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:
202,000 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. repaired problem at the dealer ship (2 reports)
  2. bolt and rear axle shafts replaced at carx (1 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Jan 052009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles


Symptoms: The car shifting so hard it felt like someone was lifting my truck and dropping it on its frame.

Diagnosed at Ford with having bad axle shafts and missing bolt from differential.

Took to Carx for second diagnosis. They replaced the axle shafts and bolt. 1 week later, differential is leaking. I felt like Carx was responsible. Took back to carx and they said deferential case was cracked. They offered to repair for the cost of the part(s) only. A mechanic openly admitted they did not normally do these kind of jobs. Why did they do it in the first place? Bought a rebuilt differential and brother (certified auto mechanic) replaced.


- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #2

Feb 272009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

First, a bolt fell out of rear differential axle, causing the left and right axles to go bad. When this occurred, I thought my transmission was going out. When shifting into any gear, I would hear and feel the gear slam. I paid $887 to get this problem fixed. A couple days after repair, I started hearing metal on metal grinding and noticed leaking in the rear. I took it back exactly one week after repair to find out the whole rear end is gone. A rebuilt differential is over $1,600. Needless to say, I have no more warranty on this lemon. I am single mother with two teenagers that are very high maintenance. I have exhausted all my resources and I don't know what to do for transportation now. I owe over $13,000 still and can not trade it in. This is the first Ford I have ever owned; the first car that has ever given me problems this horrible, and most definitely the last Ford I will ever, ever own.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #1

Oct 112006

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 450,000 miles

All I was doing was just backing up in the parking lot and heard a loud noise under my car. The whole differential bolt just dropped out from under my car. Had to get the car towed and missed a half day of work.

I have a piece of sh!! for a car. It is slowly falling apart. Good thing this was under warranty but I have another problem which I will list in another e-mail. My mother has the same car and is having just as many problems. This is the WORST car I have ever bought. It is the first Ford I have ever bought and the last!!!! I would trade it in but of course it is paid off.......

- , Sandy Hook, VA, USA

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