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.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
82,798 miles
Total Complaints:
20 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replaced all 5 wheel studs on that wheel (12 reports)
  2. not sure (8 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer wheels / hubs problems

wheels / hubs problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #20

Sep 152013

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles


Thank God for His protection! Our car started making a funny noise Sunday so took the day off today to have it checked out. All but one lugnut was loosened and three were completely sheared off. We were very fortunate this tire did not come off. Talking to a friend about it and her niece recently had this happen to her Explorer (she was unsure of the year), the car went off the road, niece was ejected from the car and suffers now from a broken back and collar bone.

- , Excelsior Springs, MO, USA

problem #19

Jan 232009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Driving home from work on day in my 2004 Ford Explorer and I hear and odd noise coming from the car. It was still driving normal so I continued on with my commute to home. When I get home and pull into the Alley to head to the garage I roll down the windows and I can definitely hear something. I pull into the Garage and walk to the back side of the car and at the passenger rear tire I see that 3 Lug nuts are missing. I look down inside and see that the lug studs are GONE. I see I still have two lug nuts left on the car I grab each one and on is spinning freely and the other is still tight. I drove home and over and interstate bridge with ONE FRIGGIN LUG NUT HOLDING MY TIRE ON!!!! I feel lucky to still be here. Lucky for me I’m pretty handy so I replace all 5 lug studs myself so the cost was minimal but what a pain in the ass and the close call was pretty big scare. I was also without my car for a few days while I was gathering the tools and parts I needed to fix it. Thankfully I’m married and my wife stays at home so I could drive her car to work.

- , Bettendorf, IA, USA

problem #18

Jan 072012

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

This has happened three times. It is sad that it is not a recall. It comes out of our pockets to fix and pay a shop to fix. If this happened on the highway. What do you think what would happened? It is not like they are going to help pay for anything. I believe Ford should recall this problem and fix this. I have a family I travel with and I don't want to worry every time I drive to far. FORD SHOULD RECALL THIS AND FIX THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , Akron, PA, USA

problem #17

Apr 232011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


I am a mom of 5 kids, going to pick up one on Saturday A.M. from a pottery class 30 min. from home. SUPER HOT outside, 90 degrees, had my 2 week old baby that was delivered by c-section in tow. It was really great crawling all over the hot pavement trying to figure out a solution to the problem with a fresh incision from hip to hip. Not to mention waiting with a newborn for a ride, being late to get my son, and unloading all the stuff from my car. THEN being without the only car that will seat our whole family for a few days!

- , Kansas City, KS, USA

problem #16

Jul 092011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

Second time with this vehicle, same problem, different rear wheel. Mechanic said its definitely a problem with Ford. The studs showed stress wear before breaking. Thought maybe the first time it was due to loose lugs. NOT THE CASE!

- , Kansas City, KS, USA

problem #15

Dec 222010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,500 miles

While traveling southbound on the interstate at night, in the winter, and in southern Illinois the vehicle began to fishtail. It felt like I had a flat tire because of a thumping noise that I heard and felt. I removed my foot of the accelerator pedal and let the vehicle slow itself down. I did not want to use the brake pedal for the concern that I might lose total control of vehicle. I was able to pull over to the shoulder and began looking for the flat tire. To my amazement I discovered that none of my tires were flat. What I did realize after dodging several vehicles was that my left rear tire was leaning away from the wheel well area. A closer look showed me that 3 lug nuts and 3 studs were missing and sheared off. The 2 remaining lug nuts were both loose! One was three turns from coming off and the other looked like it was being held on by the bent stud pushing the lug nut onto the the hub. I looked down the road and observed a right curb approx 100 yards away. I am grateful that I was able to avoid a major incident. I am even more grateful that the tire didn't fly off going around the curb and kill an on coming person or family going somewhere for the holidays!!! I am headed to the Ford dealership now to pickup the vehicle and head home to my family! Merry Christmas!

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #14

Nov 192010

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,500 miles


Almost a year ago, while driving, I took a left turn and felt a weird bumping from my right rear tire. Long story short, I had the car towed to a repair shop. All but 2 of the lug nuts out of the 20? on the 4 tires combined had sheared off! Thank God I was going slowly and pulling into my driveway ( I had just driven 750 miles in one day mostly highway at high speeds). I had everything repaired/replaced at a cost of almost $600.00. The same thing happened again this morning on my way to work!. How can this not be a recall issue? I wonder how many people have had accidents and been injured or killed because of this but it was not reported. I can't afford to keep fixing this problem, not to mention continuing to risk my life. I have no choice but to get it fixed again but it is definitely to find a new vehicle made by a company other than Ford.

- , Wallingford, CT, USA

problem #13

Aug 192010

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,600 miles

Had this car about 3 months bought from a New used car dealer, they placed 4 new tires on this explorer. a few months later I was driving to work and hear a noise coming from the front so he pulled over 4 studs were broken off and the wheel was hanging on with one, The shop I took it to said all the lug bolts were loose. From what I have read this seems to be a Ford proble. Ford should have done something about this problem

- , Oroville, CA, USA

problem #12

Sep 032010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles

This is the second time this has happened... A month ago the driver's side rear stud were sheared and now the passenger side....... TOTALLY dangerous and very much an inconvenience... I just had mega work done on the rear end after the last incident and now it happends again. I trust my shop but I need a resolution to this problem as I drive a great deal and the law of averages would say I have been very lucky that no one has ended up hurt after this has occurred twice - as some point the luck will run out and then what??? Anyone with info on this issue, suggestions would be appreciated!

- , Floyds Knobs, IN, USA

problem #11

Aug 132010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,963 miles

Unbelievable, I was driving down the highway when the steering wheel starts to shake... i started to slow and move to the side of the road when my front right tire came off... the studs had all sheered off! i am very fortunate on so many levels, that i was able to get the car to the side of the road, that the car didn't flip, that i was driving it (my wife typically drives it).

Long story short, i fixed the problem, changed the studs, lugs had to buy 4 new tires (as one had blown) spent in excess of $ 1,000.00 (and thankfully not paying for a funeral)... do i have any recourse with the manufacturer?

- , Oakville, ON, Canada

problem #10

Jun 012009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles


Driving down the road, heard a noise, pulled over and noticed that the rear wheels were missing lugs. Had it towed (flat bed) to ford. Replaced studs. few months later, mechanic was rotating tires and a lug broke off. He said he barely even tightened it and it broke off. He offered to replace free of charge. 6 months later, I had 3 more break off. This time I said screw it and bought 4 new aftermarket hubs and studs. Haven't had a problem in over a year now.

- , Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #9

Jan 162010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

June 14,2008 the Drivers side Back Tire flew off my car as I was going down a very curvy road. Then on Jan. 16,2010 I was taking my 88 year grandmother to town. When I pulled out of the bank and found that the Back Passenger tire had come off the car. Talked to my mechanic today and he was checking the rest of the tires and low and behold guess what he found??? The drivers side back tire was only being held on by 2 lug nuts.

- , Prather, CA, USA

problem #8

Jun 252009

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,500 miles

I believe Ford is negligent in this matter. I was driving with another adult and three minor children. I felt something was wrong and began to slow down. If we were not going slow, I imagine we would have been killed or killed someone. As I slowed down, the right back tire flew off and we hit the ground. The tire went up across two lanes, hit the curb,and went across all four in the other direction. We had to get out in the midst of traffic. The Upper St. Clair Police sent two officers. AAA sent a tow truck. The explorer is now in the auto body shop. We are very shook up and all have had head and body aches since this occurred. I wish someone would do a class action suite against Ford.

- , Dale City, VA, USA

problem #7

Jul 052009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,500 miles

Lug nuts on front left wheel came loose while driving home on vacation.Thought it was the wheel bearing but to my surprise it was the lug nuts.I got them all back tight but one stud broke.I have owned many Fords but this one seems to have a curse on it.The harmonic balancer was replaced a week prior to this problem.

- , Mebane, NC, USA

problem #6

Nov 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

had new tires put on my ford explorer, a few months later my husband was driving and hear a noise coming from the back so he pulled over 3 studs were broken off and the wheel was hanging off, got it fixed then i was driving and the truck would not move while i was turning a corner, looked at the back tires and the other back tire was hanging on by two lug nuts, the other 3 were missing including the studs, found one on the ground with the lug nut still attached, a few days later i looked at my lug nuts and noticed another one missing with no stud sticking out..... needless to saw i don't have the truck anymore... Ford should have done something about this problem

- , Pawtucket, RI, USA

problem #5

Apr 122009

Explorer NBX 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles

So my sisters are out driving Easter Sunday on their way back home and all of a sudden the rear passenger tire falls off while they were driving. Now the cars sitting in front of my house, doesn't turn on anymore, no power from the battery, all five studs are gone. The rotor and just about everything else underneath the car is all screwed up.

I am going to take this up directly with Ford. Thanks Ford, for giving me such a craptastic car and almost killing my family!

- , San Jose, CA, US

problem #4

Jan 262009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6 Flex

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,400 miles

Driving home last night I noticed a thumping noise in coming from the car. I didn't think much of it as I thought with the snow and ice perhaps the 4wd was still engaged. When I got home I started looking around to find out that I sheared off 2 wheel studs and lost one lug nut so only 2 lug nuts were holding the tire on. This tire has been on and off a few more times than the rest due to a bearing going out and then the parking break going bad on that side. My fix will be to knock out all 5 studs and replace them all as I'm sure the remaining three studs are far to stressed to allow them to remain.

I'm just glad it didn't fall off while going 70mph going across the I-74 bridge over the Mississippi River

- , Davenport, IA, USA

problem #3

Aug 092008

Explorer Limmited 6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

I was traveling with children at 60 miles per hour on a Saturday after 5pm, when the rear right wheel made a bump and the SUV started going from side to side, Thank God there was no traffic on the other opposite lane, then after stopping the wheel fell off no studs were found, The tow and the mechanic stated I and my family could have been killed

- , Rochester, NY, US

problem #2

Dec 272007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

This is my second complaint regarding the Ford Explorer wheel stud shearing off. This happened two days after Christmas and a trip with my family to visit relatives. My wife was driving and made a turn at a red light and suddenly felt the vehicle's back end drop a little. She stopped immediately, got out and saw the rear wheel hanging on by one stud and the wheel angeled in towards the body! All other studs were missing. After a tow, a replacement of the wheel hub and wheel, I dropped alot of money. Luckily my wife was not hurt and luckily this did not happen on Christmas day with all of us in the vehicle. Thanks Ford for inferior parts!

- , Manheim, PA, USA

problem #1

Jul 282008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

I have a 2004 Ford Explorer. My wife heard a familiar noise and pulled into a parking lot. Sure enough, two of the five studs sheared-off and a third lug nut was ready to come off. The tires were due to be rotated so this was not as a result of a mechanic not tightening the lug nuts, they were on for some time. I said this was a familiar sound because this was the second incident. This incident didn't cost much as just the studs and nuts needed replaced. Ford needs to stop buying inferior parts!

- , Manheim, PA, USA

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