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
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
88,589 miles
Total Complaints:
170 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (74 reports)
  2. replaced with rebuilt transmission (48 reports)
  3. not sure (26 reports)
  4. having the whole thing overhauled (16 reports)
  5. replace torque converter (2 reports)
  6. transmission seal failure causing leak and the pump is weak (2 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 7 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #50

May 122010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


I was driving with my two year old niece in the car when i heard a noise and then my car started jerking and would not accelerate. I made it to my destination but had to have my car towed after that. I found out that it was my transmission and that it would need to be overhauled. It cost me $3,200. I am a 24 year old college student how am I suppose to pay for this? My car only had 65,000 miles on it. I am so frustrated with Ford right now and I will never buy another Ford again if they dont help pay for it.

- , Lakewood, WA, USA

problem #49

Mar 162010

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,436 miles

Like a broken record...After dealing with the O/D on and off, rough shifting, and basically terrible performance, the transmission finally failed last night as I pulled into my driveway. Great! Thanks Ford. NHTSA is investigating the problem, but no solution will be available anytime soon I'm sure. Going to auto shop tomorrow, screw the dealer, to see how badly this is going to smash my checking account, stay tuned.

Update from Mar 25, 2010: UPDATE: $2400 for full transmission replacement. What a piece of....Now that I'm tied to the car till the doors fall off at least I know what I'll be driving for next few years. Awesome.

- , Bay Village, OH, USA

problem #48

Nov 012009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

another of the 2004 defective transmissions,,hard to describe but while in reverse if you turn the wheel in either direction hard while 4wd is engaged it feels as if the entire front end is jumping off the ground

- , Hampton, VA, US

problem #47

Sep 072009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


A truck that did no pulling, with 65,000 miles has a transmission completely let go is just insane. Needless to say, would not take it to the dealership (Sayville Ford) that had screwed me 6 months earlier, found a mechanic to build a new tranny for it for a few dollars more than a rebuild.

- , Oakdale, NY, USA

problem #46

Jun 162004

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 21,000 miles

Well the dealer didnt want to cover it and i had to call the warranty company myself and let them know that the dealer seems to think my warranty is no good. They called the dealer and let them know to fix it for free. I only had the car for 1 month when this happened. Now i am having the rear differential fixed which has been messed up since the Dealer fixed my transmission. I have had a crappy car for 4 years and its bull!!! I should have bought the Kia Optima like i wanted but my husband convinced me to buy the FOrd.

- , Simi Valley, CA, USA

problem #45

Feb 142010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 144,000 miles

When I was 7 months pregnant with my son, I was hit by a uninsured unlicensed driver who totaled my Impala. I only carried liability insurance and the man has yet to pay me a dime for my loss. I got my income taxes back when my son was 4 months old and as a young, single mom I thought I was buying my dream car when I got my 2004 Ford Explorer from the buy-here-pay-here dealership. It was so quiet you couldn't even tell it was running!! The interior and exterior were immaculate!! I purchased the truck with 80,000 miles there about and for the first month, it was great. I purchased the truck last year on February 13, 2009. I noticed in March the awful bang when it went into reverse. I tried to check the transmission fluid but I could not find a dip stick. (I later found out that the unit is sealed) It seemed to drive okay for another couple of weeks. Then it started slipping inbetween 2nd and 3rd gear. It only happened maybe once a month. The dealership I got it from didn't seem to think it was a big deal and I couldn't afford to take it to the Ford Dealership. The slipping got worse and worse and today, February 14, 2010, EXACTLY ONE YEAR LATER.... The transmission went completely out. I was driving down the interstate with my one year old in the back and all of a sudden it started making a horrible humming sound and it would only go 20 mph without sounding like the engine was going to blow up. I dropped it off at the transmission shop but I doubt I'm going to be able to afford to fix it. I'm devestated. I don't know how I will get to work, pick up my son from daycare, do laundry.... I know it sounds dramatic but this truck just ruined my life!

- , Polk City, IA, USA

problem #44

Oct 082008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


I noticed a puddle of transmission fluid under it one day and the shop told me the transmission was overheating and blowing it out the vent. They said I needed a different tranny. I found a used tranny at a salvage yard for $650 and it cost $550 to get installed. We had a ton of other problems with this SUV and got rid of it the next week.

- , Cato, WI, USA

problem #43

Dec 222009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Two days before holiday I had sudden transmission failure. Local dealer unable to even look at for eight days. Then the dreaded phone call stating transmission needs replaced.Its no wonder Ford Co. didn't need bail out money. Their products are junk! We are Ford people for forty years! All of our children even drive Ford products. A total of 10 Ford vehicles in our immediate family alone! This problem had no warning at all for me. Just suddening all kinds of warning lights came on check transmission and o/d light flashing. Transmission stuck in low gear, thank God only 1 mile from home.I was told by tech. 20 codes on computer came up , all relating to transmission failure! Only 55,000 miles on this vehicle, and I only drive grandkids to preschool, and a few shopping trips.This is outrageous that such a failure should happen. We are going to purchase one vehicle to replace husbands old Ford Taurus soon, but now not so sure we would even consider Ford! Too bad Ford can"t provide some relief for this problem.I"m sure they knew about this poor transmission long before the person owning it.

- , Worthington, PA, USA

problem #42

Dec 102009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,166 miles

Hi every body. I write from Chile, South America, and own a Ford Explorer 2004 with 57000 miles. The same problems, reverse delayed and engage very hard, does not pass from 2nd to 3nd and RPM goes up to 4000 and so on. I went to my local Ford dealer and the answer was incredible " its a normal failure in this model, the cost for repair is $3000.- ( us dollars ) for overhaul the transmission ".

I have been reading complaints from these pages and is very hard because if Ford does not give a solution to the American customers, what can we wait for south american customers. If somebody knows other solution for this problem i'll apreciate your help.

Best regards

- , Santiago, OUT USA, Chile

problem #41

Feb 112009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

Transmission acted funny from day one. When paused on an incline you needed to keep your foot on the gas or it would roll backward.

From day one when shifting into reverse it 'jolted' into gear. This always scared me when trying to back up in a parking lot, when parallel parking or getting out of a curb side space .

The Ford dealer told me this was normal.

The transmission just suddenly fell apart. Something inside sheared off and then just ripped the insides apart.

The price to rebuild and get a 90 day guarantee was 2,800 and going new and getting 100,000 mile guarantee was 3,500.....since I can't really afford to go buy something new I laid out the cash.

FYI the day the unit started to die I tried to check the transmission fluid level (there were no apparent leaks) and I learned that its a 'sealed' unit. Whats that all about.

Other than this problem my others have been minor / just routine maint items.

- , Holmdel, NJ, USA

problem #40

Jan 272006

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles


Transm.Hard shift going from reverse to forward, now it got stuck in D. I've had this issue since the first moment I bought this USB back in 2005(brand new). I went to the dealer to check this problem several times and I gave up. Now I have a teenage daughter who wants to drive it but guess what, she does not know when the car shift is in reverse or park, because it stopped working. I did not know about the lemon law. Yesterday I went to ask about this problem at the dealer, then the new owner of the dealer mentioned about such law, that they never told us about before!!, This is why I do not want any other FORD. I bought a toyota corolla and I am happy so far.

- , Palm Coast, FL, USA

problem #39

Sep 222009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,400 miles

Much like everyone else I have had the same problems with my Explorer. I bought it new from the Ford dealership and literally from the first month I started having problems. The first repair was under warranty as a result of a recall for a seal and fluid replacement. It worked out because I was experiencing increasingly hard shifts into reverse at first and then later into all gears. The second repair happened out of warranty and was for a throttle body sensor that literally burnt up and left me sputtering on I-95. That repair cost me somewhere around $1,600. The third repair cost me around $2,400 to replace a buckled clutch in the transmission with a few other smaller parts. Now as of this week I am on my third repair and I was told by the transmission shop that it will cost me around $3,000. The overdrive assembly gave out which left me on the side of the road. I will never make the Ford mistake again!

- , Fort Washington, MD, USA

problem #38

Sep 222009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

I am a single mother and work very hard to just make ends meet. I bought my explorer 3 years ago and since day one had problems the it shifting hard. I had taken it in to the repair shop several times and was always told it was nothing. Finally yesterday morning on my way to work, it went out, with my 3yr old son in the back seat, in the middle of nowhere. I took my car to the Ford Dealership and found out it needs a Transmission Assembly & Cooler assembly at a cost of $$4228!!!!!! As a single mother I have no way to fix this. This POS will have to just sit in my driveway for the next few months until I can save up to fix it and them I'm selling it. I WILL NEVER BUY FORD AGAIN!!!!

- , Sac City, IA, USA

problem #37

Aug 022009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Add me to the list of transmission failures. In shop now for 3 days still waiting for estimate.

- , Berwick, PA, USA

problem #36

Jun 182009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

Went to move out of garage would not go in gear, had car towed to shop found out transmission was gone and need to be rebuilt. Shop had 5 bays and 3 had Fords in them. Whole lot of Sad..

- , Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #35

May 082009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,000 miles


- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #34

May 062009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

This is the worst car i ever owned next to the Grand Cherokee, started out with a loud bang when putting it in reverse then would not roll while in drive. when i would turn you would feel a bang somewhere in the drive train, i bought the p.o.s. with 74000 miles and about 6000 miles later transmission went while i was on the highway lost all power to the vehicle, i really regretted buying this vehicle 2 days after i signed the paper work the car is in the transmission shop right now estimated at $1200, as soon as it comes out the shop i am getting rid of it i will never buy another ford again. I hope those that read this stay away from ford as well.

- , New York, NY, USA

problem #33

Apr 022009

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

Transmission in my 2004 Explorer went out with not warning while I was pulling out of a parking lot. Good thing another car was not coming or me and my 3 month old daughter may be dead because I stalled in the highway before it would finally catch gear. After going the next 2 miles until I reached my home it would rev up really loud and catch gear again.

Thank god for a extended warranty which only set me back my 100 deductible while they paid over 3000 to fix this crap. My extended warranty runs out in 2010 and you better believe this POS will not be sitting in my driveway when that time comes. After my whole ordeal I began researching this and found that I am totally not alone. I even found an article today where a lady in Lamar County Georgia sued Ford for 40 million and won b/c her 2004 Explorer had a transmission defect caused her vehicle to go from park to reverse with no warning and the car ran over her causing her a lifetime of PARALYSIS.

- , Macon, GA, US

problem #32

Mar 292009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,200 miles

Same problem as everyone else. I bought this three days ago. I've never seen such a mint condition vehicle with 90,000 miles on it before. Now I know why. It's probably been sitting in a garage for most of it's life. Yesterday I took it shopping and when I backed out of my spot I heard two VERY loud bangs. I actually thought that I'd backed into another vehicle. I got out and looked and was amazed to find nothing but a few other customers looking at me like I was crazy for stopping my vehicle in the middle of the isle. I got back in the vehicle - still shaken - and carefully drove to an empty section of the parking lot. At some point prior to getting there it did cross my mind that it may have been a mechanical problem. Sure enough.... I tested reverse again and BANG!

One lesson that I've learned that I'd like to pass on to all who have never given this much thought is to test reverse when doing a test drive. This was the first time that I have bought a used car in like 30 years. I know that this is a bit naive but I thought that our government watched our backs on obvious lemons. Where is Ralph Nadir when you need him (lol)?

As soon as I had signed the papers and took possession of the vehicle I drove to my local Ford dealer and had them go over it and do everything that needed doing - fluids, filters, tire rotation, check brakes, etc. I ended shelling out an additional $210 for this service. I felt good about spending this money because now I had this vehicle in a condition that I could trust.

Just to let you know I wasn't completely foolish in this purchase - I thought. I bought this from a reputable used car dealer in our area and made sure that I got a paper stating that this vehicle had a full 30 day warranty. I am going back today to see what they can do to remedy this problem. I am just hoping that they do not say something like "Well reverse works - what's your beef?" Seems that this is Ford's attitude after reading your complaints.

Rant over - for now..... If anyone reading this finds an appropriate solution to this seemingly common problem please email me... My situation may be resolved by the dealer but if not I would be willing to join you in any action taken against Ford. This is America people - Ford is a fixture in this country - we DON'T build junk! Even if this is resolved for me I would be happy to help any of you in any way that I can (except financially). It bothers me VERY much that something like this can happen in my country and that nothing is done about it.

Thanks all..... Leon

- , Holland, MI, USA

problem #31

Nov 042008

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

I bought mine used at 47,000 miles. About 4,000 miles later, I noticed it would hesitate when shifting into reverse, then all of a sudden it would catch and the whole vehicle would jump backwards. This didn't happen all the time, but I had to hold the brakes every time in case it did. I had to replace the starter once, and had Ford do an entire diagnostic on the vehicle. They didn't mention anything else being wrong as nothing showed wrong on the computer, despite mentioning the reverse problem. A year later, I took it into a transmission shop, which couldn't figure out was wrong. After some research, they said that the solenoid tended to have problems in this model. Tight for money, I said I would wait until later in the year.

Well, about 7 months later with the same shifting problem, my check transmission light came on, and after taking it to a different transmission shop, they said the solenoid wreaked havoc in the transmission. The owner of the shop said he always urges people to replace the solenoid when it is causing problems, a $400 job, which can prevent it from being a couple thousand dollar job. The previous transmission shop said it would be $750 (my fault for not getting a 2nd or 3rd opinion). Anyhow, a total transmission replacement job w/a rebuilt one cost me $3300. Luckily the owner was friends with a relative and knocked the price down to $2500. Nonetheless, a total inconvenience and pain in the rear. There's a reason there's so many negative acronyms for F-O-R-D. I will not be buying a Ford again.

- , Pearl City, HI, USA

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