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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.

7.8

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$2,013.00
Average Mileage:
69,300 miles
Total Complaints:
367 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (187 reports)
  2. replace shift solenoid (56 reports)
  3. rebuild transmission (55 reports)
  4. replace transmission (53 reports)
  5. replace shift solenoid and bands (9 reports)
  6. replaced transmission twice (2 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 19)

problem #367

Oct 012014

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,000 miles

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

I paid good money and now I'm having all these issues with this vehicle. It's going to become very expensive.

- , Sparta, MI, USA

problem #366

Apr 052013

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

I have had 3 Ford Explorers 2001/2002 and now 2004. Every single one has had the cracked tailgate for starters. Then I had the wheel bearings replaced in the 2002 and now the 2004 is needing the same damn thing.

The transmission just shifts so damn hard. There are times with the 2002 and now the 2004 that I put the car in reverse and it just sits there. It won't move. Then I put it in park and drive again several times and the car sits there and then it sounds like something drops and it goes into gear. WTH!!!!!! I really like the Explorer other then the same problems that FORD will not fix. It is a known problem yet it just gets swept under the rug per say and nothing is done. Well, no one has been killed, YET, but damn they know that transmission is faulty and that the car sometimes shifts while driving down the road. I hope I don't become the statistic that has to make FORD face the music. Sooner or later they will have to do something.

After what I paid for the cars you would think that they would make sure the customer was happy. I have relatives that work at FORD in KC and they just say, yah we heard there's a problem with those. WHAT!!!!!! I just really am disappointed in the attention they haven't paid to this issue. Yet, I have a recall on my 2003 F150 for a faulty CLIP in the gas tank. WTH. I truly believe a faulty transmission is quite a bit more important for safety then a faulty clip. Really. Just totally disappointed. I will buy some other brand of car next time. I'm done with FORD's put off.

- , Grain Valley, MO, USA

problem #365

Jul 012014

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

After moderate braking, push accelerator, revs go up. After a pause the transmission kicks in with a thump.

Now the transmission has started slipping especially changing into top under power.

Flashes the O/D off light going uphill.

Update from Nov 29, 2014: complete rebuild with new solenoids etc.

- , Haymarket, Virginia, USA

problem #364

Jan 232014

Explorer XLT 4.7L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,245 miles

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

GEEZ, WHEN PEOPLE SAID THAT THIS WAS THE LEMON OF THE FORD EXPLORERS THEY WEREN'T KIDDING. I'VE HAD TO REPLACE MY BLEND DOOR MOTORS. FIRST MY FRONTS WENT, THEN AFTER I REPLACED THEM LOW AND BEHOLD MY BACK ONE WENT UP. I DIDN'T REPLACE THE BACK ONE BUT NOT LONG AFTER I REPLACED MY FRONTS AGAIN....THEY BURNT UP AGAIN.

EVER SINCE I HAD GOTTEN THE RECALL NOTICE ABOUT AN ADDITIVE NEEDED IN THE TRANSMISSION FLUID I TOOK IT TO FORD AND THEY PUT IN THE ADDITIVE AND FROM THEN ON MY TRANSMISSION STARTED TO SLIP. A TEMPORARY FIX WAS TO DRAIN THE FLUID AND REDOING THE TRANSMISSION FLUIDS. I WENT CLOSE TO 100,000 MILES BEFORE MY BACK WINDOW PANEL DECIDED TO CRACK AROUND THE FORD EMBLEM. ALSO I NOTICED THAT A RUST POCKET STARTED UP JUST UNDER THE FUEL DOOR.

- , Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #363

Jun 132012

Explorer LXT 4000cc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

THIS IS THE WORSE CAR EVER MADE AND PUT ON THE MARKET, FORD OUGHT TO BE MADE TO FIX EVERYONE OF THEM FREE OF CHARGE.

- , Turkey, NC, USA

problem #362

Nov 102008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,762 miles

Transmission slams when put in reverse. When turning front wheels ratchet and grind.

- , Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #361

Sep 152014

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

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

I just had the flywheel replaced in May of 2014 which was not cheap and I noticed when I put my car in reverse it would make an awful sound, well now my car is whining so loud it is embarrassing! It also sounds like it is about to snap! My cousin who works on cars all the time sat in it last week for a ride around the block and he said yep that's the transmission! I don't have the money to fix it at the moment but I can not continue to drive it! Why we keep buying fords is beyond me! I had junked my 2001 Windstar because the axle snapped and it was before the recall of that and went to this POS next!

- , Bradford, MA, USA

problem #360

Jul 092008

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Just not shifting right, pain in the ass, can't trust it.

- , Portage, PA, USA

problem #359

Oct 102014

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

Ok, So I have a 2004 Ford Explorer, it has 116K miles. I bought it 105K or so anyways. Last week the O/D light started flashing. I noticed this high pitched belt noise coming from the Transmission assembly. I drove it home, this morning I tried putting it in reverse, there was complete engagement failure.

I finally got it to shift into gear slowly made it to a road to test drive it. Well, 1st and 2nd gear were OK, then it stopped shifting, shot up to 4000 rpm. Then just slipped out completely. Ford dealership is near where I live (2miles). I slowly took it down there. I was hoping they would tell me if I need to change the transmission control solenoid, but after they charged me $110, the diagnosis was internal transmission failure. They want me to change out the transmission, $3800+!! Craziness. Anyway, any ideas?

- , American Canyon, CA, USA

problem #358

Oct 022014

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

It is jerking again! Takes forever to switch into gears! Almost got killed on the freeway! Debating whether it is worth fixing and whether I should just suck it up and put a DP on a new vehicle! It just kills me I have to do this! I paid so much for the damn thing and for what!

- , Escondido, California, USA

problem #357

Mar 012014

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

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

Again, the car began jerking and taking forever to switch into gears! It left me stranded one morning after dropping off a cousin in school! It just suddenly stopped and the gas pedal was so hard to push! After that the car would not start at all! Called a local tow truck company, paid 70 bucks, and again, mechanic did something to it! Took a good 3 weeks before I drove that crap again!

- , Escondido, California, USA

problem #356

Sep 021998

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,671 miles

I bought my 2004 explorer in 2008 when it only had barely 34,000 miles. A birthday present to me, so I thought. Boy, have I been fleeced! I have a lemon! First the ball joints went after I had this piece of crap for two months. Then, wheel bearings went on the driver's side. Thermostat housing blew up. I've had this car maintained routinely. Exhaust baffle broke loose and mass air flow sensor went, together that was almost $1,000 repair! Tire sensors in this vehicle totally annoying. Goes off all the time whether tires properly inflated or not. At the beginning of this month - shortly after paying this damn car off (of course) -- now my CHECK TRANSMISSION light goes on! I called my regular mechanic's shop who won't touch this type of transmission. He referred me to a transmission shop. I'm taking it in this morning for an estimate (say tata to numerous paychecks)! DO NOT PURCHASE THESE VEHICLES! OR, IF YOU DO, GET RID OF IT AFTER YOUR ODOMETER READS 60,000 MILES OR SO - IF THE VEHICLE MAKES IT TO THAT POINT. FixOftenRepairDaily is so true! (Ford) is the only winner for these vehicles. Oh, and the car dealership that I purchased this piece of crap from closed within four months of my purchase. They saw me coming. Henry Ford is probably turning over in his grave.

- , Strongsville, Ohio, USA

problem #355

Jun 162014

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,313 miles

Purchased the 04 Explorer in mid June as a second vehicle for my wife to drive and so we could tow our pop up camper. Thought it would be good for our growing family, easier to get the kids in and out vs the 08 Avenger we traded in. The Explorer was in terrific shape, clean, no rust, underside was immaculate. Did my research, unfortunately didn't see this site and wish I had, and seemed to be a decent vehicle. I only expected to get 3-4 years of low mileage driving out of it. Well 1 week after purchasing the transmission started banging when shifting into reverse but only when the vehicle was warmed up. Sounded like the Explorer was going to break in half.

I took it to a transmission repair shop and said it was somewhat common for this vintage of Explorers. Replaced the shift solenoid, valve body and computer for $1500. Was working great but two weeks later started to do the same thing. After reading numerous similar and even worse stories on this site decided it was better to "cut ties" and eat the nearly $4000 I lost on the Explorer and trade it in for something else. Figured it was better then having my wife and 2 kids stranded and being afraid to drive it anywhere and trying to avoid reversing. I have never been under so much stress over a stupid car!

I realize it was a 10 year old vehicle but with that low of KM's it shouldn't be having major transmission issues, no wonder why Ford didn't need a bailout they never bothered to recall and fix their crappy transmissions! I will need to think long and hard before considering another Ford product. I guess that acronym is true FORD: Fix Or Repair Daily!

- , Grimsby, Ontario, canada

problem #354

Apr 192013

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

I BOUGHT THE EXPLORER FROM AN DEALER IN FRESNO, CA. NOTICED THE TRANSMISSION SLIPPING THE NEXT DAY. AFTER ABOUT 8 MONTHS THE DEALERSHIP AGREED TO REPLACE THE TRANSMISSION WITH A REBUILT ONE.

- , Fresno, CA, USA

problem #353

Oct 302013

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I HAD THE TRANSMISSION REPLACED WITH A REBUILT ONE AND THE NEXT DAY THE TRANSMISSION WAS STILL SLIPPING. I CALLED INTO THE DEALERSHIP, THEY REFUSED TO UPHOLD THE WARRANTY ON THE TRANSMISSION. BECAUSE I DIDN'T GIVE UP ON IT THE DEALERSHIP FINALLY AGREED TO CALL IN FOR THE WARRANTY IN APRIL 2014. THE TRANSMISSION WAS ALREADY REPLACED WITH A REBUILT ONE. SO THEY REPLACED IT WITH ANOTHER REBUILT ONE.

- , Fresno, CA, USA

problem #352

May 022014

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

THIS HAS BEEN ON GOING SINCE I BOUGHT THE EXPLORER IN MAY 2013. IT HAS BEEN REPLACED WITH REBUILT TRANSMISSION 3 TIMES. THE TRANSMISSION NOW STARTED TO SLIP AND IT SHAKES A LOT. NO POWER IN THE TRANSMISSION. I'M REALLY IRRITATED THAT I AM SPENDING $17,000 ON A CAR THAT HAS AN ONGOING TRANSMISSION PROBLEM.

- , Fresno, CA, USA

problem #351

Jun 262014

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,412 miles

While shifting gears especially in reverse the transmission shakes very hard.

- , Jackson, MS, USA

problem #350

Jun 022014

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

I cannot believe that with only 108000 miles this transmission is already going. I see from the responses that this is a known issue and should be covered by FORD.

- , royal oak, MI, USA

problem #349

Jun 012009

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Engine flairs to 3,000 rpm while attempting to shift from 1st to 2nd gear under light acceleration. Careful control of the throttle often mitigates the problem, though not entirely. Transmission fluid and filter were recently changed along with the solenoid pack (which fixed other shifting problems). The solution to the issue likely lies in the OD solenoid piston, which often goes bad in these models.

- , Manhattan, KS, USA

problem #348

Mar 152014

Explorer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles

We purchased this car used on March 15, 2014 for my son. The day we brought it home from the dealership it started HARD shifting into reverse. Really Hard! I thought I'd done my research on the Explorers but somehow I missed this transmission problem. If you don't search the internet using the right words you don't see the threads expounding on the transmission issue. I've now spent $7500 on a SUV that is likely to have the transmission replaced. NOT GOOD FORD. You know you have a problem and you need to make these transmission right.

- , Charlotte, North Carolina, US, USA

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