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
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
8,572 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #2

Oct 272004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Circumstances with our newly leased 2004 Ford Explorer are such that we are requesting that you provide us with a new vehicle of similar year, make and model. This vehicle was purchased "new" on June 25, 2004 and has had numerous mechanical malfunctions that have made it hazardous and dangerous to operate. The 2 very serious malfunctions are not minor, but are of a very serious nature. 1. vehicle's engine shuts off this has occurred in situations on the highway that have been extremely hazardous to the passengers and those of the general public. When this malfunction occurs, it occurs without warning. There is no consistency to when this happens, but it happens often enough that as operators we have lost confidence in the vehicle. We are reluctant to have children in it or to take it on the highway. It is without question that the defects in our 2004 Ford Explorer are serious. 2. difficulty putting the vehicle in gear it is becoming increasingly difficult to put the vehicle into gear. In other words, when you put the vehicle into reverse, it goes not engage in the gear. At other times, it will engage the gear after a prolonged delay. This is particularly dangerous when you step on the accelerator and it "unexpectedly" jumps into gear after a prolonged delay. This is extremely dangerous for the passengers, but particularly for any pedestrians walking behind the vehicle. Both of these malfunctinos present a danger and a hazard and are very serious defects. Inacceptable response from Ford dealership regards, john piscal cfo inner city education foudation 323.294.8515 cc: Mr. Michael piscal president & CEO

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #1

Oct 102004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,144 miles
Delay in transmission engaging in either reverse or forward gear is highly dangerous because auto suddenly slams into gear and lurches forward. This has also occurred at highway speeds when the gear suddenly engages and causes a severe lurch forward with a bang so severe I thought I had hit something. Also, there is a chatter when accelerating during a turn and vibration of the driveshaft at varying speeds. I was told by the service dept. When I complained after purchasing the car that this delay was normal. On the second visit, they replaced the differential which caused a vibration and whine in the drive train. I returned it and the differential again was replaced and the drive shaft balanced with no improvement. I have been waiting for parts for quite sometime. The fluid additive is not available nor has the solenoid been replaced, but I understand this does not work either.

- Broken Arrow, OK, USA

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