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2004 Ford Explorer Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Great vehicle to drive, Horrible SUV to own by pgyergyek



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Unless you have lots of money to spend on maintaining this SUV, stay away from it. I'm banking on the previous-generation Explorers newer than 2005 are better built (I bought a 2010, the last of its generation, to replace this).

Reviewed: 2004 Ford Explorer

4dr SUV 210-horsepower 4.0L V6 5-speed automatic 4WD w/low range

Why the 2004 Ford Explorer?

Price or payments

With the incentives, buying this SUV felt like I was getting a huge bargain. By my 5th year of ownership, I felt like I got ripped off based on the cost to maintain this vehicle.

Past personal experience

My 97 Explorer XLT (w/ 4.0L V6 and 5-speed MANUAL transmission) was a fantastic first SUV. I regret trading it in, but the 2004 seemed like such a bargain at the time.

Rear seat room & comfort

I needed the 3rd-row seating to keep 3 boys happy in the back seats - this was one of the main motivations for buying this SUV - and because I was so happy with my 97 Explorer.

Powertrain performance

Wanted (needed) 4WD here in upstate NY winters.

Ride smoothness

If anything, this was a fantastic riding and handling vehicle - the best I'd purchased up until that point.

Why Not the 2004 Ford Explorer?

Reliability & durability

The SUV became a money pit in my 6th year of ownership. I've driven Fords all my life, and this was by far the worst I've ever owned. Internet research confirmed lots of owners were having similar problems: total brake jobs every 25k miles, front (50k) and real wheel bearings (67k), rear door trim bezel cracked 3x (fixed 1st time under warranty, I paid 2nd time, left as-is 3rd time), and the real killer - a complete tranny overhaul at only 67k miles. Ford knew there were problems w/ the tranny, but decided to stick it to the owners anyways. It was a great SUV to drive, but it cost me over $9k in maint/repairs in the last 3 years I owned this SUV.

Warranty, maintenance cost

New brakes every 25k? Are you kidding me? I felt the wheel bearings wore out prematurely, too, since I don't think I really drove this SUV that much or that hard. Same for tires - got 36k out of the OEM Michelins, I put a set of expensive Goodyear Fortera TripleTreds afterwards - because they were 'the best' - they barely lasted 30k miles. I put a set of Cooper Discoverer CTS tires that had lots of life in them after I sold this SUV at 82k miles.

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