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 6 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #72

Jan 112005

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,000 miles


Since after about 6 months of owning this Ford ,I've had trans problems had it serviced by Dlr several times and never fixed the slamming into rear gear,they upgraded the onboard CPU,changed the fluid twice,and finally it went out of warranty, than they told me it needed a valve body upgrade kit for X amount of $ I complained to Ford many times ,no body cares! Never buying a Ford product again,might as well go Foreign,since most auto's and trucks are made foreign anyway. TonyD

- , Hudson, FL, USA

problem #71

Nov 172010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,500 miles

reported shifting problems within the first week of buying truck brand new. was told by the dealership that it was not a problem. transmission broke at 46,500 miles.

- , Wilmington, MA, US

problem #70

Jan 192011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,489 miles

Purchased 2004 Explorer in November 2007. 95489 miles. No prior indication in drivability, noise or lights coming on. Driving in town, overdrive light and check engine lights came on. Limped into nearest repair shop, which happened to be a transmission shop,. Transmission had to be totally rebuilt. Obviously Ford knew about these problems because they had sent update notices and what to do with transmission problems.

- , Pueblo, CO, USA

problem #69

Feb 112011

Explorer 58000 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,649 miles


After I spent $ 1462 for the SOLENOID on 12/28/2010, the dealer told me you car is good peace of mind now, you are not going to have any problem with it now. the problem has been fix. However after 45 days my car start having the same problem even worse than before.I could not even go over 40 miles per hour. the O/D light went on. So I managed to go home. in the next morning I started the car, the engine is working fine, shift the gear to Drive no luck. I called AAA and towed my car to the same dealer. I explained the problem to the technician and went to the waiting room, 5 minutes later he came to me and said your car has no problem, he drove it from the parking lot to the shop, that was it. so I decided to leave the car their over night as required by the technician. he called me the next day and told me to come pick up my car because he could not find any problem with transmission and the car is running good. so I came back turned my car on, put the gear to reverse however the car did not move at all. I end up leaving the car there for another night. the next day again the technician called and told me that the transmission needs to be replaced and they charged me $ 3592.

Feels like there are so many problem with ford explorer 2004. I still don't know why Ford does not do any thing about it, should be a recall going on by now. Hopefully we can have this problem taken care of.

- , Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #68

Nov 232009

Explorer XLT 4.0L Flex Fuel V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

I was a loyal Ford owner until I bought a 2004 Ford Explorer. The transmission failed at 105,000 miles!!!! I had the transmission rebuilt for $2200.00 and now at 137,000 miles this transmission failed again, another $1400.00 done the drain. After talking to numerous mechanics and friends, I found out this 5R55S transmission is noted for these failures.

Shame on Ford Motor Co. for letting loyal customers suffer with poor quality. I will not buy another Ford product again!!!!

- , Marine City, MI, USA

problem #67

Jan 182011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,489 miles

Purchased 2004 Explorer in November 2007. 95489 miles. No prior indication in drivability, noise or lights coming on. Going along, most speed available was 20 mph, rpms on 6; then jerked to change gears. Driving on highway in town, overdrive light and check engine lights came on. Limped into nearest repair shop, which happened to be a transmission shop,. Transmission had to be rebuilt. Obviously Ford knew about these problems because they had sent shop update notices and what to do with transmission problems

- , Pueblo, CO, USA

problem #66

Jan 262011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,000 miles


This is the third time for a problem with this truck. Had it at the dealer ship just after the warranty went out around 37,000 an paid a little over $600.00 to fix it . Lasted till 80,000 them took it back and paid around $200.00 to fix. Now at 136,000 and the truck will not move at all. Dealer ship want's another $3,306.00 to fix it again.

- , Livingston, TN, USA

problem #65

Jan 102011

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

premature complete mech failure - on first/second shift - then no reverse. No joy from local El Cajon Ford Dealer or Ford Corporate "Customer Service" - shabby, shabby, shabby - American Customer service for an American product - what a shame

- , Santee, CA, USA

problem #64

May 012009

Explorer LT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

For the last several years transmission problems. The whole vehicle jerks and makes a loud bang when slowing down from second to first gear. Hard shifting in all gears when driving. Have an extended warranty and they will not cover it because the mechanic cannot show them "a broken part". Mechanic states poor design in transmission. I will not by another Ford Explorer ever.

- , Metamora, IL, USA

problem #63

Nov 162010

Explorer XL 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

My research states that dealerships are reporting 1 in 10 2004 Explorers have transmission failure

- , Abbeville, SC, USA

problem #62

Nov 102010

Explorer Eddie Bauer XLT V-6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 106,000 miles


Trip to Asheville from Atlanta transmission fails with only 106,000 miles. Explorer has been maintained properly and have all records to prove. Had to have car towed back to Atlanta because estimate off the charts in Asheville then had to get a rental car to return home. Ruined a great little vacation and plus the cost of rental and repairs! Have owed several Fords however in the future I WILL NOT purchase a Ford again...and I'm a woman with a BIG mouth and I will tell everyone I come in contact with from this day forward!

- , Snellville, GA, USA

problem #61

Sep 152008

Explorer NBX 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

I had just purchased this car in Feb of '08 and the transmission failed at only 75K miles! Insane! I should have known then to just get rid of the truck. After I got the new transmission my truck runs fine, just an expense I should have not had to pay.

- , Elizabeth, CO, USA

problem #60

Sep 152009

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Plain and simple the transmission on my 2004 Ford explorer is shot. When the problem first started it would just slip through gears and surge when put in drive. I found that I could still drive it 3D and man usally shift it to D when I got up to 40 miles per hour. Then the car started shutting off when I was going around turns so, I would have to throw it in neutral and start it up again. Needless to say this was extremely dangerous . I took it to the shop several times to check on the "shutting off around turns" problem but the mechanic, after several payments (about $1500) couldn't figure it out. He said it must be the transmission , which of course, I already knew was a problem, but had figured out a way to drive it, Well, my mother gave me her 2009 Toyota and of course, it drives just fine as expected. The Ford Explorer has been sitting in my garage now for a year. I'm afraid to even bring it to a dealer for a trade in because I think they will tell me it is worth nothing. I'm considering fixing the transmission, but my fear is it will still have problems. I miss my truck and don't understand why Ford doesn't recognize that the 2004 Explorer has transmission problems and issue a recall.

- , Valhalla, NY, USA

problem #59

Sep 212010

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,497 miles

SO MUCH FOR "BUILT FORD TOUGH" logo. Transmission Failed at 56,497 Miles. Gently driven transmission. 4 wheel drive probably used 10 times in the winters since owned. All maintenance performed. Ford should fess up to this problem and consider some compensation. My friend whom I trust at Kennedy Transmission is repairing for less than the Ford dealership. I have owned several vehicles in my lifetime and this is the very first transmission problem I have ever had. I would like to thank FORD for this expense and only 56,497 miles. SO MUCH FOR "BUILT FORD TOUGH" logo.

- , Maple Grove, MN, USA

problem #58

Aug 082010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

transmission failure should not occur in this day and age ford should have taken better care of its customers

- , Hesperus, CO, USA

problem #57

May 092010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

This is the SECOND transmission failure & replacement! The first one happened at just under 36,000 miles & was covered under warranty; the second and most recent one at app. 79,000 miles, & supposedly right after the extended warranty I purchased expired. BOTH times, it is documented at the dealer's that I complained about it, but they either couldn't duplicate what I was describing or couldn't find anything. Ford refused to do anything to help this second time around, even though they guarantee their rebuilt transmissions for 100,000 miles! The government is not doing anything either, so I will be suing them.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #56

Aug 092010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,332 miles

Had issues with the vehicle at 25526 miles. Took to dealer they flushed with with BG conditioner. At 26073 miles took vehicle back for same issues, removed pan and found debris replaced solenoid pack and overhauled valve body. Transmission always shifted hard we were told no issues until total failure at 63332 miles where it had to be totally replaced and no longer under extended warranty. Cost $3527.00 out of our pocket.

- , Alton, NH, USA

problem #55

Jul 232010

Explorer 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

My son just bought my 2004 Explorer. It has been well maintained & just had most of the fluids replaced. About 10K miles back I had Ford flush the transmission. Any who while he was reporting to Ft Leonard-wood, MI yesterday, about 30 miles outside of Indianapolis the gear box with out waring decided to die. The car would not go over 15 mph after a stop for fuel & if you put it in reverse it would go about five feet & then lock up.

I am an ASE Master Tech & a Saab Master Tech, & have never seen a gear box die with no warning like this one did. I think we will repair this truck & then trade it in for something more reliable. JEEZ!

- , Silver Spring, MD, USA

problem #54

Jun 152010

Explorer XLT V8 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,206 miles

This is my second Ford Explorer, the first was a 1999 model and it was a lemon, power steering pump several times and then the trans blew at 150k 4 years old and now my 2004 Exploder has had the same transmission fault, again at 150k but 6 years old. I am not happy, after being guaranteed that the problems I had with my first exploder would not occur with the brand new model.

Obviously Ford don't give a f*ck about so I am going to start a a couple of blogs to see if we can embarrass Ford into doing something about it

Go to &

Come and vent at either blog and lets give them some grief


- , Dandenong, Victoria, Australia

problem #53

Jun 212010

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,065 miles

Transmission failure, again. This will be the 4th transmission for this vehicle (counting the original). see my previous complaint. Ford and Ford dealers know of this problem and do not disclose to the public. They're setting their customers up for a big repair bill. Ford needs to find the design flaw and issue a campaign to get these defects off the streets. I'm ready to join a class action suit as soon as one starts.

Update from Jul 23, 2010: UPDATE 07/19/2010: contacted ford's "customer service" supervisor. told him my situation, that i've always owner fords, i currently have 5 fords, but if ford refuses to accept responsibility for it's design flaw, i'll have to liquidate what i have and will never have another ford. long story short, they DO NOT CARE. i've thus far eliminated 2 of my fords (including this explorer) and, good or bad, now own a toyota.

- , Winchester, VA, USA

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