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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
84,641 miles
Total Complaints:
4 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (3 reports)
  2. reprogram ignition key (1 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer electrical problems

electrical problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #4

May 102014

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles


I own a FORD EXPLORER 2004, V6. My battery was dead after coming from vacation. I got PEPBOYS to replace the battery with a new one. After a couple months, the battery died again amid my travels. I took it to a mechanic, he had to get the ignition keys reprogrammed, it cost $200. 2 weeks later the battery died, after a week of sitting in the garage. I recharged the battery, but the darn thing doesn't start, all the symptoms point to the same problem - may have to reprogram the ignition key. I can't imagine having to reprogram this monster and pay $200 every two weeks.

What is FORD doing about it? Even my cellphone is smart enough to cut-off the battery instead of letting it drain. In comparison my daughter's BMW indicates that the battery is low by flashing head-lights rather than erasing ignition key. REALLY? Is this the excellence these guys try to sell?

I will talk to a FORD dealer tomorrow and report any progress.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #3

Nov 282010

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

how can charging the battery zap out the computer? luckily I was in my garage. What about if I were on the highway somewhere and needed a jump? There needs to be an easier way to reset the Anti-theft device without it costing me $600+ because I need to have 2 new keys made, pay for a battery I really didn't need, pay for a tow of $156 to go 3 miles not to mention the labor. Something is terribly wrong with this picture. I can justify paying the tow and since my car is 6 + years old, a new battery can't hurt but for me to have to pay for new keys at $120 EACH. ouch. I think Ford should pay that part. Afterall, its their fault that the chip can't take a battery charger which fried its brain and made it think it was being stolen. JUST COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS.

- , Naperville, IL, USA

problem #2

Jan 302009

Explorer V6 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

while i was drivin down a busy highway with my three small children the damn the made a weird whistle like noise and shut off i have tried and tried to fix it and everything we try does not work

- , Oak Ridge, TN, USA

problem #1

Sep 272008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,563 miles

I thought I was just running out of gas.....& still rolling, I put into neutrual to try to start while still rolling as to get myself out of the traffic, and it did restart, I turned around to go the opposite direction down a hill hoping to keep it running as I tried to get a little speed before it died again rolling in neutral down a hill to a nearby gas station....well as I was still moving in neutral with my lights on the car dies again and car would no longer start so I coasted as far as I could however, when trying to start it in neutral (as it did before) the starter would no longer engage at all. I coasted to my stop (100 yards short of the gas station) with my flashers on. Had help bring me a can of gas about 1.5 gallons, but the car would not start when turning key, no starter at all, when battery seemed charged with good headlights, even tried to jump battery....nothing....had to be towed home. Checked the fuses, Tried taking cables off battery & back on to see if that would maybe 'reset' something electrical or computer related, or possibly fuel pump, even tried to push the reset fuel pump button.....nothing. Reminds me of a starter relay problem like on my old 69 Mustang Mach I.....Unfortunately the new cars are quite a different story! I will be getting an owners manual on Payday so I can hopefully troubleshoot my own problems & not get stuck like I am now. Also my daughter has had it just die on her while driving a few times when attempting to use the cruise control at a low mph 30-35........I saw that problem here as well!

- , Riverside, CA, US

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