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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.

7.6

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$560.00
Average Mileage:
88,964 miles
Total Complaints:
21 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. crankshaft pulley replacement (15 reports)
  2. replace parts (4 reports)
  3. not sure (2 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #21

Jul 172014

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

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

THE FORD EXPLORER MAY BE THE #1 SELLING SUV, BUT ITS DESIGN AND OPERATIONAL COST MAKE IT ONE OF THE WORST VEHICLES TO BUY.

THE HARMONIC BALANCER FAILURE IS A PAIN IN THE ASS AND IS INDICATIVE OF THE CHEAP ENGINE COMPONENTS USED BY FORD.

THE THERMOSTAT HOUSING LEAKING PROBLEM IS YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF POOR FORD WORKMANSHIP. IT IS A PROBLEM IN THE 2004 FORD EXPLORER. THE THERMOSTAT HOUSING IS MADE OF A COMPOSITE PLASTIC, NO WONDER!

THE REAR HATCH DOOR ALSO IS A VARY COMMON PROBLEM, IT CRACKS THE P[PLASTIC DOOR RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE!

AND THE TRANSMISSION IS ALSO A COMMON PROBLEM MY TRANSMISSION HAD TO BE REPLACED AT 90,000 MILES AT A COST OF $5,600 BY A FORD DEALER!

THE INTERIOR LIGHTING IS TERRIBLE. IF YOU NEED TO LOOK IN YOUR CENTER CONSOLE, DO WITHOUT ANY LIGHTING. THE CAB LIGHT IS LOCATED OVER THE REAR SEATS.

I LOVE THE CAR, BUT FOR THE MOST PART IT IS MADE WITH CHEAP PRODUCTS. THE POOR GAS MILEAGE IS NOT A GOOD SELLING POINT EITHER! IT CREATES A BIT OF A QUANDARY, I HATE FORD, BUT I LIKE THE EXPLORER, SOMEWHAT.

- , Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #20

Aug 152011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,700 miles

Car just stopped. couldn't get it to go it shook so hard. I had to have it towed. Garage order the part directly from Ford and the part was not manufactured correctly so they had to take it back out after 1 day and replace the part! Was without a car of 8 days!

- , Clarkesville, GA, USA

problem #19

Oct 182011

Explorer Limited 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 107,000 miles

I purchased this vehicle-used in January 2011. Prior to my purchase, this vehicle had gone through a "used vehicle inspection" where plugs/wires, serpentine belt, gas filter assembly, battery, oil and filter, and drive belt tensioner had all been replaced. Less than ten months from my date of purchase, my vehicle suddenly began to have a chirping sound and would make a "weird" sound when I started it. Dealer-Service Department said that my Crank Shaft Pulley was not functioning properly and that if I did not get it repaired immediately, my belt would eventually come off and do further damage to my vehicle.. An investigation/recall should take place regarding the Crank Shaft Pulley on 2004 Ford Explorer 4.0 litre engines due to the fact that there have been a highly unusual number of instances where these pulleys show evidence of being defective and pose a danger to whoever owns the vehicles with this problem. There should be a lifetime warranty on these part(s). Ford needs to step up to the plate and do the right thing and have a recall on this defective part.

- , Osceola, IN, USA

problem #18

Dec 132010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

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

Arrgghh!!! 12/13/2010...I thought it was the belt squealing...but would fade as I drove. But then...the noise got so bad...Looked down...the harmonic balancer was actually...hanging off! How the heck does that happen? Husband replaced it....was NOT an easy task. Bought the part from a FORD dealership. SEVEN months later...June 2011....SAME THING HAPPENED!!! Only this time....Ford replaced the part for free...because it was a defect! Paid for a FORD part..thinking it was a better quality. HA!

- , Litchfield, NH, USA

problem #17

Dec 022010

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 180,000 miles

I was on a trip out of state, in route to Ohio driving through the Pennsylvania mountains with snow coming down when my Harmonic Balance/cam shaft pulley separated and the serpentine belt knocked out the crank shaft pulley position sensor. The belt also cut into my A/C manifold line. I have always kept this car, and all my cars, in good shape doing all the preventative maintenance, oil changes, belts, tuneups,hoses, etc. I would have never expected that HM to go out like that...this isn't the first problem I have had with this Explorer.

- , Red Bank, NJ, USA

problem #16

Dec 092010

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,583 miles

I-Joseph Garcia have owned many vehicles thru my life and this take the cake. I rebuilt my first car from scratch in the fifth grade. There is no reason for these cars to be designed so that the average person can't easily maintain their vehicle. My mom is a senior citizen and the ford explorer went out for a second time in the middle of the highway. Thank GOD she made it to the curb safely. The tech manuals for us civilians to use don't have COMPLETE info on how to deal with the harmonic balance pulley bolt in the center. When she tried to get the answer from the DEALERSHIP the whole dealership was unwilling to give a straight answer. I do realize that all places are not equal when people are involved but why must the quality of the vehicle suffer. GM puts out good product but in this case the harmonic balance pulley is just not up to their usual quality. Find another way to build in profits, please. It makes the U.S. look bad.

- , DeSoto, TX, USA

problem #15

Nov 182010

Explorer 4x4 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

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

This is not my vehicle, it is my daughters 77,000 mile 2004 Explorer and my research so far identified this Crankshaft Pulley failure as a known problem with the Ford 4.0L and of course Ford is not stepping up to the plate with a recall. What gives fellas, this is a no brainer, a crankshaft pulley should last the life of a vehicle unless you have a front end collision. Ford has hired engineers who specifically redesigned a pulley to fail and take other parts out with it. I know this is a 6 year old vehicle and there's been a lot of forced changes in the auto industry the last couple years but if Ford really wants our loyalty, they need to stand by their product and correct their mistakes. I traded my Ford Ranger for a Nissan Frontier which I'm not happy with and had been interested in a 2004 Sport Trac and now I'm second guessing that. I also heard the Dakota is loaded with issues so maybe I should focus on the Tacoma and Colorado. Can anyone confirm if this is just a problem for the 2004 or tell me what years are affected. If/when I pick up a used mid size truck, I will be getting the extended warranty. I was foolish enough to purchase a known Ford problem in the past with their 3.8L Mercury Cougar. Beautiful car as long as you didn't mind replacing head gaskets on a regular basis. I'm really hoping Ford gets the message.

- , Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #14

Apr 132010

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,500 miles

I began hearing what sounded like a chirping noise from under the hood of my Explorer. The man who had just replaced my solenoid for $500, which is an entirely different story, said it sounded like a belt and recommended a mechanic who could look at it for me. Well, he looked at it an said it was the Crank Shaft Pulley. He said it was just about ready to fall off. He fixed it and that cost me $271.55. This is just ridiculous and so irresponsible of Ford not to acknowledge these problems. I will never in my life time own another Ford. I will make sure noone in my family owns a Ford. I will tell my story of the solenoid and the pulley to everyone I know. I do my best to make sure people I know do not fall into this problem with Ford.

- , Wichita Falls, TX, USA

problem #13

Dec 112009

Explorer XLS 4.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 163,880 miles

This is ridiculous. This is a common problem with the 2004 Ford Explorer and it should be recalled and repaired at no charge. I am a loyal Ford driver and always take my truck to the dealer for service. But more and more I am beginning to feel like I'm getting stroked by the dealership. I had a Lexus and a Jeep and put 200,000 miles on both without having any major problems. If this is what I can expect from a Ford that gets regular maintenance at 164,000 miles I won't be buying another one. Where is the recall? I want to be reimbursed!! I was stranded on the shoulder of 495 in 30 degree weather with no heat. Luckily, I was in the lane next to the shoulder when my truck decided to shut off.

- , New Castle, DE, USA

problem #12

Jan 162010

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

First of all I want to thank all that contributed to this forum. The crankshaft pulley was the last thing I would have choosen and didn't until I read these complaints. I bought the replacement from the Ford dealer realizing right away that it was different. It took me about 6 hours to remove the crankshaft pulley but that included running to the autoparts store for a chain-wrench. It took me about 3 hours to reassembly the vehicle. The majority of that time was re-installing the radiators, what a lousy design.

The pulley was very near failure, the outer ring had already moved position and rubbed a hose and rubbed the speed sensor.

I drained the radiator and removed the belt. Then I removed the Then I removed the radiator. I had to use a chain-wrench to hold the pulley while I loosen the bolt on the crankshaft pulley. I used a simple hook type wheel puller using the partially loosened bolt for the center bolt to rest on. I had to continue loosening the bolt as the pulley came off. The replacement slipped in with just a few taps of a hammer aginst a board on the pulley. The new pulley is 1 " larger in diameter then the old one, so the tensioner had to be pulled back farther to install the belt. The car runs well now. Thanks.

- , Leander, TX, USA

problem #11

Nov 232009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

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

I had the crankshaft pulley fail on my 2004 Ford Explorer just after reaching 100,000 miles. I also noticed a chirping sound coming from the serpentine belt and replaced it was an after market belt, but within 1 week the chirping sound came back. When I started to investigate the noise I noticed crankshaft pulley outer damper was worn or damaged,I called my local Ford dealer who was happy to fix my dilemma for $766.00 :(.

- , Suffield, CT, USA

problem #10

Sep 142009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,800 miles

Started as chirping in the front, went on to belt screeching, now a full failure. Where is the recall in all this.

Update from Sep 19, 2009: Cost to repair was $373.00

- , Medford, MA, USA

problem #9

Aug 262009

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,100 miles

My Explorer started to make a loud squealing noise under the hood. I was hoping it was just a loose belt and took it to my local dealer. They said that my crankshaft pulley was coming apart where the rubber and metal meet. They also said that this is very unusual and they only see it about once a year. It is estimated to cost around 300.00 if that is all they find. How does this happen if it is so rare?

- , Hollansburg, OH, USA

problem #8

Jul 232009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Sounds much like the others.

First heard chirps, followed by cricket sounds.

Eventually belt sounded bad.

Got belt replaced.

Two day later...cars in shop cause the pulley broke.

Which also breaks the speed sensor.

- , Crystal Lake, IL, USA

problem #7

Feb 222008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles

car was idling very bad,first i thought i need tune up,but i took dealer they change the pulley now its ok,be careful don't take your car to any other mechanic

- , Astoria, NY, USA

problem #6

Jan 112009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,500 miles

click to see larger images

crankshaft pulley failure crankshaft pulley failure

I had a squeal in the front of that I thought I could fix with a new Serpentine belt. The day after I installed the new belt the car died on the side fo the road. I went online to make sure that I installed the belt correctly when I found this sight and saw that others had teh exact same problem.

This is a repair that I cannot perform in my garage so now I am getting on the phone to my mechanic...

- , Spring City, PA, USA

problem #5

Dec 272008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

It started about a month ago as a belt squeal. My local mechanic replaced the serpentine belt and the noise went away. A month later while we were on a road trip about 600 miles from home we began to hear and feel an occasional "clunk" as we were driving. Within a few miles the car would stall repeatedly and two warning lights came on, the service engine light and a symbol of a wrench. We managed to limp home to my daughters home about 30 miles away. We took the car to a reputable mechanic the next morning who got stuck test driving the car. Had to be towed back to his shop. Turns out the crankshaft pulley separated from the rubber damper and it protruded enough to also wipe out the speed sensor which caused the engine stalling. The crankshaft pulley part cost $184, the speed sensor $48 and the labor was $425. Total cost of repair with taxes $703.62. I saved the original parts. I've never heard of such a problem in all my years. A crankshaft pulley should last a lifetime. Obviously a defect. I will pursue with Ford but I do not expect any satisfaction from yet another lame American auto company. I need to replace my 1999 Camry soon and if I don't get any satisfaction from Ford they can forget me as a customer. And my taxes may have to bail them out!!!

- , Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #4

Dec 302008

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

I also had the crankshaft pulley fail on my 2004 Ford Explorer. I had just replaced the belt as a routine maintenance item, but within 1 week I started hearing a chirp coming from one of the pulleys in the system. The next day, the new belt came off of the tensioner pulley and was destroyed. When I started to install another new belt, I noticed that the outer crankshaft pulley had separated from the inner damper and was not in line with the other pulleys. I had the vehicle towed to my local Ford dealer for repairs, do not know the cost of repairs at this time.

- , Lewis, IN, USA

problem #3

Jul 112008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

presently finding ourselves on vacation and having this crankshaft related serpentine belt failure. trying to find competent repair presently. will update.

- , Lizella, GA, USA

problem #2

Apr 142008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,183 miles

The vehicle started to chirp loudly; then after a week or so, it became a continuous squeal. I assumed it was the serpentine belt, but it died along side the Interstate and we had to be towed and the end result was the crankshaft "went one way and the pulley went the other." Total estimated cost of repair $690. I have seen several other vehicles with this same problem.. Has anyone had any luck pushing this off to Ford to cover?

- , Wilbur By The Sea, FL, USA

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