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
Crashes / Fires:
13 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
38,613 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 16 of 16)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #8

Oct 212004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,000 miles


When putting transmission in reverse it hesitates and slams in to gear. Very loud humming noise in rear when in any speed of acceleration. Vehicle is going to dealership tommorow.

- Tomball, TX, USA

problem #7

Sep 012004


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Consumer had problems with the automatic transmission. Each time the vehicle was backed up, it would hesitate when placed in drive. The vehicle also leaped forward with the consumers foot on the brake, it was placed in drive and the vehicle did not move. The vehicle was a rental.

- Evanston, IL, USA

problem #6

Oct 042004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,000 miles
When shifting to reverse- step on gas - does not engage then suddenly a clunk and takes off very fast in reverse- worried about hitting someone- dealer has reflashed & then replaced solenoid in transmission problem still exists.

- Spring Grove, IL, USA

problem #5

Sep 302004

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,600 miles


Vehicle was taken to dealer for transmission problem. Consumer was told that when placing vehicle in reverse, it jerked, and sometimes it raced. Consumer was told that part of the transmission needed to be replaced.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #4

Sep 012004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles
Engaging the transmission in "reverse" it hesitates, slips then surges. Loud banging/clunking noises heard, sounds like universal joint. Dealer states parts on order. Apparently this is a known defect to Ford, dealer blames it on a defective servo, synchro or solinoid. Awaiting nationwide back ordered parts from the same manufacture, what makes me think that this same part won't again fail. What is Ford's responsibility regarding warranty extension for the transmission which still is encountering the same problems as I await the repair parts? sounds like a safety problem to me.

- Burke, VA, USA

problem #3

Aug 162004


  • miles
4X4 eddie bauer Explorer - bangs into reverse.

- Basking Ridge, NJ, USA

problem #2

Apr 172004

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,000 miles
When putting the vehicle in reverse it surged. Consumer was able to stop the vehicle without any incident. Vehicle was towed to the dealership for inspection and the mechanic determined that the transmission failed.

- Winder, GA, USA

problem #1

Jun 042004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The gear on my newly purchased 2004 Ford Explorer broke off. I beleive this to be a manufacture defect. When I tookthe truck back to the dealer they couldn't believe it themselves. I am afraid to wonder what else is wrong with this vehicle.

- Uncasville, CT, USA

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