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

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 3 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #268

Aug 112010


  • 200,211 miles


2004 Ford Explorer transmission failure.

- Judsonia, AR, USA

problem #267

Aug 072010


  • 160,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Ford Explorer. While the vehicle was parked, she opened the rear glass window located on the lift gate. The window was open for a few moments until one of the two hinges broke resulting in the window hanging by one hinge. Upon examining the broken hinge she noticed that the screw holding the hinge in place also broke in half. The failure was not diagnosed. The vehicle was not repaired. She also stated that the vehicle hesitated to shift into reverse and would lunge forward before moving in reverse. When shifting from reverse to drive, the failure recurred and she heard a popping noise when the vehicle finally shifts into gear. The failures have occurred intermittently. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who was unable to diagnose the failure. The vehicle was not repaired and the failure continued to recur intermittently. The failure and current mileages were 160,000.

- Arp, TX, USA

problem #266

May 012008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 60,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer transmission clunking and shifting roughly, taking long time to engage cause vehicle to roll back, does not seem to engage for a period of time. Also whines so loud folks in back seat can't hear front seat people talking. Appears each time driven. Was that way when purchased new and dealer fixed it, now once again same issue.

- Annandale, VA, USA

problem #265

Jun 292010


  • 48,000 miles


Purchased a 2004 Ford Explorer in 2007. Shortly after I started to feel two things, a hesitation in the gears as they shift from one to the next, and the more pressing issue, a stall followed by a jerk when put into reverse. I took it in three times concerning this issue and was told each time that it was normal and was a hesitation in the gas relaying the information to the "computer". the warranty has run out and I once again took it back for these same issues only this time they did find something wrong with it and I am stuck footing the bill on something that should have been fixed under warranty. I've also read several complaints on this issue on this site and on Ford website and am wondering... why hasn't anything been done" Ford knows about this, and it is apparent the Office Of Defects Investigation knows about this, but it is still an issue!!! if Ford isn't going to be a respectable company and fix this problem on their own, then why hasn't an investigation started to force them to fix this problem" this needs to be investigated, it obviously isn't a fluke problem and is a major safety issue!!!

- New Bern, NC, USA

problem #264

Jun 262010


  • 134,940 miles
Bought 2004 Ford Explorer in 2008, noticed immediately that it was hard to put into gears but was told this was normal for Ford. Over the next year started noticing that when you put on the brake it felt like the rear end was falling out, again told that this is typical of a Ford. Just this past week have noticed that the transmission does not shift without a big jolt and the O/D light has started flashing. Autozone checked for codes and said it was P90775, which is suppose to be something in the transmission. Took it to a transmission place and they want 2000-3000 dollars to build new trans. But said this is once again typical of a Ford. Really!!! if Ford knows this why are they not recalling the vehicles. Transmission guy said all the previous warning signs have been exactly what he hears all the time with this make model and year. Help!!! my husband is religious about check fluids on our cars, changing them ect....first thing he noticed was there is no dipstick for the transmission fluid, what's that about" hiding something"

- Kingston Springs, TN, USA

problem #263

Jun 282010


  • 80,123 miles
While leaving for work, shifted column gear shift from park to reverse and it snapped off at base. No force used other than normal.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #262

May 182010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 106,435 miles


2004 Ford Explorer V6 transmission od light flashing and transmission slips out of gear at times.

- Arlington, MA, USA

problem #261

Sep 012005


  • 50,000 miles
Purchased a 2004 Ford Explorer in 2004, noticed after a couple of months that when I put the car in reverse it would delay a few seconds and then it would make a clunk sound and then speed into reverse or shift hard, that was at about 50,000 at times would not go into reverse, had the transmission in the shop numerous times and shift solenoid replaced to no avail. Shifted okay for awhile and goes back to shifting hard again and while at a stop light several times or upon starting my car when I had my foot on the brake it would make a clunk sound and jump forward out of gear. Good thing no other cars were in front of me or my wife or children near the vehicles. This vehicles scares me and being in the military with a limited budget we cannot just buy another car so easily and so we drive this vehicle deathly afraid. Ford needs to make right, the government needs to address this issue before more people are injured or killed with the sudden acceleration or coming out of gear involuntarily. Also car is starting to delay when at a stopped position to start driving the car hesitates to go into gear. Does it take someone to get seriously injured or die before this problem is going to be resolved by an obvious manufacturer error"??? I have two children that get driven around on a regular basis and I am now worried that something is going to happen or my wife. This is still going on and getting worse. Here it is June 2010 and Ford is getting away with ripping off customers and not being made to fix our investments nor the money we've had to spend on their mistake. I am taking my Ford back in to have the transmission guy that repaired it look at the vehicle. How can thousands of complaints be ignored" you are reading this, you can pressure and bring it to light. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Kapolei, HI, USA

problem #260

Jun 062010


  • 65,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer another bad transmission ! $3000 rebuild over drive light flashing, interior lights stay on, windows don't go down, door open lights on dash are on.. seems to be alot of these complaints I been reading on the internet ! Ford had to have some fault in all these complaints "??"

- Johnstown, NY, USA

problem #259

Mar 282004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 15,000 miles
I have a bad transmission. I shifts terribly into the upper gears and when it shifts into reverse, it often hesitates and then when it does shift, it sounds life the transmission is about to fall out. It shifts into reverse with a loud clank and big jolt. This has been happening since day one, 2004, and it was taken back to the dealer, who said it was an electronic problem, but they didn't fix the problem.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #258

May 052010


  • 74,800 miles


While driving normally, 'O/D off' light on dashboard comes on. Unable to accelerate and/or vehicle shuts off; the remedy: Having transmission rebuilt or repaired. This has occurred three times in 3 years. Saw on a 6page forum of other Ford owners having the same problem. Repairing a transmission is costly and its not one repair it's multiple over the life of owning the vehicle.

- Bridgeport, CT, USA

problem #257

Apr 192010


  • 83,000 miles
I have been driving a 2004 Ford Explorer since December 2004 when my daughter left it for me when she moved. It had approximately 11,000 miles. She had noticed a hard shift, especially when going into reverse and a rough idle and vibration, but had not had a chance to have it looked at. Except for when I have been out of town, I have serviced that car at a Ford dealership religiously. I complained about these problems but nothing was ever found. I was not even told about some of the things I have read about on your website which seem to indicate that Ford was aware of the problems and causes. Finally, at just under 36,000 miles, the transmission failed and had to be replaced. Now, 47,000 miles later, this new transmission is leaking and they have to take it out to see where it's leaking from. I read here about that problem, too. To me, it is clear that Ford is using mickey mouse transmissions which, of course, pose a safety hazard depending on when, where, and how the failure manifests itself, and is also an affront to the consumer who is being defrauded by being sold a far more inferior vehicle than the one for which they bargained. So, how's your investigation going?

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #256

Aug 112009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 100 miles
When I shift from drive or neutral into reverse, there is a long hesitation before the car then leaps backward hard. Delay then hard reverse. When I am parallel parking, I have sometimes hit the car behind me hard because of this. This problem has been extented since I purchased the car new in 2004. I have brought the car into the dealer at least ten times when it was new. They made many changes, including an entirely new "box" of a sort I don't recall, all to no avail, finally telling me the problem was caused by installing the wrong trans fluid at manufacturing. Recall necessary.

- Nyack, NY, USA

problem #255

Mar 182010


  • 120,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer V8 120000 miles driving down road at 45mph no warning over drive light started flashing, check transmission light came on & lost all gears. Pulled over turned car off restarted it drove 5 feet same problem. Towed to repair shop the pulled codes & said the solinoid pack internally needed to be replaced. They did that problem is still occuring. Now looks like needs a trani. I took it in several times under warrenty but they could never duplicate it. Now its not under warrenty & Ford wont take care of it.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #254

Mar 232010


  • 85,000 miles
Gear shift lever on the steering wheel column broke off when tried to take it out of park, on my 2004 Ford Explorer. Checking the internet for this problem I see it has happened to hundreds of people with Ford Explorer, no help through Ford, a recall needs to be done. To many people with the same problem.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #253

Mar 212009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles
Automatic transmission hesitate when going into gear then shifts hard into gear while accelerating, Ford is well aware there is a problem with these transmissions and should be recalled for repairs. Have done research on this and its a common safety problems with the Ford Explorer.

- La Follette, TN, USA

problem #252

Feb 092010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
Transmission continually fails to engage properly. Delayed response and harsh shift in gears. From reverse to drive and vice versa, there is a delay and harsh engagement. At first the incidents were barely noticeable and less frequent. Now they are a common occurrence and more pronounced. Fearful of complete failure whilst accelerating onto highway/street. Often times there is a delay shifting into drive when reversing out of a parking spot. Holding up traffic, etc.

- Baldwin Park, CA, USA

problem #251

Apr 082009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
Purchased a used 2004 Ford Explorer on July 3, 2006 with 53823 miles. The car was maintained as required and low and behold, to my recollection, around 2008-2009 it started driving a little strange, it started vibrating hesitating. Then during the beginning of 2009, check engine light came on, od light started flashing, gears started sticking, hard to brake and I was told that it ia a transmission problem and that I was not alone with the problem. A new or rebuilt transmission was necessary at a price of $3-4,000. If you would go on the web site at autobeef. Com, you will see all the complaints consumers are having about the same problem. I am urging you to please investigate this matter. Ford needs to step up to the plate and recall all Explorer. I still owe $9000 on this car and can not drive it. I bailed them out and they need to take responsibility for their faulty transmissions. Disappointed and concerned consumer. Thank you.

- Tobyhanna, PA, USA

problem #250

Nov 162009


  • 90,263 miles
Vehicle purchased with 78,375 miles - it was previously a us gov.'t vehicle. Rear-end noise noticed and seller had Ford repair at a cost of $1,387.50 - vehicle was driven less than 12,000 miles and began making same noise in rear-end. Due to distance to Ford dealer, vehicle was checked out at a private repair service. Diagnosis- rear seal failed causing severe damage to all rear-end parts. Repairs included ring & pinion gears and differential bearings at a cost of $1,429.54 when contacted, Ford stated that although it was within the 12,000 mile, 12 month warranty period, they would not cover any of the costs because the service was not done at a Ford dealership.

- Westminster, MD, USA

problem #249

Jan 252009


  • 58,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer. Od light is blinking, service engine light is on, transmission shift stalls and lurks. Mechanic says alot of Ford Explorer are having this issue and there is no recall.

- Oakland, CA, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?