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:
33,595 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replacing the seal in the rear (3 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Mar 242004

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 500 miles


I have had my 2004 Ford Explorer into a Ford dealership for the same problem 6 times that started about three months from the date I bought it. It is now starting to whine again in the rear end and this is completely unacceptable. The Ford dealerships have replaced the rear pinion seal on my vehicle 6 times. You would think that Ford could get this problem figured out how to fix CORRECTLY which they obviously have not done. My opinion is that Ford should get different mechanics/experts that can get the job done to get this problem fixed once and for all. This is CRAZY that a company as large as Ford Motor Company cannot give me better service with the problems that I have with my Explorer.

- , Montpelier, VA, USA

problem #2

Jun 102008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,285 miles

I went to AutoBeef to check out complaints on some other models and decided to look up my own SUV's. I saw that the Ford Explorers had a terrible track record. The V6's had transmission problems and some of the rear ends had failed, probably due to leaky seals that were never noticed and burned out the gearing. I went out to the garage and looked at the area where the axle's enter the differential and sure enough my passenger side had a slow leak. YES, Ford should send out a notice to original owners that there is a problem with these seals and should extend the coverage on this part. My 2001 & 2002 Focus had extended warranties (150K miles) on the front springs. This was a known problem also and instead of having a recall, just extended the warranty. And YES, the springs on both of these car broke. Now, I will have to check the seals everytime I change the Oil. -

- , Westerville, OH, US

problem #1

Feb 182008

Explorer Limited Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

i too, must voice my displeasure with others that have posted.

with all the competition in the automotive market today - you would think that ford would get smart, and produce a product that they expect the consumers to pay high $$$ on - be of a "QUALITY" product.

i am forking out as of this morning 350.00 for seal replacement to my real end for oil leakage. i have owned Honda and Toyota's and one BMW.

i will be looking for another car after this is repaired ... most likely a Toyota.

- , Owensboro, KY, USA

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