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:
77,500 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 1 of 2)

problem #33

Jul 062016


  • Automatic transmission
  • 156,439 miles



- Kimberly J., Byron, GA, US

problem #32

Oct 252015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

I have a Ford Explorer XLT 2004. I was driving on the Highway yesterday and my truck just stopped. I tried to restart the truck and nothing. I am beyond pissed and from what I can tell others have had the same problem. Now I see why my dad says Fords are no good (F)ix (O)r (R)epair (D) aily

- Aisha T., Glen Burnie, MD, US

problem #31

Sep 052007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

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 seat belt 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".

- Lisa H., Memphis, TN, US

problem #30

Sep 102014

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,800 miles


Bought the Explorer used from my Father and problem occurred first time using the cruise control for city road at around 33 mph. Like others the car just shut down after less than one minute from engaging the cruise. I just shifted into neutral and it started up while rolling and my dad claimed it had done that since day one of his original ownership. He never even bothered to have it looked at and just didn't use cruise in the city. I decided to call the dealer and ask about the problem. They claimed to have no idea what I was talking about. Prior to that I did some online research and saw that this is a somewhat common issue. I also came across a comment in the "Serious Exploration" forum that claimed to have fixed the problem by turning off the Overdrive when cruising at low speed. Well I tried that over several trips over the same road that I originally had the problem on and it did not happen again. Others had commented that the engine at low speed cruise would kick into overdrive at low speed and just wind up going too slow to keep running. With the overdrive off I monitored the tach and saw that it would come down to around 800 rpm or lower when going downhill so it makes some sense that with overdrive on it might kill the engine. Anyway after this I decided to cancel my appointment with the dealer for a diagnostic and just remember to turn off the overdrive. So far no more issues.

- Chris D., Anacortes, WA, US

problem #29

Dec 012004

Explorer XLS 3.6L

  • Manual transmission
  • 2,000 miles

December 1 2004 was driving 70 miles an hour and pressed cruise control when truck stalled, I almost got killed. I did not pay to much attention, I thought I did something my self. As time went on I realized was cruise control, since than happen so many time I was told that it was too expensive to fix and let it go, but is getting worse. I do not know what to do.

- edisonh, Westland, MI, US

problem #28

Sep 282013

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles

On Saturday,September 28,2013 My wife Tanya Lopez was making a U-turn on Peach orchard road when all of a sudden her car completely stopped in the middle of the road and would not start back up. On Monday morning we had the vehicle towed to Bobby Jones Ford Lincoln where Carlos @706-738-6697 handled my transaction. I was charged $94 and Carlos broke the bad news to me that the engine has ceased up. He explained to me that a refurbished engine would cost me $6500, $2900 of that being labor alone - 23 hours of labor total. He told me it was my only option and wasn't able to explain to me the cause of the sudden engine failure. I asked him about my oil and he said it wasn't great but it wasn't horrible but it wasn't the oil that caused it. This is a known issue that should have been recalled for years so why am I being charged for Fords defect.?? As of today my vehicle is still sitting at Ford. Ford Feel free to call me!!!

- Alfonso L., Hephzibah, GA, US

problem #27

Aug 042012

Explorer AWD Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,608 miles


I have had this issue twice now. As someone else previously stated, you can easily duplicate it when in use under 45-50 mph. I have found that going uphill with the c/c set is just fine. When you are on roughly level ground or going downhill at this speed or lower it will it shut the engine down. I don't know the cause, I just refrain from using it under 50 mph or in downhills. The first time it happened at like 2 in the morning, while the second time was in the middle of the day. The first time I was cruising at 40 on an expressway and there was a large over pass to go over, and was fine until the downhill. Then silence, everything shut down. Haha, bad morning experience while I was moving. Other than the slower descents, I have had NO problems with the cruise control at all.

- sworsham, Davis, CA, US

problem #26

Sep 012011

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

This has been a great running vehicle, until using the cruise control the other day. I was driving about 45 MPH with the cruise on and all of a sudden the vehicle shut down/no power, it did restart after a few minutes. Last night on my way into the city, at about 70 MPH the vehicle shut down ( Again )... Yes, the cruise control was on and yes, Ford has a problem that should recalled...

- Timoty D., Howell, Mi, US

problem #25

Nov 272011

Explorer Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

I just bought a used 2004 Ford Explorer. Was happy that I got a big enough vehicle to lug my family back and forth to Ohio from Georgia. I went home for the Thanksgiving holiday and after 12hrs of driving in traffic, rain and witnessing tons of accidents I got off on my ramp to go home and switched seats with my son to take us on in. He put on the cruise control and the car just powered off. No steering, nothing! Everything went off. Thank God it started back up but more importantly Thank God it didn't do it on any of those mountains or slick highways coming home from Ohio.

- Michelle D., Austell, GA, US

problem #24

Oct 192011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,551 miles

I have a lot of mileage on my explorer, but I rarely have used the cruise control, but I was on a trip and I decided to use the cruise control because my legs were tired of the long driving. I got on a long straight stretch of roads and the speed limit was very low, so I was driving around 35 mph, set the cruise control, and a few seconds later the Explorer shut down completely, all the gauges lit up. I put it in neutral quickly and restarted it. I had no idea what happened and decided to try the cruise control again...same thing happened and the Explorer's engine turned off. I have had no other issues happen that were related to this, but talk about a scary situation...I'm just glad I was not in heavy traffic or turning around a corner. Very, very scary.

- titaniumtwo, Bath, PA, US

problem #23

Aug 202004

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 11 miles


sure cant pull out in front of anyone in this car, the engine stalls and lags like crazy since day one brand new off the lot

- Jake A., Fisherville, KY, US

problem #22

Jul 022010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

So I was driving on a busy road near a school and decided to put to speed control and low and decellerate the car using the cruise control functions when the engine shut off, all emergency lights came on and obviously power steering gone as well. Luckily no one hit me, but I took it to the dealership, Beach Ford, in Virginia Beach and had the head of the service department take it on a test drive with me fore at least 45 minutes. We were able to replicate the problem everytime when the cruise control was 35mph and decellerated to 28mph. He could not come up with a solution and said flashing the pcm and replacing the scds (speed control deactivation switch). As of now, I do not know how to fix the problem, other than avoiding using cruise control at low speeds.

If this does happen to you while driving, kick it into neutral and restart your car while moving to get back power steering and drive to a safe location.

- John M., Arlington, VA, US

problem #21

Jan 012010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Anytime I have to come to a stop the car wants to shut down, you can look at the rpm and it's very low. It constantly want to shut down and it has shut down a couple of times.

I try to press hard on the break to prevent it from shutting down when I'm at a light or in stop and go traffic. I hardly drive the car because it's so frustrating, I have to car pool with others. I check with the dealer and other mechanics and it will cost $200.00 to fix.

I haven't had the money because I just paid for the transmission overhaul.

- raheen, Long Beach, CA, US

problem #20

Apr 032010

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

I was driving home From my uncles house and was driving about 70 mph when I slowed down for a small town to about 35 mph. when all of the sudden the check gauge light came on and the oil pressure gauge was beyond low. I pulled off the road and turned it off. I lifted the hood and looked for oil or leaking fluid. found none. I started it back up and drove it home with no problem.

- Joey B., Boynton Beach, FL, US

problem #19

May 012009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Driving down the road, cruise on, if you go under ~35 car stalls. You can repeat this over and over as many times as you want. After many tries, Ford updated my PCM. However, the car doesn't seem as peppy after doing this, but at least it wont stop the engine and endanger lives with no power brakes and no power steering!

- Chris P., Clearwater, FL, US

problem #18

Mar 062010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

My 2004 Ford Explorer stalls while driving, if I come to a stop, light or sign. Has anyone else experience this problem?

- kelvindc, Washington, DC, US

problem #17

Dec 092009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

So it happened a second time!!!

Truck dies when the cruise was set about 70 mph. I was driving down the highway with the cruise control on and the truck just started power itself down. The power steering went out and then all the gage lights came on. After coming to a stop I turned the key off and then let it sit for ten minutes. After that the truck would start but shut off right away. I had it looked at and they couldn't find anything wrong with it.

- Adam P., Madison, WI, US

problem #16

Oct 302009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

Truck dies when the cruise was set about 35-40 mph. I was driving down the road with the cruise control on and the truck just started power itself down. The power steering went out and then all the gage lights came on. After coming to a stop I turned the key off and then let it sit for five minutes. After that the truck started back up without any problems.

- Adam P., Madison, WI, US

problem #15

Dec 192009

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,600 miles

I bought my 2004 Ford Explorer V8 4.6L. Just recently i was driving in the City and decided to use my Cruise Control to avoid ticket. Suddenly at 30-35mph, my engine just died and i cannot control the steering wheel. It just stopped. Then i tried to start again the engine and it worked straight away. I was worried about safety so i took it to Ford Dealer and paid 115 USD just for the diagnosis. i did not get any definite response. They suspect its the Throttle Body which would cost about 700++ plus tax or PCM which would cost more.

I took it with me with the same problem. They want to keep the car to diagnose more.

I will never ever buy a FORD VEHICLE again.

- Ford E., Santa Maria, CA, US

problem #14

Feb 012009

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Husband driving, with kids, lost all power, died!!!!!!

- Patricia K., Salina, OK, US

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