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.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
83,610 miles
Total Complaints:
41 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (19 reports)
  2. replace steering column (9 reports)
  3. had to pay for the expensive repair (4 reports)
  4. replace defective parts with better upgrade (4 reports)
  5. replaced entire steering column (4 reports)
  6. replace shift solenoid (1 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2004 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #41

May 012014

Explorer LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


My wife put the gear selector in park and it broke off in her hand. Had to take off steering column cover to shift it to get it back home Ford knows there is a problem but won't recall The part that breaks is made of white metal so shift easy, the whole steering column had to be replaced.

- , Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #40

Jul 022014

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

Was going to back into my driveway and as I went to put the car in reverse, the gear shift snapped. I was blocking the street and panicked. I realized the car was still in drive so I was able to park in front of my home. Unfortunately, without a working gear shift, I was unable to put the car in park so I had to shut it down in drive with the emergency brake on. I had the car towed to my mechanic.

Waiting to hear about how much this is going to cost to fix. I have been seeing between $1200 to 2000. I have never heard of such a thing before.

- , Piscataway, NJ, USA

problem #39

Jul 292013

Explorer XLY V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

I bought this 2004 Ford Explorer approximately 1 year ago for $9,000.00. I live on social security disability which does not allow for a car payment of any sort. I was having problems with moving the gear shift out of park to the other gears for about a month, but did not have the funds for an evaluation or repair. One morning on my way to a doctor's appointment I got in the car with my ever-present oxygen (COPD) and the gear shift refused to budge from park. I tried to finesse and finagle, but nothing worked. I tried a little pressure and the whole gear shift gave way, allowing a lot of play and finally, a break. My son works on car maintenance and easy-to-medium fixes. I bought the $30.00 Haynes repair book, referenced the internet and he wisely decided that this fix was out of his league. Now I have no car. No resources to get another car. No vehicle for my outrage and anger except for this site.I cannot afford the $1,000.00 to $2,000.00 to have a dealership fix this problem. I cannot even afford a tow.

After reading about the problems that are continuing to occur in this model of Ford, I believe all owners that have experienced this problem deserve a rebate, a free fix, monies for inconvenience, maybe even a free car. At least in my case that would seem just.

I have owned Fords all of my long life (62 years). I have put a lot of money in Ford's pockets over the years. This is more than a disappointment to me. This is a disaster. In the '70s I marched on Washington. Maybe the '13s are a time to march on Ford?

- , Parker, Douglas, USA

problem #38

Jun 022013

Explorer LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 153,245 miles


Was on a co-workers vehicle. I did the repairs myself. Found out that the part is available from O'Riley to fix the problem. Takes the following tools: #2 Phillips screwdriver, 1/4" pin punch, hammer, hack saw, small flat blade screwdriver, snap ring pliers with 90 degree tips and small 1/8" pins, large flat blade screwdriver, medium vice grips. Take the shroud cover off the steering column taking out the front hidden Phillips screws from the bottom first, then take out the other Phillips head screw on the left side of the column to remove the top shroud. use the small flat blade screwdriver to disconnect the O/D disconnect if equipped. Remove the shift lever. use the 1/4" pin punch and hammer to knock out the pin connecting it to the junk cylinder. Push the center of the sliding linkage as far back as you can towards the dash. Use the hacksaw to cut through the junk cylinder (wont take much it seems to be made of light pot metal) use the large screwdriver to pop it apart. Next you will need to cut off the bottom button with the hacksaw to release the shift toggle gear. Be very careful not to damage the micro switches, I have not found replacements for them yet. When you get the replacement part it will come with some instructions but looking at it you can see that the shift toggle gear has a small flat alignment slot that easily slips on the new part. Slide the new part into place be careful to align the aluminum bushings in the front and back of the new part. Apply a light coat of lithium grease to the new part to make it smooth shifting. reassemble the shifter to the new part with the transmission in Neutral to allow the pin to fit into place. be sure the micro switch on top and bottom are properly aligned so the key will come out and the shifter will lock into park. reassemble the rest of the parts and you are done.

- , Kansas City, KS, USA

problem #37

Sep 242012

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Read quite a bit online about gear shift levers shearing off AFTER it happened to me. Spent a couple hours online researching. Seemed like the fix was the Dorman part # 905-104. I called the dealer and they gave me the "entire column @ $1200 plus labor" story. I suggested the Dorman part. To my surprise, he called me back and said they can do that and gave me an estimate of $360 parts and labor....

- , Canfield, OH, USA

problem #36

Jul 262012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

Just like the rest of the people on here my gear shift broke. I was lucky to be leaving my home when I go to put the car in drive and the gear shift broke right into my hand. I couldn't believe it, well now that I've ready what all the other folks said I can believe it.

- , Fullerton, CA, USA

problem #35

Jul 022012

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


I went to shift the other day and no longer can tell what gear I am in. Just one of a list of problems with this car.

- , Peoria, AZ, USA

problem #34

Apr 022012

Explorer LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,375 miles

I bought This truck 2 yrs ago not knowing it was a sealed trans, about 4 mths after buying trans started slipping w/ only 93000 mls, truck taken very good care of ( me and previous owner ) this is crazy ! this is my fourth Ford truck and my last if ford doesn't want to back up what is obviously a serious problem !! HOW DO WE GET FORD TO PAY UP ? I've given Ford close to $100.000 in trucks I think they owe on this one !!! Built Ford Tough ???? Back it up Ford ! and pay up !

- , Greenfield, WI, USA

problem #33

Jan 142012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

Get into my car to go back out after having been out twenty minutes prior...went to put car in reverse and handle broke off! Saturday afternoon at 3:30! What do I do with this? Car has to be towed and not sure where to take it. Ford dealer? order part off internet? Any help would be appreciated!

- , Malden, MA, USA

problem #32

Oct 102011

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I'd like to start a CLASS ACTION SUIT against FORD for their Explorer XLT model built in 2004. Maybe I should post this on Twitter to get the ball rolling because Ford really doesn't give a damn about their buyers who paid over $32,000 for this car.

The freakin' car was lurching in reverse and laboring in 2nd gear on drive. In Dec. 2010 with only 90K mi. I had to have the TRANSMISSION REPLACED for $3,000! Now the timing chains are clacking so loud when you drive, I just pray they will not snap and I'll have to get a new or rebuilt engine ("good luck with that" said my Ford service advisor meaning they are in high demand).

Yesterday my daughter tried backing out of a parking place in South Bend IN about 90 mi away from me and a chunk of metal fell from somewhere under the drive shaft onto her feet and stuck the shifter on reverse. She could not get the keys out or turn the car off! After careful maneuvering she was able to get it into park and shut the car off. She said it was driving on neutral before that and never really square on the D.


I have talked with about 6 repair shops and their answer is everything from redo the trans, to replace the whole steering column to fix the linkage to replace the replace the brake shift interlock pin to get down under it and see where the metal part came from. WHAT?? ARE YOU CRAZY?!!!

Seriously FORD how am I with 4 grandchildren to raise supposed to keep pouring money into your piece of sh*t car? I can't afford to repair it or replace it. My daughter will have to take the train home and I will have to LEAVE MY CAR there until I can come up with the money to repair it. Hell, I can't even get the thing towed!!

Suffice it to say I will NEVER buy a FORD product as long as I live and FORD knew early on they had these problems and chose to ignore them. My sister has a FORD Taurus she'd also like to push over a cliff - ALL the MILs are on, the check engine light won't go off, the fuel gauge shows empty when full, the horn won't honk, cruise control doesn't work and the airbags show they are disengaged. Oh, but the System Check will tell you everything is "OK."

Step up to the plate Ford, you are losing customers in droves.

- , Valparaiso, IN, US

problem #31

Sep 022011

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


Have a 2004 Eddie Bauer that I keep in pristine shape with only 45,000 miles. My gearshift came off in my hand putting the car in reverse. When I looked at the stress points and the breakage, I realized it is not made of metal, but a metalized "Resin", why would Ford build a gear shift, which gets a lot of use, out of resin. Then....charge 2K to repair. This is beyond unbelievable. If you are going to build cheap components out of metalized resin, do the things that get little wear and are inexpensive to repair. This is the first and last time I will ever own an American made car. I never had these problems with my Acura, and it fritz out at 250,000 miles. Shame, Shame on Ford for making such inferior AMERICAN MADE PRODUCTS!

Update from Sep 5, 2011: I read everything I could on this problem, and have gone out to e-bay and purchased the "steering column shift linkage coupler lever bracket", per the posts here. There are a few companies on the internet selling this part. I paid $44.00 with shipping. I am going to take the part to my mechanic and see how much in labor to replace. It has to be cheaper than the $ 2,000 Ford dealership wants to replace the part. Thank God for the internet super highway of information!

Will update the cost and if the part worked. If so, lets all get the word out about this part and prevent Ford and their dealerships from continuing to rip us off over their shoddy parts.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #30

Feb 162010

Explorer Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,071 miles

click to see larger images

gear shift broke off gear shift broke off

I have a second hand Explorer, Year 2004 imported from US and While I was going to shift the gear I was surprised it was losing. Then I figured out that the gear shift lever was broken. By searching for similar problems I found out that it is a general manufacturing problem even the junkyard ran out of this part because many clients faced the same problem. I tried to fix it but it is very costly and since it is a manufacturing problem I am asking Ford Co. to consider my problem as it is giving bad impressions about Ford. Many people were surprised by that problem as it should not happen with FORD Motors. I am now using a small removable iron stick to make the shifting since then.

- , Hofuf, Choose a state, Saudi Arabia

problem #29

Jul 062011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,885 miles

Well like every body else ...I pulled into work go to put the 50,000$ (canadian)explorer Eddie Bauer in park and would you know it ....the gearshift fell off in my hands???? I can't believe that Ford Canada or USA WOULD COMPROMISE THE SAFETY OF ALL MOTORIST AND PEDESTRIANS OUT THERE.....can somebody tell me where the integrity in workmanship is!!!! all to save a penny....lucky I'm very resourceful and called up scrap yard and found a steering column for 150$ plus tax of course I talked with my mechanic and should take about an1 hr to swap out the cost for this experience should only be about 300$ including the towing...I will be contacting Transport Canada and putting a complaint in...will I buy another Ford product ????

- , Cornwall, Ontario, Canada

problem #28

Mar 162011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I got up today and was going about my normal routine and I pulled into a place of business, put my truck in park and turned the ignition off. When I returned to my vehicle, cranked my truck, and went to put it in reverse the gear shift fell off in my hands. I was in disbelief. I had to have it towed to the newest Ford Dealership. I was told that it was going to cost me 1200.00 just for the part. I have been reading all of the complaints on this website and realized that this is definitely a problem and Ford needs to definitely address this issue. I have children and I am just so thankful that we were not on the road with my children in the car when this happened. Once or when I definitely get rid of this Ford, I Will Never Own or Buy Another FORD. Ford I see that you do not value your customer complaints and you are putting peoples lives at risk.

- , Fayette, AL, USA

problem #27

Dec 212010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles packed, car loaded and on our way to vacation. All of a sudden SNAP, my gear shifter lever breaks. Was able to salvage vacation by removing the steering cover and manually changing gears. Could not get the key out though, so I ran the risk for a week. Anyway, thought I would be able to replace the part but reading that it will require a complete swap out of my steering column. Is this accurate? Has anyone had success with an alternative repair....better yet has anyone gotten anywhere with Ford picking up the cost. Not sure how Ford can chose to ignore as this is a safety issue that will undoubtedly cause injury or death to someone in the future. I for one will make sure Ford understands their irresponsibility.

- , upland, CA, USA

problem #26

Jan 112011

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 153,000 miles

I woke up went down to my SUV this morning to go to work at 5:30am and after I warmed up my truck for 10 minutes I was putting it in reverse and my GEAR SHIFT BROKE OFF! After I was late to work I had to take my mom's car to work, I called my mechanic he came out and took a look at it and said he has never seen anything like this. Also yesterday I let my one of my co workers borrow my truck to take something to another location for catering and I've had my truck for over 2 and a half years with no problems and all of a sudden this morning the gear shift breaks! wow! just my luck right! Damn FORD I think they should recall these SUV'S back after reading everyone's comments.

- , Hayward, CA, USA

problem #25

Dec 042010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

Went out to get our christmas tree yesturday, had our 2 week old baby with us. Got the tree ontop of the car and went to leave but it wouldnt move out of park. My husband tried a few times only to have the gear shifter snap off. found hundreds of reports online and ford wont do anything about it. how ridiculous. 3 weeks before christmas and this costs $1500+ to fix??

- , Haverhill, MA, US

problem #24

Nov 132010

Explorer XLS4 v6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I was trying to shift from Drive to Park and my gear shift lever broke off in my hand on my 2004 Ford Explorer. I have never heard of such a thing until reading this website. I had to have my car towed to Ford where it is now being held hostage because they want over $1,700 to replace the steering column. This is wrong!!! Sounds like a recall issue to me. Many complaints I am reading about are all centered around 2004, 2003, and 2002 cars. What materials was Ford using during these model years??? What can we do? My next call is to Ford customer service, but I am not hopeful. If Ford doesn't help me out on this one I will never buy another Ford and I will definitely be spreading the word. The internet is a powerful tool.

- , DesPlaines, IL, USA

problem #23

Nov 172010

Explorer Eddy Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

click to see larger images

gear shift broke off

This is Pretty Lame! Looks like it is a piece of aluminum that apparently just snapped off. I have forwarded the same image to the parts person at my local ford dealer to help source the right part. He found the handle "special Order" $70 pretty quickly and he is looking based on my picture for the actual part. Pick-a-Park offered an entire column for about $300.00

I was able to remove the covering over the steering column with a Philips screwdriver and pulled the actual transmission cable, which I am not using to shift gears. Pretty tough to take it out of part and to take the key out of the ignition because you have to hold two little switches right around the darn thing that broke off!

Anyway, I will let you know what the parts department tells me. The Philips screwdriver definitely saved me a $59 (discounted) tow and god knows I would have been talked into at the dealer to get it fixed.

I feel sorry for any soccer mom who has to go through this same experience.


- , Fontana, CA, USA

problem #22

Sep 292010

Explorer 3.3L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,654 miles

With all the bail outs the U.S. taxpayers gave to these billion dollar companies, what do we get in return? Faulty, shoudy, inferior materials. We pay $30,000 plus for these vehicles and get nothing but headaches in return. I was getting ready to leave an appointment and started the truck, tried to put into gear and the shift lever broke right off. Ford purposely ignores the problems and puts thousands of peoples life in danger and does nothing.

Is our life not important to the fat cats at Ford. You would think that the safety of the ALL people would be something that is important to them. Good old fashioned american greed at work. Ford needs to start taking resposibility for their actions. I don't know what else to say, Fords unaction just leaves me speechless. Needless to say this is the last Ford I ever buy.

- , Saint Francis, WI, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?