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:
88,383 miles
Total Complaints:
5 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (2 reports)
  2. rear end replaced/axle differential/gear & pinion (2 reports)
  3. replace front wheel bearings (1 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #5

Jul 122016

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 172,472 miles


ABS light came on along with the 4x4 High light on dash blinking. Noticed grinding noise coming from left front driver side as I drove. When I would start the truck and try to drive, it felt like the truck was in 4x4 low it sounded horrible backing up as well as going forward until a higher speed. On the highway it felt like the truck was actuating 4x4 High. Constant whirling drivetrain noise. Very dangerous since the truck actuating 4x4 on its own could cause an accident or for your transmission and drive train to burn out. Took it to a Ford Dealership and was told it was both of my front wheel bearings going out. After just a little research it seems 2002-2004 Ford Explorers have a had lots of wheel bearing issues. So far I do not see a recall on this issue but I am sure they will change there minds someday when one of us or our children are injured due to this issue. Cost to fix after diagnostics, wheel hub bearing assembly and labor was $1018.00 to a father (me) who was recently laid off and has a seven year old daughter who has medical issues. Thanks Ford!

- , Delta, CO, USA

problem #4

Feb 232016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,700 miles

For years my parents have been dealing with problems with their 2004 Ford Explorer, this was to be there last vehicle that they were to buy to get them through their golden years. My dad was one of the best industrial machine repair man around and took great care of everything he owned. My mother was a school bus driver and understands the importance of a good working safe vehicle.

They both asked the right questions and did there best to research what they wanted in a vehicle. They ask the dealerships they looked in consumer reports but sadly did not have computers to look up information on vehicles , they had trust in Ford and the Ford dealership to help them in their choice.

Late 2007 they purchased a 2004 Ford Explorer from Vanderhide Ford in Grand Rapids Mi. By this time the industry but not the public at large had strong proof that this model vehicle had big problems with its drive train and rear hatch. No effort by ford or the dealership was made to fix or inform buyers of any problems with this vehicle had my parents known they would not have bought this vehicle or put in the amount of money they did trying to fix this vehicle.

To get to the point in a 3 year period my parents spent over 6000 dollars on a problem that could not be fixed, the Ford dealership had one story after another is to what was wrong and what it was going to take to fix it. After each fix the problem would go away for a short time only to return again. After a good deal of repair and replacing many components in the drive train they gave up on the ford dealers and had taken the vehicle to independent repair shops only to find that that know of the problems with this type of vehicle but where not able to get support or information from Ford on any repairs.

My dad passed away a year ago thinking that he had broken the tailgate on this vehicle and that the on going trouble with it was just a problem with this one vehicle. Now mom is living alone and this vehicle is her primary transportation and it is failing again.

It is just now that I began to look on the net to find answers as to what is going on, I see the class action lawsuit for the tailgate and all sorts of information on the drive train problems and numbers to call ford for some sort of fix. After some run a round I found that Ford and the dealerships where not going to help us with any fix or admitting that there is any ongoing problem that the vehicle but please bring it in pay around 90 dollars and we will tell you if there is any service bulletin or notices after we again go over the vehicle.

My folks are not rich and their life is lived in the best simple way, stand by what you believe and when you make a mistake do your best to make it right. Ford please do the right thing here.

What has been done to fix this vehicle, new tires, new u joints, new transfer case, new bearings, new seals, new brakes, rebuild transmission, rebuild differentials front and rear, drain flush fluids, new transfer case motor, encoder motor, speed sensors. Now the vehicle is sitting it is not safe to drive as the problem now make the wheels pull and lock up when driving down the road

- , Rockford, MI, US

problem #3

Jan 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I purchased this car at 33,000 miles. After about the first oil change I noticed it has this unsettling grinding and nasty vibration to the whole vehicle on turns. I have researched it time and again, but it seems like without replacing entire portions of the vehicle then I just have to deal with it. I don't know whether this contributes to other issues with my vehicles, because there are so many, but if anything it sounds awful and people riding in the vehicle with me fear that the car is about to fall apart or the transmission of blowing out. Ford sucks. It's awful, there are so so many issues with this vehicle it's laughable. Issue recalls for these safety issues, my God.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #2

Nov 212011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,850 miles

Rear end grinding when you have to make a lot of turns in a short period of time. Sounds like the rear end is slipping and grinding. Almost slips when turning.

- , Clarkesville, GA, US

problem #1

Apr 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,891 miles

Rear End - differential for $2,000 at only 63,000 miles? Was told this is another problem with 2004 Explorers. 6 months later, the transmission went out on this vehicle! This is a sad statement on Ford, they should be recalling these models/years

- , Kansas City, MO, USA

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