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:
76,867 miles
Total Complaints:
3 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (2 reports)
  2. replace front wheel bearings (1 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Oct 282009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,600 miles


I am really tempted to use some expletives on this one. I would get a grinding sound from the front end and a surging from the rear end whenever I'd take my foot off the accelerator. I had the tranny serviced, the shaft greased, and the axle inspected for worn gears. Everything seemed to be ok...only for a few hours. The surging and grinding sound resumed. I recently had the ball joints replaced but the problem continued until 04MAR11. Out of the blue, the truck ran as if nothing was wrong...that is until the O/D light started flashing the other day. Ford needs to recall this vehicle immediately before someone really gets hurt or worse.

- , Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #2

Jul 192007

Explorer XLT Sport 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

At 40,000 miles I had to replace the bearings in the rear end. It cost 400 dollars at the time. It started humming again at 65,000 miles. The paint is peeling off the roof, haven't fixed it. I noticed this in 2009. The transmission detonated at 118,000 in 2010. It cost 2377.50. I always leave the key in it and I park it in a way that I hope it will get clipped so I can get another vehicle since the 2004 Explorer value is so low..... other than that it's a great vehicle.

- , Madison Heights, VA, USA

problem #1

Apr 152008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

I was hearing a whine or hum from the front end of the vehicle and thought it was tire noise. While at the dealer for another problem they heard it during the test drive and said that both front wheel bearings were bad.

- , Cato, WI, USA

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