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.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
72,111 miles
Total Complaints:
9 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace upper control arm with ball joint (7 reports)
  2. not sure (2 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer suspension problems

suspension problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #9

Aug 022010

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


never had an upper ball joint fail before 50,000 miles. unbelievable.

- , Dade City, FL, USA

problem #8

Feb 012014

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

Just another thing that just isn't lasting on this vehicle. I was told it's not a safety issue, but will continue to cause noise and possibly affect the ride in the car. I found this out when I was having to replace my almost broken ball joints! Could you imagine? Driving my kids around and having your wheels break off! All I know, with all my issues with this car, I'm hoping it gets me two more years and then it's gone. Don't expect me to return to Ford though unless they change their service record.

- , Fairfield, CA, USA

problem #7

Aug 212013

Explorer XLS 4.0L 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

Ball bearings gave out, throwing alignment off, which in turn caused damage to control arms, and also caused both brakes and tires to wear unevenly. The ball bearings were $600.00 to replace, but my entire repair bill because of this problem was over $2,000.00.

- , St. Louis, MO, USA

problem #6

Sep 152009

Explorer XLT 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles


The front right CV joint/ball busting piece of crap went out. 1,000 miles BEFORE my extended warranty expired. BUT wait... a month later, the front left goes out. I'll log this twice.

This is my third "American made" car and my last! All these "overseas" manufacture cars are now MADE STATE SIDE, so I will be giving them my sales from now on!

- , Chattanooga, TN, USA

problem #5

Jun 052006

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles

Front ball joints were shot at around 30,000 miles and covered under warranty the first time around. Now at 117,000 miles the ball joints are loose again and need to be replaced.. Unbelievable!

- , Wauwatosa, WI, USA

problem #4

Dec 122011

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

The mechanic first told me about this a year ago and said it wasn't critical, but I would need to address it soon. I finally decided to get it done when I got the wheel bearings redone on the front and the rear.

- , Johns Creek, GA, USA

problem #3

Sep 012009

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles


Just another Ford Defect. It's no wonder that when I went to the dealership to replace the thermostat casing the service rep took me aside and immediately showed me the damaged front bushings -- he already knew they were damaged without even looking at them -- $1,400 to repair.

Another Ford defect.

- , Miami, FL, USA

problem #2

Nov 152007

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

just a little annoyed that i just had my car inspected a month ago a ford dealership before i drove across the country from wa to me and was given the thumbs up! nothing mentioned.. get to maine now i need breaks... new power steering pump and new ball joints!

- , Bath, ME, USA

problem #1

Feb 062007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,000 miles

took vehicle back to dealer showed problem, dealer had no answer for problem but could not understand how i found problem. i told him i was rotating tires and found torn upper ball joint boots. took vehicle in next day and they replaced both upper control arms with ball joints already installed. but now they will not pay for alignment. this procedure should be done and i dont understand why i should pay for an alignment, this also should be warranty. i am still going to look into this. if you own a 2004 explorer with this type of mileage you should check your ball joints.

- , Fruitland Park, FL, USA

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