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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 1 of 3)

problem #53

Feb 052017

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles


On the internet, there appears to be many complaints about Ford Explorers' wheel bearings issues. And NO RECALL forced by the federal government.

- Robert M., Stoughton, MA, USA

problem #52

Jul 012015

Explorer XPL 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 200,000 miles

My wife and I started this bearing failure before the vehicle warranty was up, but, not before the extended, fine print part of the warranty had expired. Since 80,000 miles the drivers side 6 times and the passenger side 5 times. It did not matter if a reputable mechanic or a Ford mechanic did the work it still went out. Actually the Ford replacement lasted the least amount of time, about 1700 miles and "we had to pay for the tow". The next one Ford replaced lasted 1 hour and we had to continue to the next city. ((yes, they will probably always remember me at that particular dealership, not my proudest moment)) I did find out at the "two" dealerships they did NOT grease the bearings before setting them in. They insisted that these "come" with grease.

Secondly, our mechanic we now go to told us the wheel housing is not round it is more oblong and believed this will be a constant issue. Which we have had several replaced at about 10,000-12,000 intervals since. $210 a fix.

It is going again, soooo, I am going to give it a try, it cost me $46.00 for the bearing. I can replace it 4-5 times for what it cost me at the shop and even more times if I take it to Ford.

My wife has taken wonderful care of her car and it is sad that Ford has not done something about this issue.

If anyone has a fix for this please let me know, I can fix quite a few items, it is a time commitment for me.

- Tj J., Redmond, OR, USA

problem #51

Sep 152011

Explorer XLT 4.6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Must be a problem with the bearings, the left side went bad first, but the right side failed 6months later. I replaced them myself so I only had to buy the parts.

- fordfixyourcrap, Wellington, FL, USA

problem #50

Dec 012014

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,297 miles


This time had the front right wheel bearing replaced at 73,297 miles. Had the front left one replaced in November 2011 after 63,000 miles.

- Rocco D., Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #49

Sep 142013

Explorer XLS 6.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Wheel bearing went out!!! Had to pay 500.00 to fix.

- Paula S., Mooresville, IN, USA

problem #48

Nov 012011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

Heard a whining noise while driving. Turned out to be the front left wheel bearing assembly. Had it replaced.

- Rocco D., Wilmington, NC, USA

problem #47

Jan 012010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


Replaced 3 of 4 bearings. Replaced driver front 3 times.

-, Frankfort, IL, USA

problem #46

Feb 012014

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

I go in to have some loud humming/whirring noise diagnosed to find out I was dangerously close to my bearings breaking in the fronts! I drive my two young boys around in this car and I can't even imagine an issue like this not being made publicly known to Ford owners to get examined. Then I had an unexpected cost to cover! Well of course Ford Motor Credit allowed me some credit enough to cover the repair. They are making millions off of people who own these troubled cars. My laundry list is getting longer and longer.

- Victoria H., Fairfield, CA, USA

problem #45

Jun 022002

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L Flexible

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,516 miles

Noise coming from front end and 4x4 light flashing. This was the first of 4.

Update from Nov 12, 2014: Actually this was the 2nd

- polarissno, Redford, MI, USA

problem #44

Feb 092002

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L Flexible

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,957 miles

check abs light on while driving, also really loud. had to replace right front hub and bearing assembly and rt front sensor.

- polarissno, Redford, MI, USA

problem #43

Mar 242012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L Flexible

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,953 miles


Loud humming when driving. gets louder at higher speeds. Had to replace Left rear hub and bearing.

- polarissno, Redford, MI, USA

problem #42

Aug 102012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,923 miles

Left rear wheel bearing & assembly went bad. Out of warranty. Took it to local repair: Twin Peaks Auto Service, 909.447.0082

Update from Nov 12, 2014: mileage was 106190. Got confused because of MULTIPLE SHOP ORDERS!!!!!!!!

- Elizabeth C., Twin Peaks, CA, USA

problem #41

Jan 062014

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

What can I say, I truly understand the Ford name, you truly 'fix or repair daily'

- jjohnston326, Lady Lake, FL, USA

problem #40

Dec 162013

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,000 miles

Have changed wheel bearings and still having problem with the roaring sound of the hub in the wheel while driving my Explorer! Figure we had a defected part so we took it back and still having the same problem! Don't know what else to do cause we have replaced ball and joints on top and bottom on both sides of front so I don't know what else to do! And no one else can figure out why the humming sound is still there!

I have all kinds of problems with this Ford Explorer since I purchased it! And Its always something new each month! Having problems not only with bearings had problems with axles and a loud racket when backing out, it feels like my whole back end is falling apart! When Ford made this car they did not do their best at the job at making this one! They need a recall on this car cause my transmission fills like its is going out to! And I only have one car to depend on so if this car goes out, well, I am stuck with walking. But does the Ford company care about people who may be single parents or not? Nope, they are there just to make money and then not to stand by their product.

And what is the deal with about the back window under where it cracks! When you shut your hatch back, yeah, defected there too. They should have a recall on that! Ford company, I used to love Ford but I think now I want to change my way of thinking cause ya do not stand by your work and fix your problems in your defected products that ya made! And ya know the problems. Ya choose to not fix the problems! Wow! STAND BY YOUR PRODUCT! and then ya will have people stand by ya more!

- s.garner70tn, Gleason, TN, USA

problem #39

Oct 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

First of 3 wheel bearings failed. It got pretty loud and I finally had the Ford dealer fix it.

- bluto, Madison, WI, USA

problem #38

May 092009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Two more wheel bearings failed. I had the Ford dealer replace them. Clearly there is a problem with the design.

- bluto, Madison, WI, USA

problem #37

Jul 012009

Explorer LS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

2009 the rear wheel bearing went out. The warranty the dealership insisted we pay for when we bought the vehicle covered that. That cost was about 800.

- rosetexas, Watauga, TX, USA

problem #36

Jul 092012

Explorer LS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

2012 the front wheel bearing went out. I replaced and repaired the two front wheel bearings myself. I spent about 350-400 for both Timken Wheel hubs.

- rosetexas, Watauga, TX, USA

problem #35

Dec 142012

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

Right rear wheel bearing is now scheduled to be replaced. This will be the third wheel bearing on the Explorer that I've had to replace. Not happy.

- Bill K., Wauwatosa, WI, USA

problem #34

Jun 232010

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,968 miles

My left front wheel bearing went out at 82,000 miles, to make matters worse this same wheel bearing now needs to be replaced at 118,000 miles!!! I haven't had this fixed yet but this is ridiculous. My right rear wheel bearing is also shot and howling away....never again will I own an Exploder.

- Bill K., Wauwatosa, WI, USA

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