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:
90,125 miles
Total Complaints:
4 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace shoes, safety issue, noticed when rear pads replaced (2 reports)
  2. replace shoes (1 reports)
  3. should be recalled (1 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer brakes problems

brakes problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #4

Jan 132017

Explorer XTL

  • Automatic transmission
  • 152,000 miles


So I have brought this car to 2 different mechanics and they are unable to fix this problem. I noticed this problem for the Massachusetts state inspection when the reverse emergency brake was not working. With the first mechanic he said the piece was completely detached. Then the problem got solved for a couple days then returned. I brought to another mechanic and he said he cleaned out the shoe brakes and replaced both and the problem still persisted after I picked it up. Is anyone having this issue and what have they done to fix it? Was there any recalls for 2004 Ford explorer for emergency brake. Thanks!

- , Boston, MA, USA

problem #3

Aug 102009

Explorer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

I've had occasion to work on three 2004 Explorers (mine,my brothers and my sisters) and found the e-brake pads on all three seperated from the steel shoes. None of us can remember even using the e-brakes, but the glue bonding the pads still failed. This should be a recall item since installing new shoes involves pulling axles. Haven't felt like doing it yet, so we don't use the e-brake.

- , Atwater, OH, USA

problem #2

Dec 182010

Explorer LT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

Replaced rear brake pads and rotors and the parking brake pads fell off to the floor.

- , Metamora, IL, USA

problem #1

Feb 072009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4x4 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,500 miles

To me this is a MAJOR safety concern. I only noticed the problem when I removed the rear rotor for replacement as part of the rear-brake job I performed today. When the rotor was removed on the left side, of the the e-brake shoe linings fell to the floor. When I did the right rear, both shoe linings fell to the floor.

NOTE: When the brake job was performed, there was still friction material on both the front and rear brake pads front and rear, but I did also notice deterioration on the outside of the rear disk surfaces (this is what prompted the brake job to start with, only to find the e-brake problem).

NOTE2: I did noticed that when I went to set the e-brake (parking brake) that it did not grab so I used wheel chocks so the car did not move. Only after removing the rear rotor did the problem become clear! A good pre-check for this condition would be to confirm the correct operation of the e-brake (parking brake). If the e-brake does not work, I would suggest checking for this problem.

If I had lost primary braking, I would not have been able to stop the vehicle with the secondary (emergency system).

VERY SCARY to think about!

If allowed access to this complaint again, I will add pictures I only finished the main brake system today (I did not have parts for the e-brake system).

- , White Lake, MI, USA

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