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 4 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #112

Nov 112008

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,000 miles


Bought the car used in 2008 - the vehicle was only 4 years old and had only 85,000 miles on it so I thought it would be a good, reliable car. My dad has had incredible luck with a 1994 Taurus, and another friend had a 1999 Ranger which was also low on maintenance. I've never owned a Ford product before, but because of others' experiences and the great shape the vehicle was in I bought it. Almost exactly one year later the transmission had to be rebuilt. The O/D Off light began to flash, shifting was hard, and the next day it wouldn't get out of second gear. The vehicle had about 97,000 on the odometer when the tranny failed. It would have cost me $2,000 to fix had I not been friends with the owner of the Aamco shop that did the work, instead he only charged me $1,200.00.

- , Denver, CO, US

problem #111

Apr 252012

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

Searched the internet to find that this is a common problem. Called Ford Customer Relations line but to no avail. Hoping that is enough of us complain we can have Ford do what's right and fix this obvious defect.

- , East Hampton, CT, USA

problem #110

Jun 122006

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,000 miles

The transmission has shifted roughly since I bought it with 22,000 miles on it. In a few thousand more miles it started not shifting from park to reverse or drive or back without a few seconds delay and a jolting "clunk". If you don't notice that it has not shifted yet and give it the gas, it is a much bigger jolt and clunk. It obviously could break something in the drive train. The Ford dealership I bought it from is not sure what to do to fix it. Ford had a recall to add an additive to the fluid within the first year of production and that was done before I bought it. I did not fix the problem. The dealership first told me it was a $750 shift control module, but wouldn't guarantee that would fix it. Then they told me to have the transmission fluid power-flushed, but wouldn't guarantee that either. I have since read of many other people have the same problems. Some said their repairmen said the solenoids were sticking, replaced them, but did not fix it. One report said the transmission case wears where the solenoids mount and the case must be bored and insert brass sleeves. The only report I've seen that said they fixed the problem was that they had the shift control module "reprogrammed" and now it shifts perfectly. I guess I will try that. It costs $84 dollars at the dealership. It looks like Ford should pay for that if that is what it takes to fix it, since these problems are well known by almost everyone and they have been on-going from the day they were produced.

- , Johnson City, TN, USA

problem #109

Apr 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


My 2004 Ford Explorer starting having hesitation going into reverse, then it would clunk and lunge into reverse... over time it would hesitate shifting into lower gears... then it starting clunking, getting stuck in-between gears.... now it won't shift at all, stuck in my parking lot at work, on its way to the shop. I have always owned a FORD but this vehicle has given me nothing but problems since I bought it.

- , Longview, IL, USA

problem #108

Oct 142011

Explorer 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

have the same issues as everyone else, bought nice truck, i thought, next thing i know we take it to get serviced then the transmission starts slipping, now it is gone totally. $2500 to $3000 to get it fixed, in the mean time i have no transportation. not very happy, not at all happy. how can ford get away with this, and still keep seling cars. i've always been a ford person but that is changing quickly.

- , Prescott, AZ, USA

problem #107

Jan 292012

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,700 miles

my o/d off light started flashing and with line a mile, the service engine light came on. Research on line for the flashing light has hundreds of ford explorer complaints for the same problem. its time to sue ford.i take great care of my car. now its worthless, and ford knows about this problem. garage says i have no 2nd gear, trans is shot. my $700 new tires are worth more than my car. opps their on a charge card, im a single mom. THANKS FORD!!! I dont have 3k sitting in hand to spend. thx i"m now car-less. thanks ford for the warnings, recalls, or facts when i bought it, and paid $36k for a car you knew had problems and WOULD be worthless by 70,ooo miles!

- , Bally, PA, USA

problem #106

Jan 252012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4X4 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


Driving to work the CHECK TRANSMISSION light came in and the O/D OFF light was flashing along with the check engine light. Took it to my local transmission shop, they were very aware of the problems with the Ford transmissions.The code was PO775 which is the solenoid B failure.The shop mechanic showed me a transmission he had taken out of a 2002 Explorer he had up on the lift and explained that the solenoid operates a large valve which controls the flow of fluid to different ports inside the transmission. The opposite end of the Valve stem extends through the side of the aluminum casing of the transmission. The constant movement of this valve is wiring a normally round bearing surface into a elongated hole and jamming up the valves movement. I am a mechanical engineer and can tell you that if you have steel rubbing against aluminum with no lubrication the aluminum will give out every time. The fix is to take out the transmission, drill the damaged hole larger and sleeve it with a brass bushing. The cost of this procedure is $1,500 with no warranty. I opted for a complete rebuild with a two year warranty fo $2,100. Like most people I feel I am obligated to buy American. But I am very disappointed with Ford. Not only is this a bad design,but there is no way they didn't know about this problem before my vehicle warranty expired. There should have been a recall. This is my forth Ford I have owned in 21 yrs and it is going to be my last.

- , Abington, MA, USA

problem #105

Jan 182012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 97,400 miles

The issue began when o/d light started flashing. My mechanic couldn't figure out the issue on day1 as his computer didn't read any code nor it flashed again when he test drove for about 10 miles.

The next day when he wanted to do a thorough check the car suddenly stopped on the road while he was driving. He declared the transmission died and that he heard a popping noise when it failed. He managed to park it in front of a store. The car had to be towed as it was not moving and now its getting a new transmission.

I am very much annoyed as the car failed suddenly out of the blue, all within driving less than 50 miles since the o/d light flashed for the first time. I drive frequently to Chicago around 150 miles from where a live. This would have failed on one of those trips, i would have been stranded with my family and could have crashed if it was a freeway.

Ford Motor Company needs to address the issue as this is likely to happen anytime without warning

- , Holland, MI, USA

problem #104

Dec 062011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

Should've done my research on this piece of #&@@! before i bought it. This ones for the Ford admin (the big people) you guys are chicken sh*ts, look at all these complaints and there is more out there I'm sure.DO SOMETHING! Ive replaced the solenoid pack and it worked fine for a week and then it got WORSE, hesitates in reverse than slams into gear. slips in most forward gears also. I still owe on it but its a really good looking vehicle.I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it could use some advice.

- , Pleasant Hill, MO, USA

problem #103

Jan 092012

Explorer XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,665 miles

Bought new in 2004. Maintained by Ford dealer with all recommended service accomplished. Driven a mix of city and highway. Used to tow 17' aluminum fishing boat for past 2 years. Towing was accomplished approximately once a month for a total of 24 events. Distance was approximately 40 miles round trip.

Problem began at approximately 85,000 miles with the transmission making an occasional thump when shifting. Over time the frequency of thumping increased until the transmission thumped when shifting into gear or between drive and reverse.

This week the transmission would not engage drive or reverse without increasing engine rpm. Once engaged the transmission performed normally, but with the same mild thumping when it up-shifted during driving.

The service manager reported the entire transmission was damaged due to a faulty main shaft. The rebuild would be $3450. A new transmission from Ford would be $4100.

- , Coto de Caza, CA, USA

problem #102

Jan 022012

Explorer NBX 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,807 miles


122km /73,000 miles .... sad state of affairs ... like everyone else #1 - flashing O.D. light #2 -tranny grinding in Drive , cannot get into Reverse , lurches forward in Drive .. I should have left it lurch and hit someone so that I can sue Ford Canada . What a piece of S--T !!! last time the tailgate window fell off , last week the motor that controls the blower doors for heat /ac went ( $400 ) , time before , remote control of doors failed , couldn't get car started because alarm stayed on ...... What a piece of garbage ! If anyone wants to start a class action suit against Ford let me know . That is what those thieves deserve . I will advise the Minister of Industry in Canada . They oversee these abuses . Go to Hell Ford !

- , Montreal, Quebec, canada

problem #101

Sep 062011

Explorer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 162,000 miles

transmission bad!!! rear bearings needed replaced, heater has never worked. car is junk!!!!

- , Burlington, IA, USA

problem #100

Nov 012011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

Never buying a Ford again. There's a reason American cars have a bad reputation.

- , Spring, TX, USA

problem #99

Dec 222011

Explorer Sport

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles

Purchased car in Aug 2004. Recalled in spring of 2005 with 4800 miles on it for the WRONG TRANSMISSION FLUID FROM FACTORY! Car would roll backward on a hill with auto transmission. At 59000 miles, car would not back up. Called Ford about original recall and they said that it had expired in 2006, and if I wanted my car fixed it would be out of pocket. So, I took it to the local AAMCO for repairs. The Torque converter was broken causing internal damage to the transmission and dispersed metal pieces through out the transmission. Cost to repair a whopping $3200! If 1 out of 10 vehicles have had transmission problems, why hasn't a law suit come out yet? My car only had 59000 miles on it!!! and we have maintained it as required by Ford. Could it be that the original factory fluid that was mistakenly used be the cause of the number of problems we are seeing? I'd love to have a case against FORD for this problem.

- , Poughkeepsie, NY, USA

problem #98

Oct 102011

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,400 miles

I was driving to work one morning and I noticed that the transmission was not automatically shifting first gear would wind over 4000 rpms and I couldn't go over 25 MPH, now this is in morning traffic.....then all of a sudden the O/D light started flashing and that is when we realized that it was the trans and basically it was fried. I don't think that with the low mileage deserves a new transmission, considering that I had older cars with over 100,000 miles on them and the trans was better then this crap. I will never ever buy a FORD again. I always bought American made vehicles and now I'm having second guesses.....

- , Drexel Hill, PA, USA

problem #97

Dec 302011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,213 miles

Bought my Ford Explorer brand new in 2004 to find that there was something not right with the transmission. Turns out there was a recall because the wrong fluid had been placed in the transmission. Over the years it would bump and grind and hesitate and the gear shifter even seemed to jump out of place. Today an hour and a half away from my home the vehicle seemed to jump out of gear with no warning noises, then I found it would not go in reverse. It just turned over 100,000 miles last week. I can not afford to have this fixed because of the bad economy hitting my family the past year. I feel like FORD has failed all the buyers of this vehicle and needs to stand up and do whats right, RECALL the damn thing.

- , Lawrenceville, GA, USA

problem #96

Sep 082011

Explorer LS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,407 miles

Preventive Maintenance on this has been done on a regular schedule and the vehicle is kept garaged. With less than 50k miles, the transmission failed. An internal component came apart and became "shrapnel" inside the transmission. Rebuilding the transmission was not an option. It's a damn shame that an expensive vehicle can't travel more that 50 thousand miles without a major system failure. From what I've researched Ford has known about Explorer transmission problems for a number of years and has not notified owners of a potential problem.

- , Frankfort, KY, USA

problem #95

Jul 222011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

I purchased a brand new 2004 Ford Explorer from the dealer. When my car reached approx. 70,000 miles I started to notice a change in the transmission it started slipping and kicking. I took it to the dealership and they advised me that my transmission needs to be replaced at my cost since the vehicle is no longer under warranty. This is a known issue that several owners have been experiencing shame on Ford for not taking any action on this issue.

- , Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #94

Nov 222011

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

I bought my truck in 2004 explorer new, there was trouble when you put it in gear after 52,000 miles. I took is to ford, they stated they could not fine anything wrong knowing that there was a recall on the transmission. Right after I finish paying for the vehicle the trouble ready begin, I notice the transmissions begin to slip and hard to put in gear a little bit more, once again I was told nothing were wrong. I was never notified about the recall on the explorer transmission, I have owned a ford for 35 years, should I been call about this problem I would not be putting out a bill for 1,250.00 I don't have that kind of money around this time of the year I have 3 grand's I'm having to take care.what up set me it that I were never notified that there were problem with the transmission. They should have issue a recall and fixed the problem at there cost not mine. If ford refuse to make this good by taking care of what is cost me to fix my vehicle I don't thing I would purchase another ford vehicle again.

- , Eastman, GA, canada

problem #93

Dec 022011

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

Purchased in 2006, paid off in 2007 and have had nothing but problems since then. Most recently transmission failed out of nowhere. O/D light started flashing, then check transmission light came on. Would only move manually in 2nd gear, got it to a shop, they want $2500 just to open it up and rebuild...the car is worth a lot more than that but the problems aren't.

- , Elkton, MD, USA

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