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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
66,318 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 miscellaneous problems

miscellaneous problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #6

Jan 182011


  • 95,489 miles


Purchased 2004 Explorer in November 2007. 95489 miles. No prior indication in drivability, noise or lights coming on. Going along, most speed available was 20 mph, rpms on 6; then jerked to change gears. Driving on highway in town during rush hour, overdrive light and check engine lights came on. Limped into nearest repair shop, which happened to be a transmission shop, . transmission had to be rebuilt. Obviously Ford knew about these problems because they had sent shop update notices and what to do with transmission problems

- Pueblo, CO, USA

problem #5

Nov 262010


  • 91,031 miles
I backed SUV out of garage and put in park, got out of vehicle while still running (to close garage door), closed the SUV door, turned around and saw that SUV was moving forward into my garage. I opened the SUV door while it was moving and jumped in the drivers seat, pushed on the brake and SUV did not stop, I was looking down at the floor to see why SUV did not stop, pulled up my foot and placed it back down on the brake. SUV still did not stop. It then made a loud noise like the engine was reeving up and then the SUV took off forward, ran through the back of my garage, ran through my back yard, ran over a tree in the yard, ran through my back yard fence and my neighbor's fence and crashed into the back side of neighbor's house. All while this was occurring, I was inside of the vehicle with my left leg sticking out of the car (since I jumped in the SUV in a hurry, I didn't realize that my leg was still out of the SUV), I continually attempted to step on the brakes (each time lifting my foot up so that I could place it directly on the brake), the engine reeved up again while going through the yard. The only thing that stopped the SUV was the tall concrete foundation of my neighbor's house that it ran into. I jumped out of the SUV, fell to the ground and laid there for a few seconds before I realized that my SUV was still running, then I jumped back into the SUV and turned the ignition off.

- Florissant, MO, USA

problem #4

Dec 012009


  • 68,000 miles
As everyone else, I am have a lot of problems with my transmission. It shifts very hard and jerks when put into reverse. Also having issues shifting from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd. Problem is steadily getting worse. This morning the O/D off light started blinking. I killed the car and restarted it and it stopped. I dont understand why there has not been a recall on this. Ford obviously knows that there is a problem. How could they not? I have found tons of message boards on the internet with everyone else having the same problem.

- Lewisville, TX, USA

problem #3

Jun 052005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,000 miles


2004 Ford Explorer - I bought this vehicle new in Dec. 03. starting at approximately 14 months old, it starts stalling out, just dying completely. No signs, no symptoms, just die at a slow rate of speed. The first time it happened, I chalked it up to bad gas or something? finally, on the 3rd. Dead time, I took it into the dealer. They said they changed a fuse and it should be fine. It died again... and again. I took it back. They installed a black box (flight recorder & told me to drive it until the machine regestered "3". I had to keep the button by the steering column so I could push it quickly when the vehicle stalled. The first stall, I pushed the button & it registered "2". it died again just a block down the road (rush hour traffic on casino row, hwy 90). I pushed the button again & it registered "3". the next week I took it back to the dealer. They had the car 4 days this time & couldn't figure it out. Finally they called the engineers who said to "clean & tighten the grounding straps". that Friday, it died again. A couple of times it has dies, my newly licensed daughter was driving & now she is affraid of my car! the steering column locks when it dies. We were coming back from walmart & I kept telling her "turn, turn", she yelled "I can't". the car had died again! because of the hurricane, I couldn't take the vehicle back in. It died a total of 6 times during evacuation. 5 in slow traffic jams & once when coming 60 mph off the interstate onto an exit. I have since taken it back in to the dealer again (at the urging of Ford customer service) and they kept it 10 days & still do not know what is wrong! they gave me my car back & suggested I take it to another dealer.?! I am a United States air force instructor and I do not have the time to take it in constantly to the dealer. Plus, I pay an outrageous car payment just to have my vehicle sit in repair.

- Ocean Springs, MS, USA

problem #2

Sep 272004

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100 miles
When the air conditioner is on, there is a loud squeak each time the clutch engages. When taken to the dealer(john chandler Ford amarillo, tx), they state it is a normal occurance. You can hear the noise over the stereo and any talking. The vehicle has been to the shop @ 6 times, and no corrective action has been done for this issue.

- Canyon, TX, USA

problem #1

Feb 262004

(reported on)

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10 miles
The truck doesn't come with a cargo net or a device that can be used to separate the cargo area from the trucks cabin. Which in the event of an accident can cause serious injuries to the occupants because the cargo can fly forward and hit the occupants. Consumer was told at the time of purchase that they can purchase a net, but has now found out the net cannot fix this truck.

- Bedford, NY, USA

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