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.


fairly significant
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
17,096 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 #5

Dec 102007

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 58,000 miles


My gas gauge on my 2004 Ford Explorer has failed me many times. I took it to my dealership & they told me to add some fuel additive to my gas tank & this would cure the problem. Well it has not & my warranty is out!!! I'm very concerned for my wife's safety if she runs out of gas, so we have to keep a written log as to the mileage before fill-up's. I'm told the sensor is bad & would cost close to $1,000 to repair. I have complained to Ford & they refuse to repair since the warranty is out. I have also complained to Ford about a back hatch panel that has cracked for no apparent reason directly under the exterior Ford emblem & they will not repair this since it is out of warranty. These are both for sure manufacturer defects, that Ford should be made to repair at their cost.

- Hixson, TN, USA

problem #4

Jan 032006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2004 Ford Explorer limited-owned SUV for 38K been in shop repeatedly-from minor to major things. SUV is a $ 34,000 turd. Currently needing to go back to shop for multiple repairs. The day our warranty expires car is gone.

- Indianola, IA, USA

problem #3

Sep 162005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,978 miles
While driving on September 16, 2005 the ABS failed. When this occurred it caused the consumer's vehicle to almost hit another vehicle. The ABS, maintenance, and four wheel lights came on and blinked when he lost the brakes. A diagnosis test was performed, and it showed that there was a problem with the speed sensor. The dealership replaced the speed sensor in the rear which was called asy-T. the fuel gauge broke. It showed the fuel tank level was higher than what it really was. The driver's rear window motor had to be replaced. The cover over the hatchback handle had to be replaced. Also, had to replace the weather stripping. There has been a repair done to the four by four unit. There were multiple problems with the vehicle.

- Watertown, NY, USA

problem #2

Nov 102004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,500 miles
Ford Explorer 2004 - XLT - gas gauge reads incorrectly following fueling vehicle (full tank). Gauge will display 1/2 tank. Occurred three times over 60 day period. Took vehicle to dealer. Could not find problem. Check gauges, fuel tank sensor, etc. Gauge is working normally at this time.

- Kesnington, MD, USA

problem #1

Apr 152004


  • miles
While filling up the fuel tank gasoline gauge registered false reading. Consumer had a full tank of gasoline that day. The next day the gasoline gauge registered a half of a tank. Consumer drove the vehicle to dealer for inspection, and mechanic informed consumer that dealer was aware of the problem, but there was no solution for the problem.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

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