Print this page 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:
94,550 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 1 of 5)

problem #84

Jun 012012

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


Transmission began having issues shifting into gear (i.e. from park to reverse, drive to park, etc.) at around 80,000 miles. Transmission remained functional until a separate problem with the oil filter adapter gasket parked the vehicle. The solenoid pack was replaced at 123,000 miles which alleviated the major shifting problems. The 1st to 2nd engine flair is still present, but the cause of that is often the OD solenoid piston, though not confirmed.

Update from Apr 24, 2014: Edit: The date that this problem began occurring was 2009, not 2012. The issue was repaired in April 2014.

- Ryan F., Manhattan, KS, US

problem #83

Dec 252013

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

After replacing the wheel bearings on this vehicle, I am now looking at almost $4000 to fix this vehicle. I am considering junking it at this point. Goodbye Ford.

- Michele A., Johns Creek, GA, US

problem #82

May 012014

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Here is my other complaint. A month ago the o/d light started flashing, at first it wouldn't shift in o/d until I reset the computer. Now it still flashes but it shifts fine. Also since this happened, I can't get it over 62 with out it shutting the truck off. This truck is a piece of crap and I don't have money to put another transmission in. Never again will I buy another Explorer

- David C., Freeport, TX, US

problem #81

Jul 172013

Explorer ES 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles



- Jerry P., Sardinia, OH, US

problem #80

Mar 012014

Explorer LX 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 157,000 miles

Ford knows about their transmission problems and will not fix them? Why buy a Ford ever again?

- Edward A., sylvania, OH, US

problem #79

Jan 062014

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,000 miles

Well apparently again another common problem on the 04 explorers. With only 92,000 miles transmission went out in gears 2 and 5 . Driving home o/d light came on transmission started slipping , Rpms increasing in certain gears took to shop right away . Transmission needs replacing. I expect more out if a 40,000 dollar vehicle. I can't believe the transmission needs replacing after less then 100,000 miles

- jjohnston326, Lady Lake, FL, US

problem #78

Jul 202013

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 152,000 miles


04 ford explorer Explorer, problems do occur, and transmission issues rank high on the list. Consumers report higher-than-usual RPMs being required to shift the vehicle from first to second gear, followed shortly by slippage and total failure. this repair can still cost upwards of $2000.

- rgg344, Houston, TX, US

problem #77

Aug 012012

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

After reading all of the complaints about Ford's problem with their transmission, especially in the 2004 Explorer model, I can not understand why Ford has not had a recall on this matter. My transmission starting slipping on the why to work. I had to pull over because it was stuck in neutral but the vehicle was in gear. Unbelievable.

- brostekdj22, Jekyll Island, GA, US

problem #76

Mar 242013

Explorer LS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

2013 Son driving home from work called and said vehicle rpms went up with no acceleration and had to let car slow down and he heard grinding noise. Took the 2004 Ford Explorer to dealer they said need new transmission because it was missing 2 and 5 gear and would cost 4400. I said no. Instead they placed a used transmission for total cost of labor and used transmission $2900.

- rosetexas, Watauga, TX, US

problem #75

May 242013

Explorer ES 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 139,000 miles

the O/D off came on i take my truck to a body shop, they told me it was the transmission and i replace. it s a 2004 ford explorer

- Belinda S., Houston, TX, US

problem #74

May 232013

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,623 miles


My truck started to make clicking noise for about 3 weeks. I brought it to the Mechanics and was told I needed ball joints upper & lower. Cost for the ball joints was $800.00 & I still heard the clicking noise after the joints were replaced. Then two days later the O/D light starts flashing now told I need a transmission cost $2400.00. I am really frustrated, I just finished paying off the car two months ago now all of these problems start. Last year I had to replace the front drivers side front wheel hub.

- maxwellg, East Rockaway, NY, US

problem #73

May 032013

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Ford has numerous complaints about their transmissions in the 2002-2004 transmissions, yet they offer no assistance or recall for this problem. With so many complaints and the safety of customers at risk if they continue to drive these vehicles you would think that Ford would recall these vehicles.

- Sandra M., Rosenberg, TX, US

problem #72

Jan 072012

Explorer XLE V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

The over drive light started blinking while driving and have not stop. I had it checked on the computer and was revealed that the transmission is skipping and needs to be replaced. I just can't believe Ford is not doing anything about It. Shame I will not buy Ford ever again.;

- edm40, Yonkers, NY, US

problem #71

Mar 012013

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

My check engine light came on about a month ago. Now my 2004 Explorers transmission is out.

The bad thing about this is that Ford is not backing their product. I have been a long time Ford guy but know I am leaning towards Chevy. Ford has just made its customers look like total asses as we expect Ford to do something about this and we get nothing but a high repair bill. Ford is really going to lose with this one.

- duncanj, Russellville, KY, US

problem #70

Dec 042012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

No warning just driving along and the OD light is flashing and is shifting very hard. It then started slipping and had to have it towed to the repair shop. The repair shop does 30 transmissions per month and they said the most common transmission is the early 2000's explorers. Never towed with it owned it since 15000 miles. Wife only drove kids back and forth to school. Feel as though Explorer owners got ripped off. Car should have no resale value. Anyone that buys one needs plenty of cash laying around. $2800 for the rebuild with a 2 year 24000 mile warranty.

- 2751exploder, Venice, FL, US

problem #69

Nov 082010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

have had trouble out of car from day 3, rear driver window quit working, had local dealer fix at 52000 miles, alternator went out and at 62000 transmission started going out. o/d light started flashing and started shifting hard car has 102000 on it now and the heat in the car has quit working. I will never buy another ford product as long as I live. anyone else would be crazy to buy. I took transmission to a local franchise and was told that every 2004 ford explorer he has seen has had the same problem and that if i put new transmission in vehicle it would do same thing, that the car had cancer.

- Stacy B., Johnson City, TN, US

problem #68

Sep 152012

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles

OMG! Where do I begin? I purchased a 2004 Ford explorer in July 0f 2011, and traded in my 2001 Oldsmobile of 5 years. I also purchased the 12 month 12,000 mile warranty. Before driving it off the lot I had the dealer fix the ABS system because the light was on. There is a crack going down the back of the trunk but nothing else was wrong at the time so I left the crack alone. In April of 2012 I took it to the dealership for a belt, check trans, shocks, ball joints, and a ticking in the heater when knob was turned to heat (not cool). The dealer was very rude for 1 and tried to charge me almost $800. for items not on the warranty. I told him to just fix what was on the warranty and also give it a oil change. He informed me that the trans was fine and charged me for looking at it because nothing was wrong so my so called warranty still came out to almost $400. out of pocket expenses. After getting the car back my heat went out and I was told by a mechanic Buddy that my brakes, rotors, emergency brake pads and the back tires were shot. So I had him replaced them because this was also not covered on warranty. Just last week my RPM started jumping with miles over 65.(no lights were on at the time)So I took it to 6 different places getting estimates on what could be wrong. All shops said the same thing. "Start with fuel filter, oil filters and oil change". I was told if that does not work then something else is wrong but with no lights on it was hard to tell. I did all of what I was told. The day after I paid for all this the service engine light came on. I took the car to Auto Zone to get it checked. (EGR Valve code) The man at Auto Zone told me to take it off and clean it with spray and let it dry before replacing. I took it to a shop and had them do this. The same day I picked up the car my service engine light came on again, O/d light and the car was driving like I was hauling a bus and jumping. I took it back the next day and he replaced the EGR valve new since the same code was showing up. Later that day after getting it back the car started doing the same thing after driving for 5 miles this was Friday 9/21/12. I have now turned to the internet and I am MADDER THAN I WAS BEFORE LOOKING ON THE NET!!! OMG!!! I still owe a car note on this car, I am a student working a part-time job and a single parent. I have no ideas what to do next. I refuse to put a trans in it and refuse to pay for it if I cannot drive it. I am so upset that I bought a FORD. I would rather have a old beat up Chevy any day then buy a brand new Fix Or Repair Daily/ Found On Roadside Dead = FORD!!!! FORD!!! GET OFF YOUR A$$ AND HELP THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE YOU RICH!!!!!!!!!

Update from Sep 27, 2012: I called the mechanic that last serviced my car and explained to him everything I had read on the complaint sites, he told me he wanted to research the sites and have me drop it off on 9/25. On 9/25 I dropped it off, Later that day the mechanic contacted me saying there are no codes showing up for the service engine light and that I need to take it to a authorized Ford dealer for a more in-dept diagnosis but call them first for an appointment because they are very busy. So, I called the local Ford Dealer in my area and was told several different things it could be. But to my surprise he named off the same several different things that I have read on the complaint sites. He told me for $90.00 he would tell me whats going on from there. I have not taken it to the Ford dealers yet. I am to the point where I just don't want to deal with this car anymore. I just wanna push it off the Ohio Bridge and be done!!! The Car dealership and Ford are RIP OFFS!!!

- lateshaky, Hebron, KY, US

problem #67

May 112012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

while driving this o/d light just comes on when it wants, transmission slips in and out of gear.

- Melody M., Sandston, VA, US

problem #66

Aug 052012

Explorer LTD V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles

This and a transmission service light both went off at the same time. Shame on you Ford! A transmission should last longer.

- cemaltese, Des Plaines, IL, US

problem #65

Jun 122012

Explorer XLS/XLS Sport

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

I'm disappointed with Explorer purchase because I have had two major issues with it and only had it for 10 months. Problem #1 wheel barren, #2 transmission in less than three months apart.

Now that I have 100,000 miles on it, warranty is gone and vehicle requires high tech mechanical work. Minimum wages won't cover these type outer pocket expenses.

- Barbara J., Concord, VA, US

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