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.

9.1

really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,790.00
Average Mileage:
89,030 miles
Total Complaints:
172 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (75 reports)
  2. replaced with rebuilt transmission (48 reports)
  3. not sure (26 reports)
  4. having the whole thing overhauled (17 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 8 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #32

Mar 292009

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,200 miles

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

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... lgerber7@yahoo.com. 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

problem #30

Oct 112007

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 23,000 miles

I just stumbled across this website and can't believe how many complaints there are about the 2004 Ford Explorer. I took my Explorer in right before the warranty expired and the service department at Ford Dealership (Springfield Ford, PA) gave me a total run around. They at first said I never scheduled an appointment which was a total insult. I told them to take a look at the vehicle or that night it was going to come screaming through their dealership window....on fire (Didn't go over to well)! I was asked to leave.

I am almost finished paying it off, but I don't know what to do. I will never buy another Ford again. I was the fleet manager for a very large company and we bought all Ford's in the past and I should have known. Nothing but problems in the 90's4 and nothing but problems now. I guess if Ford owned up to the problem and fixed it for the consumer, then they would only get $5 million bonuses instead of $50 million. Absolute TOADS!

- , Springfield, PA, USA

problem #29

Aug 102007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 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.

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.

This is my 5th Ford, and my last. Have you noticed that most of the people going out of business during this economy crises are people that were hanging on by a thread anyway because they are bad business people? Henry Ford is rotating in his grave.

- , Memphis, TN, USA

problem #28

Feb 042009

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

OK SO I BOUGHT THIS EXPLORE 5 MONTHS AGO, I AM A FORD GUY OR SHOULD SAY WAS A FORD GUY, IV NEVER HAD ANY PROBLEMS WITH MY OLDER FORD MODELS TELL NOW, EVERYTHING SEEM TO BE WORKING FINE, BOUGHT IT WITH 47,000 ON THE ODOM BUT A LITTLE OVER 10K ON IT IN 5 MONTHS. WELL ONE DAY THE O/D LIGHT STARTED FLASHING THEN THE ENGINE LIGHT TURNED ON THEN I TOOK IT IN THEY TOLD ME THE SOLENOID (WHAT EVER)PACK WAS SHORTED OUT, THE DROPPED THE PAN TO FIND NOTHING BUT METAL SHAVINGS IN IT, COME TO FIND OUT THE WHOLE TRANNY TO NEEDS TO BE OVER HAULED. UMM THERE A PROBLEM THERE NOT EVEN 60K AND IT MISSED UP. NICE RIDE YES BUT AS FAR AS THIS LITTLE PROB GOES NO. SAD TO SAY IM THINKING ABOUT BUYING A CHEVY IF SOMETHING ELSE BAD HAPPENS AGAIN. FORD BUILT TOUGH UMM WHAT HAPPEN TO AT SLOGIN

- , Bloomfield, NM, USA

problem #27

Jan 092009

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

I was on a trip to California about 150 miles from home when my transmission failed. I bought the car new and after I had 9000 miles on it I received a recall notice that they didn't put the proper trans fluid in at the factory. I was assured that there would not be any problems. Shortly after my warranty was up I started getting hard shifts and a hard shift when going into reverse. Before I could get it in for service the whole transmission just went out and left me on the side of the road in the middle of the desert. The dealership is telling me that it will cost 4000.00 to fix it. Ford is not offering any assistance in the cost of this repair. Based on what I have read this is a very common problem. I will never buy another ford product again.

- , Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #26

Jan 052009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

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

Same issues as the many other tranny complaints with 2004 Exploder. Hard shifting, burning clutch. Can't put into words the frustration and disappointment. Based on my personal experience with this so far, there is no satisfaction to be had no matter what avenue you try. So I've had to throw my hands up and pay the criminals at Ford. I own three Fords and I vow to never but a Ford again in my life and to encourage anybody I can to do the same. I hope they go out of business as soon as possible. Never again.

- , Wexford, PA, USA

problem #25

Dec 112008

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

I purchased the vehicle used with 18,666 miles with an extended powertrain warranty. At 25,000 the vehicle started showing issues shifting into reverse. The transmission would fail to shift for several seconds followed by a large "THUD" into gear. Ford replaced a solenoid at the dealership which appeared to solve the problem which reappeared at 72,000. At 78,000 the transmission has failed with the extended warranty company (First Extended Service Corp.) refusing to approve the claim for a new transmission costing $3,400. The vehicle currently sits at the dealer where it will remain until someone from either Ford or First Extended Services steps up to the fact that the transmission is junk from the factory and replaces it with new parts. Until such time I will proceed with communications with the State of Connecticut Dept. of Consumer Protection and the Small Claims Court.

- , Norwich, CT, USA

problem #24

Nov 282008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,500 miles

I purchased a used 2004 Ford Explorer in September 2007, the vehicle had 28,400 miles. In August 2008 is when I started to have problems. The shifter was sliding threw the gears. When I took the truck on the highway. I'd get the truck up to 50- 60 mph without using the brakes. I noticed it was banging as it would slowing down. I brought the truck to the local dealer. I payed $100.00 to find the problem. It was determined that the transmission need to be replaced at a cost of $4,000.00. I decided to take the vehicle back to the dealer where I purchased it from (Watertown Ford Watertown Ma.). They checked the vehicle and said the solenoid needed to be replaced at a cost of $900.00. I told the service adviser that I have been on-line and have been reading all the problems with the Ford Explorer transmissions. The reports said that the replacement of the solenoid was only a temporary fix and would last a year and would have to be replaced again. He told me there has been ongoing problems with the 2004 Ford Explorer transmissions. He told me if I wanted to replace the transmission it would cost $3600.00 for a re manufactured transmission. He said he could over hall the transmission for $2300.00. I decided to take the vehicle to AAmco Transmission. They quoted me a price of $2700.00 to take the transmission out and send it out to have it completely rebuilt with Ford authorized parts. The vehicle has 37,500 miles on it now. I have only put 9000 miles on the vehicle since I bought it 13 months ago. I'll never buy another Ford again. Thanks for letting me vent.

- , Needham, MA, USA

problem #23

Nov 242008

Explorer NBX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,322 miles

i contacted ford about problem and they just blew me off.the problem is cost me 2735.00 for repairs.truck is only 4 yrs old.low mileage.ford said we should of taken for checkup..well ive only had truck a yr and if a transmission don't last 4 yrs,obviously there's a problem at ford company.i will never own a ford ever again, and they should be out of business.they are just ripping people off.its just not fair.i contacted ford 3 times in last 2 days and they say there's nothing they will do about it..i think they should cover at least some of the expenses,,or all of it..imm not done with this tho,,they will be hearing from me again.thanks

- , Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

problem #22

Nov 142008

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles

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

after buying the truck in march of '06 the problems started. i would go to back up and the truck would jult. i took the truck in to Carmax since i still had warranty. they tld me it does that because "thats what trucks do, since there's so much power behind them."

the problem seemed to always be there, but was now just ignored.

this past weekend i decided to take a road trip to North Carolina. three hours away from my destination; my truck wouldnt shift, reverse failed. so for the addition 3hrs. i had to drive (by myself) doing 45 mrh to keep the rpm @ 4000. the amount of gas i went through was ridiculous....now it will probly be @ 3500.00 to fix this. because of course NOW the warranty is up.

- , Centerport, NY, USA

problem #21

Oct 302008

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

Only 56,000 miles and I start having all the signs starting about 2 months ago: flashing o/d off, abs and 4x4 high lights, clunking when putting it in gear, jerking accellaration... but they all happened at different times and only once or twice before going away. That is until yesterday when going up a very small hill, the transmission jerked 4 or 5 times as if in the throws of death then completely gave out and I was left coasting in traffic with my engine reving! Since then I've found several posting sites online about the 2004 Explorer and they all say the same thing about the stupid transmission! I haven't yet decided what to do since I just forked over $1,000 LAST WEEK to replace the brake pads and rotors. Oh, AND I recently discovered the panel below my back windshield is cracked. Dang, I wish I would have found this site before I even bought this piece of crap. Did I mention I'm still paying the loan??

- , Charlottesville, VA, US

problem #20

Oct 202008

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

No prior warning, just pulled out of a gas station and the transmission slipped, took it to Ford and they said it was shot and we needed a new transmission. We had no leaking nor fluids on the garage floor, no warning we had a problem. Even the mechanic said he had never seen this happen to an Explorer..What really frosts the cake is this is a sealed transmission, you cannot check the fluids only ford can change the fluid, so you have no clue if you are leaking anything. Also, and this is the kicker, they told us we don't have to do anything for 100,000 miles!!!!!! Called Ford and they said "sorry it is out of warranty" They have to know there is a problem. They spend millions of dollars trying to get new buyers and could care less about the ones they have. This is our fourth Ford and I guarantee this is our last. We will cross over and buy another foreign car......

- , North Port, FL, USA

problem #19

Sep 082008

Explorer Limited 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,500 miles

Had a 2000 Explorer change transmission fluid every 50,000. transmission failured at 136,000 miles. I was told by the dealer that the explorer needed to have fluid change every 30,000. I got a 2004 Explorer Limited had the tranmission services at 30,500 and at 61,000. The transmission O/d light came on at 72,650. It would still shift 1st thru 4th but not go into over dirve. We took it to the dealer and the dealer said that the transmission need a selenoid to shifting from first -2nd?. So they opened the transmission up and the dealer said that the pan was full of metal shavings. It need to be replaced. This is my last Ford. I have talked with three other people who had have Explorers. They all had to have the transmission either replaced or rebuilt.

- , Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #18

Aug 152008

Explorer XL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Where do i start? I was on a trip and started back home when the truck started jerking when changing gears going up hill. I stop to a local service center and they could not check it. By the time I got home 800 miles later, it would not go into reverse without jerking with a pop. That Monday morning I took it to the show and the mechanic told me three days later that the transmissions was gone. I went to the Ford dealership where I got it from and he said that there was nothing he could do. I asked him could they at lease fix the truck because I'm still making payments and he said try to trade it. I told him that i did not know that he was in the selling of lemons business. He told me to come back when i make up my mine.

- , Erwin, NC, Armenia

problem #17

Jun 022008

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

I basically have the same problems as everyone else only my transmission finally gave out totally. When I bought the car from the car lot I drove it back within a week to let them know it was shifting hard and I thought something was wrong with it and they basically told me that all the Explorers did that! I guess so!! Anyway I have driven the car with a bad transmission for 3 1/2 years nursing it all this time till last month when it finally died!!!! I have parked it in the drive and am patiently awaiting a recall because I refuse to fix a lemon!!! I would NEVER BUY A FORD AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , Hoover, AL, USA

problem #16

May 282008

Explorer Sport V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

We have had problems ever since they put an additive in the transmission fluid. Shifting hesitation, jerking, slipping... We tried transmission flushes to no avail. One day the overdrive light starts blinking, then it stops...then again, etc... Then the service engine light comes on. I take it to Ford and they tell me that the solenoid needs replaced ($600.00). While waiting for the part to come in, I am still driving the car. Funny that every Ford dealer we call has the part on backorder!!!! We finally found a dealer that had one and the day before we picked it up, my transmission went. I was in a parking lot and could not get it to shift into reverse. I could hear some clunking, but when I pressed on the gas, it just revved. I had to have it towed and now I'm waiting to see whether or not I need a new transmission. Meanwhile, I have emailed Ford with my problem, we'll see what their reply is.

- , Newell, WV, USA

problem #15

Feb 152006

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,000 miles

I had this car for 2 years, and i did not use it that much. i only used it about 8 ,000 miles per year. i only used it for work and home. my job was about less than 5 miles away. and a day to work My transmission started to jerk. MY RPms got stuck at 2 and 3. it started out a little bit bad and it got worst. it just wouldn't move after 2. it when 20 mph. on 3. i took it to Lincoln Mercury dealer. and they gave me a new 2006 transmission . it works really smooth now. now i have 30,000 miles on it. and no problems . hopefully not.

- , Garden Grove, CA, US

problem #14

Mar 102008

Explorer ELT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

I bought my ford used. It had 10000 miles on the motor. I had it about a month and i noticed that it was slipping and jerking in reverse. I was told that it was normal for the explorer. I started getting really concerned as it got worse. I took it to a mechanic and he told me it was going to go. Ford however was telling me it was normal. So who do you believe? On March 10th. My daughters first bday my tranny went. I found that the transmissions had been recalled for the 04 explorer. I called ford and they told me it was not mine. My transmission came off a diff. assemble line. (although mine done the same thing as the ones that where recalled did.) I loved this vehicle when i was searching for a suv no other would do. Now i would take anything else. I will never own another ford in my life. I found a used transmission in Ohio. It came out of a wrecked 05 explorer. I paid 900 with shipping and the guy who works on my vehicles charged me 500 to put it in so i didn't have to pay as much as others. It is running really good now. NO slipping jerking or anything. It will be traded real soon though.

- , Athens, WV, USA

problem #13

Feb 012008

Explorer LXT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,335 miles

I too am a victim of fords piss poor design of there 2004 explorer transmission. Bought it with 22,000 miles on it in 2005 had it 2 weeks then back in the dealer for 3. for jerking problems. second time for crunching noise when parallel parking in reverse in august 2007 fords answer was i needed new tires so in on jan 4 2008 i put new tire on it and two weeks later at 76,335.3 miles my tranny has completely crapped out. Fords solution SORRY. The only good thing here is that this vehicle did not hurt or kill someone.

Lawsuit yes please. And folks don't let ford tell you about solenoids and fluid additives are the problem because it not its just piss poor design and ford admitting it.

- , Elkland, MO, USA

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