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
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
127,909 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #43

Aug 162016


  • 180,000 miles


While driving down the street I activated the cruise control feature, but when I deexcellerated using the the steering wheel cruise control buttons down to a speed below 40, the engine shut off and power steering off, while I was still in motion on the street. I had to put the vehicle into park and crank up again (which almost didn't crank back up), to get back running. This is the first time using my cruise control feature and have read other horror stories of their Ford Explorer shutting off mid drive due to using the decel button during cruise control. Must be recalled for highway and interstate safety hazard immediately.

- Milton, FL, USA

problem #42

Jun 032016


  • 31,155 miles
The throttle would not respond after starting. Electronic throttle control and engine service warning lights lit on dash. Engine would not rev over 1000 RPM. Had to get electronic throttle body replaced at a cost of $875 plus $65 towing. Electronic throttle control failure has been common Ford going back to 2002. Ford has replaced over 1.6 million units under their consumer satisfaction program. However, there was no recall. Called Ford, and was assigned a case #, however, Ford would not assist with payment. Vehicle out of warranty. 31,155 actual mileage

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #41

Sep 022013


  • 90,000 miles
My SUV shuts off, at full speed!!! I've been in contact with Ford's corporate office, dealerships and other mechanics..... it is an issue that tens of thousands of Ford Explorer owners have had. There are thousands of complaints online! it is so common that mechanics know what you're talking about, before you finish a description of the problem. It's alsoi common for individuals to replace motors and continue to have their vehicles shut off on them, at full speed!!!. I am afraid for my child's safety, as well as my own.

- Waynesboro, GA, USA

problem #40

May 172015


  • 109,000 miles


Complete engine failure while driving. Service engine soon light appeared 2 days previous but did not yet make it to the mechanic. Computer reading suggested a sensor problem. Engine shut down, lost power steering and all systems. Engine restarted but now idles rough.

- Ann Arbor, MI, USA

problem #39

Jan 302015

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 135,000 miles
Driving down the road at 10:52 pm and with no warning the entire truck shut down/off. All lights inside and out shut off, engine shut off, no power to the entire vehicle. Coasted to a stop, put it in park and turned the key off and then back on - the truck started right up with out a problem.

- Kennett Square, PA, USA

problem #38

Jan 282015

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
Good morning, my car was parked in the driveway, not running, 11:15pm, when horn started to continuously and would not stop. Smelt wires burning. I started the car and was attempting to move it out of my neighborhood and upon driving, I tapped the horn and it stopped. Smell of wires burning. It happened again, yesterday am and today am, on the way to go, and I hit the horn and it stopped. Can this be airbag related"?" I am scared to drive my car, fearing the airbag will open or a fire is going to start.

- Boca Raton, FL, USA

problem #37

Oct 172014


  • 140,817 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the service engine and the battery warning lights illuminated. The contact also stated that the vehicle jerked and made a loud noise. The vehicle was taken to a dealer who replaced the front driver side hub and wheel bearing, the rear springs, the three passenger gear calipers, four rear driver side calipers, the battery, five rear brake pads, and six rear rotors plus an oil change. Three weeks after the repairs, the vehicle stalled without warning. In addition, the brake pedal hesitated to respond. The vehicle was towed back to the dealer, who diagnosed that the engine needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 140,817.

- Hornell, NY, USA

problem #36

Dec 022014

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 39,000 miles
The car is in parking condition at work and after a long awhile it would not start even the full battery. I have attempted to make lots of checks for all component like relays, fuses and wiring connection they are all fine, in good condition. But finding out the starter relay had no power, no current flowing through it. I belief that the faulty is ( PCM unit ) power train control module that blocked a current from the starter relay.

- Cedar Park, TX, USA

problem #35

Oct 092014

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
I was at a stoplight and when the light turned green my car would not move. The car was in drive and it would just rev. The cars behind me started honking. I put it in the lower gears and finally started moving forward and drove it to the dealership. As I was driving to the dealership in the lower gears the car shifted out of gear while in traffic, I put it in neutral and back into 3 and it started moving forward again. This is very dangerous since the car will just shift in and out of gear and stop moving forward. At the dealership the car would not move while in drive or reverse. They told me the transmission needs to be replaced at a cost of $4,200, this is after I just had the throttle body replaced two months ago at a cost of $1,800. Ford need to do a recall in these transmissions it could lead to an accident.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #34

Sep 092014


  • 150,000 miles
My vehicle burned through another alternator, everything on the vehicle is 100% factory so I don't know what is causing that. Immediately after I replaced the alternator for the second time in 6 months, the power steering has vanished. I checked all the belts made sure everything is running properly and in the correct place. The power steering pump seems to be pumping but not working.

- Fitchburg, MA, USA

problem #33

Apr 122014


  • 117,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the indicator on the instrument cluster would not properly specify what gear the vehicle was engaged. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer for diagnostic testing. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 117,000. The VIN was not available.

- Hedgesville, WV, USA

problem #32

Dec 202012


  • 140,000 miles
On the body the tailgate panel keeps cracking this makes my truck look bad compared to the money I put into it. My engine or transmission acts as if something is wrong it is not shifting gear right. On the electrical tire pressure light keeps coming on and it also keeps leaking water from somewhere. Ford needs to go out of business for selling these pieces of junk. It makes no sense.

- Columbus , GA, USA

problem #31

Aug 222013


  • 190,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start. The contact mentioned that the anti-theft alarm engaged automatically while attempting to start the vehicle. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer for a diagnostic. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 190,000.

- Wheatley Heights, NY, USA

problem #30

Jul 292005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 2,000,000 miles
My car won't shift in to gear any more.

- Lomita, CA, USA

problem #29

May 222012


  • 131,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact was driving 2 mph in reverse when the back up sensor failed and the contact crashed into another vehicle. The crash caused no injuries and the police were contacted. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for inspection of the failure or repairs. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure and the current mileage was 131,000.

- Brookville , IN, USA

problem #28

Mar 092012


  • 900,000 miles
After starting vehicle and moving shift lever from park to reverse - rotating shift handle mount broke off- required towing and $1800 repair cost. Have seen similar instances on consumer complaint boards - Ford fails to recognize as being a safety manufacturing defect.

- Mcdonough, GA, USA

problem #27

Jun 232007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 19,000 miles
Cruise control is intermittent, sometimes accelerates unexpectedly especially when pushing the button to turn it off. So far have been able to stop car, but it is a scary situation. Also, rear warning indicator works only occasionally. Could run over or into someone if depending on it.

- Paradise, CA, USA

problem #26

Sep 202011


  • 132,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT. The contact stated that the front windshield wipers, interior lights and all four windows failed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who advised that her VIN was not included in the recall associated with NHTSA campaign id number: 00V072000. (electrical system: Fuses and circuit breakers). The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure who advised that she could file a claim and offered no further assistance. The failure mileage was 132,000.

- Watertown, WI, USA

problem #25

May 222007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
Hello, I have a 2004 Ford Explorer truck with a crack on the back of the hatch door. I don't know where this crack came from. I contacted the Ford company about this issue but since my vehicle is no longer under warranty they aren't willing to help. I first notice the crack about a year ago. When I contacted Ford to find out if this was a recall they said no. Recently I have been noticing that a lot of the Ford Explorer trucks I see all have a crack on the same portion of the truck. I spoke to another individual with a Ford Explorer and she doesn't know where the crack on the back of her truck came from either. We think this maybe a recall issue. I just started writing down the license plate numbers of the various Explorer trucks I see with the same or similar crack on the back hatch. Although I only have six tag numbers right now, I know that their are many more trucks with this problem. I seen more trucks but at the time I wasn't documenting the license plate numbers. There was also a recall on the hatch window in 2003 for the Ford Explorer truck. In 2007, I had the same issue as the 2003 recall on my 2004 vehicle but was told I had to pay to get it fixed myself because there wasn't a recall reported for 2004. Although it was a year later. It is obvious that the issue wasn't resolved because I had the same problem. There is also a break light switch problem. This issue has your break lights randomly coming on although the vehicle is turned off. Which drains the battery and causes you to have to get the brake switch fixed and a new battery. Please help me. I had no luck with the Ford Motor Company in resolving these issues.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #24

Dec 142010


  • 98,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The vehicle was experiencing an intermittent failure in which the headlights, radio and windows stopped functioning while driving at any speed. The failures persisted for a duration of approximately 1-5 minutes. During the failures, the power door locks and instrument panel lighting also did not function. The vehicle was not taken to have the failures diagnosed. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 97,000 and the current mileage was 98,000.

- Sterling Heights, MI, USA

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