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. 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:
71,734 miles
Total Complaints:
385 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (197 reports)
  2. rebuild transmission (57 reports)
  3. replace shift solenoid (57 reports)
  4. replace transmission (56 reports)
  5. replace shift solenoid and bands (9 reports)
  6. serviced transmission and cleaned valve body (3 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 11 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

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, USA

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

problem #169

Feb 122010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

We loved the Explorer until it hit 60,000 miles and everything started turning to sh*t. First the ABS light stayed on - that cost $600+ to fix, then the back paned under the window cracked - we've never had that fixed it just pisses us off because it looks bad and it's not because of something we did, now the transmission dies. F'en awesome! That's suppose to cost nearly $2300 to fix and we're without the car for 4-5 days. I agree with everything posted on the other comments. Damn FORD! The vehicle is not that old and has low miles - THIS HAS TO BE A MANUFACTURER &/OR PRODUCT PROBLEM!

- , Lincoln, NE, USA

problem #168

Jan 012009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

During the initial buying period, the sales man stated that the transmission during that year was different than other. We have a 1997 XLT and I mentioned that we never experienced this type of a transmission issue.

- , San Jose, CA, USA

problem #167

Aug 072007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Add my explorer to the list of crappy transmissions. I have taken it in for other work and mentioned the transmission shifting hard all the mechanics have said these transmissions are biggest pieces of crap ever. Course the mechanics love it they get the money from fixing these huge Ford WHOOPS! There are few days it works fine but mostly lurches when put in reverse after hesitating, lurches and shifts hard when shifting 1st to 2nd and sometimes 3rd..or will hesitate...or the check transmission message will appear and the O/D light will flash...pull over turn truck off and removed key..wait 5 minutes and it will run just fine for a few days..WTF is up with that!?!? Got the recall notice about the cruise control switch and the truck could catch on fire without even having a key in it ...I say BURN BABY BURN!!!!! Would do me a HUGE favor if it did catch on fire for sure!!!!

- , Spring, TX, USA

problem #166

Jan 012010

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

I Never Had a car that was such a piece of junk and contatly ripping me off right from the get go the trans had a problem i took good care of this car bought new tires serviced the wheel hub change the fluids and now im told the transmission needs new clucthes and rebuild. ford is trying to haggle me and trying to get me to order a replacement transmission for almost the same price of the blue book. I have never seen a car that depreciated so much and the plastic cracks on the back window by its self what a joke of a car that cost my wife and i lots of money. we had 4 fords in our family all of them the transmission went out. never again i will buy a Ford know i have to pay $270 for a dianostic just so that they can tell me that my ford is slipping in all gears when the stupid mill light say its a solenoid. This is America and i have to say i might just trade in this stupid car for a Japanese car.

- , San Jose, CA, USA

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