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
Crashes / Fires:
6 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
70,042 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 Ford Explorer engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #8

Jul 012008


  • 65,000 miles


When driving the vehicle will properly engage the cruise control. If you press the accelerate or decelerate buttons the engine will shut off while the vehicle is still moving. This occurs every time the cruise control system is used. The vehicle becomes very difficult to control and stop when the engine shuts off as the vehicle is moving. I have stopped using the cruise control as I am afraid for the safety of my family. I have not repaired this problem as I thought it was a Ford defect and subsequently used your website to search for recalls. No recalls or current investigations are currently listed regarding this problem. Please investigate this issue so that Ford may repair it.

- Bayville, NJ, USA

problem #7

Jan 182008


  • 38,000 miles
I own a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT. When I attempt to use my cruise control around 30 -35 mph my vehicle turns off and all the gauges turn on. The first time it occurred I was on a curve going about 32 mph and I nearly ran head on to the car in the only lane because you loose power steering and it gets difficult. Everytime I have to pull over and turn the vehicle back on. It only happens at this speeds and driving on a military post where the speed limit is 30mph can be dangerous.

- Savannah, GA, USA

problem #6

Mar 222005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving vehicle suddenly started accelerating uncontrollably. Driver applied the brakes and the pedal went to the floor. Vehicle continued to accelerate excessively. While making a right turn driver hit the curb and flipped four times landing upside down in a ditch. Driver and passenger sustained injuries, and were transported by an ambulance to a hospital. Vehicle was towed and totaled by the insurance company.

- Loganville, GA, USA

problem #5

Mar 152005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles


While driving 70 mph check engine light came on, then, moments later the engine revved up and down, and the brakes failed, not allowing the vehicle to stop. Dealer stated the vehicle jumped timing.

- Ocean Springs, MS, USA

problem #4

Nov 222004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,800 miles
While stopped at an intersection our 2003 Ford Explorer accelerated without touching the accelerator pedal. If the brake hadn't been firmly pressed the vehicle would have shot into the oncoming traffic. In order to temporarily correct the problem, the transmission was shifted into park and then back to drive where we were able to accelerate normally. Dealer cannot reproduce problem and suggested a computer software upgrade.

- Stacy, MN, USA

problem #3

Jul 262004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,000 miles
When shifting gears from drive to reverse a heavy knocking noise is produced. The gear selector would hang up in drive and the selector did not return. The vehicle would also unexpectedly jump out of drive. The shift solenoid was replaced but the problem remained the same.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #2

Jun 082004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,000 miles
Loud pop from rear-end. ABS light, wrench, and check engine light came on. Found to be a bad speed sensor and defective rear-end. SUV has been in the shop for 2 weeks and no rear-end in sight.

- Dewitt, AR, USA

problem #1

May 252004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While turning left at low speed, without warning the vehicle accelerated. The driver was not able to control the vehicle and collided into a garage. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection. The mechanic can not duplicate the problem. Consumer was turning left towards garage when vehicle accelerated to about 50 to 60 mph.

- Stoughton, MA, USA

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