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.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
52,448 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #14

May 312010


  • 49,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact placed the gear shifter into reverse to drive and noticed that the transmission would hesitate before engaging. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the technicians replaced the solenoid in the transmission. After the repairs were performed, the contact continued to experience the failure. There was also an abnormal grinding from the rear of the vehicle. The dealer replaced the rear end bearing, three rear axles, the pinion bar and seals and a shaft kit was installed. The dealer also advised that the failure was caused by an over torque by the manufacturer. In addition, the contact stated that the driver and passenger side sun visor joints were failing sporadically and causing the visors to obstruct the contact's vision of the roadway. The sun visors were not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 49,000.

- Sevierville, TN, USA

problem #13

Oct 072005


  • 29,700 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact was driving approximately 25 to 55 mph when he noticed an abnormal howling from the rear of the vehicle. The vehicle was inspected by a dealer and they advised that they would shim the pinion and ring gears to silence them. The vehicle was repaired but the failure recurred twice after the repairs. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance. The failure mileage was approximately 29,700.

- Albion, MI, USA

problem #12

Apr 032011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 117,000 miles
Without warning my rear wheel hub assembly keep braking. Suddenly the vehicle starts to shimmy and pull and make grinding noises and the wheel is practically falling off by the time I get home. This has happened to me 6 times in the past year! so far I have been lucky and my wheel hasn't fallen completely off, only because I have replaced the rear differential twice in the last 2 years so as soon as I feel something out of the ordinary I have it checked! it is terrifying when it happens, the whole wheel wobbles and going slow only makes it seem worse. I've had to replace the whole hub assembly at a cost of $300 plus each time!

- Nelson, NH, USA

problem #11

Nov 182007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 45,000 miles


Rear differential failure-I think this should be looked into as I have searched the internet and there are too many complaints about this. Maybe it was not the tires causing all the crashes but the bad rear ends that Ford is aware of. Rear whining noise and grinding from all SUV models.

- Zion, IL, USA

problem #10

Feb 082010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 67,000 miles
Rear wheel bearing on my 2004 Explorer were bad and on one side the wheel bearing was so bad that the rotor was moving with no effort to move it and the SUV only had 76,000 miles on it.

- Bermerton, WA, USA

problem #9

Dec 102009


  • 62,453 miles
Vehicle has both rear coil springs broke on both sides, evidently is same spot of the coil. Ford refuses to consider this problematic or an issue to their concern. Unfortunately, it is a safety hazard.

- Niagara Falls, NY, USA

problem #8

Nov 212009


  • 46,000 miles


My 2004 Ford Explorer was making a horrible rubbing/grinding sound coming from the rear of the vehicle. When I took my foot off the gas pedal, the noise was more pronounced. I took the vehicle to my mechanic thinking it was the brakes and he informed me that the entire rear of the vehicle was "loose" and I should have a diagnostic test done by a Ford dealer. I took it to my local dealer where I purchased the vehicle. The technician informed me that he would have to remove the entire rear differential to open it to find the problem. After that being done, I was told that he found "faulty" ring and pinion and carrier bearings that needed to be replaced so an entire new kit had to be installed and refilled with fluids which intern ended up costing $1,400. I could not get a satisfactorily explanation as to why this would have happened to my vehicle which only has 46,000 miles on it, never been in an accident nor has it ever towed anything. I told my mechanic this and he said that this should not have happened with such low mileage. I am very upset that the certified Ford dealer admits on paper that my vehicle had "faulty" parts yet I am the one who had to pay the price!

- Yardville , NJ, USA

problem #7

Apr 122009


  • 81,100 miles
Easter Sunday, my family was on their way back home on the freeway. Out of no where they hear loud snapping noises and next thing they knew the rear passenger tire came off. The cars skidding on the road and finally comes to a stop. Luckily for my family they walked away unharmed. The car is currently at my home, won't turn on anymore, the wheel studs are all broken off, the rotor along with the rest of the assembly is damaged. The car is a mess and now I'm trying to figure out how im supposed to deal with the situation.

- San Jose , CA, USA

problem #6

Oct 142008


  • 86,000 miles
Wheel bearing failure, rear, both sides. At 40,000 miles, and again at 86,000 miles. Normal driving, primarily highway. This is dangerous and potentially life-threatening to occupants of the subject vehicle, as well as any vehicles in proximity during bearing failure. Loss of control can, and probably will result. Premature wheel bearing failure is common on these vehicles. The community at large is slowly spreading the word about the danger to self and family regarding this. I wish I had known earlier, I would not have purchased this vehicle. It is irresponsible of the manufacturer to sell a vehicle with this predisposition to failure. I work in aerospace, and this would never have gotten through failure analysis during the design phase. I will now begin attempting to contact anyone that this has happened to in an effort to get them to file a complaint as well. Eventually you will hear us. Maybe the media will get involved, they love this kind of stuff, especially if they can drag government indifference into it. I know you guys know about this. You just don't think enough people have complained yet, so it gets ignored. I'm going to start trying to change that. Maybe nothing will happen, maybe it will become a giant mess, who knows? either way, I can't let this go without saying something. This thing is marketed and sold as a family vehicle, and there is no way on earth I will ever put my wife and children into it again. And my conscience will not allow me to just trade it or sell it with this issue being exposed, just to get rid of my problem and pass the risk onto some other family. Here's a link, if you want to see that this has happened more often than we'd all like to admit: < > you'll find a lot of this with a simple google search. I wish I'd done this before I bought this deathtrap. Whether you do something or not, I have no say in that, but I'm going to try to expose it.

- Brighton, MI, USA

problem #5

Oct 222004


  • miles
I have had many, many problems with my 2004 Ford Explorer. Probably the most dangerous one is the recurring failure of the transmission. This last time that this occurred I was on interstate-85, in morning rush-hour traffic, and all of a sudden my RPM's are flying to the red danger area and I have no acceleration power and am losing speed. There is an 18-wheeler on my rear and I can't pick up speed! luckily, I was approaching an exit and managed to get the vehicle off of the interstate and onto a less traveled road. This is the second time that I have endured this scenario. Once again the solenoid is gone, with repairs estimated at $1255. I have had this problem repaired less than a year after purchase. I have had this problem repaired at 32,567 miles, and I now have this problem again at 76,725 miles. I have had the clutch pack replaced at 24,940 miles as well as the ring gear, pinion, and all bearings replaced at 24,940 miles. At 35,558 miles the lower ball joint had to be replaced. At 64,335 I had to have the pats transponder(security system) replaced. In short I have had the transmission repaired three times the front end rebuilt, the back end redone. I honestly can say I do not feel very safe in this vehicle, especially since I have to use this to Transport my children. These problems seem to be the norm for this particular vehicle, as I have done research on this. I don't understand why Ford is not made to resolve these issues. I have also had to have my heating and air replaced. This occurred in the winter of 2007 and was a safety issue, as I could not defrost my windows.

- Gastonia, NC, USA

problem #4

Jul 162006


  • 70,000 miles


1. I have had bad vibration and a loud noise from the rear end of my 2004 Ford Explorer. The vibration has been so bad it has actually blown out 2 tires in the rear while I am on the highway. 2. rear differentral, it happens all the time, it is going to cause my vechile to break down and if that happens the vechile is no good to me because of the cost to fix it. 3. I have brought it to the Ford dealership for the problem and they want to charge me over a $1000 to fix it when they are aware of the problem with it because there has been over 3 more cases other than me they have told me.

- Port Orange, FL, USA

problem #3

Jul 162006


  • 70,000 miles
1. I have had bad vibration and a loud noise from the rear end of my 2004 Ford Explorer. The vibration has been so bad it has actually blown out 2 tires in the rear while I am on the highway. 2. rear differential, it happens all the time, it is going to cause my vehicle to break down and if that happens the vehicle is no good to me because of the cost to fix it. 3. I have brought it to the Ford dealership for the problem and they want to charge me over a $1000 to fix it when they are aware of the problem with it because there has been over 3 more cases other than me they have told me.

- Port Orange, FL, USA

problem #2

Sep 252004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While accelerating from a stop or attempting to make a right or left turn at various speeds, the vehicle vibrated as if something was rubbing in the rear. The vehicle has been taken to the dealer twice regarding this failure. The dealer is currently stating that the vehicle has rear suspension failure in the clutch pack. The vehicle has a tsb 06-4-4 for this failure. The current mileage was 79,900 and failure mileage was 23.

- Windale, NC, USA

problem #1

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

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