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:
123,750 miles
Total Complaints:
8 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (4 reports)
  2. replace timing chain guide (3 reports)
  3. replace engine (1 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2004 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #8

Oct 032016

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles



- , Corydon, IN, USA

problem #7

Apr 202015

Explorer XL 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 178,000 miles

i spent 2400 dollars for a another engine, and it's now having the same problem. timing gears! chain! research this has been a ongoing for these type of suv's for years! and nothing has been done about it. help!!!

- , Louisville, KY, USA

problem #6

Feb 072014

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 190,000 miles

Most engines have timing chains that can be fixed with minimal work. The timing chains are 4 in number on this engine and cost over $500.00 dollars just for the chains. When the timing chain guides failed the engine sounded like it was going to fly apart. The engine had to be removed to fix the problem.

- , Graysville, TN, USA

problem #5

Feb 182012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


The timing chain or guide makes this loud noise like you need oil, a knock

- , Baltimore, MD, US

problem #4

Aug 052010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

The problem started with a loud knocking while driving to work one afternoon and then after work it continued. As I got on the highway to go up in speed, the knocking got louder and then stopped as the gas light came on and my foot went all the way down on the gas pedal. (I had 1/2 tank of gas). I got the car towed home (about 3miles). Next day a mechanic came to house and saw the hole in the valve cover about the size of my finger and one could see the timing belt going around as I tried to start the car unsuccessfully. Its been sitting ever since. I'm a one car family and now have to catch buses to work and taxi everywhere to take care of any routine household needs.

- , Hampton, VA, USA

problem #3

Nov 082009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

I had the same problem as Number 1. My engine just lost all drive and started bucking all over the place. I had it towed to the shop and found out the timing guide had slipped and thus my car engine self-destructed. Only difference is the car only had 63,000 miles on it. There is no way a timing chain should slip at 63,000 miles. I had to replace the entire engine.

- , Nashville, TN, USA

problem #2

Mar 012009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Sayville Ford misdiagnosed the problem, quoting me a price of 1500 to fix it. After making the 1500 fix, they discovered that was not solution, retested the vehicle and charged me an addition 1700. Plus tax, gets me to around the 3500.

Filed a complaint with motor vehicles of New York. They stated that the way Sayville Ford handled the issue, was incorrect, however, the mistake on my part was that I had a local mechanic open it up to see if there was anything he could do. Had I not have done that, the inspector stated I had a case with Sayville Ford.

- , Oakdale, NY, USA

problem #1

Feb 082009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

Granted my explorer had very high mileage at the time of the problem, I followed Ford's preventative maintenance recommendations as close as possible. I took a very long road trip in my car, continuous running for about 20 hours at 60-70 mph. Two weeks later on this trip I was on the highway driving to my temporary job and the check engine light came on, the engine started bucking and whining and the car slowed itself from 65 to about 30 without me intervening. I pulled off the highway, on the road I could not get the car to accelerate over 10 mph, the engine was making a bad ticking and the car was bucking back and forth a bit as well.

I had the car towed to Maroone Ford of Fort Lauderdale whose service advisers are some of the scummiest I have ever dealt with. The adviser I dealt called me up fast talking, would not explain anything in detail but said my engine needed to be replaced. He stated he could get me a Ford rebuilt motor with a 3 year 100k warranty for $6,500 and estimated the labor would be another $1,500 - $2,000. The trade in value of the vehicle is probably half the cost of the repairs. I went and spoke with the manager of the service department to voice my disgust about how his adviser dealt with me. The manager was pretty sympathetic and explained to me in great detail what the mechanic felt went wrong. He said the timing chain guides which are held in by oil pressure had worn out, the engine then went out of time and basically self destructed. They took me into the shop to prove they had pulled the heads off, which I had not authorized therefore would not pay for diagnostic labor, the valves were dented and bent from piston impacts and the push-rods were bent as well. I took the codes from the diagnostic that were run and gave them to a mechanic I trust. He agreed and said the engine needed to be replaced but could be done for about half to a third of the cost of the price they were estimating. I have done a decent amount of work on it myself, replaced the water pump, pulleys, and alternator on my own. I didn't think I had the time or experience, or resources to attempt replacing it myself (on top of the fact that I was 1,200 miles from home). I was able to set up a quick sale with a guy who fixes junk cars, got a little less than I wanted but got it out of my hair. I am just upset at how I am hearing more and more about timing issues with the Ford 4.0L and Ford/It's Dealers being completely reluctant to even acknowledge the issue. I will never buy another Ford as long as I live nor do I recommend them to anyone based on my experiences.

- , Plymouth, MA, Bangladesh

Not what you are looking for?