Print this page 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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
72,350 miles
Total Complaints:
28 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace something under the dash (14 reports)
  2. not sure (7 reports)
  3. replace blender door (5 reports)
  4. do not turn hot/cold selection to the extreme hot or cold po (2 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer AC / heater problems

AC / heater problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #28

Nov 122013

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles





- Chris B., Saint Charles, MO, US

problem #27

Oct 312015

Explorer XLT Sport 4x4 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,500 miles

Broken when I got the vehicle, had to tear the entire dash apart to replace.

- mcduffus, Egg Harbor City, NJ, US

problem #26

Sep 102014

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

The blend door will not flip over by itself when I want to use the heater in the car. I have to reach through the glove box and flip it each and every time I want to use the heater. I have not taken the time to get it fixed. I read that the part is only about $65 (not confirmed), but the labor to replace it is very involved. Think I might try to fix it myself.

- Ronda D., Sparrows Point, MD, US

problem #25

Jul 092014

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles


Air selector switch not working due to broken blend door. Fix would cost over $1367 not including actuators which would also have to be tested.

- Rocco D., Wilmington, NC, US

problem #24

Sep 122012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

The blender door broke and it was very expensive to replace because you have to remove the entire dash.

The part was less than $20 and the rest was labor. But when you have grandchildren who ride in you vehicle daily you have to have heat in the winter time. This was a must fix and option to put it off once the cold weather got close. This also wasn't on a recall for Ford to take care of a ongoing problem that they knew they had and chose not to make it right. Along with all of the other problems this vehicle has had. I do know a lot of car companies have this problem because my daughter has a GMC equinox and she had this problem and the mechanic that replaced hers replaced it with a metal blender door, sure it cost a couple dollars more. Metal doesn't break like plastic and for a part that is used as much and the blender door that controls your heat and air is a pretty important part of the car in my opinion. For a part that cost a couple dollars more each car and saves the customer hundreds of dollars a few years down the road. Oh yea, almost forgot the car dealer is not in it to make it easier on the customer just to make it cheaper on them and just maybe if all of this quits working the owner will consider trading for a new car. I did purchase another car but it wasn't a FORD. It was a Nissan and I have had it 5 years now with no problem, no, not even 1. Thank you Nissan!!

- pbowersgeorgia, Rockmart, GA, US

problem #23

Jan 122012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,678 miles

Ford wanted to charge $1130 to fix. I bought the parts & had a garage fix it.

- Cindy H., Highlands Ranch, TX, US

problem #22

Jul 012008

Explorer LS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles


AC has never worked right with alot of air blowing to the floor board. Fan on High and loud but not much air pressure coming out vents. Have not repaired yet. I have read it is is a faulty blend door and a big pain to repair.

- rosetexas, Watauga, TX, US

problem #21

Jan 012010

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

Not worth the repair cost FORD wants to charge ($800.00 plus) other quotes $600.00 from repair shops and could happen again. Pure Junk FORDS SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- Robert B., Pawtucket, RI, US

problem #20

Sep 012011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Bought a 2004 ford explorer brand new off the lot. Not sure how in 2011 the Heat is not working properly. 1st the AC went out in the back and now the heat went out in the front. Only after googling the problem I found that that there is a small lever that needs to move in order to let the heat come out. SO instead of paying to have the part fixed I continued to do this and now the dag on Glove box door is completely off the hinges. Too many plastic parts in Fords products!

- Eric G., Sierra Vista, AZ, US

problem #19

May 152012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

My blend door started clicking in the Spring this year, though it was stuck on A/C so I left it for several months while dreading having to spend hundreds of dollars to eventually have it fixed. Then I looked on YouTube and there is a guy whom video taped how to fix the problem. I bought an aftermarket blend door (Dorman) on (definitely not buying Ford's defective part given that they haven't fixed it in years and knowing they have a problem) for around $45 and installed it myself yesterday. It took me about 5 hours to fix but it works perfectly now. I looked at the old part and a few plastic teeth on the gear broke off which caused the problem. It's ridiculous that Ford won't fix this problem.

- John P., Fort Salonga, NY, US

problem #18

Nov 122010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles


Of course...the heat craps out when the weather starts to get really cold. Only in the front...yet the rear heat works fine. Froze my butt off while driving...yet...the kids in the back are sweating!! Couldn't drive it if it was snowing or raining...had no windshield defrost!! First...the ac/heat would make a clicking noise...thought it was switch on the dash. But...NOOOOO. Then it would only work on Max Blower...then only COLD air. It was an extreme PAIN IN THE ASS!! Thought it was the thermostat..nope. The blower...nope. It was the blend/door switch. Pain to fix. And that was the beginning of MANY more problems!

- witchydar, Litchfield, NH, US

problem #17

Oct 012009

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Outside air comes in from the glove box area. In winter, the front seat passenger must wrap blankets around his/her legs. Low volume of air flow from console vents even when fan is on high and sounds like it should be pushing a lot of air. AC will no longer adequately cool off interior. Same for the heater.

Owned nothing but Fords since 1970 but this is the last one. Plus the Ford dealership where I bought it (no longer in business) bent me over good regarding a 36,000 mile service contract I was stupid enough to buy. They all lit up a smoke after they finished with me on that one and didn't even kiss me.

- tomar, Little Rock, AR, US

problem #16

May 062010

Explorer XLT 4WD 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,435 miles

It"s really cold and you have to bundle up to take a ride. We had a snow storm this past weekend 01/10/2011 in Spartanburg,S.C. Did fine in the snow but snow switched to freezing rain while at mom and dad's. Had to stop on side of road four times returning home to scrap ice off windshield. What a hassle C.Lacey Spartanburg,S.C. Come on Ford Motor Co. let's step up to the plate and fix these problem's. By the way this vehicle has the cracked rear panel.

- charleslacey, Spartanburg, SC, US

problem #15

Nov 222010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

I discovered my defrost no longer putting out heat about a week ago. My initial reaction was to research the web and see if it was a trivial option to fix. (I spent my four years of High School in Automotive-although I never pursued it as a career) After a bit of googling, I realize the problem. A freaking PLASTIC vent door?

I have a coworker that worked for Ford Corporate, he owns a 2003 Explorer. He pushed a few problems (prob posted on here) thru and had FMC pick up the tab. They know this is a problem. I hope its a warm Indiana winter since I don't have the $$ to have this repaired.

- soundguyrob, Indianapolis, IN, US

problem #14

Jun 082010

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

The problem was fine as long as I never used the air, but one day my hubby decided we were all hot. I yelled "No don't move that I'll never get it back". He yelled back "I'll be able to get it back!" Well... guess what? Its never been back, and approaching fall I have no heat. We are an unemployed family with a smart a** who thinks everything will be fine and fixable. Well, I am a mother of two unemployed/college student with no extra doe to put into a stupid defect that should never have been a fight in the first place. Not only will I not be able to drive with no defrost, but it cause an unwanted fight in the family unit! Will I buy another Explorer....?

- vhulet01, Flint, MI, US

problem #13

Mar 032010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

Just like everyone else I am having an issue with the blend door. Mine is broken and I have no heat in my vehicle (good thing spring is coming). I am now looking into trading off this vehicle. I really like my ford Explorer, but cannot go without heat with having children in the vehicle. If Ford knows this exists, why not fix it?? NO MORE FORDS FOR ME!

- Julie B., Delavan, WI, US

problem #12

Mar 012010

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

At 57000 miles I was surprised at a clanking sound coming from the dashboard...I now realize that I'm not the only one having this annoying problem.After I save the money to repair this I can honestly say I will never buy another American made car again! This is my second Ford and my last.

- Michael C., Florence, SC, US

problem #11

Dec 082009

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles

Heard loud clicking noise underneath dash board when heat is turned on. Took it to mechanic and was informed that this was a common problem and very expensive to fix if the "heater door" broke. Currently, mine is not broken. The current "fix" is to not turn hot/cold temp. knob to the extreme left or right...this alleviates the "clicking" noise and considered a temporary fix.

- Wendy S., Fredericksburg, VA, US

problem #10

Apr 152008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

The temp was stuck on full hot. Took it to a dealer and the blend door was cracked inside of the duct. The dealer said this is very common with this year vehicle. They had to replace the whole duct assembly which has the a/c evaporator coil molded into it. The part alone was around $700 and there was around $700 in labor. I have dumped a lot of money into this SUV from tranny failures to blend doors failing. In the 4 years I owned it I have spent around $4000 at the dealership. If you own this vehicle push it off a cliff and collect the insurance money.

- jt893, Cato, WI, US

problem #9

Nov 232009

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

A ticking noise started under my dash and when evening came I turned the heat on only to have cold air. Figures it happened the night the entire week was registered to be 50 degrees. My son and I drove to school in ski coats, scarves and hats but the ticking noise was driving us crazy. Searched 3 different honest mechanics and the price range was from 1K to 1500.

- bg42000, Baltimore, MD, US

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