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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
65,548 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #15

May 282015


  • 185,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving at 35 mph, a loud abnormal noise emitted from the vehicle and it started to swerve out of control. The contact stated that the vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic for diagnostic testing. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 185,000. The VIN was not available.

- Queen Creek, AZ, USA

problem #14

Jul 182007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 17,000 miles
Exact dates are various, vehicle has 39000 miles on it presently, have multiple vehicles, drive over the road truck driver... changed brakes and rotors twice, emergency brake not working, had fixed, had to have ekg replaced and some exhaust sensor, tires wore out at 29000, exhaust system replaced, both ball joints replaced, pinion gear gasket leaking from rear end, both cv joints leaking, appears right cv joint needs replacing, gets 14 mpg ( 4.0 liter ) paint peeling from roof for quite awhile now, rusting around fuel tank door, as all are...... vehicle has been a nightmare, getting rid of this at 39000 miles, Ford has a better idea, buy another one !

- Cheektowaga , NY, USA

problem #13

Jan 142014

Explorer 8-cyl

  • miles
Every since we've financed this lousy SUV 08/2012 we've had a clicking noise from the rear and still cant figured out what that is, but the transmission has been slipping and shifting hard, we have replace front left wheel bearing and ABS sensor just a few months ago and the bearing is bad again and the front right wheel has a bad ball joint and the visibility thru windshield is horrible, always have a hard time seeing, cna only see a few inches ahead!!! this car needs serious recalls the air conditioner stopped working in less then a yr!!! and we bought this car with only 68,506 miles!! we already spend over a grand for a fuel pump!!! this car sucks!!! plz help we still owe thousands and everytime we blink an eye it's not safe to drive because of wheel problems!!!!

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #12

Jun 022014

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 117,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that there was an abnormal noise coming from the front end of the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the dome over the shock absorber was rusted. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure and current mileage was 117,000. Updated 08/11/2014 the consumer stated Ford would not repair the vehicle. The vehicle was traded in to Ford with a reduced amount to the trade in allowance because of the failure. Updated 08/12/2014

- Medina, OH, USA

problem #11

Sep 152012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 106,000 miles
I purchased a 2004 Ford Explorer in July 0F 2011, and traded in my 2001 Oldsmobile of 5 years. I also purchased the 12 month 12,000 mile warranty. Before driving it off the lot I had the dealer fix the ABS system because the light was on. There is a crack going down the back of the trunk but nothing else was wrong at the time so I left the crack alone. In April of 2012 I took it to the dealership for a belt, check trans, shocks, ball joints, and a ticking in the heater when knob was turned to heat (not cool). I told him to just fix what was on the warranty and also give it a oil change. He informed me that the trans was fine. After getting the car back my heat went out and I was told by a mechanic buddy that my brakes, rotters, emergency brake pads and the back tires were shot. So I had him replaced them because this was also not covered on warranty. Just last week my RPM started jumping with miles over 65.(no lights were on at the time)so I took it to 6 different places getting estimates on what could be wrong. All shops said the same thing. "start with fuel filter, oil filters and oil change". the day after I paid for all this the service engine light came on. (egr valve code) the man at auto zone told me to take it off and clean it with spray and let it dry before replacing. I took it to a shop and had them do this. The same day I picked up the car my service engine light came on again, O/D light and the car was driving like I was hauling a bus and jumping. I took it back the next day and he replaced the egr valve new since the same code was showing up. Later that day after getting it back the car started doing the same thing after driving for 5 miles this was Friday 9/21/12.

- Hebron, KY, USA

problem #10

Mar 022009


  • 80,000 miles
I currently own a 2004 Ford Explorer and purchased new in 2005. Have had to replace, the 2 front hubs 3 times, the rack and pinion steering and the transmission slips excessively. This vehicle is driven by my wife to school and home and used for transporting my family. I keep seeing the same problems online but no action by Ford. Can you say piece of junk?

- Batavia , NY, USA

problem #9

Apr 152011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 28,819 miles


2004 Ford Explorer XLT, mileage at time of failure 28,819 left front bearing hub failed prematurely vehicle started to pull to the left. No injuries, repair cost $270,00. Vehicle off warranty due to age. All vehicles should be warrantied for 36,000 miles or more with no years. Wheel bearings should last at least 75,000 miles.

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #8

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 #7

Nov 112010


  • 93,000 miles
Were a family a Ford Explorer my family has 4 of them ranging from the years 1996,99,2002,2004 and everyone of these vehicles have serious issues. Ranging from rotting suspension parts, to wheel bearing issues on newer models, rotting fuel and brake lines, this is supposed to be an american made company that is jeopardizing the lives of american and children with total disregard of human life, but I bet you the owners of Ford don't have these issues they probably drives foreign haha but seriously someone will get hurt by this and it costing thousands of dollars out of pocket to fix an ongoing problem with these trucks please do a recall its so unfair at this point.

- Hillburn, NY, USA

problem #6

Aug 052010


  • 79,500 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving approximately 40 mph he heard a loud low pitch grinding noise coming underneath the rear wheels. A passenger in the vehicle stated that she could feel vibrations underneath the seats. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and was in the process of having the failure diagnosed. The failure mileage was 79,500 and the current mileage was 79,664.

- East Elmhurst, NY, USA

problem #5

Oct 012008


  • 79,000 miles


Two out of four wheel bearings are howling on this vehicle.

- Panama, IA, USA

problem #4

Jun 202008


  • 83,000 miles
Wheel bearings going bad, from time to time.

- Doral, FL, USA

problem #3

Jan 062007

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,900 miles
I purchased my 2004 Explorer and at about 36,000 miles I had to bring the vehicle in to have the wheel bearings replaced. Now at 65,000 miles once again the wheel bearings are going bad. I have never owned nor have I ever heard of a vehicle where the wheel bearings only lasting about 30,000 to 40,000 miles. The first time the dealer replaced the bearings however this time the vehicle is not under warranty. To buy a new vehicle and have to replace the wheel bearings every 30,000 to 40,000 miles is not acceptable.

- Van Buren, AR, USA

problem #2

May 312006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
Transmission slamming into reverse / drive, took to dealership, solenoid pack replaced 6 months ago, started having same problems and now this time also, rpms shoot up to 7 when accelerating. Took back to dealer, said they had to replace the solenoid pack again. Won't honor warranty after the $800 problem was just fixed! also, have serious suspension problems! front sway bar bushings, rear shocks (leaking), replace front lower ball joints.

- Westminster, MD, USA

problem #1

Mar 172004

(reported on)


  • miles
4the steering wheel sticks intermittently when it's turned to the left or right and does not return without pulling it back. This was a major problem when pulling out in traffic or going around a sharp bend. The vehicle had been to the Ford dealer three times and was told that all the new Explorer were made that way and there was nothing they could do about it. There was a big clunk at times when backing up and turning to the right or left. The ride was very bumpy and caused the occupants to be thrown from side to side while driving.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

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