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:
89,030 miles
Total Complaints:
172 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace transmission (75 reports)
  2. replaced with rebuilt transmission (48 reports)
  3. not sure (26 reports)
  4. having the whole thing overhauled (17 reports)
  5. replace torque converter (2 reports)
  6. transmission seal failure causing leak and the pump is weak (2 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #152

Jun 012004

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles


Seems that many others had transmission problems with this make and model!?!

- , Staunton, VA, USA

problem #151

Jun 022014

Explorer LT 6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

This is the SECOND TIME the transmission has went out. We paid over $2000 last year to have it rebuilt. Within 6 months of the warranty, it went out again. I had 4 children with me when it stopped working in the middle of the busy intersection. It would not go into gear. It took me months to save up the money to buy another transmission so I can at least drive it to a dealership and TRY to trade it in. Just had it replaced from another used Explorer transmission, and it is slipping gear again. I am not buying Ford again as this same thing happened to me with my Ford Mustang years ago. It is surely a safety hazard when you are pulling out in traffic and the gear slips into Neutral from Drive. I cannot understand how Ford gets away with this rip off!!!

- , Conowingo, MD, USA

problem #150

Feb 222014

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 180,000 miles

While driving this vehicle I noticed the problem first when in town when suddenly it would not move while trying to make a turn, I was almost hit since I was in the middle of the road. The problem came very suddenly.It went from shifting hard one day to the O/D light flashing to losing all ability to drive with people behind us on the highway, all within one trip of less than 50 miles. Since it died on the highway and we could not move, we had to have the damn thing towed and our house was less than 10 miles away. Sitting on the highway next to high snow banks and people flying past us with our baby in the car. Horrible, piece of junk tranmission! Ford needs to recall this model!

- , Windsor, VT, USA

problem #149

Jul 072013

Explorer LS 6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


A vehicle with only 80,000 that is adult driven should not be having transmission failure! Come on Ford ante up.....this is my third and worst Ford Explorer. Been a Ford and Mercury owner for over 50 years but am now reconsidering for the future.

- , Salisbury, NC, USA

problem #148

Dec 222013

Explorer LS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,043 miles

Transmission failed one day to the next. Snap ring dislodge in throwout bearing and all hell broke loose.

- , Whittier, CA, USA

problem #147

Feb 152014

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

I bought my 2004 Ford Explorer from Car Max in Riverside Ca. In November of last year the tranny felt funny and broke down 2 weeks after I bought it. It was covered under dealership 30 day warranty so Aamco fixed it. 8000 miles later and 2 months after the Aamco warranty ended it happened again.......luckily (kind of) I bought the extended warranty. Now its at another Aamco and they said that there's low pressure in tranny and trans fluid leaking where it's not supposed to be in the tranny.

I just spent my whole income tax check putting on new tires,rotors,brakes,widow motor, and warranty deductible and can't drive my Explorer! Bad enough I owe 5 more years on a car that Car Max sold me that is breaking little by little, now I found out the trannys are no good on the Explorers. I don't know what to do? I would return the Explorer if I could.......

- , Moreno Valley, ca, USA

problem #146

Dec 232013

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 207,485 miles


still a piece of sh*t. same problem as everyone else concerning these transmission!!!!

- , Lagrange, GA, USA

problem #145

Jul 162011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

Took it to Ford dealership. Cost over $2000.00 for a temporary fix. Shame on you Ford for not backing your Product. And shame on the government for not stepping up for the working man!!

- , Maryville, TN, USA

problem #144

Sep 092013

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles

The casing cracked and needed complete replacment.

- , Miamisburg, OH, USA

problem #143

Jun 152013

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

This should be a recall beings that Ford has had this issue for years on this model. Chrysler seen they had problems and they took care of their customers by fixing their customers issues with their transmissions. Come Ford step up to the plate!!!

- , Hagerstown, MD, USA

problem #142

Mar 012012

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


Transmission began to slip into gears, took it to be looked at and was informed that this yr make and model vehicle has transmission problems. After being looked at I was told after spending 100$ for the vehicle to be looked at that I would need to replace my transmission and just a used one I am looking at 1300$ without the knowing of the labor yet. I am still paying on this vehicle and have 3 small children that I cannot get around because after having it looked at the transmission completely failed at this point.

My suv is broke down in a parking lot and I have to rely on family and public transportation to get us around and have to continue making 326$ a month payments. After researching this problem I have come across the knowledge that this is a common problem that had begun as early as 40,000 miles. After I first purchased my suv I had it looked at by a ford dealer because the vehicle would hesitate going into reverse then jolt my truck into gear, however, ford dealer told me there was nothing wrong with the transmission and this was while my transmission only had 44133 miles on it. Now I am being told that there is no help into getting this resolved. Ford you owe me 16,000$ for a new vehicle and how dare you put your customers through this with no recourse or remorse.

- , Elmira, NY, USA

problem #141

Aug 052012

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

2000-2005 explorers have a rate of 1 out of 10 having transmission failure. I want to know why there is not a recall or a class action law suit for this vehicles transmission problems and failures. I would like any information possible to further this. There was mention on ford complaints and failures website for out of waranty explorers a "goodwill repair"? I contacted the ford company and said my vehicle did not fit the criteria. Yet when I asked for the guidelines to be sent or emailed to me, I was told this was confidential information and was told nothing could be done...I purchased this vehicle with my daughters disability money so that she would have a safe ride to dr's etc. A little over a year later the gears went totaly out while driving. Road side assistance took 4 hours up until 4am. Lengthy wait for anyone let alone a disabled child. Now my daughter and I as a single mother can not afford another vehicle. Or the repairs for Fords mistakes. Ford really needs to aknoweledge thier mistakes and fix them on a case by case basis or someone needs to put thier foot up thier tailpipe and sue the company. Any help suggestions or other ways to deal with this matter would be greatfully appreciated. THANK YOU ..Wheels4jocilyn

- , Chester, WV, USA

problem #140

Apr 132011

Explorer Not Trim 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 137,000 miles

I bought a 2004 ford explorer and 8 months later the transmission failed.. I'm also still making monthly payments on it. I took it to the shop and they told me all the gears was messed up and that it was gonna cost me $3,600 to replace the tranny or i can have it rebuilt for $1,800. So i just went with a rebuilt transmission. I learned from this.. never to buy a ford again!!!

- , Sacramento, CA, US

problem #139

May 022012

Explorer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,360 miles

When reversing we had to wait for the transmission to engage.

Also found hard shifting between 2nd & 3rd gears when going in drive

- , Leamington, ON, Canada

problem #138

Apr 012012

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,000 miles

I just had a mechanic looked over this car's transmission because I feel a loud bang when I shift on reverse. This mechanic was right when he said that these trucks had awful transmissions. He mentioned that it has to be re-conditioned for an approximate $900 US, in addition of $300 to $500 US labor charges. FORD should have a complete recall for this specific part, or more and more drivers will shy away for any new car productions. It'll really end up a cost differentiation multiply by millions in strict market loss. FORD take action now!! Before it hits the TV screens worldwide.

- , Bronx, NY, USA

problem #137

Sep 102012

Explorer LS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,213 miles

Ford knows they have a problem. Just got off the phone with those dirty sob's. They won't

Recall because it's not life threatening. Been a loyal ford owner my whole life. Gotta a feeling ford will be next auto company needing a bailout if this is how customers our treated. Ford needs to step up and do the right thing.

- , Smyrna, GA, US

problem #136

Mar 052008

Explorer ES 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

I was so happy with this car when I first got it new 2004. One day I was driving and the transmission went out on me, I didn't know what was going on with this car. I took it to the shop to find out that it was the transmission. I got it fixed but it did not last long. This is the worst experience that I have ever had with a car. I hope they get on this and do a recall this car was not worth the price I paid for it, the way I see it they should pay me to give the car back to them. It is a cheap piece of crap.

- , Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #135

May 252013

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I never bought extended warranties until recently. Now I will buy them consistently. The effort and cost Ford would have spent to fix this problem in the beginning would have profitted the company handsomely in quality reputation. As it is, I would recommend being very careful buying Fords. I work for Ford.

- , Canton, MI, US

problem #134

Feb 182013

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Ok well I am on transmission number 3 of this vehicles lifetime. The original transmission went about 3 or 4 years ago with about 90k miles on it. I got a 2005 used transmission out from the junkyard with only 25k miles on it and replaced the original transmission about 3 to 4 years ago. Well now today I go to put my car in reverse and it doesn't move backwards. I put it in drive and it doesn't move forward either. I now have about 130k miles on this truck and I need to replace it again. The worst part is I have 2 truck payments left and this baby is paid for. FORD you know these trucks have transmission problems even their cousins the Mariners and Mountaineers have the same problems and you won't recall these vehicles. You are dragging down the Ford vehicles name by not stepping in and doing something. There is no reason why people should have to replace their transmissions on these so called #1 trucks 2 and 3 times. You are letting down Ford owners and the livelihood that they will purchase another Ford vehicle. It's time to step up and do something about these problems. While you are at it, you need to fix the cracks in the rear door under the window which is another common problem that I read about on these vehicles and the door actuator going bad on the heating systems.

- , Woodstown, NJ, USA

problem #133

Mar 302013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,500 miles

Bought the car used seven weeks ago. CarFax reported that the previous owner (purchaser) had all of the required maintenance done at the Ford dealership. Car was in excellent condition and passed my prepurchase inspection. Within 1700 miles the transmission failed with no warning (no lights, no slipping, only one noise immediately preceding the failure).

Only NOW, after the fact, I find all of this info about this POS transmisison and that Ford won't acknowledge their POS transmision is the fault. I returned to Ford with this vehicle but I will NEVER buy another Ford again. Shame on you, Ford!

- , Broomfield, CO, US

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