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 7 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #188

Aug 182008

Explorer

  • 41,270 miles

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

There is clearly a defect in Ford Explorer transmissions. My 2004 Explorer had shifting problems at the 2-21/2 year mark. It was limped through by replacing the solenoid. Now at 42/3 years (out of warranty) it is doing the exact same thing and suddenly needs a new transmission at the 41,000 mile mark. I feel Ford has a clear problem based on the number of complaints and I am sure that is a small fraction of the problem as most people don't know to complain. Ford has put bandaids on the problem until the warranty is up, then the consumer gets stuck. While this may not be a safety issue, it is clearly a defective transmission/ design flaw and consumers need to be compensated. What does it take to have something recalled" does a life have to be lost" these transmissions are lemons and the consumers have been ripped off. Many probably remain silent because they think they were just unlucky so I am sure the complaints you have are just the tip of the iceberg. It seems your Agency should protect not just from injury, but from frauds and deception. Ford has been deceptive and should be accountable for these lemons.

- Lexington, KY, USA

problem #187

Jul 142008

Explorer

  • 70,221 miles
I own a 2004 Ford Explorer on 7/14/2008 I took it to the Ford dealer ship due to my O/D light flashing. I was told I would need a new transmission $3,200 dollars so they replaced the transmission, I picked up my Explorer on 7/28/2004 and only drove it 30 miles and the O/D light began flashing again and the transmission was not passing gears. Now this is a new transmission the dealer ship was contacted and they now have my vehicle again so now I will have to wait and see what the out come is again.

- Gastonia, NC, USA

problem #186

Aug 072007

Explorer

  • 78,000 miles
(1) Ford recall 5R55S/5R55E/5R443 transmissions April 04 2005. 04B22 Ford Explorer XLT (2) repair information regarding transmission issues. This vehicle was taken back to action Ford Mercury, hartsville, SC. On 10/23/06 with the same problems. The warranty has expired and the service department stated that I would be required to pay for a portion of these repairs. I have taken this vehicle back to action Ford Mercury (4) times, for transmission repairs. (see attachments),10/11/04, 06/08/05. Obviously, with (4) repairs, something is not right with the transmission in this vehicle. Both statements reference solenoid replacement. This transmission obviously has a ┐factory defect┐, and should be repaired once and for all, or replaced. Expecting a customer to continuously bring a vehicle back in for repairs, for the same problems, even only paying deductible payments is ludicrous. I also talked in length with the action Ford Mercury service manager, ┐richard┐, and he stated that they have not had any problems with the Explorer transmissions. Seems that this is not quite true, at least nationally, in reference to the information retained on consumer web sites (see attached). Actually, this is a well documented problem with the 2004 models.

- Hartsville, SC, USA

problem #185

Jun 292004

Explorer

  • 19,971 miles

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

Purchased my Ford Explorer Jan 2004. Problem with shifting occurred June 29th 2004. One year later 2005, the problem worsen, with slipping and hard shifting at the same time. Ford is not backing the Explorer at all and we the people with these same complaints need help, or all of our money back from the vehicle, since the problem can not be fixed.

- Grand Prairie, TX, USA

problem #184

Feb 202008

Explorer

  • 30,000 miles
I purchased a 2004 Ford Explorer in November 2006 with 16,000 miles. At approximately 30,000 miles, I noticed that it shifted hard going into 3rd gear as I accelerated. The transmission would rev up, then shift with a thud. I do not drive the vehicle hard. This was noticed during normal in town driving. This happened intermittently. At 38,000 miles I took it to a Ford dealership to have it checked (as my extended warranty was about to expire). I explained the shifting and acceleration problem in detail. They reported that this was within the specs for this truck. That it was normal acceleration. It is now 54,000 miles. The problems have gotten worse. It feels like the transmission slips into neutral, then clunks and grabs the next gear. There is also a delay and clunk when shifting into reverse. I've just taken it in and had the transmission flushed. The shop reported that there was no particulate or debris in the pan, so it is probably something internal. I took it to a transmission specialist and they are saying I need a new/rebuilt transmission.

- Helena, MT, USA

problem #183

Jun 302008

Explorer

  • 32,000 miles
2004 Ford Explorer, still has harsh shift from park to rear, have to press brake hard so car does not jerk when shifting to rear, fluid was replaced by Ford dealer 2 years ago but harsh shifting never addressed since it was on and off 2 years ago, presently happens much more often.

- Urbandale, IA, USA

problem #182

Jun 292008

Explorer

  • 75,200 miles

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

2004 Ford Explorer. Gear shift lever broke off in my hand when shifting from park to reverse. Transmission indicator stuck between park and reverse. Vehicle could start but not move. Key stuck in ignition. Shift lever broke off at metal cast inside column. Towed to Ford dealer. Needs entire steering column replaced to fix this part, cost over $1000. Others with same problem due to defective part. Called Ford hq, but no help with covering repairs for this problem.

- Bumpass, VA, USA

problem #181

Jan 122008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 46,000 miles
We purchased a 2004 Ford Explorer 4.0 liter V6 approximately 6 months ago (46,000 miles). Shortly after the purchase the vehicle began to shift hard from "park" into "reverse". the vehicle also shifts hard while in motion. It feels as if the vehicle has accelerated on it's own. Mechanic advised the transmission will cost approximately $600 in parts, and approximately $800 in labor. It is unknown how long the transmission will last until complete failure. I have grave concerns that it may fail as we are on the interstate causing death or serious injury.

- Mitchell, NE, USA

problem #180

May 152008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 5,534 miles
I purchased a 2004 eddie bauer 4.0 liter Explorer. The previous owner brought the vehicle back for all recalls, particularly those related to the transmission. This included a complete trans fluid flush even though the Ford states the 1st maint. On tranny is 100 K miles, changed the front seal that supposedly "corrodes in the presence of the old transmission fluid', and had the solenoid body changed to correct the transmission shifting problem. Now the transmission is failing again at 34,000 miles. It shifts erratically and feels unusual while driving in forward, and once warmed up and at a stop, when shifting from drive to reverse, there is a 1 too 2 second pause and then the transmission shifts violently into reverse. Mechanic tells me that tranny will eat itself up. In short all preventable maint. And recalls have been done on car to avoid problem, and yet at 34K miles tranny is experiencing same problem again. You really need to put Ford feet to the fire and get this fixed as a recall as this is a safety issue. Web is full of reports of trannys die-ing on the road with no warning. You all are the watchdog, please do your job.

- Richardson, TX, USA

problem #179

Oct 192005

Explorer

  • 12,500 miles
Ford Explorer 2004 - bought brand new in 2004 my Ford Explorer started having shifting problems after 1 year I bought it. Ford dealer fixed it because it was under warranty. They claimed that it was the transmission solenoid. I am having the same issue 1 year after the fix was made and went back to the dealer. They said that the car is not under warranty anymore and it will cost me around 1400 dollars to fix it. I did not have them fix it and figured that I call Ford customer service to get this fixed for free. That did not get me anywhere. This was back in 2006 or 2007 and I am still having this issue. This is a mechanical hazard because a failed transmission driving on a freeway can cause accident. I have a wife, a 4 year old and a 1 year old and always fear for their safety while driving the vehicle with them.

- Burbank, CA, USA

problem #178

May 102008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 88,000 miles

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

I purchased a 2004 Ford Explorer last year. Almost immediately after the purchase but after warranty expiration I had to pay for a new wheel bearing. A few months ago I had the car serviced and was told the rear differential has issues. A loud roar as I drive. About a month ago I heard the familiar sound of another wheel bearing talking to me. I pick my daughter up everyday from school and rely on this vehicle to be functioning in a safe manner. I researched a bit and found complaint after complaint regarding these issues. I can see that this complaint is old news but it is a serious safety issue and an on going problem. It is not cheap either! I am disgusted with this car and demand this widespread issue be resolved. Thank you for your time. Joseph sullivan

- Hudson, NH, USA

problem #177

May 122008

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 43,667 miles
Purchased 2004 Ford Explorer used with 9K miles on it. Immediately noticed strong jerking movement when putting into reverse. Dealership fixed the problem, stated it was common. Now 43K miles, same problem; much stronger. I'm noticing this jerking while driver forward as well. On occasion the car will just jump forwarded as if someone was jumping on the gas pedal. I've read similar complaints, some with injuries on www.mycarstats.com; over 197 complaints. This is a serious accident waiting to happen. Ford need to recall and fix this problem. Once the warranty expires people are being quoted over $3K to fix the transmission problems.

- Haverhill, MA, USA

problem #176

Apr 262008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
I have a 2004 Ford Explorer. About two weeks ago, I went to shift from park to reverse so I could back out of my driveway. The gear shifter broke off in my hand. It was dangling by some sort of cord. I could not shift into park, and could not get the key out of the ignition. I had to leave the car in neutral and put the parking brake on. I've had three mechanics look at it, and all of them said this is not something that should break. It is going to cost me $1100 to fix, because a whole new steering column has to be ordered from Ford. I contacted Ford via email, and they are not issuing a recall at this time, which I think is unacceptable given how common this problem is.

- Hampton, VA, USA

problem #175

Apr 142004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 75,930 miles
Purchased a new 2004 Ford Explorer automatic V6 in Nov 04. Occasionally when shifting in reverse, engine would give a "hard" jerk. When driving the vehicle, stopped(especially) if roads were wet, when attempting to proceed forward, vehicle tires-good tires/even wear, rotated regularly and/or vehicle would loose control as engine attempted to move forward. Always a very annoying noise in rear riding as passenger. But it to dealer @ beginning, checked it out under warranty, noe vehicle has a little over"75930". drove it from one state to another, parked it, next day drove it < than a 1/4 mile to store, shopped, returning home the "transmission" gave a very loud noise, grinding and a hard jerk, enough to hurt one driving or passenger's backs. 2nd gear unable to engage, RPM race to 4000 2nd gone! Ford dealer quotes a repair(rebuilt) @ $3555.0+taxes @ rate of "$100" an hour = labor nearly a "$1000. Brought it to a repriable trans shop quoted $3000 complete we have been a"die-hard" owners of Ford for years, even own a 1956crown vic., 86 F250, 99 lincolncon't, 00mustang, and this )$ Ford Explorer is the worse vehicle puchased @ "$38,000". never mind all the previous ones, never have I ever dealt with a fairly new vehicle of poor workmanship/design. Reports reveal that these 04's definitely have Ford manufactutrer defects or craftmanship faults. Why do people give up on "american" vehicles, ah ah? @ "75,930+ miles a broken transmission.

- Palatka, FL, USA

problem #174

Aug 012004

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles
Transmission started shifting hard the day it was purchased in 2004. Now the transmission will not shift at all and the car has been parked in the driveway and is not drivable. I asked the Ford dealership about the shifting problem within a week of purchase and they stated there was nothing wrong with the vehicle that they could find.

- Hoover, AL, USA

problem #173

Apr 202004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles
Our vehicle only has 36,000 miles on it, and the transmission has succumb to an extremely unsafe condition after warranted factory repair for the third time now, where the transmission fails to shift while driving and basically leaves you coasting without speed control during a regular shift interval.

- Gardendale, AL, USA

problem #172

Aug 012004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,500 miles
In Feb. 2004 I purchased a brand new Explorer. About 6 months into ownership there were some problems with a delay in switching from park to reverse. I took the Explorer to the dealer. They stated it was the throttle position sensor, which the dealer did replace. Approximately a year later, the same problem started to happen again. I took the Explorer back to the dealer and they repaired the same part again. The problem continued and progressively got worse so I was forced to take it back again in December of 2006 to the dealer. They proceed to tell me that the problem is the same exact problem which has already been fixed, twice. This time they tell me my warranty has expired and I will have to pay for the repairs. Well it seems to me if it was repaired correctly the first or second time then it wouldn't be happening just about every year. I would drive my truck locally and it normally would not want to move. One day on my lunch hour, I tried to cross a major 4 lane highway and this 2004 Ford Explorer, left me stranded in the middle of this lunch rush hour traffic, to be T-boned by on coming traffic. Talk about, emotional distress; I was so upset that I had to go home for the rest of the day. It is just as scary to think my truck would break down due to manufacturing problems with my kids in the truck. This happened so often and most times at night. The throttle position sensor and transmission fluid cost me $550 at 80K miles. The dealer informed me that you are not supposed to service the transmission until 100K but the dealer suggested it due to my many problems. I am at the point where I just will never buy another Ford vehicle. Nothing has been done my truck has sat at the dealer since Dec 2007, I can not afford the repairs. It seems there should be a class action suit filed against Ford for fault transmissions.

- Daphne, AL, USA

problem #171

Mar 042008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,300 miles
Purchased a 2004 Ford Explorer new at a local dealership. I started having transmission problem soon after purchase. Not shifting into reverse properly. Took the vehicle several times back to dealership. Received transmission additive recall and took vehicle back again. About 5,000 miles after additive transmission problems worsened. Solenoid replace at 20,000 miles and again at 35,000 with other transmission parts replaced. Now at 59,000 miles of use transmission is completely gone and must be replaced.

- Wayne, ME, USA

problem #170

Feb 282008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,421 miles
My vehicle when put in reverse will hesitate then engage approx. 30 sec. Later as if rearended. When I am in drive and accelerate my 04 Explorer XLT will hesitate then engaged.

- Big Sandy, TN, USA

problem #169

Mar 012008

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,750 miles
I just purchased a used Ford Explorer XLT from a dealer and took for test drive seemed ok purchased the vehicle and noticed the next day upon driving that the transmission going from park to reverse out of my garage took a few seconds before cluncking into gear almost causing me to hit my garage I took to my mechanic which he changed out my fluid adding the additive that he new was required he owns a trans shop and is very reputable he stated about the recall also he checked my differentials in front and rear and noticed rear was all full of silver shavings we changed out fluids also but the shifting and vibrating still is occurring I did purchase a full warranty and after reading all the negative press on this site I hope the purchase of a Ford vehicle and warranty was worth the money.

- Eastpointe, MI, USA

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