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:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
71,465 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 windows / windshield problems

windows / windshield problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #19

Nov 122009


  • 58,616 miles


Plastic pin securing blend door actuator breaks, freezing blend door in position.(cool) unable to get heat from vehicle HVAC system. Can not defrost/defog windows in cold/wet weather. Visibility is limited during cold/wet weather. The reduced visibility caused me to veer off of pavement in a rural area near my home because I could not see the lane markers. Research on the internet shows this is a recurring, common problem. Ford Motor Co. Is aware of the issue but has not taken steps to resolve this dangerous situation.

- Cathedral City, CA, USA

problem #18

Dec 142009


  • 53,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The rear window panel had developed cracks. The vehicle has not been diagnosed by the dealership. The current and failure mileages were 53000.

- Jacksonville, NC, USA

problem #17

Dec 082009


  • 56,000 miles
Cracks appeared below the rear window of my Ford Explorer. There was no accident.

- Owensboro, KY, USA

problem #16

Oct 102009


  • miles


Blend door actuator pin is defective. I have researched this problem online and it is a widespread issue. Heat / defrost will not work. In the wintertime this makes driving extremely hazardous.

- Moweaqua, IL, USA

problem #15

Sep 112009


  • 86,000 miles
Ford designed a plastic piece of molding that is glued to the back glass of every Explorer. This has cracked on every Explorer I have seen. It has been fixed once by Ford, but it has broke again. I assume that if it has broke every two years so far, it will continue to break. Ford has refused to fix this defect.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #14

Sep 182009


  • 53,000 miles
When opening the rear hatch of my 2004 Explorer the hinges failed. The glass door fell away from the hinges and was being held only by the hydraulic arms. When I tried to move the glass which I was holding in my hands it shattered. I was told there was a recall on the 2002 and 2003 models but not on the 2004S. Obviously the problem has not been corrected.

- Mentor, OH, USA

problem #13

Jul 072009


  • 32,000 miles


Driving on interstate, while I grabbed sun visor to turn to side it fell off and I went off road but got safely back on. No injuries to me or wife.

- Holiday, FL, USA

problem #12

Jul 172009


  • 32,000 miles
Driver side sun visor fell off while driving, almost ran into another car. Cheap plastic part only dealer has for $116.43 without installation.

- Holiday, FL, USA

problem #11

Jul 282009


  • 76,000 miles
The panel below my rear window has cracked on my 2004 Ford Explorer. I did not drive it that day, so I know I was not hit, or the door was not slammed.

- West Salem, OH, USA

problem #10

May 142008


  • 51,000 miles
Visor hinge broke - passenger side.

- Bristow, OK, USA

problem #9

Feb 132009


  • 42,106 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. Since November of 2008, the contact has been experiencing issues with the rear hatch door. There is a crack directly in the center of the hatch where the lock is located. As a result, the rear window opens without warning. While driving over speed bumps or potholes, the window opens. The vehicle was taken in for inspection, but the contact was informed that the warranty was expired. She feels that this is a safety issue, which could cause a serious crash. The current and failure mileages were 42,106.

- Walnut, CA, USA

problem #8

Sep 112008


  • 70,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer have a ton of problems, but one of the worst is that the sun visor hinges break causing the visor to dangle by it's electrical cord that powers the vanity mirror on it. Every morning I have a 7 mile drive headed South on a main thoroughfare and I can't see to change lanes because I have lost the use of my sun visor because Ford has not been held responsible for the cheap garbage they produced in 2004! the dangerous transmission problem is bad enough, but to have a visor dangling in your face while you are trying to drive is incredibly unsafe! and they are asking us for money for a bailout"! as far as I am concerned, they should be worried about getting bailed out of jail for stealing from people and then endangering their lives! please hold Ford accountable for the cheap garbage they sold to people for $300 plus in 2004. What happens when I have a wreck because I can't see? are we to consider a sun visor a luxury item now" please help. Thank you lisa hayes

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #7

Aug 042008


  • 65,000 miles
The transmission is failing on my 2004 Ford Explorer. I have babied it for quite awhile because we already had plenty of electrical problems with it that had cost us a lot of money and we really have no idea where to get the money to fix this problem. We still owe a lot on it. When it first started, I spoke to my mechanic and looked on the internet for a solution. If you google "2004 Ford Explorer transmission", you will see a huge list of people with the same problem. Ford has the nerve to ask for a bailout with my money, but they won't stand behind their lousy product!!! this is going to cost me at least $2500 to fix and I think since they have been aware of the problem from the start, they should have to correct it before we start handing them money. This is more than unfair! further, the plastic parts on these vehicles are cheap and break easily. One of my visors is suspended from the sunroof by a phone earphone cord because the plastic hinge broke and it dangles in your way when you are trying to see out the windshield. Please help!

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #6

Aug 012007


  • 47,000 miles
The visors on 2004 Ford Explorer are made of cheap plastic that are a definite safety issue. When the plastic that holds the visors up cracks, the visors will fall into the vision of the driver. There is no easy way to take the visor down and it will continue to obstruct vision until it is take to the dealer for repair. Both visors on our vehicle have had the same issue, and a simple web search shows that many other have the same complaint.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #5

Nov 012008


  • 66,783 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact noticed that the frame supporting the side/rear glass was fractured. The dealer stated that the VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign id number 07E104000 (visibility:glass, side/rear); therefore, the contact would be responsible for the repair costs. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were 66,783.

- Temple, TX, USA

problem #4

Sep 012008


  • 35,000 miles
Back plastic panel just below the back window? there is crack from the bottom of my 2004 Ford Explorer. There is a crack in the plastic panel from the window down to the Ford emblem. Ford and my dealership want me to pay for it and yet I have spoke with others that have had the same problem in 2002, 2003 and was fixed under warranty. I just purchased the Explorer from gibbson Ford, dickson city, pa last October. It only has 35, 000 miles and I have the extended warranty but they said it is not covered. If you read there are others that have had the same problem. Gibbons and Ford want me to pay for the repair, yet it really is a defect. They are not even using it on the newer vehicles. The Ford call center and on line people tell me there is nothing they can do. It is the dealers responsibility, yet gibbons tells me that Ford tells them what to do. I am stuck in the middle. Any help

- Spring Brook Twp, PA, USA

problem #3

Oct 222004


  • miles
I have had many, many problems with my 2004 Ford Explorer. Probably the most dangerous one is the recurring failure of the transmission. This last time that this occurred I was on interstate-85, in morning rush-hour traffic, and all of a sudden my RPM's are flying to the red danger area and I have no acceleration power and am losing speed. There is an 18-wheeler on my rear and I can't pick up speed! luckily, I was approaching an exit and managed to get the vehicle off of the interstate and onto a less traveled road. This is the second time that I have endured this scenario. Once again the solenoid is gone, with repairs estimated at $1255. I have had this problem repaired less than a year after purchase. I have had this problem repaired at 32,567 miles, and I now have this problem again at 76,725 miles. I have had the clutch pack replaced at 24,940 miles as well as the ring gear, pinion, and all bearings replaced at 24,940 miles. At 35,558 miles the lower ball joint had to be replaced. At 64,335 I had to have the pats transponder(security system) replaced. In short I have had the transmission repaired three times the front end rebuilt, the back end redone. I honestly can say I do not feel very safe in this vehicle, especially since I have to use this to Transport my children. These problems seem to be the norm for this particular vehicle, as I have done research on this. I don't understand why Ford is not made to resolve these issues. I have also had to have my heating and air replaced. This occurred in the winter of 2007 and was a safety issue, as I could not defrost my windows.

- Gastonia, NC, USA

problem #2

Jul 042008


  • 60,000 miles
When deck glass was raised the left hinge broke causing the glass to fall. I caught the glass preventing it from shattering on the pavement. The weight of the deck glass then caused the right hinge to break. Had to replace hinges through a auto body shop. This could have caused serious injuries! my quick reaction in catching the glass prevented any injuries. Had my children been with me it could have been a different situation. After doing research I found that previous year model Ford Explorer have been recalled for this same thing happening.

- Lawsonville, NC, USA

problem #1

Mar 162008


  • 91,000 miles
I heard a clicking sound under my dash and did not have heat. I asked Ford dealership to diagnosis problem and was quoted $1400 to repair heater plenium and possible blend door repair( diagnosis also cost $90). Did not have problem fixed for that amount but was concerned as I live in Wisconsin and heat is necessary to defrost windshield. Later, I googled the problem ( Ford Explorer clicking sound and no heat) and was surprised to see many articles about this issue and that Ford has known about this engineering problem since 1995. The diagnosis was costly and probably could have been done by a first year technician for less than what I paid as I later found out, the blend door issue is a well known problem. I then contacted Ford customer service and was told that there was nothing that Ford could or would do for me and this issue. In my opinion and many others I have discussed this issue with, having a blend door failure is a safety issue. I will need to deal with it before fall as I can not defrost windshield with cold air.

- Elkhorn, WI, USA

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