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:
72,004 miles
Total Complaints:
386 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (197 reports)
  2. rebuild transmission (58 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 7 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #266

Jun 212011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles


I haven't gotten the final bad news on this problem. Was told today that it will cost between $1800 and $3500! Depends on what they find damaged inside when they take it apart tomorrow. Needless to say, I don't have that kind of money just laying around...thank goodness I am working an extra job this summer!!! Too bad it has to go to my car instead of helping my kids out with school! I was told it is a common problem with the Explorers and question why Ford does not provide the sleeve that would fix the problem before it becomes the $3500 problem!!??!!

- , Floral City, FL, USA

problem #265

May 052011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 161,557 miles

i purchased a extended warranty when i bought the exploder! with this vehicle it was a wise thing to do (actual vehicle purchase questionable) while under warranty the bands tranny fix was done. crack under rear window prob also covered.. since the warranty has expired i have had the differential replaced tie rods replace ball joints the same one rear left replaced 3 times! now the tranny won't change out of 1st gear................

i've had enough i just don't have the money to keep throwing out the window unfortunately i still owe 5 thousand on the vehicle loan. what do you do???? it absolutely amazes me that ford has not provided any help with (their) poor design and part quality. what are we to do continue to eat the costs? is there no justice? maybe the solution as ford would have it, is to trade in the 04 for a 12 exploder that way a warranty would cover any problems... can't afford the repairs let alone a new one! does anyone out there have a idea how i can reduce the financial blow or get ford to cover some cost...

- , Victoria Harbour, Ontario, Canada

problem #264

Oct 312010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Worst car ever, I will never purchase another Ford as long as I live. I have had nothing but problems with this vehicle since the purchase. It's rusting out and has mysterious cracks in the body. Ford should be forced to buy everyone who owns this vehicle a brand new replacement. They should also take the explorer off the market to save anyone else the pain and hassle of owning this vehicle.

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #263

Aug 012008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


Shifts hard into gears at take off and when braking. When shifting into reverse, transmission does not immediately engage and after a few seconds slams into reverse with a jolt that will cause whiplash. Gradually getting worse. Should have taken advantage of "Cash for Clunkers".

- , Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #262

Dec 152009

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

It shifts really hard - was told "it happens with fords", "don't shift hard" and ' use the same gas'.... REALLY?

- , Dallas, GA, USA

problem #261

Jul 142009

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

i bought my 2004 explorer in 2008. 4 months later i noticed the transmission starting to shift hard and sometimes not even going into gear unless i rev up the engine then it will slam into gear really hard. i think its a damn shame to spend that kind of money on a vehicle and the transmission being a piece of junk and the ford company knows this and they do nothing about it. ive seen several complaints on the early ford explorers transmissions being the worst on the road EVER. why dont ford take care of thier customers and issue a recall and have them all fixed at their cost? show the customer that just bought your product that you appreciate them for it and get this mattewr taken care of. if they dont i will never purchase another ford product again and ill even go to ford lots and tell everyone i see there to stay away from such a heartless company. ive been a ford man my whole life but if they dont show us, the customer, some appreciation and fix this matter ill do my part to steer as many people as i can away from any ford product and tell them about this

- , Lexington, KY, USA

problem #260

May 032010

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles


same as other complaints, bought it in 2008 with 28,000 miles the tranny shifted hard. was told it was normal at dealership. bought extended warranty. May 2010 with 48,000 it really started shifting hard, I had it at dealership for other warranty work (that has since needed fixed again) was told again nothing was wrong with transmission it was normal, now April 2011 68,000 miles warranty expired trans is slipping plus shifting hard enough to jar your teeth out. local mechanic says needs either replaced or rebuilt. I've always owned fords and I knew better to buy an explorer with automatic trans.

- , Charleston, WV, USA

problem #259

Jun 232010

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Why the hell do we still have to complain! ATTN (FORD) we all have the same problem .

This could cost us our life . If you made a crappy trans... why are you not going to fix it . why should we have to pay for you mistakes .This thing shifts so hard from park to rev. Or if I'm driven it slips and i have to wait to see if it will pick back up. Everyone in my family has a Ford - Why this one . Why are you not standing behind your product. As for me i will not own anymore fords.....

- , Alcoa, TN, USA

problem #258

Jun 012005

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6 Flex Fuel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,000 miles

well it started with hard shifting, i had finally gotten a letter from ford in 05 telling me that they left an additive out at the factory so i needed to bring it in for a recall and the additive put in, when my truck was done a day later they told me that they had replaced everything in the transmission have not had a problem since, but i have had to replace a front left hub assy. around 68,000 miles right rear hub assy. and rebuilt rear diff. at 79,500 and now i have my abs light on constantly and my 4x4 high flashing 8 times and when i take a tight left turn i feel like it's in 4 wheel drive hear a almost grinding sound or rubbing, will let you all know what happens when i have the abs light checked by a friend of the family i trust no else to work on it especially ford. you would think ford would have built better vehicles when there slogan was built ford tough or quality is job #1 guess no one told them not to lie!!!! i have called ford about the rear diff. problem and they will not do anything about it they said that we all need to call them and complain about our issues and if alot of people called and complained that it could be considered for a recall i was also told to keep my receipts and if they recalled any of my issues they would refund my money spent. i have loved my explorer for the first 7 years i have had it and i hope to love it for another 7 years it has been a great suv for me and my family with a few issues i have kept it in showroom condition since i drove it off the lot in 04 and take pride in how nice and clean i have kept it, hope this helps some of you people who have transmission problems since most of you have said that ford is telling you it's common and not a problem with your transmission shifting hard, they did recall this transmission in 05.

- , North Attleboro, MA, USA

problem #257

Sep 012009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

i put ten years in at the sharonville ford transmission plant building these so called 5r-55 tranys, and thought never to buy one, cause there is no dipstick, no way to check fluid level, or add any, then i took the buy out in fear of losing the job in 07, listening to the wrong idiots, i made maybe the wrong decision, yea $28.45 was a hard one to walk away from, but my life is better off not have to listen to the cry babies, wining about stupid sh*t. don't get me started i could write a book. well i took 17,000 dollars, and bought my wife her first newer car, the 04 explorer. now listen people the only way to get the car recalled is to complain to Detroit,the use of this web site is great to get the right number and the UAW has provided me with it if you haven't already its 1-800-392-3673 for care problems and issues,

- , Loveland, OH, USA

problem #256

Jun 082010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles


The transmission slips when i let off the gas at very low speeds around say 90 degree corners.. then when i go to accelerate theres a Long pause before the transmission finally catches up with the throttle and finally jolts into gear.. I've read online about MANY other people having the exact same issues!!! I just spent $8000 Grand on an Awesome LOOKING suv that has a Piece a CRAP for a transmission!!! The factory transmission fluid that Ford put in the 04 Exploders was DEFECTIVE causing all kinds of silinoide and shifting problems! Overdrive is completely erattic also goes into lockup @ 40mph but get up to 50-55 and it stays in 4th!!! The truck vibrates above 65 mph with BRAND NEW TIRES on it!!!! WTF i got a LEMON! Should of got a cherokee or trailblazer who cares if the explorer looks nicer all it gives me is grief and UNRELIABILITY!!! NO FORD EVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , mt. iron, MN, USA

problem #255

Aug 162004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 25 miles

My transmission has shifted hard since day one that I bought the vehicle. I kept taking it bak to the dealership and they kept telling me they can't find nothing wrong so I just got used to it shifting rough. So after years of this I finally took it to another dealership ( not Ford) and they found the problem and fixed it costing over $700.00 but it's funny that Ford all the times I took it back for years they never could find a problem and now all these years later it can be fix. Ford is lazy! This problem should have been fix the first time I took it after buying it.

- , Columbus, TX, USA

problem #254

May 142008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

transmission bangs really hard when shifting from reverse to forward, when going from 3rd to 4th with engine at higher rpm's, and when coming to a stop will slam back to lower gears very hard. This has been occurring for numerous years.

- , Bath, PA, USA

problem #253

Oct 042006

Explorer XLT 4L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles the transmission problem has been going on for years. But as others mention, I was told it was normal. Well, I took my car in to have the heater fixed, spark plugs and wires replaced, a 2nd hub assembly put on, and brake pads changed.....and now they are telling me that I have to have the transmission rebuilt. I am thankful that my car lasted to 145,000 miles first, but still. I just put in $1,200 to fix all that other stuff...and they haven't even given me an amount for the transmission. They are basically saying it won't drive. Now how can I even trade it in on something else?? It's really ridiculous that soooooo many people can have the same problem on the same Make/Model/Year and FORD does nothing about it!!!! I can't believe their isn't a recall. But guess what? That's life and we can't do anything about it. All this complaining is doing nothing to FORD.....we really need to boycott Ford. That's the only way to make a point.

- , Durham, NC, USA

problem #252

Mar 192011

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

Ford customer service said "sorry for your inconvenience but there is nothing we can do but tell you to go to a Ford dealer and have it fixed"

- , Ada, MI, USA

problem #251

Aug 012010

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

Having bought this car new in the end of year sale at a local dealer, we never got any letter for a possible fix for the transmission. All along the transmission would jerk when put in reverse and would slip. Six months ago it started getting worse had the transmission serviced by a reliable mechanic we are still having problems with it. Right now we are in the process of getting prices on either rebuilding or replacing it, but either way it is going to cost a lot and for something that Ford knew was a problem. Not good business.

- , Hampton, AR, USA

problem #250

May 152009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

I bought this explorer V6 XLT. new and bought the extended warranty. Under warranty the solenoid in the transmission had to be replaced. This was covered under my extended warranty. At about $120K miles the OD would shift in and out depending on the acceleration and terrain. The last time I had the car in to the dealer they said I needed to have the transmission flushed and new fluid added. I have 145K on the car and it has been well maintained. I wonder if I have the transmission flushed, that it will get worse.

- , Huntsville, AL, USA

problem #249

Jan 152011

Explorer ES 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,346 miles

what a p.o.s. bought in 07 tranny shifted weird 58,000 miles was told buy ford dealer was normal now tranny shifts hard going into drive reverse and any other gear going down the road slowly has gotten worse over the last 4 years

- , Piqua, OH, USA

problem #248

Jul 252007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

This has to be the most frustrating vehicle I've ever had. The first incident occurred at 95000 miles and came back again. Now, the O/D light came on a couple of days ago but turned off after engine shut down and restart. I'm currently at 152000+ miles. Like all the other ranters out here, I have the crack in the rear panel. I guess changing the hinges did not fix the problem.

- , Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #247

Jan 132011

Explorer LX 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

The transmission slips between shifts making the engine rev up and the car jar as the car slams into gear.Hruuuuu...Suks.

- , Grand Prairie, TX, USA

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