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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.

4.3

definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
26,441 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 #14

Jan 312008

Explorer

  • 52,000 miles

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

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 #13

Dec 292007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,178 miles
Parked car outside garage @ 23:00 hours. Approx. 01:15 am neighbors were banging on our windows to wake us up saying our car and house were on fire.

- St. Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #12

Oct 162007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The cruise control switch was disconnected on October 16, 2007 under recall number 05S28. The dealer stated that the part may not be available until March of 2008. The contact felt that this was an unreasonable amount of time for the repair. There had been no failure to date. The current mileage was 74,000.

- Manor, TX, USA

problem #11

Jan 032006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles

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

2004 Ford Explorer limited-owned SUV for 38K been in shop repeatedly-from minor to major things. SUV is a $ 34,000 turd. Currently needing to go back to shop for multiple repairs. The day our warranty expires car is gone.

- Indianola, IA, USA

problem #10

Sep 212007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start. She depressed the accelerator pedal and the vehicle started and began to vibrate. She then placed the vehicle in reverse and heard a loud clunking noise. She smelled a strong gas odor inside the passenger compartment. The contact looked in her rearview mirror and noticed a large amount of smoke coming from the exhaust system. She parked the vehicle and had it towed. She then noticed that all of the radiator fluid leaked out. The mechanic stated that the valve failed and damaged the entire engine. The mechanic also stated that the engine needed to be replaced and appeared to be a manufacturer defect. The current and failure mileages were 63,000. The consumer also stated had problems prior to incident with sun visor falling off, gear shaft would not shift into park, engine sluggish, and while using cruise control vehicle would just shut off. Updated 10/22/07

- The Woodlands, TX, USA

problem #9

Jul 062007

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,900 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving 65 mph with the cruise control engaged, the vehicle shut off completely. The contact was able to pull off the road and restart the vehicle. The vehicle has not been to the dealer. The current mileage was 33,300 and failure mileage was 32,900.

- Ocean Side , CA, USA

problem #8

Jul 022007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

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

The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving 30-40 mph, the engine stalls and the brakes fail without warning. The dealer suggested that the throttle body could be the cause of failure. The contact stated that whenever the coast button is pressed, the engine shuts down completely. The VIN was unknown. The current mileage was 82,000 and failure mileage was 81,000.

- Dalbo, MN, USA

problem #7

May 102007

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The vehicle is a 2004 Ford Explorer. When I set the cruise control at certain speeds it sometimes shuts the engine off. Ford has done nothing to correct the problem. They tell me that they cannot duplicate the problem. I have taken three of their technicians in the car with me and shown them that it shuts the engine off. However, they say they don't know what causes it. Even though this problem has existed since the first day I owned the ca, they now want me to pay to diagnose and fix it.

- Westover, WV, USA

problem #6

Feb 012005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles
Auto-transmission hesitates when put into reverse then lunges once transmission is engaged. When shifting from reverse to drive there is a loud clunking sound. Automatic transmission shifts hard sometimes while in drive. Ford service said they could not reproduce and found no problem. This began happening at about 15,000 miles. Vehicle now has almost 36,000 miles and problem has gotten much worse. Engine dies when traveling low speeds and using the cruise control. Each time I try to use the cruise control when traveling 40 mph or less the engine dies. This creates a very dangerous situation when your driving along then suddenly you lose power to the steering and brakes because the engine has died! the seats are also problematic. The 2 back seats fold down. Both of the release mechanisms have been replaced and one needs to be replaced again. Both handles have broken off twice. The leather on the drivers seat has cracked and worn prematurely. The lumbar support knob on the drivers seat fell off but I didn't notice when it happened so it was lost and Ford will not replace it without the defective part. Also the handle that is used to adjust the back of the seat has fallen off. I am a 53 year old women and 98% I am the only one using this vehicle. I do not routinely haul kids or other cargo around in this vehicle so you would think the seats would be holding up much better.

- Dunedin, FL, USA

problem #5

Jul 152005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,000 miles
2004 Explorer has stalled several times without any warning. Restarts fine. Seems to be with cruise on and going down hill at speeds between 30 and 40. Has been to dealership 3 times and they say they can't duplicate. Have called Ford they say take to dealershp. See several of same complaints on your site. Very dangerous. Has happened numerous times don't know what to put for incident date.

- Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #4

Feb 052005

Explorer 8-cyl

  • miles

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

Vehicle was parked in a parking garage and the attendant saw smoke coming from the roof of the vehicle, and it automatically burned while parked.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #3

Nov 172004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles
When using the cruise control engine stalled. Consumer contacted the dealership and the manufacturer, and was told that they were aware of the defect. However, they were unable to correct the defect.

- Corona, CA, USA

problem #2

Nov 082004

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,095 miles
Car has a hard time engaging into gear, when backing up it feels like I've hit another vehicle. The vehicle just jumps in revers.I have almost ran over someone because of a delay in engaging into reverse. In drive it does the same thing. I worry that I am going to hit a car that might be parked in front of me or even a person. Not only that I worry that if I did hit another car I wouldn't know that I did it. The car has had problems starting. It has left us almost stranded twice. The cars battery has died for no reason, even after driving a couple of hours prior to trying to restart it. The front and rear window motors have gone out, the rear windows were stuck open in a rain storm with my two children in the back seat. The vehicle has lost power driving down the interstate and a warning light came on in the dash, the vehicle had only 5,000 miles on the odometer. The keyless entry quite working, wich also kept our key chain lockers from working. The car would not turn over, it would just make a click, when it would turn over, it sounded like gears were grinding. The vehicle went in for to be serviced for the first time a month after we bought the vehicle, Dec. 5, 2003 and has gone in atleast once every two months since. The car has been in for servicing a total of 3 months out of the year that we have owned it. We have requested since it has been for the same problem 8 times and it has not been fixed that the dealership lemon the vehicle. But nothing has been done about it. The dealership doesn't know what the problem is and they have told us that they cannot fix it.we still have the same problem now. It can potentially hurt someone.

- Boise, ID, USA

problem #1

Nov 012004

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,000 miles
The consumer experienced a problem with the cruise control. The consumer would set the cruise control and then it will shut down by itself. The consumer took the vehicle to the dealer who as of today, was unable to find a defect. The failure resulted in a life threatening situation when the vehicle reached speeds in excess of 100 mph on it's own while hitting the resume button in cruise control. The vehicle had been in to the dealer for the repair of the braking and tire pressure gauges, throttle control, transmission slippage, cruise control, traction control default, general computer defaults and the rear trim piece at the liftgate opening was distorted.

- Long Lake, MN, USA

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