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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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
79,302 miles
Total Complaints:
14 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (12 reports)
  2. dealer updated pcm (1 reports)
  3. scds (speed control deactivation switch) replacement (1 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer electrical problems

electrical problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #14

Aug 042012

Explorer AWD Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,608 miles


I have had this issue twice now. As someone else previously stated, you can easily duplicate it when in use under 45-50 mph. I have found that going uphill with the c/c set is just fine. When you are on roughly level ground or going downhill at this speed or lower it will it shut the engine down. I don't know the cause, I just refrain from using it under 50 mph or in downhills. The first time it happened at like 2 in the morning, while the second time was in the middle of the day. The first time I was cruising at 40 on an expressway and there was a large over pass to go over, and was fine until the downhill. Then silence, everything shut down. Haha, bad morning experience while I was moving. Other than the slower descents, I have had NO problems with the cruise control at all.

- , Davis, CA, USA

problem #13

Sep 012011

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

This has been a great running vehicle, until using the cruise control the other day. I was driving about 45 MPH with the cruise on and all of a sudden the vehicle shut down/no power, it did restart after a few minutes. Last night on my way into the city, at about 70 MPH the vehicle shut down ( Again )... Yes, the cruise control was on and yes, Ford has a problem that should recalled...

- , Howell, Mi, USA

problem #12

Nov 272011

Explorer Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

I just bought a used 2004 Ford Explorer. Was happy that I got a big enough vehicle to lug my family back and forth to Ohio from Georgia. I went home for the Thanksgiving holiday and after 12hrs of driving in traffic, rain and witnessing tons of accidents I got off on my ramp to go home and switched seats with my son to take us on in. He put on the cruise control and the car just powered off. No steering, nothing! Everything went off. Thank God it started back up but more importantly Thank God it didn't do it on any of those mountains or slick highways coming home from Ohio.

- , Austell, GA, USA

problem #11

Oct 192011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,551 miles


I have a lot of mileage on my explorer, but I rarely have used the cruise control, but I was on a trip and I decided to use the cruise control because my legs were tired of the long driving. I got on a long straight stretch of roads and the speed limit was very low, so I was driving around 35 mph, set the cruise control, and a few seconds later the Explorer shut down completely, all the gauges lit up. I put it in neutral quickly and restarted it. I had no idea what happened and decided to try the cruise control again...same thing happened and the Explorer's engine turned off. I have had no other issues happen that were related to this, but talk about a scary situation...I'm just glad I was not in heavy traffic or turning around a corner. Very, very scary.

- , Bath, PA, USA

problem #10

Jul 022010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

So I was driving on a busy road near a school and decided to put to speed control and low and decellerate the car using the cruise control functions when the engine shut off, all emergency lights came on and obviously power steering gone as well. Luckily no one hit me, but I took it to the dealership, Beach Ford, in Virginia Beach and had the head of the service department take it on a test drive with me fore at least 45 minutes. We were able to replicate the problem everytime when the cruise control was 35mph and decellerated to 28mph. He could not come up with a solution and said flashing the pcm and replacing the scds (speed control deactivation switch). As of now, I do not know how to fix the problem, other than avoiding using cruise control at low speeds.

If this does happen to you while driving, kick it into neutral and restart your car while moving to get back power steering and drive to a safe location.

- , Arlington, VA, USA

problem #9

May 012009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Driving down the road, cruise on, if you go under ~35 car stalls. You can repeat this over and over as many times as you want. After many tries, Ford updated my PCM. However, the car doesn't seem as peppy after doing this, but at least it wont stop the engine and endanger lives with no power brakes and no power steering!

- , Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #8

Dec 092009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles


So it happened a second time!!!

Truck dies when the cruise was set about 70 mph. I was driving down the highway with the cruise control on and the truck just started power itself down. The power steering went out and then all the gage lights came on. After coming to a stop I turned the key off and then let it sit for ten minutes. After that the truck would start but shut off right away. I had it looked at and they couldn't find anything wrong with it.

- , Madison, WI, USA

problem #7

Oct 302009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

Truck dies when the cruise was set about 35-40 mph. I was driving down the road with the cruise control on and the truck just started power itself down. The power steering went out and then all the gage lights came on. After coming to a stop I turned the key off and then let it sit for five minutes. After that the truck started back up without any problems.

- , Madison, WI, USA

problem #6

Aug 022009

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

This is the second time I've had this experience with my Ford. I've driven it for about 7 years and never had anything like this happen. Both times, I was driving on low-speed limit roads and was trying to avoid speeding, so set my cruise control around 30-35 mph. Within just a few minutes, the engine stalled out, power steering was lost, and all the lights you can imagine were on in the dash. It was frightening, especially the first time when I was driving up a steep hill. I thought someone was going to ram into me from the back, and I couldn't steer the car off the road because there was no shoulder.

I use the cc at high speeds, around 70-80 mph, and don't have any problems. Guess I'll just quit using it at anything less than 50, to keep it safe.

Ugh, wish I'd bought a Honda!

- , Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #5

Aug 202008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

I have owned my 2004 explorer since May 2008. My daughter has had the car engine die on her while driving 3 to 4 times now, when putting it in cruise control at approximately 30 35 mph, lights in dashboard & guages still functioning while rolling then, engine dies, power steering quits (of course) & her having to pull over stop and putting it in park and restarting again.. I have not taken it to dealer yet for this problem, however now I will have this issue addressed as I have another problem of the car being low on gas (probably ran out).....& now the starter will not engage when turning key...nothing, no clicking, even tried to jump start & battery appears to have a good charge but will do nothing when turning key, Unhooked the battery cables to see if it would possibly reset something electrical or computer related, fuel pump, checked the fuses ....I just don't know yet, because I am a new owner, without an owners repair manual......& unable to diagnose myself ! The good old days are gone when a person could manually bypass the starter relay switch with a simple wrench on the positive terminal on battery directly to the starter relay terminal and start the dam car if that happened after running out of gas then putting gas in and then not being able to get the starter to engage! Yep better get one of those engine code identifying gadgets that identify the "check engine" problem codes that are stored in the computer......

- , Riverside, CA, USA

problem #4

Jan 092008

Explorer XLT 4.6L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,768 miles


I own a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT which has been a horrible nightmare. Recently another problem started to occur. I drive on a military post which has a speed limit of 30 MPH. When I attempt to set my cruise control anywhere nea 30 MPH or so my explorer just shuts off. All the gauge lights come on and I have to pull over and turn it back on. The first time it happened I was turning on a curve and I nearly wrecked so it's a pretty big problem. When I took it to the dealership they claimed the couldn't duplicate the problem but that was before I knew it happened only around 30 -35 MPH. Now it's out of the warranty and they say they can't help me.

- , Savannah, GA, USA

problem #3

Jun 152008

Explorer NBX 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

The car stalls when using cruise control between 30 & 35 MPH.

- , Highlands, NJ, USA

problem #2

Mar 292008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,300 miles

Slow speed use of cruise control will kill the engine.

Used cruise at 55-60 mph with no problems, then came to a long 35 mph zone and tried to set cruise at about 38. All dash lights came on, tach dropped to zero, engine was off, but car kept rolling (and headlights stayed on) far enough to pull into a parking lot. Put it in park and turned the car off. It restarted with no problems.

I don't normally use the cruise, but it would be nice if it worked within the range stated in the owners manual. It still works fine at 55+ mph.

- , Pleasant Hill, MO, USA

problem #1

Mar 052008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

just bought an 04 explorer XLT. I use cruise control extremely often to try to save gas and not get a ticket. Well i was cruising at about 35 and tried to turn, my power steering was out...my car was off! the lights were all on, the engine just randomly shut off. after doing some tests i found out that it does this almost everytime i use cruise control between 30 and 45mph. So i called a mechanic friend of mine. he said that many fords have a recall for a fault SCDS (speed control deactivation switch) and said to call ford and ask if if my car is covered under the recall. I will be doing that tomorrow but if anyone has had a similar problem please let me know...i'll post an update when i figure out what the problem is and get it fixed

- , New Market, Alabama, USA

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