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:
94,541 miles
Total Complaints:
84 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (27 reports)
  2. rebuild transmission (27 reports)
  3. replace transmission (16 reports)
  4. replace solenoid body (7 reports)
  5. replaced transmission (4 reports)
  6. turn off truck & wait 10 seconds to restart (3 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #64

Jul 282012

Explorer 4.Ol V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,990 miles



- , Pittsburgh, PA, US

problem #63

Sep 012009

Explorer Sport 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles

It started acting up within the first month. When they would fix it, it would work for a while and the symptoms would always return. Around 2009, Ford put a new valve body in it and it was okay for about a year. The symptoms were hard shifting out of neutral into forward and reverse. Also a hard shift between second and third gear. Around March of 2012 a new symptom was added to the transmission. The O/D light would come on and the transmission would start slipping. Of course the warranty was out by this time, but the car only has 38,000 miles on it now. I know this to be true because I have had this car since it was new. The Ford dealer just informed me the bill would be over $3000.00 to repair it. Since this problem has been happening since I got it, I cant trust another transmission. I called Ford customer complaint department and they said there was nothing they could do for me because it is out of warranty. I feel that since the car only has 38,000 miles on it and the problem has been there since day one that they should offer something. I also informed her that I will never buy another Ford car and my family always bought Fords but we are now a Chevy family.

- , Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #62

Mar 092012

Explorer XLT 6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 172,000 miles

Well it seems I'm the next person in a long line of people who is having transmission issues with the 2004 Explorer and Ford still does not accept any fault for this. Out of the blue the service engine soon light comes on and turns out to be a transmission sensor code. The truck only has 172,000 miles on it. I take it to a transmission specialist and they tell me its about to fail - sensors, slipping, and skipping gears? To correct they would need to rebuild and it would only cost me $3,067. I just can't believe that with so many complaints for the same problem Ford will not take ownership for this. They should definitely make it a recall. I'm already thinking about buying a Toyota soon.

- , Chula Vista, CA, US

problem #61

Jan 012012

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 167,888 miles



- , Washington, DC, USA

problem #60

Mar 142012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

purchased new 2004, thought we had a great car then out the blue o/d light flahes and transmission fails. We have had several fords in the past but It may all be in the past now GMC is sounding pretty good VERY disappointed in Ford,

- , Quincy, MA, US

problem #59

Feb 172012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

Lately I've been having problems with my car, but to day the O/D light started flashing and heard a weird noice in engine... I did put O/D on and then thurn off, but engine wouldn't 'turn off' the O/D. Or that's how it felt... Seems like other people found out that the Torque Conveter might be the solution to the problem... Hope it's not too expensive!

- , Coconut Creek, FL, USA

problem #58

Jan 212012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles


I have had my transmission replaced twice within the last year with a grand total of approximately $3900 dollars. Now my O/D light is flashing, check transmission alert is coming on and my check engine light is constantly illuminated. This is not right that ford will not do a recall or something to help ford owners

- , Bethany, OK, USA

problem #57

Aug 102011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

SO aggravated!!! Bought this and one month later had it in the shop. Had transmission rebuilt.... a week later O/D light flashing had that fixed and here I am three months later with O/D light flashing again, my car is running like sh*t!!!OMG!!!! Im so pissed and don't know what to do! This needs to be on the recalled list, Transmission work is NOT cheap!!!!

- , Willis, TX, USA

problem #56

Dec 212011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,598 miles

After reading a number of incidents on several forums, Why has Ford not sent an information notice to owners informing us to have the transmission checked out beyond the maintenance manual schedule, looking for irregularities?

- , Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #55

Dec 062011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles

After a 1 hour drive on a snow covered highway the OD/OFF light started flashing. When starting from a stop, the shift into second gear was very hard; knew damage would occur.

The local and highly rated transmission shop read the error codes, all related to the speed sensors. The shop experts explained one speed sensor was giving bad reading so they would replace all three since they are only $20.00 or so each. I agreed to this. Upon picking up the car and driving home I discovered nothing had change. Shifted hard into second and the OD/OFF light began flashing.

Returned to the shop. They did some major checking of the electrical system as it relates to the transmission and found nothing, so opted to overhaul the tranny.

When the overhaul was completed I was shown a couple parts that has some wear and 'may' have caused the issues I was experiencing. Unfortunately, the OD/OFF light is still flashing and it still shifts hard into second.

The shop is now looking into the ABS electrical system as it relates to the transmission and have no solution or due date to report.

I've done extensive readings in the forums and on many automotive sites such as: etc.

What I have come away with are: 1.) The Ford Explorers are on one use 4WD. 2.) 2002-2004 are the worse years 3.) Most OD/OFF Flash Light complaints have no permanent solution. 4.) One is most likely better off, given the value of the car, to sell it as it, combine that money with the ~$3000.00 the repair will cost and buy something else.

I was a big Ford fan for two reasons. One, they didn't take bailout money from the government. Two, my 94 Aerostar 4.0 v6 van has 197000 virtually trouble free miles on it. But then it is a 94. Judging by the trends It would most likely have 195 complaints, instead of the close to 2000 complaints the 2004 Explorer has.

- , Fort Collins, CO, USA

problem #54

Aug 112011

Explorer XLS 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles


Its wrong that a transmission should go after only having 97,000 miles and when I called Ford to tell them about it they didn't care all they said was it was out of warranty and sorry and have a nice day. Thanks Ford for a Quality Job 1.

- , Lincoln Park, MI, USA

problem #53

Dec 032011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

After driving for an hour on a snow covered road in 4WD Hi, my OD/Off light began flashing. Later that same day when accelerating normally from a stop, the car would shift VERY hard from 2nd to 3rd; "clunk" (feels a hefty jerk).

Sadly, I now learn it is a defect Ford is ignoring. I expect I'll do some more research and try some of the more affordable fixes mentioned, not the $3,500.00 transmission replacement that has been reported over and over not to fix the problem. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Update from Feb 27, 2012: I was way off on getting this problem repaired. It only cost about $2500.00 and took one week and four subsequent followup visits.

Trip One: Rebuilt the transmission Trip Two: Rechecked the re-occuring codes (they were the same as the first go-around) Trip Two: Rebuilt the Valve Body assembly Trip Three: Re Flashed the Computer Trip Four: Installed new computer and then re-flashed.

We are back to normal now. The transmission shifts great. There is concern of when to trade the car in as we have a three year warranty on the tranny.

- , Fort Collins, CO, USA

problem #52

Aug 032011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 121,000 miles

Just purchased the car used. 70 miles after purchasing O/D light starts to flash and the transmission shifts in and out of Overdrive. The next day, the car runs and shifts fine. Have an appointment with AAMCO to check it out tomorrow. I'm very nonplussed after reading how many problems Ford has had with these. I'll keep you posted on what our final repair will be.

- , Seabrook, TX, USA

problem #51

Apr 012011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

We have a 2004 Explorer, gears shift hard from 0 MPH- 40 MPH. many jerks when shifting. A few hours ago I prayed my explorer would get me home from spending Thanksgiving day at the inlaws 25 miles away, the gears sounded horrible. Once I got within 2 miles of my house the O/D light started flashing and I have 91,000 miles on the SUV; I was planning on going Black Friday Shopping, but now I can't because 1, I am afraid to drive it and 2, I have to take my suv in to fix the problem!

- , Surprise, AZ, USA

problem #50

Jul 142011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Ok now im really pissed this wonderful peice of s**t is broke down again can not even be driven will not shift out of first gear from what i am told the shift band is broke and the trans has to be torn all the way apart and be rebuilt and going to cost me at least 3 grand to have this problem fixed. Guess what i do not have a spare 3 grand laying around to have this problem fixed so for now i am out a car and have to have my wife drive my 98 lincoln navigator that has 210,000 miles on it only gets 14 miles to the gallon tops and i have to drive my 97 dodge ram that gets 9 miles to the gallon tops so saving money to have the exploder fixed is not something that is going to happen in the neer future unless i can find a way to stick the maker with the cost witch should not be a question because they know they made a peice of junk and they need to stand by it but we all know thats not going to happen so im screwed THANX FORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! its grately appreciated

- , Cincinnati, OH, US

problem #49

Jun 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,555 miles

i have a 2004 ford explorer its the 3rd one i have must be sucker for sure, a year ago i lost the transmission in this one only had it 7months, it had 127000kms on it , it cost me over 1 thousand dollars and more. it is a year later and the o/d is flashing on / off and when it does the tranny starts to slip, wait and it comes back, i am very upset with this , i'm putting a complaint to ford dealership about this i got 22,000km on a new transmission, i can't afford another one i will have to scrap this one and call it lost cause and remember not to buy another ford.

- , Bonavista, NL, Canada

problem #48

Sep 152011

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 161,000 miles

OD light flashing and trans slipping...what was ford doing when they designed this suv....just bad. i have owned mustangs and earlier explorer models and this one has cheaply made parts, maint problems unheard of with any other car companies...cant say much more....I'm getting more upset by the min.

- , Southfield, MI, USA

problem #47

Sep 092011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,000 miles

Truck was pretty problem free(power window ,paint peel,shifts hard into reverse sometimes)but then the od off light started blinking and the service engine soon light came on . Talked to two separate service managers at ford (both good friends of mine) said was a common problem would try and help out but bottom line is a complete rebuild to the tune of around 3000.00. This is my third and last exploder,hello toyota. brother has forerunner w 268000 other than basic maintenance he has done nothing. Bye BYE ford............................

- , Palos Hts, IL, mexico

problem #46

Aug 102011

Explorer LS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

I have already replaced the motor on this vehicle last summer due to it overheating because of poor craftsmanship in the way the parts are put together..and now, the following summer, the transmission is going out?? O/D light flashing, clunking sound when shifting or whining sound...this vehicle has been nothing but a money hog in all the repairs that have been done to it!!

Update from Aug 19, 2011: fixed with a new transmission...$$$2600.00

- , Claremont, CA, USA

problem #45

Jul 042011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

This is my first ford and sure the last one. I can't even check the fluid level on the transmission 'cause this sh*t doesn't even have a dip stick. It spent $2,500.00 to fix this sh*t SUV and I was told by the mechanic it was gonna last more than 30,000 Miles.

- , Silver Spring, MD, USA

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