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.

CarComplaints.com 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.

10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
36,468 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #12

May 222009

Explorer

  • miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

2004 Ford Explorer required new transmission in first year. Later, a loud whine developed from the rear of the car on acceleration. Annoying, but I didn't know if meant trouble. ABS and 4X4 high lights later began to come on intermittently. Mechanic found no cause. Just recently, at 79,000 miles, the vehicle began to feel like it was about to fall apart. Ford dealer has had it for over a week, they say, after doing $1000 worth of useless work on it, that the entire rear differential has gone bad, and must be replaced. Apparently this was not caught up till now, but must have been responsible for the whine, the errant lights, and a ka-chunk that the brakes have been making for years, also never able to be diagnosed. (note: I didn't know where to categorize this, so I entered it in the other category because I didn't want to misclassify; also do not have VIN as the vehicle is at the dealership).

- Lincroft, NJ, USA

problem #11

Mar 042009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving between 40-60 mph on normal road conditions, the contact heard a whining noise when the accelerator pedal was depressed. The failure occurred continuously and there were no warning indicators illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for diagnostic testing and they stated that the failure was related to the rear differential. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were 39,000. Updated 03-27-09 updated 04/01/09.

- Bloomer, WI, USA

problem #10

Jul 162006

Explorer

  • 70,000 miles
1. I have had bad vibration and a loud noise from the rear end of my 2004 Ford Explorer. The vibration has been so bad it has actually blown out 2 tires in the rear while I am on the highway. 2. rear differentral, it happens all the time, it is going to cause my vechile to break down and if that happens the vechile is no good to me because of the cost to fix it. 3. I have brought it to the Ford dealership for the problem and they want to charge me over a $1000 to fix it when they are aware of the problem with it because there has been over 3 more cases other than me they have told me.

- Port Orange, FL, USA

problem #9

Jul 162006

Explorer

  • 70,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

1. I have had bad vibration and a loud noise from the rear end of my 2004 Ford Explorer. The vibration has been so bad it has actually blown out 2 tires in the rear while I am on the highway. 2. rear differential, it happens all the time, it is going to cause my vehicle to break down and if that happens the vehicle is no good to me because of the cost to fix it. 3. I have brought it to the Ford dealership for the problem and they want to charge me over a $1000 to fix it when they are aware of the problem with it because there has been over 3 more cases other than me they have told me.

- Port Orange, FL, USA

problem #8

Dec 142007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,472 miles
Differential went out when driving SUV rear axle grinds chatter.

- Allentown, PA, USA

problem #7

Jul 172007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles
I have taken my Ford Explorer (2004 XLT V8 4WD) to the dealership four times to have the differential fluid that is leaking fixed. I have spent about $800 getting it fixed, not to mention the gas that it takes to get there and back and each time I pull in my driveway and look out to see it still leaking. After the second time that I took my vehicle to the dealership, the service department lady told me that they didn't know why it was leaking and that they were going to have to contact Ford to see if it was a recurring problem--and of course it is---and they had to order a different part (that is still not working) to fix it. Couldn't they have known that in the beginning? now they are telling me that if this doesn't work they are just going to have to replace the axles. I have read on several websites that this is a problem that Ford is not willing to do anything about. I will no longer be a Ford customer due to this. Thank you Ford for wasting my time and my money!

- Phenix City, AL, USA

problem #6

Jan 292007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Whining noise in rear end of 2004 Ford Explorer, dealer said there's nothing they can do about it, said don't worry about it, it doesn't hurt anything, 36,000 miles.

- Moravia, NY, USA

problem #5

May 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Transmission/differential/rear-end problems, purchased 2004 Ford Explorer XLT in March of 2006, first complaint was that the prndl indicator would not move into the right gear, reported the defect in may, problem stopped but then started again. Brought the vehicle back to the dealer and had to pay to get the problem repaired. But also found that the rear-end is shot the drive shaft keeps turning and the vehicle keeps rolling while in park. The vehicle also lurches when brake is depressed. Dealer states that the rear-end and differential is bad how can this be on a vehicle that has only 49000 miles on it.

- Shaker Heights, OH, USA

problem #4

Jan 262006

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,000 miles
Repeated rear end housing failures. Jan 06 vehicle was taken to the dealership for whining in rear end, "clunk" noise when shifting to reverse, hesitant transmission, and hard to shift between drive, park and reverse. Rear end from factory was found to be extensively damaged and cracked due to broken clip present in rear end found when it was being removed. Rear end was replaced for whining noise. 2 weeks later, car was taken back to dealership because it was leaking rear end gear oil. I was told this was overrun and was ok. 4 weeks later the rear end oil puddled in my garage and the vehicle was towed to the dealership. Once again the whole rear end housing was replaced. We I picked up the vehicle after over 3 weeks in the repair shop, I only drove 24 miles and the rear end began to leak gear oil again. Also the muffler was cherry red and extremely hot when the car was returned to the dealership last week. The technicians were puzzled due to the fact that the catalytic converter was cool, but the muffler burning hot with charred spots present. The transmission has also been a problem, especially in reverse. The transmission hesitates when engages and clunks into gear. The solenoid was replaced to fix this problem but the car has not been out of the repair shop long enough to see if the transmission is fixed. This vehicle has been in the repair shop 37 days since Jan 1 2006. At this point, the rear end could lock up due to constant leaking of oil and the extremely hot muffler posed a substantial fire hazard.

- Sanford, NC, USA

problem #3

Oct 292005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
Hello, I have a friend who works at carmax, he told me all Explorer no matter which suffer from really bad ring and pinion gears. My father in law bought a brand new Explorer last year, this year it has 50K miles and the ring and pinion are whining like crazy. Ford knows about the defect but they want to wait until 2010 when most of the people's warranties expire in my opinion. They say the same to everyone, that its not too bad to consider replacing it.

- Aurora, IL, USA

problem #2

Oct 102004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,144 miles
Delay in transmission engaging in either reverse or forward gear is highly dangerous because auto suddenly slams into gear and lurches forward. This has also occurred at highway speeds when the gear suddenly engages and causes a severe lurch forward with a bang so severe I thought I had hit something. Also, there is a chatter when accelerating during a turn and vibration of the driveshaft at varying speeds. I was told by the service dept. When I complained after purchasing the car that this delay was normal. On the second visit, they replaced the differential which caused a vibration and whine in the drive train. I returned it and the differential again was replaced and the drive shaft balanced with no improvement. I have been waiting for parts for quite sometime. The fluid additive is not available nor has the solenoid been replaced, but I understand this does not work either.

- Broken Arrow, OK, USA

problem #1

Jun 092004

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
My 2004 Ford Explorer has had a problem with chattering in the differential and delayed shifting of the automatic transmission gears, especially reverse, since it was purchased. When I am in an urban parrallel park situation, I have hit the car behind me hard on several occassions because of the delayted shifting. As you shift, you naturally put a foot on the accelerator. When there is a delay, the car then bolts into reverse at a high speed. I have brought my car to the dealer 5-6 times, and they have always done something, but nothing ever works to eliminate the chattering and the delayed shifting.

- Nyack, NY, USA

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