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:
89,730 miles
Total Complaints:
40 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. engine needs to be replaced (30 reports)
  2. not sure (8 reports)
  3. rebuilt engine (2 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #20

Aug 122010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


This ford is the worst.The truck broke down on me close to my house. I was able to start it up and putt it to the mechanic by my house.They call me and told me that the engine lose compression .and the motor is junk.The only opion I had was to replace or rebuild.But for a motor to do this I was told that ford made a crappy engine,so im going to junk the whole truck.and the sad part about, I only had the truck for 3yrs and got it wit 83,000 miles and i put hwy miles on it and im still making payment with out a warranty. This truck suck in my book.

- , McDonough, GA, USA

problem #19

Aug 232010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

I have to replace an engine in this 2004 explorer that has 54,000 miles!!!!!!

Ford had definitely made a piece of crap engine this year!! I wonder why that was??? Mass production because of the demand for SUV's that year!! That's what I heard!!

- , St Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #18

Jun 032010

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

Bought this vehicle late May with only 91000 miles. Like a fool I did not buy the extended warranty. 2 weeks after driving it off the lot it just quit with low oil pressure warning and high temp alert. I was only 3 blocks away from home so I pushed it back and left for work. When I got home later that day the engine turned over like it had no compression at all. I made some phone calls and found out that every experienced tech. I talked to told me the timing was out and the motor was junk! I had to find a used motor because I could not afford a new or rebuilt. I have never owned anything newer than a 1998 vehicle and thought that I would treat myself. I have also never owned a ford and I know for a fact this will be the last time.

- , Fremont, NE, USA

problem #17

Apr 032010

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,500 miles


i was driving home form my uncles house and i was driving about 70 mph and had to slow down for a small town. i slowed down to about 35 mph. all of the sudden the check gauge light came on and the oil pressure gauge was low. i pulled off the road and and i lost power steering and i lifted the hood looked for leaking fluid i didn't find any. so i started it back up and drove it home with no other problems.

- , Boynton Beach, FL, USA

problem #16

Dec 282009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

I have always owned Ford products. I have NEVER had the PROBLEMS that this explorer has had. The mechanic I use, who worked as a Ford service mechanic for 23 years, Said," All the 4.0 SOHC engines are JUNK ". I will NEVER buy another one and would advise anybody else not too.

- , Sparta, TN, USA

problem #15

Dec 042009

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

I was going to an appointment last week and the Explorer started and seemed to drive fine, and then when I was coming to an intersection (not where I was going to turn of course) it started stalling. It lost power and then all of a sudden there was a surge of power, and then it lost power and died and I had to coast and steer it off the road and into as safe of a place as possible.

I have never had this problem before, but it sure made me mad!!! I towed it with a buddy's truck to the shop they rent 10 miles away, and we tried everything we could think of without spending a fortune on things we didn't know were wrong. I even replaced the oil pressure sensor, because on newer vehicles, everything runs off of sensors. That didn't work. I can't get the stupid thing to start. I had someone come and put an analyzer on it, and imagine that, it didn't read a single problem. Now I see after reading comments from other people, that they too, have had the same problem. Wish I would have known that before buying it. We checked the fuses, we took the battery cables off, we tried a new key (thinking that the engine failed because of a problem with the chip in the key) everything and still nothing.

I used to like Ford Explorers because my mom had two of them and I thought they looked better than most of the SUVs out there, but not anymore. I have had other problems, and I'm beginning to think that I wasted the money buying the thing, and it's not even paid off!!!!!

- , Winona, MN, US

problem #14

Oct 132009

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles


WOW! Never in my life... I have owned many cars in my life time,many with twice the mileage of this garbage FORD!! Well here it is, 2004 explorer 67,000 miles. Driving home from work 50-60 miles per hr. out of the blue the truck turns off. On the highway no engine, can barely steer and cars on both sides and behind me.. I coast of the exit first thing I notice no oil pressure. I check the oil level ok 2 courts low. I put the oil in start the truck up the pressure is back but the motor sounds like a mac truck.

Tow truck $150.00.

First mech. $100.00; the motor is blown and must be replaced! The was no indication that the oil was low or the engine was hot.

I still can not believe that a motor that is 2 courts low on oil just blows up. New engine $2000.00. I would love to cut this truck up into little peaces and ship it back to FORD one peace at a time, but I owe $12,000.00 on the loan. Oh by the way extended warranty 2500 miles over. Thanks again FORD keep closing your plants maybe some day people will feel better about what they are buying, how about this for you new slogan "MY FAULT FOR BUYING A FORD"

- , Hamilton, NJ, USA

problem #13

Aug 012009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,351 miles

My 2004 explorer xlt has been having what I believe is a misfiring problem. I don't dare bring it in cause I just spent 3000 on overhauling my transmission. My only advice is don't buy a ford especially not an explorer. If you're here reading this you probably already have some kind of crazy problem. hurry sell it. If your researching whether or not you should buy one... DON'T

- , Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada

problem #12

Sep 042009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

I would advise anyone that has a 2004 ford explorer to get rid of it as fast as you can!!!! If you do decide to keep it don't expect any help from the dealership. My explorer only had 76000 miles on it and i keep the maintenance up on it when it decided to jump time so now the only thing i can do is have the motor replaced!!! The double overhead cams is the worst motor ford made yet they act as though they have no problem but from reading other complaints i can see that its a major issue.

- , Gadsden, AL, USA

problem #11

Aug 192009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

I have been having trouble the last couple of weeks with my truck. One day I drive to work no problem. At lunch I try the truck, DEAD!!!!! (We had purchased this truck new from the Ford dealership.) I had it jumped----fine. A few hours later dead again!!!! I get a jump and head over to purchase a $100.00 battery. A few days later my truck dies while I am stopping at a stop sign. The truck would turn over but the second I put it in drive it would kill. Finally, I pull the key out, wait a second and try again. The trucks starts and runs like it never happened!!! This has happened coming to a stop, driving 40 miles per hour, pulling in ect...... As of now it is not fixed. I had it in last week and they told me it was set and I drove 1/2 mile down the road and it kills. After reading all these complaints, I will be calling the dealership Tues. I cannot believe the dealership acted like they never had a problem like this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

- , Appleton, WI, USA

problem #10

Mar 112009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles


I only had the car for 2 years and I've never had to replace an engine on a vehicle at this low of a mileage. The car stop on the expressway with me and my two kids in it and it was 2am in the morning. I had to walk 3 blocks to find a phone with my kids late at night.I could of been robbed or killed by some maniac and my kids also could of been hurt. There has to be something that Ford is doing wrong with building these cars no wonder we are buying foreign vehicles.

- , Calumet City, IL, USA

problem #9

Dec 002006

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles

The car would just die while driving; I just figured out the car would die while at speed(s) 45 miles ph and lower. The car was still under manufacture warranty at the time when the problem first occurred. It happened while I was driving down a steep hill going approx. 30 mph., I heard a beep than the message center said low oil pressure, than the battery symbol came on and, than on the left side of the display it said Hi Temp Low Oil. I started to panic because you start to lose your steering and brake. I was lucky nobody was behind me and I was able to pull over a narrow strip of roadway come to a complete stop than I was able to start the car. I drove straight to the ford dealership and talked to the serviceman and he said there's nothing they could do unless the problem happens while the mechanic is test driving. And because this was the first time this happen it was a fluke. This didn't happen all the time but I've been complaining about this for over 1 1/2 to 2 years now and always got the same answer from the dealership. the last two times I brought the car in I made a comment that "Isn't this a lawsuit just waiting to happen?" The service dude had the attitude of so; he couldn't care less. Oh, and I asked the service dude it there has been any problem like this before and he said no, this is the first I heard of it. I had the battery tested and the battery was fine. I purchased a new battery a week ago thinking this will fix the problem. Well, today the car died on me twice.Now the car has 73,950 miles, I don't know what else to do. Can someone help me?

- , Bonney Lake, WA, USA

problem #8

Sep 012008

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

NEVER use Ford service department. My son-law lives in Madison,Wi ha a 2004 Explorer 4.0 engine July 2008 Ford dealer replaced Crankshaft pulley. In August he took his explore back to the same dealer told the there was a rattling in the engine they said it sounded like a timing chain which he should get replaced but said he could drive for a while two days later engine quit on the way to work towed to the same ford dealer they said the timing chain broke would cost $6500 to replace engine of course he was upset Ford offered no relief I had him truck the vehicle to Indiana when I tore down found the timing chains were not broke and the guides were in excellent condition but valves were bent engine was out of time. What i discovered was when the Ford dealership replaced the Crankshaft Pulley then never torqued the pulley bolt letting the camshaft sprocket move on crankshaft shearing the woodruff key engine went out of time valves hitting the cylinders still no relief from Ford dealer I replaced engine with a new one from local Ford dealer engine cost was $3200 from Ford with 100,000 mile warranty. Fords estimate of $6500 is unbelievable when there manual says it takes 15 hours at $100 dollars an hour to change engine NEVER USE FORD SERVICE DEPARTMENT CAN'T BE TRUSTED

- , Bluffton, IN, USA

problem #7

Dec 232008

Explorer V6 Flex Fuel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

Two days before Christmas getting ready to go home and truck tried to start and nothing! Merry Christmas from Ford! And a happy new year from the shop $2500. just so they can find out whats wrong. The motor has compression on the pass/side but not the driver side. I thought I was alone until I came across your web site. It's sad that a lot of people can't afford a new car these days they get stuck with broke cars AND a car note. I say if you owe more than what the car or truck is worth, the lender could help by getting it fixed and then refinance. Who cares if it's more now, at least you don't take money from something else. "House payment" (sounds good anyway) Well at least people would feel good about paying on something they can drive instead of just looking at. Thanks for reading. PS I wasn't about tell my child to go open the truck hood and look at his new gift from Santa. My wife and I use the same car for a while.

- , St.Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #6

Dec 122008

Explorer XLS Sport 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

Another story about a timing chain tensioner failure. It damaged the engine and the dealer says the engine needs replaced for $6000. Wonderful! What a piece of crap. I'm going to swap the motor out for a used one myself and sell the stinking thing. Dealer won't do anything for me expect charge $78/hr to fix it. If this is a know weakness of this motor, they should have recalled it long ago. Poor quality will now have me buy my next SUV from a Japanese car maker.

- , Lititz, PA, USA

problem #5

May 302007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Ok--Eddie Bauer -2004 Ford explorer purchased new in 12/2003. My third NEW ford. Had problems originally with speakers cutting out, etc.--well they kept saying that it was speakers b/c they did not want to admit it was the actual radio--I finally gave up on that one. Then I get a dealer service some kind of flush, and 4 new tires, balance, etc.,and am driving home and check engine light goes on. II immediately return to dealer and they say that some kind of fuel additive needs to be put in every x thousand miles. (load of bs), but not less than one day later,a horrid sound emerges from the engine and the check engine light goes on. The engine ceased! At 65K miles! The car has never towed anything! Take it to drop kids off at school and go shopping. To make a long story short, new engine now with a 75K warranty on it. I actually emailed Ford CEO Mr. Mulvaney and his secretary called me back and worked with the dealer (who did NOTHING by the way), and I agreed to pay the $500 deductible. I was not nasty in my email, I just told them how upset I was, how I could not afford such a repair and how I was disappointed that they could not stand by their cars. I am a small business owner and that is something that you need to do, correct something when its your fault. The dealers will not help. Email the CEO, and act sad and disappointed. Maybe you will get some luck.

- , Emerald Isle, NC, US

problem #4

May 302008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,700 miles


- , Mechanicsville, VA, USA

problem #3

Apr 152008

Explorer 3.2lV6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

Still at the deal the warranty won't cover the engine fail because they said a bolt broke that started the failure and that is not covered under are warranty. The bolt that destroyed the entire engine isn't covered under a warranty. The last estimate they gave me for an engine was $5,400.00. As of right now I'm also paying for a rental car and a car payment and maybe a new engine. It has been at the Ford dealership for twenty two days and that was my final word as of yesterday. The guy at the dealership tried to reassure me that my new engine would have a three year warranty. Like that made me feel any better so did this engine that is four years old and is now worth nothing and I am putting $5,400.00 into a car that is blue booked around $14,000.

- , PIqua, Ohioo, USA

problem #2

Mar 212007

(reported on)

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles

I bought a used Ford Explorer with approx. 30,000 miles on it. At approx. 37,000 miles (just after the factory warranty expired), the harmonic balancer needed to be replaced.

On March 19 2007, I drove to work as usual with no indication of any problems. Later that day, I drove to a supermarket to get lunch. When I came back out of the store and turned the ignition key, the truck would not start. The truck was towed to a local Ford dealer and after some diagnostic testing, it was determined that there was no compression in the engine and the engine needed to be replaced. The truck has 46,000 miles on it. How could this be possible? All regular maintenance had been done up to this point, including a harmonic balancer, which I wouldn't consider "regular maintenance". So at this point, just two days later, I have Ford telling me they are NOT WILLING to stand behind their obviously DEFECTIVE vehicle and that because I didn't purchase the extended warranty, a new engine is going to cost $5,688 not including labor. Needless to say, I'm very angry with Ford (not the dealer, the manufacturer). I have no intention of ever buying another Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo, etc. and intend to give them a bad name to everyone I know. They stand to lose a lot more than the $5,688 that it would have taken to make good on the defective vehicle, when I'm through with them.

- , Assonet, MA, USA

problem #1

Sep 282007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles

Need a new engine, cylinder exploded. The car is only 3 years old and I should not be having problems with the engine

- , Buffalo, NY, USA

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