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

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #36

Nov 022016


  • 170,000 miles


Transmission failure with overdrive light first gear, shifts hard, sometime it wont shift without letting off gas.with codespo731, PO733, PO734, PO745 needs total rebuild this happened while driving down the road at 40 miles a hour, ABS light is on. Codes show wrong line pressure.engine knocking, timming chain issues.

- Corydon, IN, USA

problem #35

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 #34

May 102016


  • 97,000 miles
Problums with timing chain the guides and tentioner always braking or the timing chain it self braking, it is all I hear about the 4.0 motors, I my self this is the second one that it has happened to

- Jackson, MI, USA

problem #33

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 #32

Jan 222016


  • 78,000 miles
Came home from work Friday evening and sat. Morning the vehicle would not start. Took battery in and tested, it was dead. Replaced the battery and the car still would not start. Only clicked, relay and starter were fine. Had to tow it to a mechanic who has determined that the anti-theft system has shut down my engine for no reason. The key no longer connects to the system. Why is there not a recall on this issue?? I have seen online forums and many complaints about this issue. Now I have to tow my vehicle to a dealer 40 miles away and pay to have my vehicle and keys reprogrammed. Over $120!!! this issue left me stranded with no vehicle for over a week. I think Ford should be responsible for the repair and tow costs!!!

- Coffeyville, KS, USA

problem #31

Dec 262015


  • 155,000 miles
The contact owned a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact heard a loud boom and discovered that his parked vehicle was on fire. The fire department extinguished the flames. The insurance company determined that the vehicle was destroyed. There were no injuries. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The VIN was invalid. The approximate failure mileage was 155,000.

- Virginia Beach, VI, USA

problem #30

Jul 232015


  • miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving at approximately 40 mph, the vehicle stalled and various unknown warning lights illuminated. The vehicle was not able to restart. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the engine timing belt failed and the engine needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Rogersville, MO, USA

problem #29

Oct 012014


  • 140,000 miles
Car starts but will go forward when shifted in reverse. Turned the car off then back on, but when I would put the car back in reverse or drive, it stalled out. Had it towed and then it was fine after that. Now its about 6 months later, now my orange wrench light pops up and cruise control shuts off at 65mph. Then it jerks a couple times. Have had it checked and came back with 14 codes mainly for transmission.

- Whitehall, OH, USA

problem #28

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 #27

Feb 152015


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving at approximately 55 mph, the service engine soon warning indicator illuminated and the engine stalled. The vehicle restarted and started blowing fuel fumes into the driver's cabin. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the spark plug blew out of the cylinder and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 130,000. MA 08/06/15

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #26

Feb 252015

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 139,939 miles


Had my used 2004 Ford Explorer for a week and I noticed the transmission jerking when it shift into the last gear. Sometimes when I put it in reverse, I have to wait for a full minute for it to finally reverse. Sometimes it jerks hard when I put it in reverse or drive. I'm sure the dealership knew about all this but never revealed it. Of course when you buy as is, your screwed.

- Lorain, OH, USA

problem #25

Feb 252015

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • miles
I've have my vehicle for 10 years. Paid the dealership $450 to have a warranty for the power train and when I went to the dealership for them to fix it they wouldn't. I find out that my major issues are the mechanical differential. Still having the this issue to this day and can never have my transmission cleaned or flushed because of that. Also, my fuel system gets clogged a lot and gas mileage is horrible. Also, my antifreeze leaks after I paid money to have the cracked seal fixed. This is just scratching the surface. I have many things wrong with my vehicle I feel should be covered by the manufacturer but I would like to know what defects are out there for my vehicle.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #24

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 #23

Dec 132011


  • 82,000 miles
I have a 2004 Ford Explorer and when I hit the 84000 mile my car started falling apart starting with the heater A/C vent actuator first time in late 2011 then again in Jan 2015 this repair has cost me over $1200 then the engine light has come on and I've been told by Ford repair shop which was $97 just to look at it that it was from different coils that were over $300 a piece which has been replaces a couple of time to the Cadillac converter which was over $3500 to replacing the bearings a couple hundred many times. I'm at the point where I'm not sure to keep this car or junk it these repairs are breaking me! I see that I'm not the only one that is complaining about these problems.... there should be some type of recall....!!!!!!!!!!!

- Shelbyville, KY, USA

problem #22

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 #21

Apr 172010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
The transmission failed early on at about 88000 miles, we purchased and replaced this. My husband had been in auto repair and parts for over 20 years, so him and my son done the repair, without counting anything for labor the total cost for the repair was around $2000. From that point on we have had lots of major problems that had to be repaired or parts replaced. The intake and parts cost us around $700, no charge for labor. The timing C+hain failed and we choose this time to take it to the repair shop which cost us $1100!!! now at 156000 miles the transmission has failed, this one has around 68000 miles on it. We have never had one dime in help from Ford on anything. This is the third Explorer we have owned in the past 15 years. We also own 3 F-150's and a mustang. We have never had this kind of problems with any of the other vehicles. I can honestly say we are very disappointed in this 2004 Explorer and I feel we will most likely not purchase another Ford vehicle in the future!!!!!

- Frenchburg, KY, USA

problem #20

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 #19

Aug 252014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 81,500 miles
When I slow down or come to a stop, the truck cuts off. Even while in mid turn.

- Lancaster, CA, USA

problem #18

Sep 052014

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 173,000 miles
When starting the vehicle, its not wanting to run. Then when I start to pull out it stalls. I mean, U push the gas pedal and it takes maybe four seconds before anything happens, then the tires spin it jerks forward and my kids scream. It jerks U back in the seat. Ok, we're on the road, I don't know if its going to run. One minute its acting like its getting enough fuel. The nexts its like it isn't. now the service engine light has come on. I call the guy who works on cars, he use to be a head mechanic for has his own shop now, he automatically tells me its the throttle body and says if I cant find a used one, U wont like buyin a new one. An the bad thing is U have to replace them about every 120000 miles. Now isn't that great. The auto parts store says about $725 will take care of the part, what about the labor"?" I bought this vehicle because it had a third row seat. I have three kids. I need it to be safe, not a death trap. Ford knows it has a problem, fix it!!!

- Williamsburg, KY, USA

problem #17

Jul 182007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 17,000 miles
Exact dates are various, vehicle has 39000 miles on it presently, have multiple vehicles, drive over the road truck driver... changed brakes and rotors twice, emergency brake not working, had fixed, had to have ekg replaced and some exhaust sensor, tires wore out at 29000, exhaust system replaced, both ball joints replaced, pinion gear gasket leaking from rear end, both cv joints leaking, appears right cv joint needs replacing, gets 14 mpg ( 4.0 liter ) paint peeling from roof for quite awhile now, rusting around fuel tank door, as all are...... vehicle has been a nightmare, getting rid of this at 39000 miles, Ford has a better idea, buy another one !

- Cheektowaga , NY, USA

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