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.


fairly significant
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
15,848 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

problem #4

Jun 062007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,890 miles


2004 Ford Explorer hesitated and did not shift when going over 40 mph. Down shifted S for no reason and made a loud rumbling noise, had to pull over in heavy traffic at times; almost caused several accidents.

- Fairview Park, OH, USA

problem #3

Oct 132005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,000 miles
The contact states his vehicle is stalled while driving. The first time this happened he took the vehicle to a local dealership, and the PCM was reprogrammed. The vehicle stalled three times on November 6, 2005. This happens with no warning lights. The vehicle was taken to the same dealership. They could not duplicate the problem, therefore, no repairs were made.

- Oxford, NC, USA

problem #2

Jun 012004

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Still hesitates into reverse from drive after Ford fix of additive to transmission. Problem getting worse, affecting shifting in forward gears now.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #1

Nov 222004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,500 miles
While making a turn, the vehicle shut off, and had to be towed to the dealer. The PCM software was replaced. The consumer experienced the same problem again. The consumer contacted the manufacturer. There was no response.

- Maylene, AL, USA

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