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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
39,775 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 brakes problems

brakes problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Nov 262009


  • 59,325 miles


Parking lever does not properly line up. Hope that this does not lead to the "roll away" issues.

- Virginia Beach, VA, USA

problem #2

Mar 062009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While the contact was servicing the vehicle, he observed that the emergency brake was defective. There was a brake lining defect on the rear driver's side and passenger side. The failures occurred without warning. All four brake rotors were replaced, but the brake line have not yet been replaced at this time. The manufacturer was notified of the failures. The failure and current mileages were 60,000. Updated 04/15/09. While changing the rotors on the vehicle, the consumer discovered the lining for the parking brake had separated from the shoes. Updated 04/16/09.

- Lake Geneva, WI, USA

problem #1

Feb 032009


  • miles
Dear NHTSA, below is my original contact to Ford Motor Corp (fmc). I recently replaced the brakes on my 2004 Explorer, but when I pulled the rear rotors, the friction material from the E-brake shoes fell on the ground. This is a serious safety issue! summary: Friction material was not bonded to E-brake shoe. Based on the extensive corrosion of the E-brake shoes at time of replacement, this condition has existed for a long period of time. Fmc requested more information, and I complied. I have pictures, but do not know how to attach them. I also have researched this issue in my area (s.E. Michigan, and it is common based on input from a Ford dealer and another service facility) please let me know how I can attach pics.

- White Lake, MI, USA

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