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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
100,496 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 engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2004 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #16

Aug 012014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


My wife was driving and the engine just stalled. We pulled into a gas station with no power steering or brakes. I had it towed home that day. Later I found out the timing chain had come off.

- Temperance, MI, USA

problem #15

Aug 302013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
The back hatch window doesn't seem to line up with the latch. The back hatch also cracked right near the Ford logo. I have seen many of the Explorer that this has happened to. Its time Ford fixes this defect. Also while doing around 60-65 mph my timing chains broke, all 3 of them at the same time. I could understand 1 maybe but all 3 ? this to has to be a manufacturer defect.

- Cameron, NC, USA

problem #14

Feb 132014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 131,000 miles
When accelerating the SUV shakes, it has a hard time sometimes going from one gear into another. I started the truck today and it made a thumping sound. The transmission is going on it and I take care of it. I have a hard time getting the truck to go into gear to go in reverse.

- Dayton, NJ, USA

problem #13

Nov 222013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 44,000 miles


This is a county govt vehicle purchased used from a dealer about 2 years ago. I had been highway driving for about 3-4 hours at speeds between 55-70 mph. I made one brief stop during that time, and was mostly using cruise control. Just prior to the incident, the speed limit drops from 70 to 55, and then to 35 in a relatively short distance. I used the cruise control coast to reduce my speed from 55 to 35. The 35 mph speed starts on a bridge- there is a small incline and then a little larger decline. At about the base of the bridge, the engine shut off, I lost steering and coasted to a stop. I don't recall if I had braking. I was with a passenger; it was night, and this occurred in an area that was not safe. I tried restarting the car, and it restarted with no problem. I drove to a nearby gas station. The power steering fluid was low, so I filled that, restarted, and drove the remaining 1 1/2 hrs with no problems. Other employees continued to drive over the next 2 1/2 months locally-very little highway driving, with no issues. On February 21, I was returning from a trip in this vehicle from the same area, with the same circumstances as above. When I was still on the bridge where the speed drops to 35, the engine shut off again. This time I was alone. There was a vehicle following very close behind me but fortunately I continued to coast as this was on the decline of the bridge. I was able to steer slightly to get off the highway. The check gauges; check engine, and battery warning lights were all on. The car restarted with no problems. I drove to the same gas station; checked the gauges-all were normal and no warning lights. I drove the 1 1/2 hrs remaining with no problems. On a web search, I found multiple cases of very similar problems on Explorer with no resolution. I could find no recalls on the VIN. This is an extremely dangerous and potentially fatal problem.

- Manteo, NC, USA

problem #12

Oct 032013

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 72,000 miles
This is the second Ford Explorer I have owned and both of them had the same transmission problems. Yet Ford has no recall or even anything to fix them except $3,000 to a dealer out of you pocket for their mistake. I guess since no one has been proven to have gotten injured or died due to this issue, then there won't be a recall made on it. This is totally unsatisfactory for the Ford Motor Co. Because they have workers that screw up, the consumer ends up footing the large bill of repairing it. There is a known problem with the transmissions of these Explorer from 2000 - 2005 yet no one seems to want to address it. Ford motor should be ashamed of putting such faulty vehicles out on the road and endangering another humans life for their profit. This is the last time I will buy and Ford product and I will encourage everyone I know not to buy Ford either. I wonder how Ford would like the media exposure for this issue. No good customer service or product.

- Grain Valley, MO, USA

problem #11

Oct 082013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 92,925 miles
The original equipment harmonic balancer came apart. The inner portion separated from the rest. This allows. It would have caused the destruction of the serpentine belt, and crankshaft position sensor if I had not caught it in time. This would have resulted in loss of engine power, loss of power steering, and loss of power brakes! this seems to be a common problem with the 2004 Ford 4.0 liter V6. This could result in somebody losing control of the vehicle with little or no warning. I was replacing the water pump on my vehicle when I saw this defect.

- Spencerport, NY, USA

problem #10

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 #9

Apr 282013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 101,000 miles
While was driving on I-95 I gave the car a boost of speed to pass another vehicle. I noticed my back window become "dirty" (covered in coolant) and while the car seemed okay I moved to the right lane. There was no shoulder to pull off due to construction. Without a shoulder I had to keep going another couple miles; after a couple miles I started loosing speed gradually. With children in the car this was a safety issue - I was fortunate to make it to an exit where upon immediately the car died as I slowed and white smoke started billowing out of the engine compartment. The problem was the thermostat housing failed causing the car to lose coolant. Since I was unable to pull over it resulted a blown head gasket. Due to design of the engine this repair is prohibitively expensive. I have seen this thermostat complaint numerous times and it is time that Ford take responsibility for the plastic parts that are connected to the engine. This part should be aluminum according to my mechanic. Please consider recall to replace plastic thermostat housing with metal: Ford must use metal parts because plastic warps in the heat. The affected parts are the thermostat housing and it's connection to the engine. I have good maintenance, oil changed regularly, fluids checked and maintained regularly. I also drive very conservatively and am easy on my driving. Ford must fix this! between this issue and a bolt in my steering column falling out (causing a loss of steering) my confidence in Ford is diminished.

- Wilton Manors, FL, USA

problem #8

Apr 122013


  • 120,000 miles
This is in response to the investigation of Ford for "limp mode". every time that I use my cars cruse control under 50 mph the car goes in to limp mode. After I pull over and restart the car it run normaly,

- Syracuse, NY, USA

problem #7

Apr 022013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
At about 65,000 miles, my transmission began slowly acting up; it vwas difficult to put into gear and clunks while driving. It is getting worse, and Ford will not help with repairs because it is out of warranty.

- Fullerton, CA, USA

problem #6

Jan 252013


  • 82,500 miles


While driving, the vehicle just shut off. I had no control of the vehicle once it shut off, except to utilize the emergency brake to get me stopped. Once stopped, I put it in park and it started up first try. No check engine light came on. Same thing happens on a regular bases. Usually happens while braking or turning at speeds lower than 30mph, then engine just stalls and everything turns off. This to me is a major safety concern, because without total control of the vehicle and vehicle lighting at night, it could seriously injure or kill someone. I highly recommend investigating this further so we can all continue to be safe. Thanks!

- Barstow, CA, USA

problem #5

Sep 152012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 106,000 miles
I purchased a 2004 Ford Explorer in July 0F 2011, and traded in my 2001 Oldsmobile of 5 years. I also purchased the 12 month 12,000 mile warranty. Before driving it off the lot I had the dealer fix the ABS system because the light was on. There is a crack going down the back of the trunk but nothing else was wrong at the time so I left the crack alone. In April of 2012 I took it to the dealership for a belt, check trans, shocks, ball joints, and a ticking in the heater when knob was turned to heat (not cool). I told him to just fix what was on the warranty and also give it a oil change. He informed me that the trans was fine. After getting the car back my heat went out and I was told by a mechanic buddy that my brakes, rotters, emergency brake pads and the back tires were shot. So I had him replaced them because this was also not covered on warranty. Just last week my RPM started jumping with miles over 65.(no lights were on at the time)so I took it to 6 different places getting estimates on what could be wrong. All shops said the same thing. "start with fuel filter, oil filters and oil change". the day after I paid for all this the service engine light came on. (egr valve code) the man at auto zone told me to take it off and clean it with spray and let it dry before replacing. I took it to a shop and had them do this. The same day I picked up the car my service engine light came on again, O/D light and the car was driving like I was hauling a bus and jumping. I took it back the next day and he replaced the egr valve new since the same code was showing up. Later that day after getting it back the car started doing the same thing after driving for 5 miles this was Friday 9/21/12.

- Hebron, KY, USA

problem #4

Jul 272012


  • 84,000 miles
Transmission shifts very hard so bad that it jerks me and my children's heads forward when it happens. This occurs the worst when going into reverse and into 2nd and 3rd gears. Brakes lock up/stick after being pressed for 3 seconds.

- Tell City, IN, USA

problem #3

Jul 282012


  • 73,520 miles
I had just purchased this vehicle to tow with. I was driving in the country with the cruise control on and set at about 45mph. All of a sudden I realized I the vehicle had turned itself off. No power steering, no brakes nothing. It did start right back up after getting off the road. Later in the day returning home it did the same exact thing at 50mph with cruise engaged. I talked with Ford shop and they say it is a known problem with no known fix. This is very dangerous.

- Kelso, WA, USA

problem #2

Jul 052011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 150,000 miles
Transmission is slipping, not fully gone yet, only a matter of time before it completely goes. I do not have the $2500 to replace the transmission. Every person I have talked to say this is a common problem with the Ford Explorer. I have taken into the garage over 10 times. Ford should be forced to recall these transmissions and Ford should have to pay for it.

- Rome, NY, USA

problem #1

May 122012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 44,489 miles
2004 Ford Explorer. Consumer writes in regards to crankshaft pulley failure the consumer stated he was unable to move the vehicle from the road and had it towed to a repair shop, but was unable to make the repairs, due to other damage to one of the components. The vehicle was then towed to the dealer, where they informed the consumer the crankshaft pulley had failed, broke the V-belt, which in turn hit and damaged the crankshaft position sensor.

- New Castle, DE, USA

Not what you are looking for?