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:
83,284 miles
Total Complaints:
28 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace rear differential (14 reports)
  2. not sure (7 reports)
  3. don't buy ford!! (3 reports)
  4. rear end was replaced (2 reports)
  5. repair, never buy a ford 2004 (1 reports)
  6. whole drivetrain went caused by 4x4 transfer case (1 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #8

Nov 152008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles


Can't remember the total cost to me. Warranty expired but Ford covered 70% of the cost. Extremely low mileage on the car, rear end should have not had to be replaced

- , Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #7

Oct 182008

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

I hear this loud noise when I am driving my car. I take my car into Ford and they tell me the whole rear end is gone!!!! I said WHAT, I only have 65000 miles on my car and the rear is out??? Now of course my warranty is over, my SUV is paid off and I have to pay for the rear end to get fix. I feel like kicking Ford in the rear. They also tell me that my right suspension is shot??? Not feeling too good now. I guess the next thing to go is my transmission. Oh boy can't wait..........


- , Sandy Hook, VA, USA

problem #6

Jan 022008

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

i have had vibration and a bad noise from my rear end...come to find out that it is my differential so i called tuffy up to have it fixed and they said that it was a recall so i called ford and they said that there has not been a recall on it and they will not help me with it even though i bought it brand new from them and we have 5 ford vehicles that we have bought in 2 years they said that they can fix it for $1500. well you know what i will trade my vehicle in for a new chevy and never will buy ford AGAIN!!! And believe me i will call the corporate also!!!

- , Daytona Beach, FL, US

problem #5

Dec 102007

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles


Ford told us this is a common problem with Explorers...but no recall. This is my last Ford, period.

- , Vail, AZ, USA

problem #4

Nov 082007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

I have had my Explorer for 3 years. I bought it used, and at the time it ran great. In the last 2 years, I've had one thing break after another. First the O2 sensor went bad, then the transmission was shifting hard and when I took it to the dealer, I found out there was a recall on something with the transmission. It was good for about a year and then that's when things REALLY got bad. First, my 4x4 function got stuck. Then my truck got stuck in O/D. Once I got those two things fixed, my check engine light came on. It turned out that I needed a new solenoid pack. After replacing that I thought I was good to go. Then about 4 months later I took it in for an oil change and they found a leak in the rear of my truck. I had the rear differential seal replaced only to find out 2 months later it was leaking again and ANOTHER part was failing. I had that fixed as well, but the mechanic recommended I get rid of my truck ASAP because I was about to have to replace the entire rear differential. He showed me metal shavings in the fluid and said he's seen 3 other Explorers in the last 2 months with the same problems. So far I've spent $2000 in repairs. If the rear differential goes, I'm looking at another $1500 at least. My warranty ran out, so I'm coming out of pocket a lot of money. I just want my Explorer fixed and I want FORD MOTORS to be accountable for the problem. I've spent enough of my own money that I could have a new, better vehicle than what I'm driving now.

- , San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #3

Oct 082007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles

Who ever heard of a rear differential needing replacement at 32,000,(of course only months past their STINGY warrenty) without 1 day of abuse, no off roading, just plain suburban mom driving!!!! We were shocked and really got no other help from the dealer, but a huge repair bill. This is our 3rd explorer, think we will EXPLORE our other car options very soon, afraid that more will go wrong sooner, than later.

- , Bensenville, IL, USA

problem #2

Jun 122007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

The rear end has gone out on the Explorer 2 times since purchase, neither time has a Ford dealership been able to repair, each time the repair costs are around $1000.00. This is not the only issue with the Explorer, from day one issues with transmission, while in warranty multiple dealerships could not find issue would say perfectly normal. Once out of warranty transmission will not shift out of first gear, take to Ford dealership and get told do not have equipment to work on transmission and really don't know anything about transmissions.

- , Lebanon, VA, USA

problem #1

Mar 152007

(reported on)

Explorer ES

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

My ABS light has been going on since I bought the car. They said they cleaned the sensor but other than that did not find a problem. Brought it back to the dealer at least two times with same result. I got used to seeing the ABS light on all the time. It turns out the sensor kept illuminating due to metal shavings from rear differential being attached to the magnet in the sensor. Now I need to overhaul the rear end. For has known about this problem since at least 2002 model. Buy something else!!!

- , Hendersonville, TN, US

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