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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
43,629 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #19

Jan 012011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • miles


Rattling noise and shaking has been coming from engine area for some time now. Could not find the cause until recently, and when looking for information online I found it is a very common problem. The harmonic balancer / crankshaft pulley goes bad. The inner ring breaks, causing the sensor to eventually wear down and also need replacement. This repair on average costs people more than $350. To replace.

- Franklin, NH, USA

problem #18

Dec 162009


  • 59,078 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the check engine lights continued to illuminate every two months after the vehicle was repaired. Each time the vehicle was taken to the dealer, she was charged a diagnostic fee to perform the test and repair a different problem. The contact did not know what repairs were performed on the vehicle. The manufacturer was called who stated that they would send her information on how to trade the vehicle in for another vehicle, which included additional discounts; however, she had not heard from them. The failure mileage was 59,078.

- Amherst, NY, USA

problem #17

Aug 212010


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving 65 mph the vehicle stalled without warning. The contact was able to drive onto the emergency lane. The vehicle was towed to the dealer, diagnosed and stated that the failure was caused by the engines timing chain. The vehicle will be repaired. The manufacturer took report 1644590504, but didn't offer to assist with the repairs, because the motor wasn't covered by warranty. The current and failure mileages were 70,000.

- Syracuse, NY, USA

problem #16

Aug 262010


  • 120,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving 55 mph, the vehicle stalled and the contact had to get the battery jumped in order to drive to her residence. The alternator failed and was replaced; however, after the alternator was replaced the contact was unable to move the vehicle even when the accelerator pedal was engaged. There was a wrench symbol that illuminated on the instrument panel where the dealer stated that the computer shifted into limp mode. There have been no additional repairs to the vehicle. The failure and current mileages were 120,000.

- Suleta, VA, USA

problem #15

Oct 122009


  • 112,000 miles
Driving my 2004 Ford Explorer with the 4.6L engine on the highway at 60 mph the vehicle blow it rear drivers side spark plug. The engine started shaking violently and there was a strong smell of fuel in the passenger compartment. The original factory installed plugs were still installed. The threads in the cylinder heads were striped. The repair was the installation of a heli-coil in to the cylinder head at a cost of $600.

- Westborough, MA, USA

problem #14

Aug 252009


  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT. The contact stated that minutes after starting the vehicle it unwarrantly stalled. Spontaneous engine failure while driving increases the risk of vehicle crash. She towed the vehicle to a dealer but the technician could not identify the cause of the failure.however he speculated that the spark plugs may be the cause of the failure, but no repairs were made. The failure mileage was 75,000.the current mileage was unknown.

- North Stonington, CT, USA

problem #13

Jun 112009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,323 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving approximately 30 mph, the vehicle vibrated violently and stalled without warning. The driver waited a few moments before restarting the engine. The vehicle resumed normal operation, but there was a low power response during acceleration. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic for inspection and it was discovered that a valve spring failed. The mechanic suggested that the engine be replaced at the estimated cost of $5,000. The vehicle has not been repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the malfunctions. The failure and current mileages were 36,323. Updated 07/08/09 updated 07/08/09.

- Merritt Island, GA, USA

problem #12

May 162009


  • 55,000 miles
My 2004 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0 will stall intermittently when slowing to a stop or exiting a freeway. The Explorer will start right up afterwards. It can be very dangerous to lose all power without warning. Right before the stall the RPM's seem to drop below 400 and the power steering starts to go out. It happens at varying times and temperatures and with plenty of gas.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #11

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 #10

Aug 242008


  • 72,900 miles
On my way to the airport for a business trip, I was driving the vehicle on the interstate when all of a sudden and without any warning, the engine stopped. I had to maneuver onto traffic and stop to try to start the engine without success. I called aaa and they had the vehicle towed to my home. When I came back I sent it to the shop and the mechanic advised me that the timing chain sprocket retainer pin broke, and because of that all valves bent, so I have to replace the engine. For 72900 miles and keeping all maintenance in order I consider this a safety issue and unacceptable in terms of quality. I have spoken to the manufacturer and they refuse to take action because the vehicle is out of warranty.

- Hoschton, GA, USA

problem #9

Sep 022008


  • 21,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving various speeds, the vehicle vibrated excessively. The dealer stated that the crankshaft pulley failed and needed to be replaced at the cost of $410.79. The failure and current mileages were 21,000.

- Louisville, OH, USA

problem #8

Sep 182006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Started of being an engine vibration, 2 month later crankshaft pulley failure. Just made it to the dealership, they fixed it but my concerns about the pulley coming off on the highway worry me.

- Temperance, MI, USA

problem #7

Mar 102006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,348 miles
Auto goes into fail safe mode while being driven. Has happened 5 times since Mar. 10, 2006. I have had it in the shop on Mar. 14, April 22, April 27, May 25, and June 12, all for the same concern. The engine bogs down to 4 cylinders and loses power. The first 3 times it happened while driving at around 35 mph the last two times it has happened while merging into traffic on the highway coming off a feeder road. I'm am afraid I will end up in a serious accident. I put it in the shop on June 12, 2006 and just picked it up yesterday on July 17,2006. It was in the shop for over a month. As I was feeding into traffic yesterday evening of July 17, the engine again downshifted into fail safe mode causing me to bog down. I have lost all faith in this vehicle and do not want it anymore. I have owned Ford for the last 35 years and have never had this kind of problem before with a Ford.

- Friendswood, TX, USA

problem #6

May 022006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
I have two issues with a 2004 Ford Explorer. First issue the system that notifies tire pressure has failed multiple times. The indicator lights go on or off when the tires are properly inflated or not properly inflated. Vehicle is still under original warranty. Dealership will not fix or check the sensors associated with this area they can not recreate the issue. I have documentation from passengers and another tire company of the issue happening. Second issue. 2004 Ford Explorer stalled while turning braking and steering locked up. Identical reaction as to the problem stated in the failure of the camshaft position sensor in other vehicles from Ford that is being investigated.

- Chewelah, WA, USA

problem #5

May 042005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,082 miles
The consumer was making a left hand turn and the vehicle just shut off, couldn't steer, and couldn't pull off. The vehicle was in the middle of the road and the consumer restarted the vehicle about a minute down the road, when it happened again. The battery light came on and brake light came on, but felt like they were still working.

- Pleasant Valley, NY, USA

problem #4

Nov 082004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,901 miles
'04 Explorer engine shuts off and steering wheel locks up while driving, car jerks when put in reverse, false fuel reading took truck back to dealership, they do not think any thing is wrong with the truck, this has happen four times.

- Clinton, MS, USA

problem #3

Jan 102005

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles
Car transmission was not responding correctly. After several trips to the dealer to have it checked out, the replaced the solenoid pack several weeks later warning light came on with a battery symbol and said hi temp low oil. Engine died when going to park and then again at stop light the next day. Dealer could not replicate problem. Two weeks later, engine again died with a wrench symbol and said engine failsafe mode. Dealer has had it a week and cannot replicate problem. Did find a problem with and replaced ABS in computer system.

- Mechanicsville, VA, USA

problem #2

Oct 232004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70 miles
I bought a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT at darcars Toyota in silver spring md. It had only 28,000 miles. The plastic valve cover was found to have a crack where one pours the oil in. There was an oil leak around this area. Apple Ford in columbia, md. Said this would not be covered by Ford warranty. I thought Ford's warranty covers to 3 years or 36,000 miles. This valve cover was over $400. Why shouldn't this be covered. I signed a paper that states that the Ford warranty should still be in effect to 36,000 miles. I don't know how or when this crack occurred, but I have only had the vehicle for 3 weeks. I think this should be covered by Ford warranty.

- Columbia, MD, USA

problem #1

Jul 262003

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 5,251 miles
This is intermittent stalls, poor throttle, no start.

- Fort Eustis, VA, USA

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