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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:
$2,000.00
Average Mileage:
69,023 miles
Total Complaints:
360 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (182 reports)
  2. replace shift solenoid (56 reports)
  3. rebuild transmission (55 reports)
  4. replace transmission (52 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 18)

problem #360

Jul 092008

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

problem #347

Oct 032013

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

This is the secord Explorer that I have owned and they all do the same damn thing. Around the 70,000 mile marker the whole transmission starts grinding and eventually it seizes up, in traffic no less. This is a serious problem with these Explorers, but it seems if no one gets killed or disabled by one FORD won't recall the damn thing. I really don't know that I would buy another ford just because of this issue that won't seem to be addressed.

- , Grain Valley, MO, USA

problem #346

Dec 112013

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 114,000 miles

The transmission is starting to show signs of a problem. A transmission specialist told me that it may last a while or might fail soon. The minimum repair cost would be $1200, but likely could require the transmission to be replaced with a rebuilt one at cost of about $3000.

- , Madison, WI, USA

problem #345

Apr 062010

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

Ford built a pile of sh*t when they built the Ford Explorer. They need to recall them all. The government needs to force Ford to recall these transmissions and fix them at no cost...

- , Lagrange, GA, USA

problem #344

Apr 162012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,500 miles

I was driving today and all of sudden a car jumps out of nowhere where I had to apply the brakes hard, so when I went ahead to accelerate the engine was revving but the car was moving slowly. What gives? What could be the problem? Also, My ABS light comes on regularly and my cruise control works occasionally also. Can this be all a related problem?

- , Copperas Cove, TX, USA

problem #343

Dec 062009

Explorer LX 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

This problem seems to be a routine occurrence with Explorer owners. With all the same problem with the transmission, slipping and jerking, why can't we get together and have a class action suit against the Ford Motor Co. since they know about it and are doing absolutely nothing. It sounds like any day now the transmission will stop functioning and leave us stranded. As much as this vehicle cost, it is no excuse why Ford should not stand behind their product. The jerking is so loud you can hear it when you start driving. It is embarrassing!

- , Laurel, Delaware, USA

problem #342

May 182013

Explorer Edie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,230 miles

Have been wondering if other owners have had this same problem. Really takes away from the value of the vehicle. Getting a little fed up with Ford products!

- , Abbeville, SC, USA

problem #341

Sep 012011

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

the transmission seemed not to be shifting, I took the truck in for other issues and asked the dealer to check trans also, especially since extended warranty was almost up. THE SERVICE ADVISOR SAID THEY TEST DROVE IT AND DID NOT feel anything wrong, so they could not do anything for me, I kept complaining and was told to bring it by when I felt it again,I did and it didnt happen when they drove it so would not check transmission because he said warranty company would not pay for it. I called and told him how i came off interstate and stopped at light, trans wouldnt shift, then he asked if it shifted really hard after that and I said yes,he said oh bring it in and see if it does again, I drove there again, it did not act up for them on test drive, so once again they did nothing, he knew exactly what I was talking about and finished my sentence but would do nothing!!! Now my warranty is up and problem is worse, I feel like Im going to get in an accident when I pull out in traffic because it doesn't want to shift!

- , Longwood, FL, USA

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