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.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
107,564 miles
Total Complaints:
20 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. take to a shop, get a new transmission (9 reports)
  2. not sure (6 reports)
  3. vehicle all of a sudden would not reverse!!! (5 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #20

Oct 012015

Explorer XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles


Surprised that no class action lawsuit or recall has been started.

- , Westerly, RI, USA

problem #19

Jun 042015


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Cannot believe I have to put all this money out to get a new or rebuilt transmission. I have just replaced the tire muffler and maintain the car. We don't drive it a lot. Is it worth fixing? We really don't want a new car payment.


problem #18

Apr 202015

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

This is described by our dealer as a known problem with Ford Explorers at around 100,000 miles for early 2000 models. After calling Ford about the problem, which is a design fault on their behalf to see if they could offer a Courtesy repair or a discount to fix / replace the transmission. They state the car is too old for them to help us. And that we should ask the dealership. Not likely they will pay to fix a problem Ford created.

We are in the market to by a car for my son. It will not be a Ford.

- , Mendham, NJ, USA

problem #17

Apr 072015

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles


The transmission needed to be repaired while the car was still under warranty and now it is broken again.

- , Springfield, MA, USA

problem #16

Dec 042011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Bought 2004 Explorer new, put all 75000 miles on with generally easy driving. Transmission was rough from start, which dealer many times looked at and said was normal.12/12- light flashes and will not shift to reverse. Took to another Ford dealer for repair and was quoted 3k+ to replace trans. I pointed out to dealer that this was a well known problem, to no effect. Had no choice to trade vehicle for basically nothing to buy a vehicle for work. Cost me 5k plus in trade value.

- , Rockland, ME, USA

problem #15

Feb 142014

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

Lunges at times (feels like I just got rear-ended by another vehicle and sometimes it even makes the tires skid) when putting in reverse and other times it won't move when you step on gas (it's like the car is in neutral). When I put the car back in park and then reshift back into Reverse the car reverses. This is a very serious and scary issue. I hope and pray this violent jolting and lunging never occurs when I am backing out of a parking space for fear I would SLAM into someone.

- , Sachse, TX, USA

problem #14

Jul 082014

Explorer ES 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 161,114 miles


Has been serviced on time when I was told the problem would not happen again. I'm on fixed income, this is my only transportation and I need it fixed a.s.a.p. Is their a recall for this problem?

- , Detroit, MI, USA

problem #13

Jan 012012

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Vehicle would suddenly jerk and for some reason would not switch into gear in time! Very scary when entering the freeway! But one day it just would not reverse! It would just make a forcing sound with no movement when I would press the gas pedal! This was by far the worst experience! It sat in my car port for about a year! They told me it would cost me about 3-4g to fix! So there I am saving, driving my father's car. Meanwhile while trying to save, my father found a coworker that works as a mechanic also, and he said he would repair it for $1400! So yeah, it was working, but not for long!!

- , Escondido, CA, USA

problem #12

Jul 072014


  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,000 miles

FORD, wow, I buy 10 new Fords to replace my fleet every year and maybe that's why I have had no issues, but after keeping one, I realized what people mean when they say Ford is a piece of sh*t, I now know what they mean. I will be getting rid of all these vans next month and try Chevy for sure.

- , Providence, RI, USA

problem #11

Jan 302013

Explorer Limited V6 3.2

  • Automatic transmission
  • 126,325 miles

I have owned this car for one year. My family, kids and parents live in about a 400 mile radius. When the car hit a little over 100'000 miles I took it and paid 300 dollars to have it serviced per manual states. He said he was already seeing problems and that the thing was not shifting properly. 2 months later it stopped telling you what gear it was in and now 6 months later, get in it to go to work, hit garage door button, put it in reverse and nothing. Maybe this is why Ford didn't need a bail out from the government, cause they are building cheap products.

I have owned a Ford since I turned 16. I turned 40 in July so I have had several. I lost my job and have been unable to find work. Me and my wife barely make it on her salary and help from my parents. I don't have $3000 to buy another transmission. I took good care of this vehicle and this should not have happened. MY WIFE WORKS 20 miles away and that is our only car. Thanks for letting one of your biggest supporters down. I will not purchase another one. Yours truly, J. Jackson.CLEVELAND,TN

- , Cleveland, TN, USA

problem #10

Mar 112013

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 207,420 miles


ford made a transmission that's crap, they should stand behind their product. like an American company

- , Bronx, NY, USA

problem #9

Oct 012012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,500 miles

My transmission started shifting really hard while under warranty so I took it and had the problem 'fixed' by ford. Come to find out it was just a band aid fix. Right as my warranty expired again shifting hard. Took it in and Ford said I have to pay for the band aid this time. Now no reverse. Take to a shop to fix without band aid. They say I need to fix transmission around 2G's. Thanks Ford. Was a die hard fan. All I ever purchased has been fords. 84 Mustang, 95 Cobra Mustang, and 03 Cobra Mustang. Hate to say with the customer service I have received from Ford with the Lemon Explorer I was sold and hearing that 1 out of every 10 has had transmission problems tells me ford just doesn't care. Looking for a new brand. As much as I hate to say it my uncle was right Found On Road Dead!!

- , Lakewood, CO, USA

problem #8

Aug 012012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

This is so bad.. I keep hearing about transmission failures on Explorer's yet no reacall from Ford.. the cheap ,chislers they know the design is bad and should step up to the plate and pay for the reapir.

- , Fremont, CA, USA

problem #7

May 012012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles

I wish I would have did research on this vehicle first. So many transmission problems I've read about. Mine started out with the check engine light. then accelerating crazy, then slipping out of gear, then it just wouldn't reverse.....

- , Sandston, VA, US

problem #6

Jan 292012

Explorer LX 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,350 miles

It's painful that Ford knowing has done this to it's customers. Specially when most of us "working" folk are being stretched thin....

- , North Miami Beach, FL, USA

problem #5

Feb 012011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Seems that my reverse is going. Sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. Bucks when I go to back up. Will cost $2800 to rebuild trans or $3800 for a new one. Can't someone stand up for the "little" people? Ford, be accountable!!!!

- , West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #4

Oct 152010

Explorer XLT 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,566 miles

This nightmare started in May of 2004 when I bought this Explorer, after driving for about a week the transmission started slipping and I brought it back to dealer and they installed a valve that solve the problem, so I thought. The next event took place a few weeks later when I was shifting into reverse, when I heard a loud bang. At this point the car is not even a month old, and I explain this to them and they said they would fix the problem. I waited for about 3 days until these so call service people were able to solve this problem and I picked up the car. I contacted Ford Motor Company about this problems and they contacted the dealer and finally in mine I thought this problem was solved. The madness started all over again and I was back at the dealer and e-mailing Ford about this piece of junk that they were selling. The dealer contacted and told me the car was ready to pick-up, and when I drove off from the dealer the car was performing like a standard car without a clutch, I went back to the dealer and they tried to convince me that this would work itself out and that the transmission would operate like a normal unit. I drove this Ford lemon until December 19th, 2009, when the rear diff went out and I brought it back to dealer (Vamp Motors, Cayman Islands). At this point I was ready to burn the lemon in front of the dealer's show room. The madness started all over again call in Ford and fighting with the dealer and finally they agreed to replace the diff at no cost to me. I left the car at the dealer for 10 months and on October 15th, 2010 I went to dealer and pick-up the lemon. I drove home and when I went to park in my drive-way I was unable to reverse the lemon. The next day I went back to the dealer and pointed out my problem to the manager, and he made a quick inspection of the problem, and said to me I need to replace the transmission at a cost of (3,250.00). I told him I will see him in court.

- , Cayman Islands, George Town, Cayman Islands

problem #3

Nov 192009

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

Just bought this used w/ 50,068 miles, with a full 30 day 1k mile warranty plus a full extended warranty, at day 30 no reverse, O/D light on, Service Engine light on, barely driveable in forward gears. Drove it back to the used car dealer and they have it in their shop. I have just read all of the other complaints on this transmission, not sure whether it was the right car to get, but we have a '98 Expedition that keeps on going, but after towing a car trailer all over the country the transmission on that went last year, replaced it for $3,000 with a full warranty added. So, the used car dealer said that the Explorer had been checked out, but within the first two weeks they replaced the radio, front bushings, rebalanced the Dunlop tires, etc. Good looking car, just hope the trans holds up.

- , W. Conshohocken, PA, USA

problem #2

Oct 012009

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

owned this 2004 explorer since new. Back to the dealer 7 times, 6 of 7 times for transmission repair problems. now only 84000 miles. This truck is in immaculate condition otherwise. Now headed somewhere to repair or replace. dealer has refused to warranty even though transmission has been constant problem. will decide tommorrow next step,

I am not a happy camper and after reading 200 other complaints, I may find another car company. Have been a ford guy for 30 years.........? and by the way I am a ford stockholder........ for now.

- , Newnan, GA, USA

problem #1

Aug 012008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 91,000 miles

I bought this car in February 2007. It was used. It still had a little time under warranty. NOT MUCH!! 90 Days!! This should be an eye opener. I was attempting to go to work, but was unable to pull out of the drive thru. My reverse went out. I got the car towed to a shop and I was told my transmission had gone out. I needed to get it replaced. It cost $2500 to get fixed. I had to borrow the money from my parents. I drove the car for another 2 weeks before I got the money what a pain in the ass.

- , Mableton, GA, USA

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