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.

7.9

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,016.00
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 18 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #49

May 232007

(reported on)

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

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

FORD SUCKS... They knew the 2004 Ford Explorer transmission SUCKED from the very beginning. I bought my 2004 Explorer brand new, and 6 months later, I needed to bring it in for a so called transmission additive that would correct a potential transmission problem. Well, wouldn't you know it...3 months later, I started noticing a sudden "bang" or "jump" when I shifted from Park to Reverse. Took the car in for repair and was covered under the original warranty for a failed "Solenoid Body". A year later... same problem, but this time the "bang" was more severe. Took it back to the same dealership... well this time they wouldn't fix it, because I was out of warranty by just a couple of months. It costs me $650.00 to replace the part that the dealer had already replaced. 6 months later... guess what same same old... same old... The same dealership now tells me that my 4th gear is gone and I'll need a new transmission... cost $3500. What's wrong with this picture? Can anybody bring a "class action suit" against Ford? These guys shouldn't get away with stuff like that!!! That really sucks. That's it... no more Ford for me, and everyone will hear about it.

- , West Palm Beach, FL, US

problem #48

Oct 022007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

When putting the car in reverse there is a hesitation and then a loud pop/clunk. It also happens when putting it in drive. It is different degrees of severity each time. Sometimes it is ok and sometimes not.

- , Canton, GA, USA

problem #47

Nov 012007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles

Finally had enough with my 2004 FORD EXPLORER XLT. Traded it in for a New Honda Van! The Ford once again started a new problem. While applying the brakes it made a loud thud when shifting from 2nd to 1st. The Trans and Dif had already been rebuilt at around 40,000 under extended warranty, that was $4,500.00. Rear diff was making a new noise as well. Thank God I bought the extended warranty. My Toyota with 238K still remains faithful to this day!

- , Spotsylvania, VA, USA

problem #46

Mar 072007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,177 miles

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

I purchased a used 2004 Explorer in Feb of 07. One month later, I noticed a jerking motion when putting the car in reverse. I took the vehicle back to the dealer, as it was covered under their warranty at that time. After keeping the vehicle the entire day, of course, their findings were normal and I was told not to worry. As the months went by, I notice the same jerking motion but a lot more severe with a loud sound, that feels as if the bottom of the car is going to drop out. I took the vehicle to a Ford dealer and they too could not find any problems and told me not to worry. However, the problem is worsening. I am taking it to a transmission specialist with the hopes that they will be able to find the problem and fix it. I also hope whatever the problem is, it will be covered under the extended warranty as I feel I should not have to kick out any expenses as I reported the problem immediately after purchasing the vehicle. I now learned that the dealer that I purchased the vehicle from is being sued by another individual, that I just so happen to meet at the auto repair shop who purchased car from them. Although it is a different make and model, the engine blew up after only having the car for two months.

- , Savannah, GA, USA

problem #45

Nov 102007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

First off, I love my fords...It is evident because I own 5 of them...However, when I bought my 1st explorer in 1996 I fell in love. I had it for about 5 years (88,000) , then had to replace the tranny. Drove it for a while then had to replace it again (148,000), then put a rebuilt one at 204,000. Got my money's worth out of it, but it was a real pain. The tranny's sucked. Now I went and bought a used one a month ago with 52,000 miles on it. It ran great and now the tranny is slipping in it. It grinds when I first pull out from a red light or something and if I try to back up on the slightest incline, you think the bottom is going to fall out of it because it sounds so bad. Took it to the Ford dealer and they said a new tranny. Well, I thought when I bought this one and purchased an extended warranty program on the internet and guess what. They say that it will not cover the problem. I have to shell out for it myself. Well, I called Ford Customer Care team and still haven't heard anything from them. I love my Fords. They are the best looking vehicles on the road today. I just wish that they would fix the tranny problems...

- , Harlan, KY, USA

problem #44

Nov 072007

(reported on)

Explorer ES 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

I had the same problem as the other posters. I had purchased my Explorer brand new in April 2004. At 12,000 miles, when I was backing into my regular parking spot at work, it jerked. And at times it would not even move. I would have to put it in park and try again to get it to move. Now it jerks forward as well and I have about 52000 miles on it. I have an appointment scheduled and luckily I purchased the extended warranty that covers a rental car until the problem is fixed. I noticed there was a recall on the vehicle but probably didn't get the letter because soon after I purchased the vehicle I moved to a new home. This is awful! Does anyone know if the lemon law can come into affect on this one. I rather just get a new car, especially since this one runs like an old one!

- , Marrero, LA, USA

problem #43

Nov 052007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT,NBX 4.0L,V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,000 miles

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

I purchased my Explorer used, with 29000 miles, in Dec. 2006. A month later I started noticing the harsh engagement or what I would call " jerking my brains out!". I work near a Ford dealership, dropped it off, and they told me it was a Solenoid Body that needed to be replaced, under warranty, replaced, end of story----or what I thought!!!! A week ago, around Oct. 31, I noticed the same thing started happening again, so I stopped by the same dealership that fixed it before, and told them what was going on. Of course, the part was only warranted for only 12 months, and they wanted 69.00 just to look at it and tell me for sure what it was. Another dealership in or town only charges 40.00, so I went there. Guess what? It was the Solenoid Body, again, and they told me that a certain "additive" was supposed to have been added in, when it was changed out. According to my invoice it wasn't. They said the additive was loke "liquid gold", and probably would have prevented this from happening, at least so soon. SO NOW I AM FURIOUS! I call Ford Motor Company and tell them everthing, and that I shouldn't be made responsible for the repair. The estimate was for 556.00. That was oct. 31st and it is now Nov. 5th, and still awaiting their decision to help with repair. I received a fax from the dealership that replaced it in Jan. 06, and it showed their was a recall on the additive, and it was done before I even bought the vehicle. So my question now is--

does the additive need to be put in everytime the transmission fluid is changed or in my case, the Solenoid Body replaced, or is the 1 time enough? I think the damage has done been done. I found a website, or forum that you can link on to info on a possible Class Action Lawsuit regarding this transmission issue. I read where one mans wife was ran over, when there vehicle slipped out of park as soon as she got out. She is now paralyzed.

- , Weber, VA, USA

problem #42

Nov 012007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,200 miles

When I looked in the owner's manual, I found a place where it said that the jerking was "no reason for concern". Now my truck is SLAMMING into reverse. While driving, if I take my foot off the gas to apply the break, it jerks forward. When my truck is shifting from 2nd into 3rd, the truck jerks forward. Fortunately, I purchased the extended warranty on my truck and only have to pay $100. This is the 2nd solenoid to be replaced on my truck. I am very frustrated with this. As I was reading through everyone's complaints....it is as if FORD is replacing solenoids like "putting a band-aid" on the problem instead of fixing it. Like everyone has said, it only fixes the problem temporarily. I have really enjoyed my Explorer until now. I am really frustrated with this problem and will never buy another FORD again.

- , Bonneau, SC, USA

problem #41

Oct 252007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

well i got the explorer at 62000 miles. about a month after getting it found this site and was horrified about the problems with the explorer. well after reading all this i decided to get an extended warranty. well im at 68000+ miles and now my transmission is starting. first it started as a light thump when i would shift into reverse. over the course of 3000 miles it has started to slam into reverse. sometimes when the transmission shifts from first to sec gear it shutters. also sometimes it takes up to 5 sec for the transmission to shift from park to reverse or from drive to reverse. so in about a month or so im going to take it in and call the warranty people. pay my 100 dedcutable and have them fix this mess. im deploying in January so i guess when i get back i will be trading in this exploder. i have loved ford for a long but this will prob be the last ford i ever get. now looking at the Mazda cx-7 or maybe a Subaru. i advise owners of the exploder to get an extended warranty before there exploder starts to act up. the one i found is great. if anybody wants to know the company let me know

- , Lawton, OK, US

problem #40

Oct 252007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT Sport 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,000 miles

After reading some of the comments about the transmission, I've decided that I also have felt the hard shifts that my Explorer sometimes makes. Sometimes you think it's not gonna shift and then it slams into gear...I actually got rid of a brand new Ford Windstar quite a few years ago after owning it for only three months, for the same reason. I ended up with an Expedition that didn't seem to have this problem but then stupidly traded it in after three years for a smaller vehicle which is my Explorer and ended up with the same problem as the Windstar but just not as bad. Looks like Ford seems to have a problem with their transmissions and can't seem to make them right which makes me think I better look at a different company next year when I buy my new vehicle! It will be American made but just not Ford...

- , St. Petersburg, FL, USA

problem #39

Oct 182007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

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

We bought our Explorer in 2004 and a year later the fist issue started. The transmission slips all the time but randomly. Every time we take it in for service they "fix" it but it keeps coming back or they "can't find" the problem. It has been a few months over 3 years since we bought it and it just went in again for the 4th or 5th time. We've had no luck with dealer so we're taking legal action against the manufacturer. I love the way it looks and drives when operating correctly but will never buy another Ford again! EVER! NEVER! It's a shame.

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #38

Aug 282007

(reported on)

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

at 2600miles brought it in with transmission issue of slipping and hard reverse shift, was told by Ford they couldn't find problem. At 28,000miles, brought it in again with same problem, they fixed it with solenoid (sp?), at 98,000 same problem and brought it in, this time they want me to pay $3000 for a new transmission. Despite my past history with this issue, they will not take responsibility for it. I declined services and will seek legal advise on this matter.

- , REnton, WA, USA

problem #37

Oct 092007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,000 miles

When I shifted into reverse the car would have a delay reaction then jerk back. Then the car started having trouble shifting from 2nd to 3rd and i took it in to the dealership since it was still under warranty. They fixed it after a week of having it in the shop. I wont' ever buy an Explorer thats fr sure. Thus wasn's the first problem ive had.

- , Savannah, GA, US

problem #36

Aug 292007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

i am also having a same problem as every one else, when going to reverse from drive the whole car just jerks really bad, shifting from second gear to third gear. Took the car to dealer twice they changed transmission oil once and then replaced solenoid and still giving problems. I think we all need to get together and file a law suit against FORD, i bet anything on it that we will win it.

Worst piece of sh*t i ever owned, i will never buy a FORD again or recommend anyone else buying one.

- , Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #35

Oct 082007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles

transmission failed - service tech said they would contact Ford for "assistance" with our repair

- , Jacksonville, FL, US

problem #34

Oct 082007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles

2nd time car was in for transmission problem

- , Jacksonville, FL, US

problem #33

Oct 022007

(reported on)

Explorer EB 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

This is an update to a previous report I submitted about my explorer having transmission problems shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear. When the Ford mechanics took apart the transmission, they found that the transfer case was also scarred and the only solution left was to replace the transmission costing $4000. Since so many people have posted complaints on this site and others on the internet, we called our area Ford representative and requested Ford to kick in more money to pay for the the replacement. Ford agreed to pay $2500 of the cost. I suggest to everyone with this problem to put up a fight and it will probably help to alleviate some of the cost.

- , Thornton, CO, USA

problem #32

Sep 162007

(reported on)

Explorer EB 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

I purchased my explorer new 3 years ago. I noticed when I shifted from park to drive, the car would hesitate and then go into gear. The problem got worse over time. Now at 50,000 miles, my car was shifting really hard especially from 2nd to 3rd gear. I took it to the Ford dealer, and they told me 3rd gear was trashed. They gave me 2 options - rebuild 3rd gear or replace the entire tranny for 4000$. With the car only being 3 years old, we put up a big fight with the dealer and got them to agree to pay for half the cost of replacing the tranny thru some kind of Ford program. I had a 2000 explorer and enjoyed the car so much that I bought the 2004 after I put a bunch of miles on my first one. I won't buy another explorer after this experience and after seeing how many others have this same problem.

- , Thornton, CO, USA

problem #31

Sep 282007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,000 miles

there was a recall on the tranny, i took it back and it still did the same thing when you put it into gear it hesitates and if you step on the gas the car jerks i guess FORD= FIX OR REPAIR DAILY

- , Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #30

Sep 192007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,800 miles

we purchased the vehicle with 34000 miles as is. that should have been our first red flag so we dont buy the extended warranty, thinking low miles, new vehicle, what could go so wrong. it was our backup and vacation vehicle. well when we need it for backup the transmission starts slipping. we take it in to get it looked at and a week later find out the transmission is shot and it needs a whole new one for a cost of $3600. well we complained and got a thousand dollars off so we paid it and got it fixed. why would a transmission need to be replaced with such low mileage? you would think that ford would fix this problem but of course not that is more money they would have to spend and save the consumer a big headache.

- , Winchester, VA, USA

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