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
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
96,536 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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2004 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #30

Nov 262015


  • 154,871 miles


The right rear passenger wheel came off my 2004 Ford Explorer when I was driving westbound on interstate 70 near kingdom city, mo. All five (5) bolts and lug nuts securing the wheel/tire were broken off. My wife and I were traveling at 70 mph in the right hand lane of interstate when there was a sudden loud noise from the rear and the vehicle swerved violently to the right and then left. The vehicle spun and entered into the grass median in the middle of the interstate and the cable stopping system. The vehicle became entwined with the cable system causing it to flip on its side and come to rest. The left and right side air bags deployed, but the front air bags did not. My wife and I had difficulty releasing the seat belts since the vehicle was laying on its right side. I was finally able to release both seat belts and open the sun roof for both of us to exit the vehicle. The engine area was smoking, but did not catch fire. Luckily, my 2004 Ford Explorer did not completely roll over or that my vehicle nor my loose rear wheel and tire did not hit another vehicle that were near me on interstate 70 at the time of this accident. Upon examination of right rear wheel well, the right rear wheel and tire were completely missing and the five (5) lug bolts had all sheared. There appeared to quite a bit of fluid around the wheel well. It might have been brake fluid. We were able to find one of the lug nuts, which still had a part of the sheared bolt remaining inside. I would never have thought that all five lug bolts securing the wheel and tire could fracture and shear allowing the wheel and tire to become free of the vehicle axle. The Missouri state highway patrol wrote up an accident report, #150733145. My wife and I were pretty shaken up by the accident. Her right side, arm and wrist and my head, neck and side hurt after the accident.

- Allen, TX, USA

problem #29

Oct 012014


  • 140,000 miles
Car starts but will go forward when shifted in reverse. Turned the car off then back on, but when I would put the car back in reverse or drive, it stalled out. Had it towed and then it was fine after that. Now its about 6 months later, now my orange wrench light pops up and cruise control shuts off at 65mph. Then it jerks a couple times. Have had it checked and came back with 14 codes mainly for transmission.

- Whitehall, OH, USA

problem #28

Feb 252015

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
Bought my used 2004 Explorer a week prior and had to have the back wheel bearings replaced. Used dealership told me that they would help out and never followed thru.

- Lorain, OH, USA

problem #27

Jun 152012


  • 144,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer limited. The contact stated that while driving at approximately 60 mph, there was a vibration coming from the rear driver side wheel. The contact noticed that the wheel was fractured. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 144,000.

- St. Louis, MO, USA

problem #26

Aug 012014

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 180,000 miles
I had just got on the freeway when the rear of my truck started shaking. I knew something was wrong so I exited the freeway at the following exit. I was driving on the side streets to get home at approximately 25 mph. I turned a corner and heard and felt the rear end of my truck fall. The rear passenger tire fell off as I was turning the corner. Upon further inspection all the lugs except one were sheared off. We had the truck towed to our mechanic's shop. The mechanic couldn't figure out what had caused this. We have also had to replace all the ball joints with the rear passenger ball joint being replaced twice now. Our mechanic was able to replace all the lugs and pull the rear corner panel back out but the incident ruined the rim which will have to be replaced. A week later I asked my son to check the lugs on the tire and 2 were loose again.

- Reynoldsburg, OH, USA

problem #25

Jul 112014

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 164,000 miles
While driving home at 25 mph, I heard and felt a vibration from the front of the car. Since I was only a few hundred yards from my parking lot I continued directly into the parking lot (only minor turns were necessary). Upon entering the parking lot, I turned the car left to park in my spot. Immediately after turning the wheel left, the right front of the car collapsed. I got out of the car and noticed the right front wheel had fallen off and the entire hub (and car front end) actually landed inside the wheel (thus minimizing secondary damage). Upon closer inspection, I found 2 lug nuts still attached to the studs on the ground next to the wheel. Inspection of the hub showed that 4 of the 5 studs had sheared off flush with the hub (there was one stud remaining on the hub). Next day, I replaced the entire hub assembly and checked the torques on the other 3 wheels. I had to have a body shop replace the front fender (it was jammed up and back into the hood and passenger door). I still have the old hub assembly.

- Dumfries, VA, USA

problem #24

Jun 032013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 152,866 miles


When driving to work I began to hear a noise in the front end part of the vehicle. After leaving work and driving less than 1 mile the noise got loud, so I pulled over and waited for a tow truck. Had the vehicle towed to a shop and fixed. 1 year and 1 week later it had to be replaced again.

- Dade City, FL, USA

problem #23

Jun 142014


  • 134,000 miles
Daughter driving vehicle, right wheel bearing ceased, causing rear end of vehicle to fish tail, had to drive home on back road (not highway) as the vehicle would have flipped. Car was smoking so bad, could not be placed into garage as it would have burned down the house. Had to be towed, damaged from bearing to rear axel and emergency brake/cables. If she were on the highway she would have been killed. There are multiple complaints about this problem, what will it take" anyone heard of any class actions to make Ford step up to bat and recall these unsafe vehicles"

- Haverhill, MA, USA

problem #22

Oct 272012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 40 mph, the vehicle shook. Upon inspection, the driver noticed that the rear passenger side lug nuts had loosened and the tire was only being held in place by one lug nut. The contact mentioned that the failure recurred on the rear driver side tire but in this occasion the tire detached while driving 70 mph. In addition, the contact stated that the vehicle failed to shift into third gear. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the transmission, studs, log nuts, rotors, and tires needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was repaired. The failure mileage was 124,000 and the current mileage was 132,000.

- Paden, OK, USA

problem #21

Oct 302012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 101,000 miles
While driving North on US23 at brighton mi the right front wheel and tire separated from the vehicle because of the fracture of the 5 wheel lugs. According to the msp this is a common occurance because of metal fatigue caused by the improper use of impact and not torque wrenches when the vehicle is serviced. The problem is being ignored by the auto manufacturers, and I have found publications on this subject matter. There are likely millions of affected vehicles in service, and the wheel loss would produce results similar to the previous Ford/Firestone tire problem.

- Whitmore Lake , MI, USA

problem #20

Mar 282011


  • miles


The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving approximately 30 mph, he heard a loud noise. After inspecting the vehicle he noticed that the bolt to the lug nuts were separated from the rear driver and passenger tires. The vehicle was taken to a tire specialist where the lug nuts were replaced. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance. The failure and the current mileages were unknown. The VIN was unavailable.

- Glendibe, MT, USA

problem #19

Jul 222010


  • miles
On the highway, passing a tractor trailer and the right rear wheel bearings gave out. Wheel froze and caught on fire. Pulled over and fortunately others had stopped and assisted in putting fire out. Was terrifying - our children were sitting in the back! we then ended up stranded away from home as we were on a family trip.

- Blue Grass, IA, USA

problem #18

Sep 022011


  • miles
Was driving my vehicle on the highway and got off went to turn. The lug nuts sheard off, thought it was a flat tire. This has happened three times. There is no recall for this. I had my kids in the vehicle all three times. I would like to have this matter resolved.

- Akron, PA, USA

problem #17

Jul 092011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
Rear wheel studs sheer off causing wheel to come off while driving. Gave no warning, and was not visible due to wheel cap covering. Has happened twice in 2 months, two different wheels. Both rear. Had to replace all 5 studs, lugs, and rotor on first failure. Replaced studs, lugs, and wheel on second. Lugs are still intact with the studs. Studs show stress fracturing prior to breaking off. Have the studs/lugs from last break.

- Kansas City, KS, USA

problem #16

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 #15

Feb 012010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 71,000 miles
3 out of 4 wheel bearings have had to be replaced on 2004 Ford Explorer between 71,000 and 82,000 miles. Drivers side front was replaced between 71,000 and 72,000 miles, drivers side rear replaced shortly after and now the passenger front needs replacing at 82,000 miles. Several posts on the internet with the same complaint for the same make/model/year of this vehicle. I was told by the Ford dealer that if I didn't fix them the tire could fall off at any time with out warning.

- Ramsey, MN, USA

problem #14

Nov 302009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 89,011 miles
While driving, I took a left turn and felt a bumping in my right rear tire. I pulled over thinking it was a flat tire. In fact, the wheel bolts had been sheared off completely. When I had the car towed to a repair shop, they discovered that a total of 10 bolts/nuts needed to be replaced and 8 out of the other 10 bolts were loose or worn. I also needed to get a new wheel. This morning while driving to work, I took a left turn and the exact same thing happened, again with the right rear tire. The bolts were sheared off. I have not yet brought the vehicle in for repairs for the latest incident but I have no doubt there will be additional bolt damage on at least some of the other tires.

- Wallingford, CT, USA

problem #13

Oct 012010


  • 126,550 miles
Right rear tire keeps coming off. The lug nuts keep breaking off, this is the third time it happens. The rim was replaced, but still are breaking off.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #12

Jun 012010


  • miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While decelerating at approximately 5 mph, the front passenger side tire broke off of the vehicle resulting in a crash. A police report was filed. No injuries were reported. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic for inspection. The current and failure mileages were unknown. The VIN was not available.

- Bloomfield, CO, USA

problem #11

Mar 102010


  • 400,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer factory installed chrome wheels this is the second set - I paid $1600 to replace first set have severe peeling, cracking and flaking around lug nuts including inside, outside and top of rims on wheels. Possible consequences cracking, peeling and flaking of wheel materials could result in failure of wheel and /or tire seal failure while driving. Ford service tech stated the all wheels must be replaced for safety reasons.

- Indianola, IA, USA

Read the next 10 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?