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:
72,793 miles
Total Complaints:
390 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (197 reports)
  2. rebuild transmission (59 reports)
  3. replace shift solenoid (58 reports)
  4. replace transmission (57 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 14 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #130

Oct 152008

Explorer SLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles


read this site i posted this on in hopes they would put this issue on the television to hopefully inform ford that they need to get a recall out there for this problem this and the rear glass door cracking you can read it thanks bye

- , Newport, NC, USA

problem #129

Sep 012006

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles

Typical crappy Ford transmission! Grrr...Every time I take off from a stopped position, I can feel the transmission slip until it catches finally then the vehicle moves forward.

- , San Rafael, CA, USA

problem #128

Jan 032009

Explorer XLT Sport 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Probably the worst (and most expensive to fix) problems with my vehicle. Had the recall-issued "solenoid additive" work done the first year with the vehicle. But now the transmission is shifting hard at times and when driving, it will delay shifting into 2nd and 3rd gears once in a while. The shift will be rough and I'm just waiting for it to die on me. NO WAY can I afford to pay 2-4 grand for a new transmission right now... I still owe like 8,000 on the vehicle and am barely making the monthly payments as is. Total BS! The other issues are minor compared to this... action must be taken. Ford is not going to do anything but insist on taking my money.

- , Baldwin Park, CA, USA

problem #127

Jun 012008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles


This is my 4th Explorer, I can honestly say that this is the first one I have had any trouble at all with. I am experiencing hard shifts when I put it in reverse, slow shifting.

I am very frustrated because looking at this website it looks as if Ford Motor Co. doesn't get it. I am an American, who tries to buy made in America products, I am just wondering what Ford is thinking it is a no brainer that Good QUALITY vehicles= RETURNING CUSTOMERS! And Ford needs to stand behind this problem to help their faithful customers. I will be taking my explorer to the dealer to see what they suggest, but it looks to me by looking at other complaints on this problem IS THERE A TRUE FIX? I am a single mom almost have this explorer paid for, and was really wanting to try to save some money to buy a new one eventually. At this point I don't know if it will be a FORD that depends on the service I get at the dealership, and if Ford steps up to help fix this problem.

- , Indianapolis, IN 46203, USA

problem #126

Sep 012005

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,000 miles

My '04 EB Explorer has had the same transmission delayed / hard shift problem since it was new. Ford "fixed" it three or more times under warranty, but it was never really fixed. Ford also replaced my rear axle (limited slip) 3 times under warranty. After going to two good dealers who said it was "normal" for this type of transmission, which is ridiculous, I called and emailed the factory asking for a factory service rep to assist. Ford customer service refused repeatedly and advised me to go back to my dealer. This is definitely a Class Action type of failure that Ford needs to address. I won't buy another new Ford after 30 years of ONLY buying Fords.

Update from May 26, 2009: My 2004 Explorer had transmission problems since it was new. I brought it into 2 separate, but very good Ford dealers for warranty work but it still shifted hard, had bad delayed shifting, and slipped in first gear. I called the Ford 800 Customer Service several times but they refused to assist except to say "bring it to the Dealer" while under warranty. When the warranty expired, I again went into the dealer and paid $300 for fluid replacement and minimal other service but the problem remained. Last week, at around 87K miles, the transmission finally failed completely. No reverse, slipped in first, but had the same hard shift and delayed shift problems as when it was new. I replaced it with a rebuilt transmission from a local re builder and it shifts perfectly.

Contrary to what Ford advised, the original transmission did NOT have broken bands or any other broken parts. We suspect it leaked internally from the factory and finally failed enough to store a code. I have three Fords in my driveway and will NEVER buy another Ford again. Ford doesn't care at all, but they lost yet another long time loyal customer due to their own lack of customer service. Shame on you Ford.

Update from Mar 2, 2014: UPDATE : My transmission failed again and was rebuilt again by a different Ford dealer in MA. $2000 more for a know Ford problem. Although I am a long time Ford owner with 3 Fords in my driveway, my next new vehicle will be a Subaru.

- , Newington, CT, US

problem #125

Apr 032007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

What can we do to make ford fix this? Does anyone know what can be done? I think Ford should stand behind this vehicle and fix the problem.

- , Pierce, NE, USA

problem #124

Feb 102009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles


All, my problem that occurred suddenly on 2/10/2008 out of nowhere is the same - transmission slipped while in Drive, then O/D light flashed. Then the vehicle completely shut off. I was finally able to make it home in 3rd gear driving slow, with the O/D light flashing and it died again. Based on a lot of reading on the internet regarding this wide-spread problem, that included reviews from Ford mechanics, the problem comes down to the casing and servo pin bore. This is for the 5R55 series and A4LD series transmissions. There is a transmission shop in Cameron, Wisconsin called Northland Transmissions that has a servo pin bore replacement kit for about $300 that upgrades the parts to brass: Their phone# is 715-458-2617. Unfortunately, I live in Florida, so I will be taking my vehicle to the dealership today and telling them about what I have found on the internet. Most of you are not going to be able to fix yourself; you need to drop the transmission to do this repair. Here's what it comes down to: Whatever Ford supplier Ford that originally built this transmission used aluminum for these parts, instead of stronger (and more expensive) metals or alloys that would last a long time. Therefore, this servo pin bore kitt will probably fix the problem for quite a long time, but it won't last forever because the entire transmission is cheaply built. The real fix would be a company that would totally recreate this transmission from scratch with strong parts that would retro-fit to the Explorers, Rangers, Mountaineers, and some Mustangs.

In the end, Ford made the sale, however they probably will not make repeat sales and that is looking like it will be their true demise.

- , Clearwater, FL, USA

problem #123

Jan 072009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles

I bought a 2004 Explore in pristine condition. At 30,000 miles it started to hesitate when you put it in reverse. Then it got worse. They replaced the solenoid pack. The shifting is rough when it's cold. It shifts very hard between first and second. Luckily, the original owner had bought the extended warranty (which I transferred) so it's only $50 evertime I take it in.

- , Chesapeake, VA, US

problem #122

Feb 052009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

along with everyone else the hard slams into reverse..slipping between gears. I was at a stop light and when I drove off at about 20MPH it flet like I was dragging something under the SUV.. under 20 it seems ok. I had it taken to a local shop. I was 8 miles over my extended warranty..I guess i should have taken it in the first time I shifted into reverse and felt that great slam. I should know something tomorrow on what the problem ends up being.

- , Greensboro, NC, USA

problem #121

Dec 152008

Explorer XLT 4.0lV6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

Same complaint as everyone else, it started shifting so hard in reverse that I had to end up having my rearend on the vehicle replaced which was going to cause between $2140 - 1500,00, I . It still continued to shift hard, and I was informed that if I did not have the transmission rebuilt which is going to cause me anywhere between $1650.00 - $2350.00 depending on who I take it to. I was informed that if I did not have the transmission rebuilt more then likely I would end up having to replace the rearend again, because the shift is just that hard. I found a used rearend at a pull n pay lot and had it replaced for $800.00. Now, I ride the bus to work and just parked the damn thing until I can save the money to have the transmission rebuilt. However, from what I am reading, this still might not solve the problem.

- , 2439 Oaktree Place, Cincinnati, USA

problem #120

Dec 012008

Explorer 4x4 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles


I looked at the ford website today, feb !st 2009, I have found nothing on this ,yet I hear of so many with the same problem. One of the workers at my local gas station asked if it was a 2004 . I said it was and he said his parents was too and doing the exact same thing! He said he thought it was recalled but i haven't seen anything. This is going to cost a lot to fix ,and in this economy ,I sure could use the money elsewhere. Ford needs to step up, this is no coincidence,and no fault of ours.

- , Brunswick, MD, USA

problem #119

Jan 302009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

OMG!! I just bought this vehicle yesterday. Used from a dealership, and I am a first time buyer with no credit. First of all I got ripped off which I just found out today, second of all my CD Player does not work at all, third of all my 4wd doesn't work properly (which was the whole reason I bought it was to take it on the beach), and the transmission is totally out of sync, it jerks my and my family all over hell! I have had it for less than 24 hours, and after stumbling upon this website, I am terrified. Worst of all, in the state of VA once you sign the papers you can't change your mind..... What to do.... I wonder what else is gonna screw up next!

- , Williamsburg, VA, USA

problem #118

Jan 182006

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

I have repaired and replaced hundreds of these transmission, If you have a 5r55w or 5r55s trans it is junk. An overhaul will not fix it the case is the fault.

- , Manassas, VA, US

problem #117

Jul 112006

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,000 miles

click to see larger images

transmission slipping, shifts hard

I recommend to all who've added a complaint to contact 1 (800) MY-LEMON

- , Allentown, PA, USA

problem #116

Jan 162009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

Harper Ford and the Ford motor company will not stand behind this vehicle at all.

- , Eureka, CA, USA

problem #115

Aug 012008

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

I bought my explorer in august and its been a nightmare since.. Last winter, five months after I got it, the tranny started to shift hard in reverse, I mean shifting hard enough to jerk you.. My brother went to take it to work (hes a tranny guy) and on his way it started grinding and wouldn't get up to speed.. He said the third shift gear was shot too... Anyways, I wound up taking it to my ford dealer instead.. I got charged $800.00 because my four wheel drive was rusted and corroded and locked in, it needed a hub bearing and other stuff.. I picked up my car days later and it was still shifting hard, I asked them why and they said it didn't do that for them.. WHATEVER!!!! I took it back up to them and they replaced something(Im a chic i don't know the part) and said there was a bulletin on this part so they had to replace it, then charged me $625.00!!! I took my explorer to my cousin whos been a transmission specialist for 30 yrs and he said hed have to rebuild it to find the problem and it would cost me 1,000.00 with his "family discount"!!!! Ive had this explorer for a year and have put way more in to it than I should have.. All Ive ever wanted was an explorer and now I tell people NOT to buy one! With all these complaints Ford needs to fix the problem and quit making bad cars!!!! Im seriously pissed off!!!

- , Middlefield, OH, USA

problem #114

Jul 012008

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,300 miles

When I shift into reverse, it takes a few seconds to get in gear and then bucks! What the ?!

- , Atlanta, GA, US

problem #113

May 312007

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I won't let it all out. Okay I will. My name is Cassandra and I have a freaking bone to pick. My 2004 Explorer is paid for. Looks great on inside and out, but when I drive it it's a butload of crap! It started out with hard reverse (scared any person that rode with me, they thought I may had hit someone) and a slip in gear. But this problem didn't really bother me, people got used to it as did I. Then 2 months ago, the O/D OFF light started flashing. I pressed the button on the end of the gear shift and it would not change the O/D OFF status. The car then continued to, (please hear me out), go a very quick and safe maximum of 30 miles per hour while the RPM's decided to shoot up to 3,500. The only way to reconcile this short term was to wait to get into the 1,000 RPM range and try again which that in most cases fell. Twas the night before Christmas, and this is no joke, that my care just decided to go a max of 30 MPH reguardless of the 45 MPH speed limit. Try to accelerate? Perfectly fine in 1st and 2nd, then you're screwed. The RPM's will run up to 6,000. The car doesn't freaking care. So my dilemma is a car that won't go past 35 MPH. So as a trial and error, as I neared 35, I shifted my AUTOMATIC trasi into 3rd gear and I was able to hit 45. It runs the engine harder but when you only have that car to drive, you make do. Not only did that suck, but I just found out 3 days ago that my car doesn't want to go in reverse. You can press the accelerator all you want and all you will get is the sound of a racing engine. So I decided to push my car with my foot out of the driver's side door ( great new innovation, right?!) From what I hear, the replacement of the solenoid is a temporary fix, very temporary, so dropping approx. $1000 is pointless. Also replacing the transmission with ANOTHER FAULTY one is oxymoron material. All I have on my side is AAA. I guess I'll just drive this piece of crap until it dies. Sad, because I really love my car. Never wanted to get rid of it, but the problem is inevitable. So I just hope I don't have a transmission on strike in rush hour traffic, or on the interstate, or when my sister goes into labor, or when a hurricane is coming our way. Freaking ford, I'm sorry to say that I cannot support the American economy because they are freaking LAME when it comes to fixing a problem. I would love to keep my car. PLEASE FIX THE PROBLEM!

- , Brandon, FL, US

problem #112

Jan 142009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Same problem as everyone else. Shift hard, rear end leaks owe more than the piece of sh*t is worth. FORD F'd Over Rebuilt Dodge. I do not understand why the three automakers need money when they use cheap ass parts and charge like it is a BMW. Like Larry the Cable guy said " Sometimes you got to total the truck and collect the insurance money to pay the note"

- , Mccalla, AL, USA

problem #111

Nov 202008

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

My 04 ford explorer xlt spt/nbx has been in the shop for 8 weeks now. It started slipping and jumping in gear.There is little information out there on this transmission and the transmission shop that has it can't figure it out... This transmission shop has been in business for many years and they know their stuff. They have contacted several technical support people from ford and they are not having much luck. What can I do? I really need a vehicle and I'm not sure whats going to happen with mine.

- , Hitchcock, TX, USA

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