Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. 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:
13 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
38,613 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 10 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #128

Aug 172006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles


2004 Ford Explorer when shifted into park will show it is in park but is really still in reverse. This is a major safety issue which has not been recalled. In addition there was a recall for improper transmission additive being used and now the transmission solenoid on these models are going bad causing the transmission to shift erratically.

- Sykesville, MD, USA

problem #127

Aug 042006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles
: the contact stated the vehicle hesitated while reversing. When the gear finally engaged, there was a jolt felt. The dealership replaced the solenoid in May 2004 but the problem persisted.

- Moreno Valley, CA, USA

problem #126

Jul 062006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
04 Explorer had harsh reverse. RPM's went to 7 shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear. Ford refused to do anything even though they had a "customer satisfaction campaign",Ford alternative to a recall, that expired last year to put an additive in the transmission fluid because the put in the wrong type. Had the solenoid replaced once before. Ford claimed it to be normal wear and tear. Cost $1300 to repair bad solenoid, and 2 piston and rods.

- Port Saint Lucie, FL, USA

problem #125

May 162006


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


2004 Explorer has had ongoing transmission problems since the day I purchased it. I only became aware of the factory mistake in transmission fluid two weeks after purchasing a leftover. Somehow it wasn't discovered until more than a year later? I have problems with the car lurching into reverse and not engaging in park correctly. The car rolls about 2-4 feet when in park and now the new problem is it refuses to go into drive and revs in neutral until you press on the arm of the gear shifter with considerable force. I have brought this into the dealer two times for this problem. Twice I was told there was nothing wrong and they couldn't duplicate the problem. When I was leaving the dealership the second time the car lurched into reverse in their parking lot, I'm only sorry that the service manager's care wasn't parked behind me! I am bringing it in again since the new trick is when you stop on the highway (to pay a toll) the entire chassis and body of the car shake and vibrate so violently that things fall off the dashboard. Only by depressing and holding the brake pedal to the floor can I diminish the shaking. I use my car for transporting my family. If it is not corrected this time to my satisfaction, Ford will take this car back. I'm disgusted with the attitude of the dealerships I have taken it to and the incompetent service I have received since the day I purchased this vehicle.

- Kennebunkport, ME, USA

problem #124

May 312006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
Transmission slamming into reverse / drive, took to dealership, solenoid pack replaced 6 months ago, started having same problems and now this time also, rpms shoot up to 7 when accelerating. Took back to dealer, said they had to replace the solenoid pack again. Won't honor warranty after the $800 problem was just fixed! also, have serious suspension problems! front sway bar bushings, rear shocks (leaking), replace front lower ball joints.

- Westminster, MD, USA

problem #123

May 292006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
: the contact stated there is a shift delay before going into reverse or drive, after a 5-10 second delay it goes into gear. This is an intermittent problem. Last week the shift lever assembly was replaced by the dealer because it broke off in the column. The vehicle was taken to the dealership about the delay problem however they are unable to get a diagnostic code to correct the problem.

- Wilmington, DE, USA

problem #122

Apr 202006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles


: the contact stated while driving 50 mph there was a loud noise heard coming from under the vehicle. The vehicle then lurched forward and came to a complete stop on the highway as if the rear wheels were locked causing minor injuries to the driver and passenger. After restarting the vehicle, the over drive light illuminated. The vehicle was driven to the local dealership and they determined there was metal in the transmission pan. They replaced the crank shaft pulley assembly, compressor, power belt, bolt, vibration damper, screen assembly, bearings, output shaft, pistons, rods and the carrier over drive. The manufacturer was alerted.

- Piscataway, NJ, USA

problem #121

May 122006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,100 miles
Transmission began experiencing problems shifting between 2 and 3 rd gear, into overdrive, and into reverse. On 5/12/06 I took the vehicle to the dealership and the technician was able to diagnose the problem with my vehicle with the keys still in my purse and the vehicle in the parking lot. Based on the other vehicles he had seen he had a good idea what my Explorer's problem was. Unbeknownst to me, three weeks prior to my problem my neighbor had the same exact problem with his Explorer. Evidently the transmission, solenoid, problem wit the Explorer is common and would leave on to believe it tis a products liability claim on either the manufacturer or one of its parts suppliers. 3 solenoids were replaced and my air filter was replaced. My out of pocket cost was $996..

- Powhatan, VA, USA

problem #120

Sep 142004

Explorer 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 7,000 miles
I have a 2004 Ford Explorer that is having a problem with the transmission. I have a harsh delay when going from park to reverse. Ford is refusing to repair the vehicle unless I absorb the cost. There was a "customer program" issued in January 2005 and expired on 12/31/05. I did not receive the form by mail as I had moved and they are still refusing to fix it. They want to charge me over $1600 to repair my vehicle.

- Annandale, NJ, USA

problem #119

Apr 062006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
Transmission is slipping when changing gears, especially when putting the vehicle in reverse. Sometimes takes several seconds for the vehicle to go in to reverse.

- Hickory, NC, USA

problem #118

Mar 222006

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,000 miles


: the contact stated while placing the vehicle into reverse with the brake pedal depressed, the transmission jumps into reverse. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection. The dealer could not duplicate the problem.

- Massapequa, NY, USA

problem #117

Mar 142006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer purchased new, experienced transmission issues very quickly, hard engagement into reverse, clunking when downshifting, car lurches upon acceleration during a slow turn. I have had into dealership 5 times, beginning 1 year ago at 10,000 miles. Recall additive put in 1st time, 2nd time at 15,000 miles I lost the entire right rack and pinion while driving (would not steer to the right), they told me after repair, the transmission problem was also gone. 3rd time they put in a qt. Of transmission fluid. 4th time they replaced the solenoid. 5th time I requested buy-back. Their transmission tech guy went with me, he observed the problem; happened multiple times. They did not keep vehicle at that time. One month later after I had to keep calling back they took the vehicle in again and this time they added another additive and reprogrammed the PCM. They also had to repair the transmission indicator cable, it told me I was in reverse when I was in park. Picked up car today, they told me it shifted great now, and they would give me an extended 5 yr. 75,000 mile warranty. I declined, stated I wanted a buy-back. While driving home, the car once again clunked while decelerating and also while accelerating into a turn. I have filed with the BBB auto line.

- Jackson, CA, USA

problem #116

Dec 272004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer - transmission delays engagement of reverse and drive. Ford dealership replaced solenoid. Problem returned within 9 months. The vehicle is out of warranty now and the Ford dealership diagnosed a $975 repair including the replacement of the solenoid.

- Allen, TX, USA

problem #115

Jan 212006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,000 miles
Transmission slams into reverse from park - warranty work performed at dealer 02/05 Ford consumer relations campaign to address problem from manufacturer incorrect fluid added at assembly plant 04/05 02/06 transmission has started same behavior before - Ford tech's admit to problem but can not resolve - transmission still slamming into reverse after dealer computer update - obvious defect from dealer as thousands of complaints on the web for same issue possible safety hazard should a child be walking behind vehicle or anyone for that matter.

- Brazoria , TX, USA

problem #114

Jan 182006

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,000 miles
. 3- now it has actually began to die instead of just stalling and hesitating. Now they advise its the throttle sensor. In all 3 cases - when putting the car in reverse there is always a hesitation, then it will jerk hard into reverse. When slowing down at a stop sign or red light there will be another banging noise coming from the transmission. When putting the car in drive from the reverse there is always a delay then will jerk in forward drive. Now the little wrench comes on and the check engine light comes on, when driving down the highway the car will die for no apparent reason, when this happens I can not do anything!!!! when is this going to be fixed" Ford waiting on someone to get killed first? I have almost caused two wrecks with my car stalling out on the highway, as you can imagine going from 65 mph and then die without a warning and what am I to do with the traffic behind me" this is serious!! I took my car in and had it hooked up to the machine to read what was going on and the mechanic should me that the car would read nothing on any of their machines! the consumers need your help! we have these new (2004) vehicles that are dangerous and we should not be having to pay for a lemon. Ford Motor Company had to know when this happen in their plant and should have not sold these cars!!!! please help and issue a recall, thank you for all of your help.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #113

Jan 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
Purchased my 2004 Explorer in February '04. At approximately 20,000 miles the vehicle began having a delayed engagement into reverse which was harsh and caused the vehicle to jolt rearward. Brought to dealer and it was fixed. Vehicle operated normally until recently when the problem began again. Vehicle now has 40,000 miles. Seems this may be a recurring problem. Transmission performance is also poor as this problem exhibits itself, especially noted when transmission downshifts. Downshifting from 2nd to 1st is very harsh. Is this going to be investigated? it seems a preliminary evaluation should be launched by given the volume of complaints of this exact nature.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #112

Jan 112006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,000 miles
Transmission fails to engage in drive or reverse, or hesitates to engage, or hesitates to change gears on the highway. Placement into drive or reverse "pounds" into gear. 4X4 low & high hesitate or fail to engage, and often "stick" - failing to disengage or require multiple attempts to disengage.

- Delavan, WI, USA

problem #111

Jan 072006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,000 miles
: the contact stated the transmission is slipping, hesitating and jerking while going into gear. When putting the vehicle into park the lever is in the park position; however, the transmission is still in reverse. The transmission is making a howling noise that is being heard from the rear of the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealership and the solenoid in the transmission was replaced. This did not remedy the problem.

- Chestnut Hill, MA, USA

problem #110

Jan 052006

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,465 miles
We noticed a slip in the transmission when were stopped, then made a slow right or left hand turn. We felt the transmission slipping and a noise from the rear end. It also felt as if the 4 wheel drive was on. It felt as if there was a slight wheel hop. We took it to the dealer and they said Ford knows about this problem. The dealer replaced the ring and pinion gear, axel seals, clutch pack and had to reprogram the 4 wheel drive computer.

- Cortez, CO, USA

problem #109

Dec 192005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 19,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer. In December of 2004, the truck was 1 year in service and had about 19,000 miles. We noticed the transmission slipping between first and second gears and delaying when shifting between park and reverse. We took the truck to the dealership and had problem fixed. We were told the "solenoid" (sp?) switch in the transmission was bad and had been replaced. We were told at the time this was a fairly common problem. Beginning again in early December of this year, the transmission began the same pattern of slipping. The truck was now in service for 2 years, but had 40,000 miles. The truck was now out of warranty and the new "solenoid" switch in the transmission was now out of warranty. We took the truck to the dealership and were told it was the same problem as last time. The dealership would not offer anything off of the repair charge so we called Ford customer service. We were told we should have had all of our regular maintenance done at the dealership and this problem would have been caught sooner. Next we were told that Ford was aware of this problem, but not enough had failed yet so there was no recall. The service rep offered to pay for $400 of the repair since we had replaced this part once and told us that we should be grateful Ford paid for anything since the truck is out of warranty. I am grateful Ford paid for part of the repair, but I feel strongly a transmission should not need to be repaired twice in one year for the same part.

- Helena, AL, USA

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