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:
13,825 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #2

Jul 152010


  • 27,650 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While the vehicle was parked, he attempted to shift and the shifter level broke. The contact turned the vehicle off and vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer where the contact was informed that the steering column needed to be replaced. The vehicle was being repaired at the time of the complaint. The current and failure mileages were 27,650.

- St. Francis, WI, USA

problem #1

Aug 242007


  • Manual transmission
  • miles
On Friday, August 24, 2007, I was attempting to back out of a driveway. I put my foot on the brake, started my 2004 Ford Explorer and began shifting the gear out of park into reverse when the shift broke. I could not do anything, the engine wouldn't turn over or anything. Since it was late Friday, I left the SUV parked until Saturday, the next morning, when I had it towed to doug stanley Ford in desoto, Texas, where I purchased the vehicle. A service technician told me they would have to order a needed part to repair the SUV. He said he thought they'd receive the part by Monday or Tuesday. On Monday, he told me they wouldn't get it until November 12. He said that he'd called all around and had to get the part from the manufacturer. I checked online and others have experienced this very same problem. I am thankful I wasn't somewhere far from home when this happened. I have a new baby and need reliable transportation. I have never heard of a dealership needing 2 months to get a part. I truly think this is a serious defect that could eventually get someone hurt.

- Cedar Hill, TX, USA

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