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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
77,457 miles
Total Complaints:
33 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (26 reports)
  2. bad plug to computer (2 reports)
  3. dealer updated pcm (1 reports)
  4. replace engine (1 reports)
  5. replace iac -idle air control (1 reports)
  6. scds (speed control deactivation switch) replacement (1 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 #13

Oct 012008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


Died in the snow and ice, was stuck on the side of the road, was towed

- , Salina, OK, USA

problem #12

Aug 022009

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

This is the second time I've had this experience with my Ford. I've driven it for about 7 years and never had anything like this happen. Both times, I was driving on low-speed limit roads and was trying to avoid speeding, so set my cruise control around 30-35 mph. Within just a few minutes, the engine stalled out, power steering was lost, and all the lights you can imagine were on in the dash. It was frightening, especially the first time when I was driving up a steep hill. I thought someone was going to ram into me from the back, and I couldn't steer the car off the road because there was no shoulder.

I use the cc at high speeds, around 70-80 mph, and don't have any problems. Guess I'll just quit using it at anything less than 50, to keep it safe.

Ugh, wish I'd bought a Honda!

- , Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #11

Jul 022008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

I think I can help those of you whose engines are dying while driving, and it's not too costly if you look in the right spot in the first place. Our mechanic had to track it down over time and that was a little expensive. I just watched my Explorer ride away on the back of a tow truck for the millionth time. This time, it's because of the transmission. But that's a whole 'nother reason I hate Fords and will never buy another one as long as I live. My car has logged more miles on tow trucks than on it's own four wheels. The engine would just quit while we were driving. Our family mechanic found that the wiring harness was never suspended correctly in several places. The edge of a metal pass-through hole had worn through a wire and was causing the electrical system to ground out and turn the motor off. Seemed to happen when the car was hot, when we were going around curves, when we slowed. Never could pin-point it farter than that. We thought we had the problem solved when he found that, but nope. The repeated grounding out caused theplug on one of the wires to the computer to actually melt, so we started getting the same symptoms again. You'd go around a curve and the plug would shift and the motor would turn off. This happened especially when the car was hot. My husband thought it was the cruise control, and I haven't been brave enough to try to use the cruise for over a year, but I did tempt fate and try it on Sat. 2-14-09 and it doesn't work anymore anyway. But back to the engine dying problem, just tell a mechanic you trust to check out all the plugs leading to the car's main computer and you may find that it's a cheap fix. Who knows if it will happen again. I've never seen a car with so many problems. My visor is dangling in my face, too. I love the way the car looks and handles, but to get it to run long enough to enjoy that has been an epic adventure I don't care to repeat. I filled out a complaint form on NHTSA,gov, and you should, too. No way am I pleased about Ford asking for my money for a bailout when they've cost me this much. E-mail me if you need anymore details. montanala @ aol . com

Update from Nov 16, 2014: This happened multiple times. This happened multiple times until our mechanic finally found what caused the plug to the computer to melt. See below: Sick to death of all the problems. Ford just throws these things off the assembly line and then says "Oh so sorry, it's out of warranty". We actually won a lawsuit regarding a 2002 Explorer. The tailgate window exploded in my hand when trying to shut it. The car dealer knew it was a piece of junk and the judge called his selling it to us "the most egregious case of taking advantage she'd ever seen". We had to replace the transmission in this 2004 model, replaced the visors and interior overhead console, one back seatbelt doesn't work, again a cheap plastic problem, and the electrical/computer problem where a plug next to the computer melted and caused the engine to cut off while driving down the road, well that almost got us all killed. Turns out there is a group of wires near the rear and they were supposed to be suspended in some sort of harness and never were, so over time, the plastic coating rubbed off and caused at least one wire to ground out, which caused the plug near the computer to overheat and slide out of its socket, causing the engine to shut off. Once it cooled, sometimes the motor would start again. This cost us more than one battery, lots of time, being stalled at 2 in the morning with our daughter in the back seat. After $2500 spent in multiple visits trying to fix the electrical issue, and another $2600 for the transmission, and just under $1000 for the interior console and visors, add more $$ for visits to check out the Check Engine light and the ABS light... wonder what I'm leaving out... ? Oh yes, the air conditioning has been blowing hot on once side for quite awhile. The crack in the back window frame on EVERY SINGLE EXPLORER I see reminds me of the Ford Grenada back in the 80s. Does anybody else remember the Ford Grenada? The gas cap was located behind the license plate and on every single Grenada, the spring on the license plate broke so they all drove around with their license plate facing the ground, wide open. We have no idea why the Check Engine light stays on. No idea why the back passenger windows quit working years ago. No idea why the cruise control works about 1 out of 20 times you try to use it, and no idea why the volume control on the radio slips deafening everyone in the car. Owning one of these Explorers is like being in a club with other unfortunate individuals who have found themselves wondering if the $9,000 they've spent on repairs makes it worth keeping the car now. My mechanic calls it the "Ford Exploder".

- , Memphis, TN, USA

problem #10

Jan 012009

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles




- , Titusville, FL, USA

problem #9

Nov 012007

Explorer XT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

This usually occurs when I am passing through a small town after slowing down from highway driving to 30 mph that the engine just dies. I call Ford service and they do not have a clue and I would feel it to be ridiculous to pay them money and they tell me that they do not know what is causing it.

- , Wichita, KS, USA

problem #8

Aug 202008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

I have owned my 2004 explorer since May 2008. My daughter has had the car engine die on her while driving 3 to 4 times now, when putting it in cruise control at approximately 30 35 mph, lights in dashboard & guages still functioning while rolling then, engine dies, power steering quits (of course) & her having to pull over stop and putting it in park and restarting again.. I have not taken it to dealer yet for this problem, however now I will have this issue addressed as I have another problem of the car being low on gas (probably ran out).....& now the starter will not engage when turning key...nothing, no clicking, even tried to jump start & battery appears to have a good charge but will do nothing when turning key, Unhooked the battery cables to see if it would possibly reset something electrical or computer related, fuel pump, checked the fuses ....I just don't know yet, because I am a new owner, without an owners repair manual......& unable to diagnose myself ! The good old days are gone when a person could manually bypass the starter relay switch with a simple wrench on the positive terminal on battery directly to the starter relay terminal and start the dam car if that happened after running out of gas then putting gas in and then not being able to get the starter to engage! Yep better get one of those engine code identifying gadgets that identify the "check engine" problem codes that are stored in the computer......

- , Riverside, CA, US

problem #7

Jan 092008

Explorer XLT 4.6L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,768 miles


I own a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT which has been a horrible nightmare. Recently another problem started to occur. I drive on a military post which has a speed limit of 30 MPH. When I attempt to set my cruise control anywhere nea 30 MPH or so my explorer just shuts off. All the gauge lights come on and I have to pull over and turn it back on. The first time it happened I was turning on a curve and I nearly wrecked so it's a pretty big problem. When I took it to the dealership they claimed the couldn't duplicate the problem but that was before I knew it happened only around 30 -35 MPH. Now it's out of the warranty and they say they can't help me.

- , Savannah, GA, US

problem #6

Jun 152008

Explorer NBX 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

The car stalls when using cruise control between 30 & 35 MPH.

- , Highlands, NJ, USA

problem #5

Jun 022007

Explorer ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles

Dealer cant find a problem, must be many others with same problem!

- , Stafford, VA, USA

problem #4

Mar 292008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,300 miles

Slow speed use of cruise control will kill the engine.

Used cruise at 55-60 mph with no problems, then came to a long 35 mph zone and tried to set cruise at about 38. All dash lights came on, tach dropped to zero, engine was off, but car kept rolling (and headlights stayed on) far enough to pull into a parking lot. Put it in park and turned the car off. It restarted with no problems.

I don't normally use the cruise, but it would be nice if it worked within the range stated in the owners manual. It still works fine at 55+ mph.

- , Pleasant Hill, MO, USA

problem #3

Apr 172006

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles


04 Explorer - Right around 30000 miles driving one fine night and the car dies on me for no reason - just stalls after coming to a stop. Started up and ran fine after that, then stalled again on the way home. Take it to Ford, they say there's no problem, no code and hit me with a bill. The car seems to have an idling problem - surges when braking, loses power while driving - drops to 200 rpm, or completely loses power. It only happens in warm weather - no problems in the winter. I replaced mass airflow and it ran fine for a month, now it is worse than ever. There is no code, no record in the computer of any problem. I am dumping this car as soon as possible. Before 50000 My Cat converter has been replaced, and transmission has gone. Never buying a ford again.

- , Franklin, MA, USA

problem #2

Jan 082008

Explorer ES V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

I have a 2004 Ford Explorer with 57,000 that started stalling while

driving about 3 month ago. It shuts off like someone turned the key. The occurrence is very random and there is never anything common between occurrences except it typically happens when I am braking towards a stop. It's as if it's running out of gas. It took about 10 minutes each time before it would restart. Both those times, even though it died like the key was turned off, it acted like it was out of gas when I was trying to

restart it and then all of the sudden it would start like normal. The problem seemed to start about the time the vehicle was run low on gas. Since then the following has been done: fuel filter replaced, MAF sensor cleaned and the IAC valve inspected. The

service shop where it is taken says there is never an error code in the system when I bring it in. The vehicle is currently unsafe to drive with this condition.

- , Livermore, CA, USA

problem #1

Mar 052008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

just bought an 04 explorer XLT. I use cruise control extremely often to try to save gas and not get a ticket. Well i was cruising at about 35 and tried to turn, my power steering was car was off! the lights were all on, the engine just randomly shut off. after doing some tests i found out that it does this almost everytime i use cruise control between 30 and 45mph. So i called a mechanic friend of mine. he said that many fords have a recall for a fault SCDS (speed control deactivation switch) and said to call ford and ask if if my car is covered under the recall. I will be doing that tomorrow but if anyone has had a similar problem please let me know...i'll post an update when i figure out what the problem is and get it fixed

- , New Market, AL, USA

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