Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. 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.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
73,684 miles
Total Complaints:
23 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (18 reports)
  2. replaced sensor (3 reports)
  3. replace ABS control module (2 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer brakes problems

brakes problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #23

Jul 012013

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


Ignored the warning light for at least a year. Not worth the repair cost.

- , Haymarket, VA, USA

problem #22

May 132013

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

Sick to death of all the problems. Ford just throws these things off the assembly line and then says "Oh so sorry, it's out of warranty". We actually won a lawsuit regarding a 2002 Explorer. The tailgate window exploded in my hand when trying to shut it. The car dealer knew it was a piece of junk and the judge called his selling it to us "the most egregious case of taking advantage she'd ever seen".

We had to replace the transmission in this 2004 model, replaced the visors and interior overhead console, one back seatbelt doesn't work, again a cheap plastic problem, and the electrical/computer problem where a plug next to the computer melted and caused the engine to cut off while driving down the road, well that almost got us all killed. Turns out there is a group of wires near the rear and they were supposed to be suspended in some sort of harness and never were, so over time, the plastic coating rubbed off and caused at least one wire to ground out, which caused the plug near the computer to overheat and slide out of its socket, causing the engine to shut off. Once it cooled, sometimes the motor would start again. This cost us more than one battery, lots of time, being stalled at 2 in the morning with our daughter in the back seat. After $2500 spent in multiple visits trying to fix the electrical issue, and another $2600 for the transmission, and just under $1000 for the interior console and visors, add more $$ for visits to check out the Check Engine light and the ABS light... wonder what I'm leaving out... ? Oh yes, the air conditioning has been blowing hot on once side for quite awhile. The crack in the back window frame on EVERY SINGLE EXPLORER I see reminds me of the Ford Grenada back in the 80s.

Does anybody else remember the Ford Grenada? The gas cap was located behind the license plate and on every single Grenada, the spring on the license plate broke so they all drove around with their license plate facing the ground, wide open.

Owning one of these Explorers is like being in a club with other unfortunate individuals who have found themselves wondering if the $9,000 they've spent on repairs makes it worth keeping the car now. My mechanic calls it the "Ford Exploder".

- , Memphis, TN, USA

problem #21

Jul 112014

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

This problem started a week ago, and is still going on, 4 wheel high light is on and abs light on, they both come on. Both lights come and go.

- , Sissonville, WV, USA

problem #20

Dec 102011

Explorer XLT 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles


This is the second or third time the ABS light has been on. We had this problem fixed or so we thought 2 years ago, but now it's on again. Paying another 8 hundred does not sound like a lot of fun.

- , Belchertown, MA, USA

problem #19

Dec 212011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I noticed a knocking noise yesterday sounds like coming from right in front of my steering wheel under the hood. Happens when accelerating I think and also when I take my foot off the gas. Seems to die down at higher speeds. This morning my ABS light came on. Just very briefly. Then went off. I love this truck so much and would be heart broken if it starts giving me problems! Any advice on this one??

- , E. Boston, MA, USA

problem #18

Sep 012011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

ABS light comes on intermittently. Diagnosed by dealership as a faulty sensor, but this disengages the ABS system, which becomes a safety issue if you ask me.

- , Spring, TX, USA

problem #17

Jan 132010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,500 miles


The ABS light would come on in the vehicle and then the ABS would engage every time you hit the brakes and if you have ever had your abs engage you no how well the brakes do not work when they are engaged so this was not only very inconvenient but extremely dangerouse and being that this is my wifes vehicle for her to drive and take my three kids to there events it really pissed me off and then to top it all off the part was covered under my extended warranty but the labor was not so it cost me 350 bucks to fix there screw up of a junk part.

- , Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #16

Aug 022008

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,211 miles

Within the first week of driving, the ABS Light came on. I took it back and supposedly they fixed the problem; on one of the invoices I was given, it indicated that Team Ford of Marietta knew there was a problem with the ABS. And, then, again in March of 2011, and now, the ABS light is on again, and I cannot afford to take it back in - not to Ford.It appears that everything went down at the same time, i.e. ABS, water pump, harmonic balance pulley, and transmission!!!!

- , Marietta, GA, USA

problem #15

May 062011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

Just spent 2k getting the "exploder" back on the road. The check engine light came on soon after (non-related I think). Unhooked the battery and then re-connected it. Light went off for a day then came back on. 2 days later the light went off and stayed off. A few days after that, my ABS light came on. For some odd reason, I hit the 4x4 button. When I try and shut the 4x4 high off, the light goes off for 2 minutes exactly - then comes back and flashes 8 or 9 times - enough times to really get on your nerves - then shuts off again. WTH?

Love the features of this to drive it...but I also suspect I need a cv joint on the drivers side because I feel the thump when I turn sharp to the left. Seriously? After just putting a shitload of money into the suspensions system among other things (had the blendor issue last year - yeehaw)...not impressed!

- , Temple, ME, USA

problem #14

Aug 052009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

Some asshole rode my ass and I tapped my brakes to indicate to the idiot that he needed to back off. He then zoomed around me and LOCKED UP his brakes. I, in turn, had to stand on my brakes to stop without hitting the testosterone-loaded idiot with a severe case of unwarranted road rage. Shortly after this incident, the ABS light, as well as the "check engine" light, came on. The ABS light continues to come on and go off randomly, to this day. My "check engine" light has stayed on pretty much since that date, as well. Ford?

- , Dardanelle, AR, USA

problem #13

Mar 112011

Explorer ES 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles


rear abs sensor kickin abs on ruined rear rotors and pads p.o.s.

- , Piqua, OH, USA

problem #12

Aug 312010

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

This has actually been done twice - in the years of owning my car. First sensory replacement of ABS light was at 600 miles.

Second - was 51000 miles (give or take a few) This time the light would randomly come on but when I would go to stop my car would feel like they brakes were failing - Extended warranty paid for repairs - I know they replaced the sensor light again but something else was short circuiting from the sensor to the brakes, but I do not have my service records on hand to see exactly what they did.

- , Costa Mesa, CA, USA

problem #11

May 252010

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

Ok just let me say that I feel sorry for anyone including myself who owns one of these piece of crap autos!! I have had mine not even 4 years yet and it has been in the shop more than I have drove it. I have had the ABS light come on again which when the auto had extended warranty I took it to have it "fixed" in other words patched up until the warranty was expired. Anyway the light is back on again and I called the shop they said yes I can find the ticket where you had it in for service and we fixed it but your parts warranty is out now so it will cost you around 100.00 for us to look at it and diagnose the problem..

I will NEVER buy another Ford. I know now it means Fix Or Repair Daily!! What a piece of sh*t!

- , Washington, NC, USA

problem #10

Oct 162009

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

There is absolutely nothing wrong with my ABS...the light just comes on and stays on! Dealer says it's fine..what's up Ford?

- , The Colony, TX, USA

problem #9

Aug 092009

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

ABS light comes on & goes away for days or a week then comes on again. There is an audible clicking in the left front wheel when the car is under 10 mph then it goes away at higher speeds. I intend to bring it to the dealer under my extended warranty. It is quite annoying and I am sure my ABS system is inoperable which worries me in the Winter season.I love the vehicle and would definitely buy another but I hope it can be fixed.

- , Huntley, IL, USA

problem #8

Jul 012009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

ABS light comes on...goes off. Dealer said bring it in and bring lots of money.

- , Warner Robins, GA, USA

problem #7

Apr 182009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

Why does the ABS light come on? I need to get the vehicle inspected, and I just bought it. Is this an inspection issue, will it not pass? Also the 4X4 high light comes on at the same time??

Thanks for any info ! Diane R

- , WhitneyPoint, NY, USA

problem #6

Apr 092009

Explorer XLS V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

Stupid ABS Light comes on and then turns off when i restart the car. Took it to a mechanic and he tells me that it could be the wiring. I only had this car for 7months and this happens. I only have 32,000 miles on it. What kind of crap is this

- , Hartford, CT, USA

problem #5

Jul 062008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

We don't know why the ABS light is on...Sometimes the 4x4 light comes on at the same time. When we're driving sometimes the ABS light will turn off and I can hear the gripping of the brakes. I read the manual and it says when the brake warning light turns on, then you have to service your brakes. But why in the hell did the ABS light turn on anyway.!!! What does it mean? We took the car to the shop for the same problem. The guy warned us that it's all rusty. We had this car for 2 years...We didn't know the history of the car anyway. The guy at the shopped warned us that, we may have purchased a car that was in the Katrina flood that's why the bottom of the car is all rusty. We don't know and we just want to have a decent car that's all...

- , Wahiawa, HI, USA

problem #4

Nov 082007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,520 miles

Everything seem to go out when the warranty expires no matter what vehicle you get even by getting the extended warranty it will not cover a lot of the repair parts or labor.

Or you can't afford the deductible . I have a 2004 ford explorer with only about 20,752 miles. My abs light comes on at times when I apply the brakes once and at times it won't come on for two days.

- , Moore, OK, USA

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