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 4 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #24

Aug 112010

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,866 miles


This problem was also reported in the transmission slipping/shift hard section, but of course not only did it shift hard, the O/D light was blinking and check transmission light came on....all at same time.

vehicle is out of warranty and only 88K old (I purchased in 2004 and was brand new), I was getting on hwy and attempted to accelerate. The SUV hesitated and then did a hard jump and finally accelerated, and at the same time the CHECK TRANSMISSION light came on and O/D light started blinking on and off. Took to Ford service center the next day. Of course they "test drove" vehicle (don't see how they did that because when I got my vehicle back it had same mileage as when I turned it over to them) and did not reproduce the problem. Did self test, found codes P0735 and P0775. Ran Oasis, found TSB 09-12-12 for similar conditions. Suspectservo bore has worn and causing abnormal transmission action. Was quoted a price of $1100 to install servo bore kit (not Ford piece) without a warranty guarentee, because would be fixed with non Ford parts. Was told that they had done this on 4 other vehicles over the past year and it fixed the problem. Was also quoted a price of $4500 to replace trans assembly (with a 3 year, 100000 mile warranty). But of course, neither of these fixes would guarentee that it would finally repair the problem that I have. When asked why wasn't this fixed prior to warranty expiring, was told that it's not the same problem and they usually see this type of problem occuring at 88K miles. What????? Vehicle is only 6 years old with 88K miles, never driven off road or under harsh conditions, never pulled trailer and always serviced (by the same Ford service center) at it's regularly scheduled times. Why transmission problems? Why not fix problem now without charge when originally detected problem prior to expriration of warranty?

- , Florissant, MO, USA

problem #23

Jun 222010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

My explorer had been shifting hard for some time but not all the time. Sometimes it would go for weeks without any problems. I was traveling on the interstate at about 70 miles an hour and the O/D light started to blink along with the box saying check transmission. The next day I took it to a local transmission place that was highly recommended by others. I was told right away that the transmission was probably gone and needed to be rebuilt or replaced. The gentleman that waited on me stated that he didn't see how I wa still driving it because it was totally shot. He stated that it probably needed to be replaced 15 to 20,000 miles earlier. He quoted me $1,800 to $2,200 price to repair it. He aslo informed me that Ford would replace it for about $3,000 and put the same transmission in it (rebuilt).

I sent Ford Motor Company a letter about the situation letting them know I would probably not be buying another Ford. Not because of the problem but because they have failed to do anything about it. The local transmission place informed that Ford knew in 2004 that the transmission was not built to last but continued to build and sell them anyway. I have bought nothing but Fords since 1969. Obviously that will change. My family plans to change what they buy in the future also. I have children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It looks like we just went "GM"!!

- , Lee's Summit, MO, USA

problem #22

Apr 152010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

Bought my 2004 Ford Explorer in March 2009 with 34,000 miles. In April 2010, driving my car and o/d light started flashing and slow to shift into reverse. Had it diagnosed and was told the transmission was gone. It needed to be rebuilt to the tune of $3,100.00. Went online - found this and many other websites complaining of extensive problems with transmissions on these vehicles. Contacted Ford and got nowhere. They refused to acknowledge there were any transmission problems with these vehicles and offered nothing to me. I am extremely and will never buy an american made car again. Ford sucks!

- , Weymouth, MA, USA

problem #21

Dec 182009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles


Unbelievable...only at 66K miles the o/D light came morning the dealer painfully informed me the transmission would need a tear down ($600) and a rebuild ($3200)...literally the car went from super nice to un-drivable in 2 hrs...unbelievable...what a pain that Ford would not stand up for such a crappy the rebuild transmission already seems like it will have issues...can feel the gear change when car speed exceeds 30 and again at 40....

- , Irving, TX, USA

problem #20

Dec 302009

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

Well here I am again 2 years and 9 months from my first complaint. That was when the engine failed and was replaced. (See complaint #2 under "Engine Failure" I wanted to trade it in after that but then I figured, "what else could go wrong"?

Yesterday, the O/D light starter flashing and check transmission light came on. The truck was brought to a local dealer and guess what? That's right, new transmission required. The truck doesn't drive any different, there are no noises but I'm told that the "servos" (or something like that) had failed and the transmission needs to be replaced. The truck has 96,000 miles on it and I was told by the dealer that "this happens". It's no wonder Ford doesn't offer the 100,000 mile warranty. I've already replaced an engine and "might" replace the transmission. I haven't decided if I'm going to pay to fix it. I think I'll just cut my losses and buy something else (Not Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo, Etc.). I'm done with Ford.

- , Assonet, MA, USA

problem #19

Oct 172009

Explorer Pearl 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

Took my car into ford to let them know about the OD/light and check transmission light flashing and was told that the cost would be $500.00 to look at and dignosis the problem. The cost for the first problem could be $1500.00 to $3500.00 and the second problem could be $3500.00 to $6000.00. I told them that the car was driving fine and not shifting hard so there had to be a mistake. They assured me that was not the case. I have not had the car fixed because of the cost and the car is still driving fine except for the flashing light that appears when I reach a speed of 45 to 60mph.

- , Bellwood, IL, USA

problem #18

Nov 182009

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles


When I purchased the car about a year and 1/2 ago,with only 33,000 miles on it, I noticed that while shifting into reverse it was sometimes a hard shift. Just last week I was driving down the road when the O/D light begins flashing and I cannot turn it back on by pressing the button on the shift bar. I also notice that the transmission is slipping gears. Took the car to a diagnostic center and the to my local car mechanic, who infrorms me that I will probably have to replace the transmission. I called Ford and expressed my concern and I was told that there was nothing that they could do for me since my warranty had run out. I went to this web site which I wish I had done before I purchased my car and found out that there was a transmission defect that Ford was aware of but would not stand behind. Funny how when Ford was in danger of going under a few months back, the government used our tax dollars to bail them out. They should have let them go bankrupt because now when we need them to take the responsibility to stand behind what they know is their fault, they turn their back and pass the buck, This will most definitely be the last Ford vehicle that I ever own and I will make sure no-one that I know ever buys one either.

- , Mastic Beach, NY, USA

problem #17

Oct 082009

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,500 miles

FORD NEEDS TO DO THE RIGHT THING HERE and help all of these loyal customers with this problem that is so obvious due to a flaw with this transmission. The O/D light started to blink and the check engine light came on last week. Second gear and overdrive were gone. Two shops and $150 for diag fees later the consensus is the trans needs to be replaced, a $2,800 fix. This car had a recall in '05 for a clunky reverse - the dealer poured some kind of fluid into the tranny which never did stop the clunking. And now this. My wife and I have been trying to do the right thing buying American but I never had these problems when I owned VW's or Toyota's. The trans went in my 2002 MontiCarlo with 103,000 miles - and I purchased the 100k mi insurance for $3k when it was new. That trans cost me $1,900.

- , Murrells Inlet, SC, USA

problem #16

Sep 032009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,458 miles

One bright day my O/d light started to flash. Then a few days later it felt like i got rear ended when it shifted into 3rd then engine light came on. a few days of living with it then i went to Mr. Transmission to get an estimate. They said $450 will tell me what is wrong as it is a totally sealed unit. I still owe like $10,000 on this thing so fixing it is the only option. luckily i did some research before i went to the dealer and therefor i never did go to the dealer. Back to Mr. transmission. they got it ripped apart and estimated the repairs at $2900 dollars...that includes a few different things that were wrong with it. one of the big parts was a UPGRADED solenoid that was not a ford part because ford makes a sh*tty one and Mr transmission researches the problem and knows that the Solenoid the factory put in is a Piece of crap. Yeah, if that isnt a damn recall then i don't know what is. so everyone that raves and rants on here, I hope you are complaining to ford also. anyway if your reading this and your thinking about buying a ford explorer. Its NOT TO LATE. DO NOT buy a ford especially a explorer. Seriously DO NOT BUY A FORD. they do not stand behind their horrible problems with these transmissions!. so Monday when i go pick up my ford explorer i think im gonna sell the damn thing cause It scares the hell out of me regardless of my 3 year warranty from Mr. transmission. Hopefully the person who buys it doesn't read this. I wish i had enough money i would bring it to the wrecking yard!!! Nissan's are nice i hear!!

- , Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada

problem #15

Sep 192009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,900 miles

I am terrified because I bought the vehicle in October 2007. I still owe $10,000 on it and I can't afford to replace a transmission if that is the case. The over drive light is flashing once you reach 70 mph. The cruise control works fine until you reach 70mph then the O/D light jumps on and turns the cruise control off. What a mess.

- , Selma, AL, USA

problem #14

Aug 282009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles


O/D light flashing, could not go faster than 30mph, sounded as though I was reving up the engine in park. Took to Edwards Transmission in Castleton. Was told there was internal damages and they had to rebuild it.

CAUTION!!! If you are very unfamiliar with auto repairs, please take someone with you. Out of insecurity I went back to Edwards and asked to the read codes and to see my transmission tore down. He showed me a sheet where they hand printed the codes. Then took me into the shop and showed me my transmission which was sitting on a bench next to my truck. It had not been dissassembled at all. He then said the transmission getes taken some place like 30 mins from there and disassembled. Just 2 hours later I received a call from Jay describgin my problems. Being naieve I didnt think did they have enough time to pick up my transmission, dissassemble it and come up with this amount in repairs in just 2 hours. Anyway, he quoted my with different types of warranties. Then when I went to get financing he quoted the company a hundred dollars more. Anyway, to make a long and painful story short. I was so anxious to get my truck back I let them rip me a new one.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #13

Sep 022009

Explorer Eddie Baeur 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,460 miles

I have plenty of complaints, first of all my check engine light was on for a few days, then the o/d light and transmission light came on... turned out to be a fuel censor and still having transmission issues... now week after getting the fuel censor fixed while i was driving and stopped on stop light my low oil pressure light comes on and oil gauge goes all the way low and battery light come on???? wtf

My truck rear latch door has a crack on the middle of the door.... I seen lots of explorers like that.... what is wrong with these cars??????????????/

- , Arlington, TX, USA

problem #12

Jan 202004


  • Manual transmission
  • 30,000 miles

Another 2004 Ford Explorer slipping problem. It is obvious that Ford manufactured a defective car and won't stand behind it. I have sought Ford's assistance only to be told it is my problem. I could go into the details .. but why bother?

I will never buy another Ford again.

- , Suffern, NY, USA

problem #11

Feb 272009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,500 miles

This wasn't the first issue I have had with my Ford Explorer but it was the biggest one so far.......I have owned this vehicle for a little over one year since Oct 2007 and I am not very happy with this product at all! First off when I bought the car the dealership played a shady deal but tried to make good on it and now I am having all these mechanical issues on top of it all.......I sure won't be in any hurry to buy a Ford Product ever again.

On a Thursday my OC light starts flashing and I stop in to tell the dealer - they want me to leave it there and RENT a car at $30. a day while they look at it but probably wont get to it til the rental car is on me til then.....(what ever happened to the loaner they promised when they sold me the car)......also I asked them to check the brakes and the seat belt retractor since that never worked properly since I purchased the vehicle...of course none of that was covered under the warranty. $110. for warped rotors and $180 for the seat belt.....unreal! The transmission when all said and done cost $349. in parts and some $1500 in labor. to replace some pistons, bands, gaskets and fluid. Hopefully this fix does the trick but I have my doubts.

- , Columbia, CT, USA

problem #10

Feb 152009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

I was driving home from a ski trip in Michigan, coasting down I-35 at about 72 mph when I heard and felt a big thud and my transmission shifted out of overdrive down into 4th gear. The O/D light was flashing on the dash, so I slowed down to about 62 mph to keep the rpms down the rest of the way back to Minneapolis. Then the service engine soon light came on, so the next morning I took the thing to a transmission repair shop to have them look at it. Turns out that Ford went cheap on their design of a servo pin actuator for the drum band that engages second and fifth gear, so now my truck shifts straight from 1st gear to 3rd gear, and has no fifth gear or overdrive. This problem is rampant and I cannot believe that Ford took out the lever that used to be included in the actuation mechanism. How much money could removing that part from the design really have saved? I'm having the transmission repaired and rebuilt, but I can tell you one thing for sure - when it comes time to buy a different vehicle (which from the sounds of things from other posters, may be sooner rather than later) I am much less likely to buy another Explorer, and will probably take a really good look at getting a 4Runner.

- , Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #9

Mar 062009

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 118,000 miles

Had the transmission rebuild less than a year ago..... with 104,000 miles on it. FIRST FORD and last the way it is working. I found out AFTER I bought the explorer that U-Haul would not rent to anyone with an explorer.

- , Clarksville, TN, USA

problem #8

Feb 252009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

Well looks like the Ford company has some serious issues with these transmissions...

I had some of the same issues as most rear end small leak...Trans shifting hard into the slipping between 1st and 3rd..and now o/d light flashing and service engine light is on....I am bring to trans shop next week ....anyone know how much its gonna cost???

- , Florence, SC, USA

problem #7

Jan 302009

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 171,000 miles

While returning from Savannah, Ga on Thursday, the O/D light started flashing and the check transmission light came on. This vehicle has no dipstick since the transmission is a sealed unit. After checking all I could check, I shut off the O/D and continued home without the benefit of the overdrive. I placed the Exploder in the shop early Friday morning and the news was not good! The selenoid body is going to need replacement, then we will see what else may be wrong. As I have checked this is a typical Explorer problem. It should be recalled, but I do not imagine that will ever happen. This transmission has been serviced regularly. I have driven 80,000 miles this year but the miles were almost entirely interstate miles. This is the second Explorer that I have owned; it is also the last! Honda, here I come! Isn't it amazing that our big three is suffering great losses to the International Auto Builders! Yoo Hoo! Wake up guys!!!!!!

- , Mt Carmel, IL, USA

problem #6

Jan 032009

Explorer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

My O/D light came on and my truck already had some electrical problems with the windows so I figured there was just some kind of blockage or short in the system - then my check service engine light came on - that's not electrical - for sure - bought from a local dealer and no warranty - so I'm basically screwed - sure enough i just took my truck to the shop and said there was some type of CDL or CLD blockage or something like that but they still said they had to look into it - i bet i can guess now whats going to happen - have to replace the transmission - sweeeet - this is a pain in the ass, seriously, all these damn people and no recall on the transmission - when someone really gets hurt it will be the end of ford - which is really sad, ive always had a ford and they have all had little issues, but what car doesn't? this one will be the end of it for sure - - -

- , St. Louis, MO, USA

problem #5

Jan 022009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

We were driving home from Florida and was towing a trailer. About 15 miles into the trip the O/D light started flashing. well 900 miles later the vehicle is now having problems shifting into first gear. The check engine light is on also. After seeing this I will probably go buy a CHEVY or an American made foreign car and just park the 02 explorer and wait to see what happens.

- , Catlettsburg, KY, USA

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