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:
77,272 miles
Total Complaints:
7 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace (7 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #7

Dec 052011

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 147,154 miles


This truck has been the BIGGEST NIGHTMARE since I bought it NEW in 2006 as a 2004 left over..So far I have replaced...Clutch pack in the rear end, universal joints, rear trailing arms, alternator, ball joints, all four wheel bearings 3 times, now the harmonic will be the transition, as it is acting up a bit.. And partridge in a pear tree....Yet, NONE of these common problem things are on Fords recall list...WHY???????????????????

- , Fort Plain, NY, USA

problem #6

Apr 012010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

This is just the first problem with piece of CRAP!!!

- , St Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #5

Jul 312010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,400 miles

I’ve enjoyed my 2004 Explorer but now I am reluctant to drive it for fear of a repeat of what I went through these past three days. One of the symptoms was surge bucking while driving; pretty scary when driving over the Mackinac Bridge and a wrench light appeared on my dash. Once I pulled into a parking lot the vehicle just stalled and never started again. I live in Dearborn, and had to spend an extra three nights in Cheboygan, Michigan while I waited for my vehicle to be repaired.

Saturday, July 31, 2010: Towed vehicle to Mackinac Ford in St. Ignace, Michigan.

Monday, August 2, 2010: Mackinac Ford was unable to work on my vehicle because their equipment was not working so it was towed to Rivertown Ford, Cheboygan, Michigan. My PCM-PATs was somehow erased and so they recalibrated the PCM and reprogrammed my ignition keys as stated by a TSB provided by Ford. I left the dealership with my vehicle and within five miles the problem reappeared. Luckily the vehicle “bucked” all the way back to the dealership.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010: Problem was finally isolated, it was the Harmonic Balancer which for unknown reasons wiped out my PCM and caused by engine to shut down. The parts were ordered.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010: Balancer was replaced and finally made it back home to Dearborn Michigan.

My car has only 33,400 miles when this happened. I don't trust my vehicle anymore. I guess I won't be buying Ford anymore.

- , Dearborn, MI, USA

problem #4

Feb 152010

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles


I had been hearing squeaking coming from under the hood and I figured that it was just the belt that needed to be replaced then the noise stopped so I though t everything was good, Next 1 week later I was out of town 600 miles from home and my car just shut down without any real warning. the harmonic balancer looked broken around the edges and a part of it had migrated. The crank sensor had gotten warn down from this which cause my car to shut off. I do not recommend that any one but a ford explorer.

- , Midwest City, OK, USA

problem #3

Nov 032009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

250.00 for part from salavage yard, another 150.00 to install. Mechanic said " It's a really common problem for the 04 Ford ( Exploder ).

- , Sparta, TN, USA

problem #2

Feb 042009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

click to see larger images

harmonic balancer failed

Out of the blue the engine got a real bad vibration. After talking to a few Ford techs they told me to check the balancer. Sure enough the inner ring was busted. I replaced the balancer along with a new crank sensor. The Ford parts dept said that they couldn't keep on them in stock because of a rash of them that had come in.

- , Richlands, NC, US

problem #1

Aug 062009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,351 miles

One dark cloudy day my 2004 explorer started to slightly shake and squeak. very annoyed..not mad though cause i didnt want to make it mad! seeing as i just rebuilt the tranny $3200 anyway thats on another section of this site. so i got a price to fix and $350 is the verdict so im gonna get it fixed to make a total repair cost this month of $3550 ...ouch! just thought id let you know. be cautious when buying a ford explorer.

- , Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada

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