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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
72,747 miles
Total Complaints:
389 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (197 reports)
  2. rebuild transmission (59 reports)
  3. replace shift solenoid (58 reports)
  4. replace transmission (56 reports)
  5. replace shift solenoid and bands (9 reports)
  6. had transmission rebuilt $2012 (3 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 11 of 20)

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problem #189

Jan 302009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles


bought this truck from a dealer in Lakewood,NJ. Man, I wish I found this site sooner. I noticed the problem within the first HOUR of purchase, and called the dealer immediately. I explained how the truck was not shifting properly, and it felt as though the transmission wanted to completely fall out from underneath it. The dealer assured me that his dealer would take a look at it, & got a loaner car. To sum it up, I got the "we could not duplicate the problem" excuse as well, brought it back a few more times & a transfer case & couple of mechanics later, I was told "just drive it ",by the ever-so-helpful car dealer, of course. I should've kept the loaner. I also gave it a tune-up with a new air filter & plugs, and purchased new tires, and I'm still trying to pay the damn truck off. It still lunges into reverse, shifts horribly between 2nd & 3rd gears, and overall runs more sluggish than my 1997 Explorer! I guess I wasn't crazy after all...just wish I did more research beforehand. Unbelievable that there is not a recall. I also have been driving with my children when, while making a right-hand turn, the truck suddenly upshifts and accelerates. WHAT'S UP FORD???!!! YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES. I WORK HARD FOR MY MONEY AND SO DOES EVERYONE THAT HAS A COMPLAINT UP HERE! Do the right thing & fix this mess once and FOR ALL.

- , Jackson, NJ, USA

problem #188

Jul 012009

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

I bought my 2004 Ford Explorer in November of 2008. I have owned a Ford for the last 10 years and never had any problems. Therefore, I trusted Ford. About 7 or 8 months after I bought my Explorer it began to jump really hard when I put in reverse. It didn't do it everytime, so I sort of didn't pay attention to it. Then, this began to happen on a regular basis. It also began to jump or jerk whenever it was changing gears. I was so upset. Everyone I spoke to told me it sounded like the transmission. I started researching to find out how much it costs to replace a transmission. When I found out it was around $3,000 I felt sick. I hadn't even had this truck for a year. Well, I didn't have the money to fix it. I am a teacher and a single mother and that was just too much money for me. I decided I would have to just live with it and pray nothing happened. Then I began researching on the internet about this problem and discovered so many more people had the same problem with this year model Ford. Even down to the crack on the back door. I emailed Ford and asked for some assistance with this repair. They said sorry there is no recall on your vehicle. Well, I had to finally do something about the jerking and jumping. I took my Explorer to a transmission shop and found out it was the solenoid that had to be replaced. It cost me $500. I am so angry with Ford for not taking care of this problem. I will never in my life time own another Ford. I will also make sure that noone in my family owns one. I will tell my story to every single person I share it with. It is so irresponsible of Ford to not to acknowledge this problem and take care of the people who have been financially harmed by their error.

- , Wichita Falls, TX, US

problem #187

Feb 102010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

I own an 04 Explorer 4.6L.The transmission is slipping just before upshift. It also slips at random. After hard braking to a stop, the transmission is not engaged at all, for several seconds. After doing some research,it does not seem worth it to spend the money to have the transmission repaired. Total rebuild or replacement is only a temporary solution because Ford has not developed a replacement for this obvious defect. I also have written off the cracked back window plastic crap, and the rear passenger window not working, as the price of buying a used car. I am a long time Ford customer, I own a 1999 Expedition, with 220,000 miles. I have had no issues with the drivetrain. I feel for all of you who have spent thousands of dollars on your cars, only to have the same problem again in only a few months! I figure I will have to take a big loss on the Explorer. It seemed like a great deal when I bought it in 08, with 40K miles on it. Now I realize why. I am in the market for a car again. Ford is doing well compared to it's main competitors, I guess they decided to blow off everyone who bought what they claim is the "Best selling SUV on the planet". The make of my next purchase will not start with an "F".

- , Malabar, FL, USA

problem #186

Apr 092010

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles


My husband and myself just purchased a 2004 Ford Explorer on 4/9/2010. That very day only about 2-3 hours later we put the truck in reverse and it jumped hard. Of course the service guys were gone already for the night! The problem has happened several times since. Now it even started to jump when moving forward. What the HELL!!! We spent good HARD earned money for this truck and have since heard of all the trouble EVERYONE seems to be having with their fords. It will be going back to the shop first thing in the morning. What else can anyone tell me that might help us?

- , Utica, NY, USA

problem #185

Apr 082010

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

Why is Ford acting like they don't know about this??? I have same complaints as everyone else! When I go from drive to reverse, it jumps so HARD! I also noticed others things like the crack on back panel...I actually thought I did that, but apparently everyone else has the same crack! I use this vehicle to drive my young children to school and soccer practice...this could get very dangerous! I don't have $3000 to $4000 to fix this. It's hard enough some months to make monthly payments. When I call the dealership, they are so rude and act like this happened due to something I did and that "no, they aren't having any problems reported with the 2004 Ford Explorer" I am sick about this. My next vehicle will be a Honda or Nissan. I AM DONE WITH FORD AND THEIR CRAP!

- , Ennis, TX, USA

problem #184

Mar 152010

Explorer XLT, 4WD V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

My SUV has been acting up for a really long time now. The transmission sometimes slips into gear and then when you put the vehicle into reverse it jumps into gear. I finally took it in the shop and had the transmission looked at, they changed the filter and the fluid and they found metal flakes in it. They told me the transmission would have to be rebuilt or to get a new one. He told me to drive it until it dies because in order to get it fixed it would cost between $3,000 to $4,000 dollars. I am sick.......

- , Grove City, OH, USA

problem #183

Feb 012010

Explorer LXS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


My husband told me not to buy this 2004 Ford Explorer I should of listen to him I thought I was contributing to the economy by buying American never again! Ford sucks

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #182

Nov 162009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles



problem #181

Jan 252010

Explorer XLT 4.6L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

Thought I'd buy American to keep jobs in the Ford Explorer. Just finished paying it off too and BAM!! OD Off light is always on, service engine light is on...went to go get transmission fluid and filter changed. The guy tells me that there's a problem with the solonoid B. No recall on this , although seems like many people are having the same issues. Come on Ford!!!! Never will I buy another Ford again.

- , Oakland, CA, USA

problem #180

Sep 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Transmission slipped and shifted hard for about a year. Finally got to the point where it was unreliable. Had transmission rebuilt. Mechanic said Ford uses aluminum parts that wear out quickly in these transmissions. Ford is crap!!

- , Denver, NC, USA

problem #179

Mar 122010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles


the transmission slips, is slow to shift and sometimes won't shift, bangs into reverse, identical to many of the other transmission complaints, reading similar complaints it feels like those people were in the car with me. I took it to the dealer and they want $4,200 to fix it. The worst part is they acted surprised that this was happening, like they never heard of it before, what an insult!

- , Hockessin, DE, USA

problem #178

Mar 042010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

As I can see on here, mine is not the only problem. At 78,000 miles, transmission slipping, loud noises when it finally shifts into gear, and so on. I have reported this under the lemon law and suggest everyone should do the same. Ford should recall all these transmissions and pay for everything. I was a Ford man and after dealing with this, I will definately say NO MORE!!!!!

- , Genoa, WV, USA

problem #177

Feb 172009

Explorer XLT 4.0L/ V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,549 miles

Just like the rest with the FORD POS (Piece of Sh!t) Explorer problems. I have been reading everyone’s complaints. The worst part of this is that someone is probably going to have to get into a car wreck and have bodily injury inflicted upon them before FORD does anything, only because they will be getting sued over it. My 04' Explorer does the same thing that yalls does, hard shifts, acceleration problems, in and out gear whenever it wants to. My wife was driving and was making a turn when it decided to do its own things and stop accelerating. My 16 month old daughter was in the vehicle when they were almost struck by an 18 wheeler, because she could not exit the intersection fast enough or at all for that matter. I don't wish this upon anyone and I am sorry to believe that this is what it is going to take, just food for thought. I am trying to unload this vehicle no matter what losses I take; it is a potential death trap. I know that some out there say well have it fixed, it seems that all the other complaints that I have read to include people that have paid to have it fixed didn’t fix anything just put off the inevitable. Good luck everyone and I am getting rid of my Explorer.

- , Clarksville, TN, USA

problem #176

Oct 042004

Explorer ES 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26 miles

Purchase brand new off the lot in 2004 and since day one transmission has shifted hard, and slipped. been in the shop continually for the same issue. Transmission has never been repaired. Vehicle has 56,000 miles on it now. Never driven hard. Vehicle won't back up, won't go into drive properly, jerks continually. I agree with other gentleman Ford should recall and fix this transmission problem before someone gets hurt. This is a safety issue. Also having no transmission dip stick is a major issue, don't buy a vehicle without one cause you can not tell if they've did any transmission work on the vehichle and they just keep telling you there's nothing wrong with it. Ford 2004 Ford Explorer BIG LEMON vehichle....l

- , Charlotte, NC, US

problem #175

Nov 012009

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

Ditto on everything else people have said. I'm a realtor and the Explorer shifts so hard that I'm giving clients whiplash. It started at only 52,000-55,000 miles! My mechanic says fluid fine drive it until it breaks! Grrrrrr!

- , Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #174

Sep 102008

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Its hard to put the suv into any gear when its in park and when I put it in reverse it would take off really fast. I am afraid that I will hurt something one of these days.

- , Selma, TX, USA

problem #173

Jan 012010

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Same problem as everyone else with the trannie. Also have a crack under the rear windshield in the plastic and my ABS Light will not turn off no matter what is done. Ford SUCKS!!! According to the mechanic, the transmission that is used in the explorers is smaller than those used in the Mustangs. Doesn't make any sense. Also there is no dipstick to check the transmission fluid. Cost me $2,000 to rebuild the transmission. Never again Ford

- , Largo, FL, USA

problem #172

Dec 232009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

What a pain!!!! Sooo mad over the whole ordeal. Just bought a new car, sold my 04 Explorer to my 19 year old son (1st loan he took out) and BAM!!! transmission went.

This is RIDICULOUS that an "American" built manufacturer knows people are all having the same problem, but they will NOT stand behind their product. The o/d light was flashing on, the transmission was shifting hard ...A huge big expense! Estimated cost to fix...$3100!


- , Lake Ariel, PA, USA

problem #171

Apr 132009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Okay so what I have started is notifing the news stations since Toyota has the big recall that they are working on fixing, Ford needs to own up to its Transmission problems that are obvious and there is no recall, so I am going to start emailing and calling news channels and the lemon lawyers. So I had the solenoids fixed and some other items that were worn on my transmission fixed at 90,000 miles, car still does not run a 100% and it is starting to delay in moving from a stopped position and today it leaped forward while I was stopped at a red light, I thought someone had hit me from behind. Well I supposedly paid for a warranty for this transmission rebuild and called the guy and made an appointment to look at it. The trans guy said they will fix it if it was something they did, not sure why I purchased the warranty, but that is besides $20,000 for a used vehicle that the dealership knew had a faulty transmission and there is still no fix.

- , Thornton, CO, USA

problem #170

Feb 042010

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,440 miles

2004 Ford Explorer with 4.0 litre V-6 engine and automatic transmission. Problem occurred at 74K miles.

FOR D stands for Found On Road Dead.Ths is because of a factory fault transmission. Shifts hard into gear and skips from 1st to 3rd gear and 3rd to 5th gear. This is a common problem and I will find out tomorrow if it requires a new transmission.

If you look at the number of similar posts on this site, you will see what I mean. At the first sign of trouble take it to the FORD dealer and see if it is on the recall list for a transmission additive that could be a temporary fix. After that, start looking for a new car.

- , Dartmouth, MA, USA

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