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 9 of 9)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #12

Jun 082007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles



- , Chicopee, MA, USA

problem #11

Nov 052007

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

Well at about 75000 miles it started jerking from 2nd to 3rd an when putting it in reverse and when it hit about 79000 miles my transmission just went out completely. I mean no park or anything just rolls. you have to put the e-brake on so it wont roll down the parking lot.. it really a pain considering how i just bought it..

- , Holloman AFB, NM, USA

problem #10

Aug 312004

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,000 miles

So - where to start! Bought 2004 Ford Explorer used with 5000 miles on it. Drove it off the lot with transmission problems and suffice it to say it has been 3 years from hell. I always heard about the smooth ride of the Explorer. I have never had a smooth ride - lurching, jerking, skipping, hesitating.

For a while the focus was the rear end as the 04 also has history of rear differential problems. I have the rear end serviced 6 times, had 3 different leaks all over the driveway and garage floor. Mechanic tells me after last repair "Well there is no chance any of your problems are from the rear end - the whole thing has been replaced!" Not sure how reassuring that it is! I still have a skipping/hesitation when starting from a stopped position especially on wet roads. They tell me this is normal. I don't think waiting for the rear end of your car to stop skidding on the road behind you while you put the car in front of oncoming traffic is normal - but I guess all of our faculties are questionable now aren't they!

So we move on to the transmission. I too had the harsh reverse episode right away and then days later got the recall. Had recall done and did not have problem again for quite a while. About 6 months ago (around 55000 miles) I would have either trouble shifting the gear shift from P to R or I could not move the vehicle once I was on R or both at th same time. I also happen to be using the parking brake at the same time as I often was on a hill when it would happen. Took it to be fixed - they focused on parking brake problem (which was repaired) and sent me on my way. Now at 80000 miles I am getting stuck again and having trouble gear shift - SAME EXACT SYMPTOMS as before. Th dealer tells me "Nope different problem - we fixed your parking brake - and now you are out of warranty" Now I understand why people "go postal". Can you say - reach through the phone and strangle someone.

So as read all the entries - I became frightened and affirmed at the same time. I read about other problems that I too have had but have not mentioned as I fear that my close friends and family think I am crazy. I have already been politely asked not to return for service at one dealership! I also at times think I am crazy - I try to convince myself that all the things that happen with the vehicle are normal even though I know better. I have felt the resistance and clunking when turning into tight parking space and used the same words to describe it - "feels like 4X4 is on". I have hesitation when shifting gears.

So - I have had entire rear end replaced, probably need new transmission, had new throttle control, new PCM (transmission?) and hinge from back glass window snapped. Also have had terrible humming, buzzing, whistling (loud like jet engine) coming from front and back of vehicle. (Dealer tried to switch me to another 04 and I when I test drove it - it whistled when AC was on just like mine but mine had been repaired - I turned him down) I have had dashboard taken apart twice! I had to have the Blend Door replaced (for blower/fan) in your dash. The only good news is that I purchased the warranty for 75000 miles. Thank God.

My suggestions to fellow sufferers: I use my Explorer for work - it is my livelihood - no car - no work then no money for me! It has been an awful three years but I did find some relief (not from FORD of course). I purchased a custom made magnetic sign for $40. It read "I bought this lemon from Jack Byrne Ford". I then drove all over the county with my advertising sign. You can only imagine the rave reviews! I have met more people in parking lots - one women was even leaving me a note on my windshield! People knew of me and my sign even without knowing me personally. When we woule meet they would say - "I've seen your car". Someone even pulled up next to me and told me where the owner of the dealership lived! A manager at another FORD dealer followed me into a parking lot to try to "help me"! I do highly recommend this form of therapy for a one time low cost of $40.

Second recommendation (good thing there is not limit to number of characters!) Get rid of vehicle. I am going tomorrow to buy a Toyota. Leased one a few years ago - put 80,000 miles on it - fixed 2 minor things!!!! I unfortunately will have to roll over several thousand dollars as I am upside down on payments - but I am sure to hell not going to put any money in FORD's pocket for my new transmission.

Third recommendation - never post a complaint entry regarding your piece of crap FORD again!

I wish you all the best of luck - I feel your pain. Thanks for listening!

- , Ballston Spa, NY, USA

problem #9

Feb 062006

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,000 miles


the transmission on our 2004 explorer went out at 34,000 miles and had it replaced under the 3yr. 36,000 mile original warranty. they told me that we only had 2,000 miles of warranty left on this vehicle which included the new transmission they put in. I wrote the BBB & complained that I expected another 3/36 on this new transmission mainly because we had complained about the noise & jerking numerous times to ford ever since we bought the vehicle new. They kept telling us there was nothing wrong. I finally received the extended warranty & the new transmission continues to do the same noise & jerking & they keep telling us the same. I'll never buy another ford as long as I live.

- , Hixson, TN, USA

problem #8

Oct 112007

(reported on)

Explorer NBX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

This is the second time for us with the transmission failure. I drive 1000 miles per week, so I really rack up the miles fast. The problems really do not show up until the truck has been driven 200+ miles and is hot. Again the O/D light came one and I lost all gears except low and reverse. This was rebuilt at 68000 and so only made it another 60000 before going out again. Ford says this is not a major problem and have heard of no other transmission problems with this model. The recall that called for an additive to correct the wrong fluid from the start, says that if not changed this bad fluid will cause rough shifting and overheating in the transmission. This was read to me by the service manager right off of their spec sheet on the recall. So when I tell them that this is exactly what has been happening to me the whole time that I have had this truck, he still says that there is not a problem with this model and we are the only one having this trouble.

- , Independence, KS, USA

problem #7

Oct 112007

(reported on)

Explorer NBX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

Transmission never shifted smoothly from the start. Lurched when backing up and had a loud clunking noise especially when backing to the right or left out of a parking space. Not as bad straight back. Went back to dealer many times with this problem. Finally at 68000 miles, o/d indicator started to blink. They replaced Torque converter, valve body and solenoid. After getting the car back, shifting was still not smooth, but the clunking in reverse went away.

- , Independence, KS, USA

problem #6

Oct 112007

(reported on)

Explorer NBX V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,200 miles


This is my 3rd complaint on my explorer. At the beginning, I had all of the same problems as everyone else with the harsh shifting and the clunking in reverse. I had to have a new torque converter, solenoid, and valve body at 68000 miles. This lasted until 130000 and then total failure. Had to rebuild at cost of $3300 to me. The next day after I picked it up from dealer, it failed again. I drive 1000 miles per week, so I have many more than most anyone else. My advise is to get rid of these explorers! Ford will not stand behind their cars. We own 5 Fords! I will never buy another one after all of this. The thing never shifted right from the beginning and we kept taking it to the dealer, who could not find anything wrong. Their final answer to us, as to why the 3rd tranny quit after only one day was ( SIT DOWN FOR THIS ONE!!!) our transmission failed because we had a low tire!! The service manager told us that even driving this new transmission less than 300 miles, because our rear left tire was 5 pounds low it caused the tranny to compensate for the tire and made it quit!!! What kind or idiots do they think we are??? NEVER BUYING ANOTHER FORD PRODUCT.......

- , Independence, KS, USA

problem #5

Jun 122007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,689 miles

From day one of purchasing the Explorer (while still in warranty) went from Ford dealership to Ford dealership complaining about how the transmission did not shift correctly. delayed shifting, jerked really bad as if someone could've bumped you in the rear. All dealerships told me nothing was wrong with the transmission that is perfectly normal. The day finally came that the transmission would not shift out of first gear, took to a Ford dealership, where it sat for 3weeks waiting to have inspected only to be told they really don't handle transmissions. Certainly not the answer given while still under warranty. I ended up taking to a transmission specialist, to get rebuilt cost a little over $1500, the transmission still jerks just like it has from day one, the only resolve is that it will shift from low to drive. You couldn't give me another Ford. This is not the only issue with this vehicle, the rear end has also had to be replaced multiple times, each time costing about $1000.00.

- , Lebanon, VA, USA

problem #4

Aug 062007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles

Apparently, even after generations after Henry built the first car, Ford, JUST CAN'T GET IT RIGHT! Why would a three-year old car's transmission completely fail? But even more to the point, why did it "start going" IMMEDIATELY after the 50K mile warranty expired. My transmission starting jolting when put in reverse at 52K miles and completely failed 10K miles later. But does Ford stand behind their product? No way! All bets off after 50K. THIS WILL UNDOUBTEDLY BE THE LAST FORD I BUY!

- , Canisteo, NY, USA

problem #3

Aug 032007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles

I have had this truck only 6 months. Went to work on Sunday, trouble shifting out then that night.... NO REVERSE. I took it to the local dealership to find out that the clutch pack had come apart. NO WARNING!!!!!!!!! I call Ford because of the multiple complaints others have had and told too bad, so sad!!!!! COST $3044.54

- , Bay St Louis, MS, USA

problem #2

Jul 172007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles

We first started having transmission problems at 17,000 miles. We brought it to Ford for service and they replaced the fluid and the damaged solanoid. Then at 44,000 miles, the transmission completely went and Ford gave me an estimated cost to replace of $4,800. I did some research and found that in May, 2005, Ford issued a Technical Service Bulletin 04B22 which stated that the '04 Explorers had "improperly formulated transmission fluid that overtime may cause delayed/harsh reverse engagements." I fought with Ford insisting that this was an existing problem that should still be covered under warranty. They gave me a $1,500 credit and the dealership agreed to reduce their price but I am still out of pocket $2,400 on a leased car that I'm giving back in 6 months. Hey Ford, we teach our children to take responsibility for their mistakes - why won't you??????????

- , Smithtown, NY, USA

problem #1

Apr 242007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,000 miles

This was a real heart break. I had the reverse gear issue and some minor slippage, dealer replaced fluid and adjustments (service bulletin at dealer) and the truck worked great. No slippage, great speed and power. But a week ago, a leak developed. Since it was out of warranty, took to a Trans-shop. They worked on it for 2 days, determined, tooooo much wear/tear, filings, caused wear on seals and housing around fitting.. etc. No major failure of any part(s), but multiple parts and seals, tubes, housing etc. needed to be replace. With same wearing parts still in place, they suggested a new rebuilt for the same price as the piecemeal fix version. But here is the deal.. out of warranty, then no help from Ford. No recall will be issued on a non-safety issue. Your dealer or Ford might do a "good-will" adjustment for a loyal customer, but that's a case by case review. Its too bad, the Explorer is a great Truck and until now, mine was great. Now, $3000 later/poorer, I am pissed.

- , Lakewood, CO, USA

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