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Ratings on over 1,000 new & used models going back 5 years, from the Center from Auto Safety. Learn more about The Car Book 2018 here. 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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
84,100 miles
Total Complaints:
53 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace wheel bearing (25 reports)
  2. relace both front wheel bearings (11 reports)
  3. not sure (4 reports)
  4. replace bearings assembly hub (4 reports)
  5. Replace wheel bearings and rims (4 reports)
  6. replace wheel bearings & rear axle (3 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer wheels / hubs problems

wheels / hubs problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #33

Feb 012013

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles


Recently went to drive home and made a sharp turn and there was a banging in my steering column. I had taken my vehicle in to a dealership prior to that and he said that my power steering pump would need to be replaced so I thought that was the problem . I didn't realize until later that the car had gone into 4x4 Drive High. I never pushed the button to put the vehicle into 4x4 High. (saw a previous complaint here about the same thing happening with this issue) Later that same night it was fine and I couldn't duplicate the problem the following day and neither could the mechanic. He did however say that the front bearings need to be replaced. He said the parts were about $600 and it should be between $800 and $900 including labor. I asked how serious of a problem it is and how soon I should get it done. He said it is a serious problem as the wheels could fall off. He said the sound would start getting louder before that happens and the car will start shaking. Sure enough, 2-3 weeks later the vehicle started getting louder and I'm not waiting for the shaking/wheel falling off. Bringing it in tomorrow morning for repairs.

- Kevin N., Basking Ridge, NJ, USA

problem #32

Nov 082012

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

Replaced two front bearings because it was so loud in the vehicle you could not hear yourself think. Than driving on the way home from shopping it felt like I was driving on ice could not go over 30. Come to find out the rear wheel bearing was so bad the tire literally fell off when I pulled into my driveway. Replaced that no vehicle for 3 days. now another one is bad in the front going on second set of wheel bearings ! NICE again ford.

- Teah W., Canadian Lakes, MI, USA

problem #31

Aug 102012

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

The dealership actually was pretty fair to me on this one. They estimated $900 to fix the front wheel bearings, but when they fixed the front, they realized one of the rear bearings was bad, too, so they absorbed the cost into their first estimate. I noticed a loud noise and rougher ride. Had my tires rotated at a tire store, but they never said anything about the bearings. I noticed a drop in my gas mileage and that is what finally got me to the dealer. The dealer also did a major tuneup at $500 to address the gas mileage. The vibration is gone, and I'm hoping it fixed the gas mileage.

- Michele A., Johns Creek, GA, USA

problem #30

Dec 012010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles


I bought the car for the my family on Dec. 2006 from a used car dealer, the nightmare started the next year, I had replaced the alternator, 1 front wheel bearing passenger side ( 65,000 miles), the blend door actuator is broken, so no heather in the front ( safety issue in cold weather,, I live in Massachusetts) I'm a hard working father of three, with 2 jobs to support my family doing a lot of sacrifices to send my oldest son to college, Last year the driver side wheel bearing was gone, and also an annoying sensor light on my dashboard ( door ajar) and all the doors and locks are ok, to make the story short, I can not afford spend a lot of money to fix all the problems, I went trough a lot of problems already, with an unsafe and unreliable car for my son, he is traveling 100 miles a day ( round trip) to college in an old Nissan Frontier 2000 who's doing the job very well with no problems for a 225,000 miles old truck, I will not buy any Ford car again, I'm sad, I will like to support the economy in my country, but the last time I had visited a ford dealer I had found that the New scape 2013, the motor is made in Spain, the transmission in the UK, and the tires in China....???? Thank you.

- Mynor G., Winchendon, MA, USA

problem #29

Sep 282012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

So this vehicle is overseas and will not pass the german inspection until it is fixed. I've owned cars older than this one and still have them and have never had to replace the bearings. Ford Sucks!! I've had sooo many problems with this vehicle that I have a bad taste in my mouth about Ford vehicles.

- Eric G., Sierra Vista, AZ, USA

problem #28

Apr 012011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

At 100,000 miles both front wheel bearings went out. We continued to hear such a loud roar you couldn't listen to the radio. Replaced the tires that were relatively new thinking they were making the noise as it began being noticed a short while after new tire purchase. Tire replacement didn't help. An incident while driving one day made me realize something was wrong. My husband was able to purchase new complete tire bearings and install them himself which saved a tremendous amount of money. We have only owned Ford products and only would until this time. This car has been a disaster in a multiplicity of ways besides this problem and the major crack in the body below the window which is a common problem I understand. It has never been abused by children as is sometimes the case. We are an older couple and take perfect care of our car. It looks brand new on the inside and outside as far as care but approximately 6 major problems with the cars interior that are completely broken and affecting our ability to enjoy and use the car normally. I will never ever purchase another Ford product or recommend one after this.

- Debi R., Pass Christian, MS, USA

problem #27

Apr 012012

Explorer LS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles


Let me say this...I would rather push my Ford than drive anything else...but...this wheel bearing problem is getting annoying! First the front bearing (right) went out but we replaced both. AT 70,000 the rear bearings went out...Ford fixed it. Then at 80,000 they went out again..still under warranty. Now at 96,000 they are making noise again...I hate to sell it cause it's such a great dependable vehicle but it's really getting to be a nuisance.

- fordz4ever, Huntley, IL, USA

problem #26

Dec 052011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

Ford used light duty bearings instead of the heavy duty ones they could have installed.

Sell your Explorer now, don't wait.

- Stephen O., Quincy, MA, USA

problem #25

Jan 012009

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,552 miles

I have had to replace the front wheel bearings three times.

- belcher_ad304, Welch, WV, USA

problem #24

Apr 052011

Explorer Limited

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

BOTH front wheel bearings went bad at 50K. Are you kidding me. When Ford came out with an assembly they said it would be more money than just a bearing and race but would last forever. RIGHT. JUNK FORD

- Ralph M., West Springfield, MA, USA

problem #23

Apr 062011

Explorer Eddie Bower V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles


I love my Ford Explorer, but as my husband said, "don't bring it to the dealers." He could have fixed the front wheel bearings but doesn't have the time with his work and all. So, I brought to the dealers and they screwed me by charging $750.00 for the two front wheel bearings. I should have listened to my husband, but I'll never tell him that. After reading on the web that most people paid around 300 for this type of job, I feel really screwed.

- wonderwomen, Amesbury, MA, USA

problem #22

Feb 072011

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

So, my ABS light came on the other day - "Hmm, that's a problem", I say to myself. I love that my Explorer has automatic 4WD and anti-lock brakes - what a safe car!

Shortly afterward, I'm backing out of a parking space, and the car doesn't want to go... It feels like it's in 4WD... What? It IS in 4WD! How did that happen? I put it in neutral, and push the "Auto 4WD" button, and it comes out of 4WD, but the "4x4 High" light on the dash flashes several times... What's going on?

I bring my car to the dealer that I bought it from, and the next day the service manager calls me. the long and short of it was that I needed the drivers side hub and bearings replaced (might as well do all four, though) for $2,200. "Wow", I said, "that's a good chunk of change." "Well, before you make up your mind, there's some other things", he says, and lists them off - front pinion seal and something else I missed - $410, front lower ball joints - $710 (need an alignment after that - $90), front brakes - $520, sway bar bushings - $176, rear differential service ("you're at 120,000 miles") - $377, air filter, fuel filter, etc.

Total - $6,420.

Pretty good for a car I was driving!

OK, I thought that there might be a bearing problem - it would make some noise when I was turning right, so I suspected... But seriously - $6,400? Who's got that kind of money sitting around? I don't understand the dealer - who would spend that kind of money all at one time? I'm still paying for the car (for next couple of months, anyway). If they hadn't kept piling stuff on, I probably would have spent $2k-$3k, but I can't go $6k.

I've been looking into it, and the front hub/bearings look relatively easy to replace, and I found Timken front wheel hub assemblies with the ABS sensor cable on line for $129.57 each (plus shipping, at, and directions on how to replace them (with pictures!) at

I was surprised that there were problems with wear, I get the oil changed and the car lubed every ~5k miles, but then I look into it, and I find that they don't do anything with the bearings...

Ah well. It's getting nice outside - time to work on the car, I guess...

- Mark B., Laurel, MD, US

problem #21

May 122009

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,500 miles

Right front bearing went at around 70K. Rear right bearing went at 95K....bearing froze and wheel came off going 70mph, luckily no one hurt. Right front bearing went 100K. Obviously Ford has quality control problems with their bearings. Also experienced hard shifting clunking noise coming from transmission which started around 50K, Ford charged me $100 to reprogram the chip that controls transmission shifting, they said it might or might not work, just had that done, July 2010, seems better for now. surprised Ford didn't fix that one free given the fact this is a common problem. Spoke to one of my work associates has same vehicle and year, 2 bearings gone before 100K. $400 each time one goes. I will never buy another Ford. I own a lexus 2004 GS. Great car. No issues. Best car I've ever owned. Will stay with Toyota. Regan Ford of Haverhill Mass General Mgr. in Haverhill told me I was acting childish when I pointed out the fact the bearings and transmission issues are common and there should be a recall on them and I don't have these problems with my Lexus. I guess you get what you pay for.

- Dave P., North Andover, MA, USA

problem #20

Aug 132010

Explorer XL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,624 miles

Was driving the family down the highway. Vehicle swayed from the rear. Thought perhaps blown tire, it pulled us over onto the left shoulder. Was able to get back to right lane and immediately it swayed again. Stopped on the shoulder to discover the right rear wheel base was in flames. Yes, right under the gas tank and where my children were sitting.

Fortunately, the fire was extinguished quickly and no one was injured. We've yet to hear from the shop we had it towed to, but one of the good samaritans who stopped to assist us said he is certain it's the wheel bearing. (He is a mechanic who happend to have 3 two-gallon jugs of water in his car. Our lucky day he was behind us!) I'm not too comfortable now, having read these other complaints. If I didn't have another year or so to pay on it, I'd likely just get rid of it.

- struthersia, Des Moines, IA, USA

problem #19

Jul 102008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

We are so tired of this... trying to plan a camping trip with our kids and ofcourse yet again, another wheel bearing is gone. I know we are supposed to put all of our complaints in here seperately, but honestly i would be here all night. this is atleast the 8th time we have had to replace a bearring. This very same bearring was only replaced 3 weeks ago.

I financed this vehicle 3 years ago because it had alot of seating, it was versitile, newer therefore more reliable (so i thought) then my old car was. We got this vehicle for carting children around, hauling a trailer to go camping with, handling our winter driving and because we loved the look and feel of it. well 3 years later and it's just a money pit.

We were always GM fans but we loved this vehicle so much that we ignored my father-in-laws opinion, and our own instincts and gave Ford a chance.... the biggest mistake i have ever made... we are the butt of everyones jokes because we spend more time fixing this vehicle then enjoying it... as they all say "Fix Or Repair Daily".

Ford should really take ownership of their faulty manurfacturing and recall these vehicles before someone gets seriously hurt and just maybe restore alittle faith in their customers. In the hopes of maybe saving a few!

Now tonight instead of changing a tire for our 5 hour road trip, my poor husband is outside removing the bearring to exchange in the morning and to also buy a spare one. We have alway made sure we had a jack and spare tire...never in my life did i think we would have to pay 150.00 for a spare bearing to take with us!!! absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable! Very poor customer service if you ask me! If Ford chooses to ignore the problems with their vehicles i can promise that i will never, ever consider buying another ford after this one is paid off!!!

we also had to replace rear suspension, front lower ball joints, we are having issues with our transfer case and transmission is slipping and banging into 4 wheel drive, our abs light is on, rotors and breaks were done, our 4 wheel drive light flashes, service engine light is one which appears to be an oxygen sensor... what a lemon

- dawnnewfoundland, Bauline, Newfoundland, Canada

problem #18

Sep 152009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

The 2004 explorer transmission and rear end bearings are awful, I have spent about 800.00 to 1000.00 on mine with just putting rear end bearings in it, now about 20,000 miles later, the rear axle seal is leaking. Ford dealership says for about 400.00 to 500.00 more. The roaring in the rear end is still bad. What do you do? Buy a Chevelot or GMC.

Also my transmission is sllpping in reverse just to add to the problems. I think Ford should take some responsibility for their transmission problems. Before long it will be a new transmission for about 2800 to 3500 more and all you will get is a thank you very much and we will see you soon. Ford poor quality product and get a new transmission program if you are listening.

- Clint D., Greenwood, SC, USA

problem #17

Apr 042010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

ive always liked my fords but i have two explorers and im done with fords. im fixing wheel bearings every time i pull one in for a oil change.... junk junk junk. just did a oil change on my daughters 02 with 90,000 miles. jacked it up to check wheels and guess what. another front and back. anyone need one changed? i have it down to about 2 hours for a back bearing

- fiegl, Ransomville, NY, USA

problem #16

Feb 182010

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles

I've been hearing a roaring noise on the driver's side of the vehicle for the last couple of weeks. I then heard a loud rattling noise in the rear of the vehicle 2 days ago. Took the truck to the shop and discovered the left front wheel bearing is bad and the rear left is worse. Cost estimated to be about $900 to fix both. From reading all of the other complaints, I guess I should expect the other two to go bad next.

- Wendy S., Fredericksburg, VA, US

problem #15

Dec 172009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,777 miles

This is the second time I've replaced the left rear bearing assembly since I bought the car new in '04. It only lasted 17,250 miles; Why? Why is it always the left side?

- Bruce C., Ocean Springs, MS, USA

problem #14

Nov 162009

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles

Started noticing extra road noise at speeds above 45mph... over course of a month or so noise gradually increased to where it was obvious something was amiss... tires had ~46000 miles so thought it might be them, had them replaced, same noise...

Ford Dealer repair shop said both front wheel bearings and wheel hubs were shot. Luckily, covered under extended warranty. Tomorrow they will replace those, and investigate whether the differential bearings also need replaced. Seems ridiculous to have such problems at 46000 miles.

- ureek, O Fallon, IL, USA

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