entering park then will go in after you were denied the gear the first time. Currently still dealing with this was hoping there was a recall for either issue.

- Grandville, MI, USA

problem #21

Oct 072015


  • 163,225 miles
My car was parked in front of my residence on the street, it had not been driven that day. The back window in the tailgate exploded, causing damage to the tailgate. No one was driving it, it had not been touched that day. There was a prior crack in the tailgate which I have seen on other Explorer's, and since learned that it is a defect in the care.

- Hampton, VA, USA

problem #20

Mar 122015


  • 178,500 miles


Overdrive light starting blinking car started shifting really hard and jerking. This is a known issue with Ford Explorer and need to be recalled. I dont have another vehiclebi really need help please

- Okc, OK, USA

problem #19

Jul 012015


  • miles
2 vertical cracks in upper rear hatch below window

- Wynnewood, PA, USA

problem #18

May 162015


  • 105,000 miles
Truck suddenly accelerated when I was in traffic not moving.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #17

May 242014


  • 105,500 miles
Overdrive light comes on and the car will not shift gears.. coded pressure control solenoid. Put one in and it still has the light blinking and runs like crap..

- Binghamton, NY, USA

problem #16

Jul 142014


  • miles


The car was parked in a grocery store lot. I used the remote to open the back latch to store my groceries. It did not open. I tried again. Suddenly the back window exploded and the back hatch came off it hinges. I am unable to drive the car until it is repaired. I found many stories online that said the same thing has happened to other 2004 Explorer and Ford has not done anything with the complaints. This episode could have been very serious had it occurred while driving or if someone had been hit by the flying glass debris.

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #15

May 032013

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 76,000 miles
When opening the rear hatch window, there was a failure in the pin in the hinge causing the window to fall. The window was not broken however a repair had to be made before the vehicle was drivable due to the possibility of the glass falling.

- Swayzee, IN, USA

problem #14

Apr 012008


  • 40,000 miles
Rear body panel around back window split

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #13

Sep 022011


  • 92,000 miles
I have a 2004 Ford Explorer, about a month ago I noticed the plastic hinge for the back tailgate glass was breaking off. After visiting several Ford used car lots, I seen several Explorer with the broken hinge and realized this is a very common problem. I have contacted Ford and expressed my concerns, but they are standing by their product. I recieved an estimate of $360 to repair the hinges, but being a single parent of four there is no way I could afford to have this repair done. I hope that Ford will step up and recall this issue but no luck yet.

- Washington, IL, USA

problem #12

Aug 012011


  • 65,000 miles
Vehicle transmission slips when climbing elevation. Starts clunking noise and won't shift. Rpms go way up and vehicle still will not shift. Hard to get vehicle into park on the gear shifter. Have thought the vehicle was in park only to have it roll when I take my foot off the brake. Took vehicle to mechanic today who says a new transmission is needed. Appx cost $3600

- Plymouth, CA, USA

problem #11

Mar 082011


  • 62,000 miles
Blend door motor for the heat melted...apparantly this is a common problem for this not a fire hazard"??? the piece is plastic and melts...could this not cause a fire"

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #10

Jul 012011


  • miles
The paint on the roof of my 2004 Ford Explorer is chipping. I spoke with two auto body shops and 1 Ford dealer, and they all said that the chipping is due to the fact that the primer did not adhere properly to the vehicle, so the paint is chipping. In reviewing this issue, I read online that there is a multitude of people experiencing the same issue. I spoke with Ford, and they told me that there is no financial assistance available to help me, although they acknowledged that this issue is their fault. I would like there to be a recall so that I can get this issue resolved.

- Iron Mountain, MI, USA

problem #9

Mar 042011


  • 60,400 miles
In Sept 2009 the transmission on my 2004 Ford Explorer failed an needed to be replaced. The vehicle had an extended warranty and the cost of the repair was covered. 18 months later the rebuilt transmission failed at 60,400 or 20,000 miles after the rebuilt transmission was put in. The extended warranty expired on 1/30/11 or 60,000 miles. The rebuilt transmission according to Ford expires with the vehicle warranty even though if you purchase a rebuilt transmission for a Ford vehicle not under warranty they will offer a 3 year/100K mile warranty. I called Ford with my dilemma and explained that the rebuilt transmission went 33 days after the expiration of the warranty or 400 miles above the 60,000 mile limit. I was told that they were very sorry this happened but there is nothing they can do. Outside the issue of not being very fair since if I had purchased the transmission on my own the repair would have been covered, this 2004 Ford Explorer is now on its 3rd transmission and the vehicle only has 60,000 miles on it. Something seems inherently wrong with that. Thanks for reading my complaint.

- Mantua, NJ, USA

problem #8

Sep 152010


  • 87,000 miles
There are many cracks below rear window which are getting larger and larger. The safety concern is that the entire window will fall out because obviously the hinges are being affected by these large cracks. There have been many many concerns on this exact problem and for safety reasons, Ford needs to recall all vehicles that this affects before someone gets killed or hurt really bad.

- Montpelier, VA, USA

problem #7

Oct 152010


  • 47,000 miles
The hatch back cracked down the middle. Right below the windows.

- Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA

Read the next 6 complaints »

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