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:
20,942 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 wheels / hubs problems

wheels / hubs problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #3

Aug 112007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,650 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer with bf goodrich rugged trail T/a (tire size 245/65R17). She noticed the tread on three of the tires began to separate. The dealer advised the contact to take the tires to bf goodrich. The tire manufacturer stated that tire rot caused the tread to separate. The failure and current mileages were 24,650. The dot number was unavailable. The contact felt the tread should not have separated at 24,650 miles.

- Toms River, NJ, USA

problem #2

Jul 292006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,089 miles
We were traveling in the hov lane headed East on I-635 between 60-65 mph. One of the tires on our Explorer failed. When I got out to check the tire I found that the entire tread of the tire had separated and only the edge of the tire remained along the rim. We called both aaa and 911. The police arrived about 15 min later and stopped traffic so that we could move to a safer location as cars were speeding at us going 60-70 miles an hour with little room to react to our situation (B.F.goodrich tire).

- Irving, TX, USA

problem #1

Jul 132005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87 miles
Within three days of buying the vehicle, I encountered problems with remote, sometimes it would work and other times, it wouldn't. driver's rear window, sometimes it would work and other times, it wouldn't. I took it back to dealer three times for same things. Rear end makes a very loud whining noise. It has been to dealer's three times also for fixing. Dealer states that there is nothing they can do and all of them are doing it. Vehicle, while in gear, would jump/jerk. Dealer replaced solenoid, it still does it sometimes.

- Leesville, SC, USA

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