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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
37,107 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 fuel system problems

fuel system problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #14

Jul 182007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 17,000 miles


Exact dates are various, vehicle has 39000 miles on it presently, have multiple vehicles, drive over the road truck driver... changed brakes and rotors twice, emergency brake not working, had fixed, had to have ekg replaced and some exhaust sensor, tires wore out at 29000, exhaust system replaced, both ball joints replaced, pinion gear gasket leaking from rear end, both cv joints leaking, appears right cv joint needs replacing, gets 14 mpg ( 4.0 liter ) paint peeling from roof for quite awhile now, rusting around fuel tank door, as all are...... vehicle has been a nightmare, getting rid of this at 39000 miles, Ford has a better idea, buy another one !

- Cheektowaga , NY, USA

problem #13

May 132011


  • 65,000 miles
1-"miles to E" have always registered as dashes after a fill up since 2004. Dealer says nothing is wrong and to add gas additive (which doesn't work) or I can have it fixed at my expense. Dealer has been sold and new dealer now has "no record" of my previous complaints-- whenever I had the car in for service I asked them to check it. I see plenty of other complaints for this same problem but Ford refuses to fix this as well. 2-back hatch below window has cracked recently. Husband had same vehicle different year and his cracked as well. Dealer acknowledges many vehicles with same problem but says there is no recall and Ford will not fix it. I see there is now a class action suit for this defect. Just wanted to go "on record" as another unhappy Ford owner (of over 40 yrs).

- Salisbury, MD, USA

problem #12

Feb 152007


  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact was driving approximately 5 mph when the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was towed to the dealer where the technician replaced the fuel pump, throttle body and several unknown sensors in the vehicle. The failure recurred and the vehicle was towed to the dealer. The technician advised that they would perform extensive diagnostic testing on the vehicle. The vehicle was not repaired. The contact stated that the failure would occur intermittently in cold temperatures less than twenty degrees. The approximate failure mileage was 45,000.

- Port Mommouth, NJ, USA

problem #11

Aug 072010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 85,555 miles


2004 Ford explore dies on the road while driving. Going 70 mph down the interstate and the vehicle died luckily I was driving on the side lane and got off to the shoulder so we weren't stuck in the middle of interstate traffic. Called a tow truck and had the vehicle diagnosed at an auto repair shop. Fuel pump had to be replaced. The auto shop replaced the pump.

- Linwood, KS, USA

problem #10

Aug 132009


  • 72,000 miles
My 2004 Ford Explorer has been killing when coming to a stop, slowing down and when I am driving at speeds up to 40mph. My power steering then goes. There are no warnings when this is going to happen. It is occurring daily and I then have to put the truck in park, remove the key and then restart. When I do that, it runs like it never happened. No check engine light ect... I have been calling the dealership about this from day one. At first I was told that if it does not fail when I bring it in it will be hard to say what it is. Then I called back because it was happening more frequently. I brought my truck in thurs. The dealership had it all day and said it was ready to go. I drove 1/2 mile down the road and the truck killed. I immediately called them back to let them know. I will be bringing it back next week. I am very worried about this failure and I feel that this is definitely a defect in the Ford.

- Appleton, WI, USA

problem #9

Apr 202009


  • 40,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer XLS, 41,000 miles on multiple occasions my car has shut off, loosing power for the brakes and steering. It usually happens when decelerating at a stoplight, or even decelerating off the highway onto an exit ramp. It has occurred at least four of five times and I've been very lucky each time to be able to pull over, put my car in neutral, and restart it. The car has no trouble starting back up. I've researched on the internet about this problem and have found that my experience is not unique. This is a very dangerous situation and the 2004 Ford Explorer can be very unsafe if there is some sort of failure. Please help me.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #8

Feb 252009


  • miles


Gas tank has a leak and I can smell fumes.

- Gonzales, LA, USA

problem #7

Jun 172007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 42,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer limited with faulty gas gauge. Car said 70 miles to empty yet my wife and two kids (ages 3&5) ran out of gas on the highway. They had to hike 1 mile down the expressway to get assistance. This is obviously a serious safety concern. The only thing worse than no gas gauge is one that does not read accurately. Thankfully they eventually arrived home safely with the assistance of strangers.

- Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #6

Jan 082008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 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. It's as if it's running out of gas. It took about 10 minutes each time before it would restart. All 4 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. 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 #5

Sep 292007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. After filling the vehicle with gas and driving a few miles, the fuel cap pressure light illuminates and the engine shuts off. The contact has to exit the vehicle and retighten the filler cap, which then allows the engine to restart. The failure has occurred twice within 3 or 4 gas tank fill-ups and usually while driving 50 mph. He has not yet taken the vehicle to the dealer. Failure mileage was 29,000 and current mileage was 29,500. Updated 12/12/07

- Dover, NJ, USA

problem #4

Nov 112005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


Gasoline odor.

- Winchester, VA, USA

problem #3

Nov 102005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,601 miles
On three separate occasions my Ford Explorer 4door Sport Trac has stalled, because my teenage children have accidentally bumped/kicked the inertia control device for fuel shut off while the vehicle was moving/driving. This device has its own push start button to restart fuel operations once the vehicle stopped. I was on the beltway 495 doing 65 mph the last time it happened. I had to make an emergency pull off and almost got hit by a tractor trailer on two occasions. On 11-18-2005 the dealer failed to cover this device saying there was nothing wrong with it. However the technician stated he has seen several cars returned for the same thing.

- College Park, MD, USA

problem #2

Aug 232005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,340 miles
We lease a 2004 Ford Explorer [xxx]. the vehicle stalls. We have had duthler Ford in grand rapids Michigan try and repair the problem. They have had it in the shop off and on for well over 3-weeks. We thought it was repaired the last time because we have had no problems over the last 3,000 miles...until yesterday. They vehicle stalled 2-times and lost acceleration 3-times. All the drivers in my family (4) have experienced this problem, and foturnately no one has been injured (yet). Ford and the dealer say they don't know what to do. This is not acceptable. It's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt. Updated 07/19/2012 information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6)

- Caledonia, MI, USA

problem #1

Sep 072004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles
I have a 2004 eddie bauer Ford Explorer. On two occasions my vehicle cut off ( stalled ) as I was driving along the highway. On another occasion and on both of the aforementioned occasions the "service engine soon" and "electronic throttle control" lights came on. The on-board computer recorded the codes of the incidents on the first two occasions but not on the third. Following the third occasion my local Ford dealer attempted to fix the problem by replacing the "throttle position sensor" per tsb 04-21-9. I was told by the service manager that they could not guarantee that this would fix the problem.

- Midlothian, VA, USA

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