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.

CarComplaints.com 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.

10.0

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 6 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #208

Apr 102009

Explorer

  • 70,359 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Transmission shifts very hard and when put into reverse it violently shifts to reverse. Have had the vehicle in for multiple repairs on the transmission and now the local Ford dealership tells me I have to replace the transmission with the mileage on the vehicle a little over 70,000 miles.

- Cumming, GA, USA

problem #207

Mar 072009

Explorer

  • 94,271 miles
No accident or injury has occurred. The transmission shifter binds when shifting into park. The interlock solenoid pin has worn a grove in the cam in which it contacts. When shifting from any gear to park, if you release the brake pedal at the right time the vehicle will not go fully into park.

- Rockville Md, MD, USA

problem #206

Mar 162009

Explorer

  • 87,000 miles
I purchased a new 2004 Ford Explorer in 2004 and had constant problems with the transmission - hard shifting, slipping, and delayed shifting. I brought it back multiple times to 2 very good dealers and the problems remained. They replaced my rear axle three times but said because there were no stored codes from the transmission, Ford wouldn't let them do anything else. My transmission kept having delayed shift and hard shift problems so I kept bringing it in to my local dealer even after my warranty expired. After 6 times at 2 dealers, it was doing the same thing. I do not blame the dealers, as they were only taking Ford factory direction. I called Ford customer service several times prior to my warranty end, and was always told to go back to the dealer. During those calls to customer service, I requested a Ford factory rep contact me but customer service refused and advised me again to go back to the dealer for service. Last week, my transmission finally failed at 87K miles. It still shifted hard, and had delayed shifts, but it suddenly had no reverse, and extreme slippage in first gear. The check transmission light started flashing for the first time so it stored a code. I took my Explorer back to the dealer who advised the code meant an internal failure of a band or other part and the transmission needed to be replaced at a cost of about $4500. The dealer service manager was very good about the entire problem, so I am still not at all upset with the local dealer. I paid almost $200 for the diagnostic of a failed band but decided to have the transmission repaired at a local transmission shop. There, the manager took the transmission apart to diagnose the problem and did not find a broken band or other part. He advised it was probably due to other problems that may have been there since it was new, and advised that I install a rebuilt transmission instead of rebuilding this one due to the problems with the aluminum case. I spent $3000; finally fixed.

- Newington, CT, USA

problem #205

Feb 012009

Explorer

  • 52,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I understand there are worse vehicle failures out there, but the sheer fact that so many owners of my vehicle, 2004 Ford Explorer (and its respective brothers: Lincoln aviator and Mercury Mountaineer) are experiencing transmission failure has led me here. The transmission in my truck is getting progressively worse and at the moment I am almost afraid to have my wife and our 2 children ride in it. The delay in the shift causes us to slow slightly in traffic and I fear (as do so many other Ford/Mercury and Lincoln owners experiencing the same problem) that its inevitable failure may result in an accident or worse. Ford refuses to accept any responsibility for this even though every owner is experiencing this at the same mileage on the same model vehicle. One recall, in 2005 I believe, addressed a need for "solenoid additive" to the transmission. Many feel this was just a band-aid placed over a broken bone for Ford and merely delayed the transmissions failure. (past the warranty) could it be that so many Explorer / Mountaineer / aviator owners are simply running their $30,000+ vehicles into the ground" or is Ford refusing to stand behind a faulty product" just like the Firestone tires several years back, Ford should be held accountable before a bad situation becomes disastrous.

- Baldwin Park, CA, USA

problem #204

Feb 082009

Explorer

  • 89,000 miles
I have had 2 problems with my Ford Explorer. 1. crack in the rear window panel, Ford won't fix. 2. total transmission failure, had to replace at my cost.

- Cypress, TX, USA

problem #203

Jun 012008

Explorer

  • 65,000 miles
Purchased used 2004 Explorer XLT 12/6/07 at 53,000 miles. Approx 6 mos later, it began having delayed shifting and would jerk into reverse. At times I had pulled out too far into the road and needed to back up to avoid a collision and the car would not safely reverse quickly. It would hesitate and then jerk into reverse at a high speed. The tranny would slip after slowing down and then accelerating. Once after shifting into reverse, I hit the gas and it revved up as if in neutral. I paused and hit the gas again without changing gears and it reversed. The first dealer said its tranny fluid was low and they topped it off. No change. The second dealer reprogrammed it with no change. They replaced the solenoid which seemed to fix the jerky shifting and improper acceleration. Now it is progressively getting worse again, just like last time. It starts out only having issues once a month and then they become more regular until it happens every time you drive the car. I don't think the car is safe as I cannot get it to move quickly when I need it to. The car has a new appointment with the dealer and I think they are going to replace the transmission. I have seen sites where hundreds of other Explorer owners have had the same problem, sometimes even much worse than this one. The dealers are stumped because it doesn't show any codes. According to the computer nothing is wrong with my car when even I can tell that it has major transmission problems. It now has 80,000 and I have paid the deductible at least three times and still no change. I better have a new transmission coming to me...

- Rosedale, IN, USA

problem #202

Aug 042008

Explorer

  • 65,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

The transmission is failing on my 2004 Ford Explorer. I have babied it for quite awhile because we already had plenty of electrical problems with it that had cost us a lot of money and we really have no idea where to get the money to fix this problem. We still owe a lot on it. When it first started, I spoke to my mechanic and looked on the internet for a solution. If you google "2004 Ford Explorer transmission", you will see a huge list of people with the same problem. Ford has the nerve to ask for a bailout with my money, but they won't stand behind their lousy product!!! this is going to cost me at least $2500 to fix and I think since they have been aware of the problem from the start, they should have to correct it before we start handing them money. This is more than unfair! further, the plastic parts on these vehicles are cheap and break easily. One of my visors is suspended from the sunroof by a phone earphone cord because the plastic hinge broke and it dangles in your way when you are trying to see out the windshield. Please help!

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #201

Feb 132009

Explorer

  • miles
Purchased 2004 exp XLT in 2007 with 34,600 miles. Took it to dealer while still under warranty. Said jerking into reverse and delayed shifting between 2nd + 3rd was "normal". found out "normal" meant they all do it, but not that it is correct. A Ford dealer told me solenoid body replacement will fix it. After reading the numerous complaints on-line, am not sure. The seat belt retractors do not work (didn't on the '94 either) but at least the seats in the 94 were comfortable. Just do not ever buy a Ford again!. a friend has exactly the same model with exactly the same issue. Hard to believe Ford does not want to do anything for their customers. But it does make it easy to understand why life-long Ford owners will never own another one. My froend said they only offered him $3200 for his 2004 exp XLT on a trade-in. Not very much unless they know about the problem. Really sad Ford will do nothing. I feel bad for all the good service people that are foced to lie to customers while Ford hides behind the curtain.

- River Falls, WI, USA

problem #200

Feb 092009

Explorer

  • 82,100 miles
I own a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT V6. On 2/9/2009, I left my workplace at about 6pm and within about 1/4 mile my automatic transmission started slipping. I shifted to 3rd gear and it did not slip. Within about 1 mile after shifting to 3rd, the overdrive light started flashing. Within about 5 miles the vehicle turned off and the service engine light came on as well, while I was traveling approximately 50 mph on a causeway! I was able to pull over to the right. I turned the vehicle completely off. Turned the vehicle back on, put it into drive and no warning lights were displayed. I continued for about 1 mile, and drive started slipping again. I put it into 3rd, overdrive light started blinking. Approximately another 5 miles the vehicle shut off completely and service engine light came on again. I was able to pull over to the right. Turned the vehicle off, back on, and again proceeded home. I made it home. I have two children that luckily were not in the vehicle with me. My concern is that the transmission randomly failed and then the vehicle completely shut off, which could have resulted in an accident because the steering could've locked and the power brakes could've disengaged because the car was off.

- Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #199

Dec 202008

Explorer

  • 50,000 miles
There are many know problems with this transmission. I have made repairs to many 5R55 series transmissions and they are all defective in a few different ways. I spent 5 years at Ford repairing these problems and now my personal vehicle is showing symptoms of failure. The only proper repair for this is the complete replacement of said part. Although the replacement part is most likely going to be a failed unit from another vehicle.

- Manassas, VA, USA

problem #198

Jan 232009

Explorer

  • 78,500 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

2004 Ford Explorer eddie bauer transmission problem (seen on many complaint websites.) solenoid body needs repair at 75,000 miles on car that has diligently had all scheduled maintenance. This causes transmission to slip hard in reverse and in transition between gears. It happened once and almost caused accident. No automobile needs to have this replaced under 150,000 miles. This costs $1,100 to fix (5 hours of labor and the part is $525.) the price of the part is ridiculous. Take care.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #197

Jan 052009

Explorer

  • 67,000 miles
Purchased the vehicle new. Had regular maintenance performed. Shifting has been harsh and sporadic since nearly new. Has gotten progressively worse until now (Jan, 2009) 67,000 miles when it became un-drivable. Took to Ford dealer where purchased. Bottom line is that transmission is shot and they recommend a new tranny. Further research, online and with other owners, makes it obvious that this is a common, well known problem possibly having to do with incorrect tranny fluid installed when new. Ford says no recall, no warranty, and provides no relief. This is criminal.

- Wexford, PA, USA

problem #196

Dec 112008

Explorer

  • 78,000 miles
I purchased a 2004 Explorer limited with 18,000 miles. At 28,000 miles the dealership replaced a solenoid in the transmission per Ford to eliminate a large "thud" when the vehicle was shifted into reverse. The problem went away for awhile but returned. Today at 78,000 the vehicles transmission has failed and the dealership states it needs replacement. Extended warranty provider refuses to cover the work. I have read that Ford installed the wrong transmission fluid at the factory as well. Bottom line is the Ford transmission is defective and everyone knows it. How about a little justice here for the consumer?

- Norwich, CT, USA

problem #195

Aug 012008

Explorer

  • 87,000 miles
A couple of months ago I notices that my Explorer made a weird humming sound when I remove my foot off the gas going downhill at highway speeds. I also get the hard/clunk shift sound when going from park to reverse with a couple second delay. It takes longer then normal for vehicle to accelerate as if the truck is having difficulty shifting itself. Whaling city Ford in new london ct said problem was that we have two tires that are a bit smaller then the rest and proceeded to try to sell us four new tires. I took it for a second opinion and the auto shop actually spent time on my vehicle and said that our tires are fine, it is the tranny. How can Ford get away with this and what is my recourse since so many others are having this issue?

- Lisbon, CT, USA

problem #194

Sep 222008

Explorer

  • miles
Blinking O/D light, service engine light, park to reverse gear slippage, first to second gear slippage.

- Newport News, VA, USA

problem #193

Oct 202008

Explorer

  • miles
I bought it brand new in 2004 and have taken very good care of this vehicle, but it hasn't returned the favor. I have had multiple transmission problems that Ford says that they all do it and won't fix it. My tailgate cracked next to the Ford symbol, once again won't fix it. My paint on my hood is peeling off. I only have 50,000 easy miles on it but looking at it and driving it you would think that it had 150,000 on it. I will never buy Ford again!

- Santee, CA, USA

problem #192

Oct 142008

Explorer

  • 76,000 miles
Transmission is slipping, RPM's racing before engaging into gears. Hard clunk when shift from reverse to forward. Losing power while waiting for shifts to engage.

- Fernandina Beach, FL, USA

problem #191

Sep 012008

Explorer

  • 47,000 miles
Of the numerous issues with this vehicle, the worst is the transmission (40,000 miles ). same old story. Started with clunking and hesitation and surging when shifting into reverse and now is 'clunking' into gears 2 and 3 during normal driving. The rear drivers side window motor has been replaced twice. The rear window panel has a vertical crack to the left of the Ford symbol that just mysteriously occurred even though we don't even use the window. The truck stalls when the cruise control is applied below 45 miles an hour. My wife and I really loved this truck but like many others we have become embarrassed by our purchase. If this kind of fraud were to occur with any other product we would have some sort of recourse but not surprisingly the motor company's seem to enjoy a certain level of protection. The 'better business bureau' won't even listen to car complaints. Given the severe and ubiquitous nature of the complaints about this vehicle it comes as no surprise that no remediations is forth coming from this organization, the manufacturer or any other. The cost of these vehicles is a burden to say the least and is financially devastating to those of us who purchased them in good faith only to have a 30,000 dollar vehicle become useless and dangerous before reaching 50000 miles. Like all the other 'victims' of fraud, I am wasting yet more of my time by complaining about it.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #190

Oct 222004

Explorer

  • miles
I have had many, many problems with my 2004 Ford Explorer. Probably the most dangerous one is the recurring failure of the transmission. This last time that this occurred I was on interstate-85, in morning rush-hour traffic, and all of a sudden my RPM's are flying to the red danger area and I have no acceleration power and am losing speed. There is an 18-wheeler on my rear and I can't pick up speed! luckily, I was approaching an exit and managed to get the vehicle off of the interstate and onto a less traveled road. This is the second time that I have endured this scenario. Once again the solenoid is gone, with repairs estimated at $1255. I have had this problem repaired less than a year after purchase. I have had this problem repaired at 32,567 miles, and I now have this problem again at 76,725 miles. I have had the clutch pack replaced at 24,940 miles as well as the ring gear, pinion, and all bearings replaced at 24,940 miles. At 35,558 miles the lower ball joint had to be replaced. At 64,335 I had to have the pats transponder(security system) replaced. In short I have had the transmission repaired three times the front end rebuilt, the back end redone. I honestly can say I do not feel very safe in this vehicle, especially since I have to use this to Transport my children. These problems seem to be the norm for this particular vehicle, as I have done research on this. I don't understand why Ford is not made to resolve these issues. I have also had to have my heating and air replaced. This occurred in the winter of 2007 and was a safety issue, as I could not defrost my windows.

- Gastonia, NC, USA

problem #189

Aug 272008

Explorer

  • 48,900 miles
Bought car with 9K miles on it, transmission slams into gear in reverse causing car to jump backwards, called dealer stated knew what problem was fixed under warranty. 40K miles later it is happening again, more severe and jerking forward while driving. Almost hit pedestrian, could not control. Dealer states out of warranty will not fix. Informed them this is the same problem, work is faulty. Many complaints of this on-line with this type of vehicle. It is a major safety issue. Car is now jerking more violently causing the wheels to screech when put into reverse. Does there need to be a death or injury in order to investigate this?

- Haverhill, MA, USA

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