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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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
133,432 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #35

Oct 092014


  • 124,000 miles


I was at a stoplight and when the light turned green my car would not move. The car was in drive and it would just rev. The cars behind me started honking. I put it in the lower gears and finally started moving forward and drove it to the dealership. As I was driving to the dealership in the lower gears the car shifted out of gear while in traffic, I put it in neutral and back into 3 and it started moving forward again. This is very dangerous since the car will just shift in and out of gear and stop moving forward. At the dealership the car would not move while in drive or reverse. They told me the transmission needs to be replaced at a cost of $4,200, this is after I just had the throttle body replaced two months ago at a cost of $1,800. Ford need to do a recall in these transmissions it could lead to an accident.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #34

Sep 092014


  • 150,000 miles
My vehicle burned through another alternator, everything on the vehicle is 100% factory so I don't know what is causing that. Immediately after I replaced the alternator for the second time in 6 months, the power steering has vanished. I checked all the belts made sure everything is running properly and in the correct place. The power steering pump seems to be pumping but not working.

- Fitchburg, MA, USA

problem #33

Apr 122014


  • 117,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the indicator on the instrument cluster would not properly specify what gear the vehicle was engaged. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer for diagnostic testing. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 117,000. The VIN was not available.

- Hedgesville, WV, USA

problem #32

Dec 202012


  • 140,000 miles


On the body the tailgate panel keeps cracking this makes my truck look bad compared to the money I put into it. My engine or transmission acts as if something is wrong it is not shifting gear right. On the electrical tire pressure light keeps coming on and it also keeps leaking water from somewhere. Ford needs to go out of business for selling these pieces of junk. It makes no sense.

- Columbus , GA, USA

problem #31

Aug 222013


  • 190,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start. The contact mentioned that the anti-theft alarm engaged automatically while attempting to start the vehicle. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer for a diagnostic. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 190,000.

- Wheatley Heights, NY, USA

problem #30

Jul 292005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 2,000,000 miles
My car won't shift in to gear any more.

- Lomita, CA, USA

problem #29

May 222012


  • 131,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact was driving 2 mph in reverse when the back up sensor failed and the contact crashed into another vehicle. The crash caused no injuries and the police were contacted. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for inspection of the failure or repairs. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure and the current mileage was 131,000.

- Brookville , IN, USA

problem #28

Mar 092012


  • 900,000 miles
After starting vehicle and moving shift lever from park to reverse - rotating shift handle mount broke off- required towing and $1800 repair cost. Have seen similar instances on consumer complaint boards - Ford fails to recognize as being a safety manufacturing defect.

- Mcdonough, GA, USA

problem #27

Jun 232007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 19,000 miles
Cruise control is intermittent, sometimes accelerates unexpectedly especially when pushing the button to turn it off. So far have been able to stop car, but it is a scary situation. Also, rear warning indicator works only occasionally. Could run over or into someone if depending on it.

- Paradise, CA, USA

problem #26

Sep 202011


  • 132,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT. The contact stated that the front windshield wipers, interior lights and all four windows failed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who advised that her VIN was not included in the recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number: 00V072000. (electrical system: Fuses and circuit breakers). The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure who advised that she could file a claim and offered no further assistance. The failure mileage was 132,000.

- Watertown, WI, USA

problem #25

May 222007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles


Hello, I have a 2004 Ford Explorer truck with a crack on the back of the hatch door. I don't know where this crack came from. I contacted the Ford company about this issue but since my vehicle is no longer under warranty they aren't willing to help. I first notice the crack about a year ago. When I contacted Ford to find out if this was a recall they said no. Recently I have been noticing that a lot of the Ford Explorer trucks I see all have a crack on the same portion of the truck. I spoke to another individual with a Ford Explorer and she doesn't know where the crack on the back of her truck came from either. We think this maybe a recall issue. I just started writing down the license plate numbers of the various Explorer trucks I see with the same or similar crack on the back hatch. Although I only have six tag numbers right now, I know that their are many more trucks with this problem. I seen more trucks but at the time I wasn't documenting the license plate numbers. There was also a recall on the hatch window in 2003 for the Ford Explorer truck. In 2007, I had the same issue as the 2003 recall on my 2004 vehicle but was told I had to pay to get it fixed myself because there wasn't a recall reported for 2004. Although it was a year later. It is obvious that the issue wasn't resolved because I had the same problem. There is also a break light switch problem. This issue has your break lights randomly coming on although the vehicle is turned off. Which drains the battery and causes you to have to get the brake switch fixed and a new battery. Please help me. I had no luck with the Ford Motor Company in resolving these issues.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #24

Dec 142010


  • 98,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The vehicle was experiencing an intermittent failure in which the headlights, radio and windows stopped functioning while driving at any speed. The failures persisted for a duration of approximately 1-5 minutes. During the failures, the power door locks and instrument panel lighting also did not function. The vehicle was not taken to have the failures diagnosed. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 97,000 and the current mileage was 98,000.

- Sterling Heights, MI, USA

problem #23

Dec 172009


  • miles
I have a 2004 Ford Explorer which while driving last year I was told that my hub assembly on my driver's side was bad and that I needed to replace it. I replaced it with a hub assembly from advance auto parts in Jan 2010. I just had to replace this part again in Dec 2010. I lost breaks. I also have a horrible jerking when I am backing up from a tight spot and the wheels are turned sharply. My door ajar light and all interior lights do not go off when the door is opened or the vehicle is cranked unless I turn the interior light switch to the off position and back to the on when the doors open position. I have had the electrical issue reviewed twice in the past. I have had the jerking looked at with no reason given more than once. I had my vehicle inspected on Nov 30th and nothing was mentioned about the terrible condition the hub assembly was in nor the bearings that a mobile mechanic showed me were terribly worn. I am replacing them soon. It seems to me that Ford must know about all of these problems and it should be something that they are willing to help the consumer in fixing since most Ford buyers are diehard Ford owners like myself.

- Henrico, VA, USA

problem #22

Jun 062010


  • 65,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer another bad transmission ! $3000 rebuild over drive light flashing, interior lights stay on, windows don't go down, door open lights on dash are on.. seems to be alot of these complaints I been reading on the internet ! Ford had to have some fault in all these complaints "??"

- Johnstown, NY, USA

problem #21

May 252010


  • 88,820 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while the vehicle was being serviced for routine maintenance at an authorized dealer, he was informed that the blend door motor had failed. The blend door motor was replaced at the owners expense. The failure and current mileages were 88,820.

- New Castle, CO, USA

problem #20

Jan 312008


  • 52,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. When he activated the cruise control while driving, it deactivated itself without warning. He had to restart the vehicle to re-set the error code. The failure occurred intermittently, and mostly on the interstate. Also when he would turn on the turn signals, the automatic warning system would make an alarm noise and blink until the turn signal would cut off. The automatic transmission appeared to lose fluid, when he shifted into reverse. He heard a roaring noise near the tire area. He was told by the dealer that the hubs needed to be replaced. Lastly, the aesthetic piece on the lower half of the hatch-back had cracked and separated from the vehicle. He took the vehicle back to the dealership and was advised that there was an electrical failure. No repairs were made. The manufacturer referred him to NHTSA. The current mileage was approximately 68,000. The failure mileage was approximately 52,000.

- Florence, SC, USA

problem #19

Apr 202009


  • 40,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer XLS, 41,000 miles on multiple occasions my car has shut off, loosing power for the brakes and steering. It usually happens when decelerating at a stoplight, or even decelerating off the highway onto an exit ramp. It has occurred at least four of five times and I've been very lucky each time to be able to pull over, put my car in neutral, and restart it. The car has no trouble starting back up. I've researched on the internet about this problem and have found that my experience is not unique. This is a very dangerous situation and the 2004 Ford Explorer can be very unsafe if there is some sort of failure. Please help me.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #18

Aug 252008

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle jerks at any speed and then stalls. The vehicle must be parked on the side of the road in order to restart. He took the vehicle to the dealer approximately eight times and they were able to duplicate the failure; however, the diagnostic is not providing a proper dtc on what needs to be repaired and reprogrammed. The computer indicated what parts needed to be replaced, but all repairs was unsuccessful. The contact stated that the failure was a big safety hazard. The failure mileage was 76,000 and current mileage was 81,000. Updated 2/23/09 the consumer stated he lost power on the vehicle. The consumer no longer owns the vehicle. Updated 02/25/09.

- Bumpass, VA, USA

problem #17

Nov 022008


  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. In 2007, the contact stated that the instrumental panel lights constantly flashed and lost power. The dealer replaced a hose, which corrected the failure for approximately ten months. On November 2, 2008, the vehicle lost power and shut off. The contact had to wait several minutes to restart the vehicle. The dealer was unable to diagnose the failure. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure mileage was 45,000 and current mileage was 55,000.

- Santa Rosa , CA, USA

problem #16

Sep 212007


  • 0 miles
Approximately in September 2007, my lighter went out and I took it to the dealer, carl gregory on box road in columbus, ga. They charged me $35 for a fuse and now it won't work again this year. The fuses are fine but the lighter just isn't working. I need the lighter to charge my phone. Is this still covered under warranty. My vehicle is a 2004 Ford Explorer with only 73600 miles.

- Columbus, GA, USA

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