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 9 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #148

Oct 252005

Explorer

  • miles

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

Delayed shifting from park to reverse and reverse to drive, sometimes 10 seconds to catch gear. Hard shifting from park to reverse, slams into gear. Clunking when parking or wheels at full lock.

- Santa Cruz, CA, USA

problem #147

Feb 012005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles
Auto-transmission hesitates when put into reverse then lunges once transmission is engaged. When shifting from reverse to drive there is a loud clunking sound. Automatic transmission shifts hard sometimes while in drive. Ford service said they could not reproduce and found no problem. This began happening at about 15,000 miles. Vehicle now has almost 36,000 miles and problem has gotten much worse. Engine dies when traveling low speeds and using the cruise control. Each time I try to use the cruise control when traveling 40 mph or less the engine dies. This creates a very dangerous situation when your driving along then suddenly you lose power to the steering and brakes because the engine has died! the seats are also problematic. The 2 back seats fold down. Both of the release mechanisms have been replaced and one needs to be replaced again. Both handles have broken off twice. The leather on the drivers seat has cracked and worn prematurely. The lumbar support knob on the drivers seat fell off but I didn't notice when it happened so it was lost and Ford will not replace it without the defective part. Also the handle that is used to adjust the back of the seat has fallen off. I am a 53 year old women and 98% I am the only one using this vehicle. I do not routinely haul kids or other cargo around in this vehicle so you would think the seats would be holding up much better.

- Dunedin, FL, USA

problem #146

Nov 252006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Purchased the 2004 Ford Explorer in syracuse, NY in the fall of 2004. We received the recall notice about the transmission and had the service performed. The vehicle has been in to the dealer to fix a continuing problem about the transmission. The transmission has trouble shifting into reverse and when going up hill, on occasion. The vehicle's transmission also continues to make a "clunking" noise and physically lurches on occasion when traveling at speeds between 40 - 60 mph. The vehicle is within a couple hundred miles of the factory warranty expiration and Ford has still not repaired the problem. We have spoken to the Ford manufacturer directly and they have only offered to sell us an extended warranty. The local dealer service manager did indicate that he is authorized to offer an extended warranty up to 75,000 miles at no cost, but we have not received that in writing. We feel that this was a problem caused in the production of the vehicle and all repairs should be covered by Ford, but they are not taking care of the problem.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #145

Nov 242006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 200 miles

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

Within a week of buying my 2004 Explorer I experienced problems when shifting out of reverse. I also experienced a loud "clang" while doing steady interstate driving (over 200 miles). Over time transmission shifting became sluggish, untimely, and loud. A recall was received and a transmission additive was added. Problems continued with the transmission (same as noted above). In June '06- dealership replaced some parts of the transmission (under warranty). Five months later, I'm continuing with problems. Loud "clang" during long road trip. Jerky, hesitant shifting continues. Took car to dealership and no problems were found with the transmission and dealership was not able to duplicate during 30 mile test drive. Car stalled in parking lot this week, jerky motion continues going up steep incline and loud "clang" exists on long roadtrip. Warranty is about to run out in about 400 miles. I have contacted customer care center resulting in no help. Also have repeated problems with fuel gauge not registering properly.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #144

Dec 232006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The transmission in our 2004 Ford Explorer XLT AWD required a significant repair in 7/05 at 11,311 miles because the transmission would not engage after shifting into reverse. Dealer replaced shift solenoid and refilled fluid. Dealer estimated that cost to replace shift solenoid was $3,500 but it was covered under warranty. Problem recurred and in December 2006 at approximately 32,000 miles, my daughter was involved in an accident when she backed into a parked car because the transmission failed to engage. We took it to the dealership and they replaced the shift solenoid a second time.

- Palo Alto, CA, USA

problem #143

Nov 072006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
When the Explorer is put in reverse it takes up to 5 seconds to engage and then jerks backwards after making a large clunking noise. U joints and wheel bearings have been replaced, but problem still occurs.

- Indianapolis, IL, USA

problem #142

Nov 212006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles

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

We have a 2004 Ford Explorer with 41,000 miles. In the past 3 months we have had to have the transmission overhauled, universal ball joint replaced, wheel bearings replaced, parking brake replaced. All work has been done by the dealer. On the evening of 11/21/06, we were leaving my daughter's school and I got in the vehicle to back the car up a few feet so that my wife would not have to step in the mud. I started the car, put the car in reverse (foot on brake), and when I took my foot off the brake to move the car a few feet, it surged backwards, like a cannon ball in reverse; it crashed into a neon, which was parked 6 feet from our car, sent the neon flying about 15 feet into another car; (the neon's front end was crushed). I felt I had no control over this vehicle whatsoever. We are thankful that it hit a parked car, rather than traffic coming from behind. What would have caused this? the policemen that responded to our call suggested that we not attempt to drive the vehicle, so we pushed it to the side of the road and had it towed to the Ford dealer. The other car in the incident was not drivable and also had to be towed. One of the policemen that responded to our call said that they had a similar accident happen with one of their police cruisers (another Ford product); when the car was put into reverse it shot backwards and hit another police car, but they did not sustain damage because the cars were parked so close to each other. Please help us figure this out. We are afraid to get back into the vehicle. As of this date, Ford has not figured out what could have happened to the vehicle. We also found on this website similar incidents with this model of the Explorer. We are also waiting for our insurance adjuster's review of the incident before the collision work takes place.

- Lake View, NY, USA

problem #141

Nov 212006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles
: the contact stated while shifting the transmission into gear, the vehicle jumped. The problem progressively worsened and the vehicle did not respond properly to the depression of the accelerator pedal. The vehicle was taken to the dealership, where diagnostic tests determined the transmission needed to be replaced.

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #140

Oct 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10 miles
Shifting from "drive" to "reverse" transmission engages harshly.

- Saint Paul, MN, USA

problem #139

Sep 252006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 26,998 miles
2004 Explorer had problems with brakes and windows. Three months after the vehicle was purchased thee was a recall on the transmission. The ABS malfunctioned and the power windows would not go down. The rear hatch door would not open. The transmission began to slam into gear. The rotors vibrated in the rear. Consumer heard a howling noise at 40-55 mph. The dealer replaced the ring and pinion.

- Lakewood, CA, USA

problem #138

Mar 232006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles

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

Delayed harsh reverse engagements

- Arvilla, ND, USA

problem #137

Sep 152005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
When moving gear selector from park to reverse and sometimes drive, there is a lag of about 3 to 5 seconds and then a loud clunking noise followed by a power surge of vehicle going into gear. Worried transmission is failing again. Took in for repairs same on same incident they said it was fixed. And guess what, I believed them.

- Oceanside, CA, USA

problem #136

Jan 242005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,875 miles
The transmission started having problems after just a couple of months. The first time I was told they had to add an additive to the transmission. It has been in 2 more times for this and this Friday I just got it back from transmission repair only to go out and find tranny fluid all over my garage (70 miles after they fixed it again) I also had the starter go out in it and now they still cant find what is causing it...(likely story).

- Independence, KY, USA

problem #135

Jan 102006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles
I am having problems with the automatic transmission on my 2004 Ford Explorer (44,000 miles). I was having my ac fixed at my local dealership when they informed me there was an oil additive that needed to be put into my transmission to prevent hesitation and slipping due to a manufacturing problem. 6 months later I began experiencing harsh engagement when shifting into reverse as well slipping in the transmission when speeding up and slowing down. I brought the car back to my local dealership (world Ford) where the work was done and they explained I might need to install a solenoid into the transmission and that would cost me $900. Knowing that this is a problem from the manufacturer I contacted Ford corporate headquarters and explained everything. Ford corporate ran me around for about two weeks (hanging up the phone, placing me on hold for a long time and promising to call me back but it never happens). I have done quite a bit of research on this matter only to find out that there are thousands of people with the same problem. I found out that during the manufacturing of my vehicle an improperly formulated transmission fluid was used in the transmission. I also spoke to several people with this problem and I was told the $900 solenoid does not help the problem at all. I would like to know what actions I can take to get my car repaired. Thank you in advance for all your help.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #134

Aug 282006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,900 miles
I have a 2004 Ford Explorer XLT 4X4 which recently had to basically have the transmission rebuilt. I feel that this is a manufacturer defect simply because the vehicle is only 2 years old. Since the warranty is exceeded in mileage I was responsible for repairs, which totaled $1652.78. The vehicle had just under 56,000 miles when this occurred. I would greatly appreciate any help with investigating this problem. Just a little piece of info, I also have a friend that has a 2002 Explorer that had the same identical problem. I do not find that to be coincidental! and her vehicle had about 70,000 miles on it when this happened to her.

- Gastonia, NC, USA

problem #133

Aug 052006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,300 miles
: the contact stated the automatic transmission was slipping between gears and made clunking noises. The vehicle also made humming sounds from the engine while accelerated over 55 mph. The vehicle has not been to a service dealer.

- Buena Park, CA, USA

problem #132

Aug 072006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
My 2004 Ford Explorer was taken in for repair in 8/12/05 because the ac stopped working. When I brought the car into world Ford of kendall in miami, fl one of the service employees asked me if how my transmission was working and at the time it was fine. Upon receiving my car back on 8/16/05 the ac was fixed and my receipt stated the ac was fixed but it also mentioned something regarding a recall in my transmission. The receipt said there was an oil additive placed in my transmission. 1 year and 1 month later my transmission has begun slipping and hesitating. When I brought my car back to world Ford of kendall in miami, fl to speak to them regarding my transmission I was told that their service work is guaranteed up to 12 months so there was nothing they can do for me. Upon doing my own research I found that the oil additive that was placed in my Ford was to prevent the slipping and hesitation of my transmission. I called the corporate headquarters of Ford and they told me that there is nothing they can do for me. It is obvious that Ford knew about my transmission problems or a recall service would never have been done. They now want to charge me to fix the transmission on a car that was broken when it left the manufacturing plant. My car has 45,000 miles and no where in my paperwork or my car manual does it state I would have to put and oil additive in my car by 45,000 miles. When I spoke to Ford corporate headquarters they told me if the oil additive does not work another procedure would have to be done but it would not be covered. This is unacceptable especially from a large corporation such as Ford. My family drives this car and I believe we have an unsafe car resulting from a recall in my transmission. I addition to the transmission recall, the ac in my car has also broken twice and nobody wants to explain to me why there are so my problems with a 2 year old car. I would appreciate a response or at least some good advice. Thanks again.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #131

Feb 152006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,100 miles
Bought in Feb. 2006 with 12,000 miles - the 2004 Explorer XLS when put into reverse hesitated, then jerked hard at first -- then as time went by -- approximately 2-3 months the jerking was while automatically shifting while driving. The jerking motion occurred 17 times while driving 35 miles. It seems to be getting worse over time. I've been to the dealer and they reprogrammed the computer. The dealer manager said that it still jerks in reverse after the 3rd time and offered no remedy of any kind, just $79 and there you go. All this within 20,000 miles. I don't feel safe driving - what if I need that reverse quick to avoid an accident and there is a hesitation in transmission shifting"?"

- Massena, NY, USA

problem #130

Jul 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles
Purchased a new 2004 Ford Explorer in August of 2004. Brought SUV in for recall of transmission fluid additive/replacement. SUV starting to hesitate and jump into reverse. When stopped at a light or stop sign on a hill the vehicle rolls backward when moving my foot from the brake to the gas pedal. Brought back to dealer in July of 2006, replaced solenoid at approximately 16,000 miles. When vehicle is started revs a little high then balances out. Leather seats also cracking and dealer will not replace them stating that it is simply wear and tear.

- South Amboy, NJ, USA

problem #129

Aug 162006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles
: the contact stated the automatic transmission did not engage gears in a timely manner. The problem started after 41000 miles and was not taken to a service dealer.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

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