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 / 4
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
49,226 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 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #27

Nov 122009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 10,500 miles


I own a 2004 Ford Explorer that has experienced two overheating incidents, the second resulted in replacing the engine. The first incident was caused by a stuck thermostat and the second by a leaking hose between the thermostat housing and the engine. In both incidents when the engine temperature warning activated, the temperature was buried in the hot end of the gauge. In both incidents, I immediately decelerated and pulled off the road but in the second incident, the engine was already ruined. An article in the April 2010 issue of design news (made by monkeys, pg 10) about a similar incident with a Mazda led me to believe mine was not an isolated occurrence but a result of increased use of aluminum and better cooling systems. In the Mazda incident, the engine had been replaced once and was saved from a second replacement only because the driver was looking at the gauge when it suddenly pegged into the hot end. The problem is there in no warning of low coolant until the level drops below the water pump which results in a sudden and often catastrophic rise in engine temperature. The Explorer is the most heavily instrumented automobile I have ever owned yet the cooling system warning is stuck in 60S when cars had cast iron blocks, overheated gradually and were forgiving of overtemps.

- Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA

problem #26

Jun 112010


  • 136,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. He stated that while driving at 65 mph, the engine stalled without warning. The contact was able to coast off the roadway where the vehicle was towed to the dealer. The dealer advised the timing belt had broken and destroyed the engine. The entire engine would need to be replaced. The vehicle was left with the dealer where the contact was awaiting repairs. The manufacturer would not provide any assistance. The failure and current mileages were 136,000.

- Warren, MA, USA

problem #25

Jun 112010


  • 50,000 miles
Spark plug blowout while driving home from work. Explorer has only 50K miles.

- Reno, NV, USA

problem #24

Dec 042009


  • 101,000 miles


When driving vehicle the vehicle stalls when braking. This failure occurs only when the vehicle is at 1/4 tank of gas or less. Vehicle has been to Ford for repair on 3 occasions. The have replaced the ABS sensor, throttle body and a fuel injection cleaning was performed. None of this has fixed the problem. Dec 4 2009 was the first occurrence and has occurred several times with the last being today 2-24-2010.

- Walcott, IA, USA

problem #23

Oct 062009


  • 79,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer XLT fire.

- White Salmon, WA, USA

problem #22

Jun 152009

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 75,200 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving at various speeds, the accelerator pedal would stick and cause the vehicle to lurch forward and sometimes stall. A technician stated that the throttle sensor assembly was the cause of the failure. He further stated that there were only four parts in the United States that were available for the repair. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure mileage was 75,000 and current mileage was 75,200. Updated 0/01/09 the consumer stated the vehicle has since been repaired, however it took a total of 7 weeks, due to issues with parts. Also the vehicle would stall at times. Updated 09/09/09

- Lanett, AL, USA

problem #21

Feb 112009


  • 39,500 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While driving between 10-30 mph, the vehicle stalled. When the contact turns off and restarts the vehicle, it resumes normal operation. The vehicle has shut off a total of four times. He took the vehicle to the dealer for a diagnostic, but they could not locate a failure code. The dealer cleaned the throttle, fuel injector, and reset the power module. The failure mileage was 39,500 and current mileage was 39,600.

- Cedar Grove , NJ, USA

problem #20

Feb 272009


  • miles
Sparkplug blow out of its socket, tearing the threats off, this seams to be a continuous problem with alot of Ford's engine, I do have a maintainence program off checking all of the standard point on my Explorer, my mechanic checks liquids, oils grease, filters, tires, sparkplugs etc. I believe that after so many complains and a well documented manufactures defect a recall should be issue, because I investigated this issue and it very possible to occur again, this repair cost me $2,154.97 Canadian dollars, and it could cost me the same if it happens again.

- Waterloo, 00, USA

problem #19

Nov 022008


  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. In 2007, the contact stated that the instrumental panel lights constantly flashed and lost power. The dealer replaced a hose, which corrected the failure for approximately ten months. On November 2, 2008, the vehicle lost power and shut off. The contact had to wait several minutes to restart the vehicle. The dealer was unable to diagnose the failure. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure mileage was 45,000 and current mileage was 55,000.

- Santa Rosa , CA, USA

problem #18

May 042008


  • 59,000 miles
Turned on the cruise control and the engine cut out - no power. Placed in neutral and restarted.

- West Newbury, MA, USA

problem #17

Apr 142008

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 34,706 miles


Failure of auxiliary suction line leading to rear ac in vehicle. Paid for replacement at Ford dealership. Part should be expected to function for the life of the vehicle. Ford refuses to accept there was an issue with the piping and reimburse for repair.

- Mundelein, IL, USA

problem #16

Sep 212007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle would not start. She depressed the accelerator pedal and the vehicle started and began to vibrate. She then placed the vehicle in reverse and heard a loud clunking noise. She smelled a strong gas odor inside the passenger compartment. The contact looked in her rearview mirror and noticed a large amount of smoke coming from the exhaust system. She parked the vehicle and had it towed. She then noticed that all of the radiator fluid leaked out. The mechanic stated that the valve failed and damaged the entire engine. The mechanic also stated that the engine needed to be replaced and appeared to be a manufacturer defect. The current and failure mileages were 63,000. The consumer also stated had problems prior to incident with sun visor falling off, gear shaft would not shift into park, engine sluggish, and while using cruise control vehicle would just shut off. Updated 10/22/07

- The Woodlands, TX, USA

problem #15

Jul 242007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Multiple problems with my Explorer. When shifting into reverse car jolts with a clunking noise. ABS light is on and 4X4 high light flashes. Service engine light on but no hose leaks can be found. Wrench light comes on even after tps replacement suggested by obd-II. Very unhappy with this vehicle. I have owned 7 Ford, this is the worst I have owned.

- Yukon, OK, USA

problem #14

Feb 012005


  • miles
Ford Motor Company regarding dissatisfaction with lack of performance, reliability and quality of 2004 Ford Explorer XLT* consumer states has had multiple problems with 2004 Ford Explorer such as very hard shifting gears from a parked position, the vehicle shut down on I95 highway twice and pedals became inoperable, vehicle also slams into gear at high speed and wants to reimbursed for the multiple problems of his 3 year old truck.

- Fort Washington, MD, USA

problem #13

Dec 302006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,150 miles
On three separate occasions, my Explorer would turn over but refuse to start. The third time it took 2 days for it to finally start. On the way to the service appointment at the dealer, the SUV stalled in the middle of a very busy intersection. The dealer said that they couldn't pin-point any particular cause but they did have a service bulletin that called for updating of some software.

- Gap, PA, USA

problem #12

Nov 212006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,458 miles
: the contact stated while driving various speeds, the engine stalled without warning. Afterwards, the engine was restarted after several attempts. The vehicle was inspected by a dealer who was unable to duplicate the problem. The manufacturer was not alerted.

- Cambridge, OH, USA

problem #11

Aug 052006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,300 miles
: the contact stated the automatic transmission was slipping between gears and made clunking noises. The vehicle also made humming sounds from the engine while accelerated over 55 mph. The vehicle has not been to a service dealer.

- Buena Park, CA, USA

problem #10

Jul 152005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,000 miles
2004 Explorer has stalled several times without any warning. Restarts fine. Seems to be with cruise on and going down hill at speeds between 30 and 40. Has been to dealership 3 times and they say they can't duplicate. Have called Ford they say take to dealershp. See several of same complaints on your site. Very dangerous. Has happened numerous times don't know what to put for incident date.

- Roanoke, VA, USA

problem #9

Oct 052004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,974 miles
2004 Ford Explorer. The vehicle stalled while driving, this happened at different speeds. When this occurred the vehicle had to be rolled off of the road. The vehicle completely shut down. The vehicle had to be turned off in order for it comes back on. The vehicle has been to the dealership, and they could not find the cause of the problem. Also, could not duplicate it.

- Highlands, NC, USA

problem #8

May 012005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
2004 Ford Explorer engine shuts off and there is difficulty shifting gears.** answer required***. both of theses malfunctions present a danger and a hazard and are very serious defects.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

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