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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
72,980 miles
Total Complaints:
391 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (198 reports)
  2. rebuild transmission (59 reports)
  3. replace shift solenoid (58 reports)
  4. replace transmission (57 reports)
  5. replace shift solenoid and bands (9 reports)
  6. had transmission rebuilt $2012 (3 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 13 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #151

Jul 212009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles


Like most of all the other complaints, this was a problem from the beginning, we had it in the shop several times and were told that there was nothing wrong with it, the last time we took it in we were told that there was a recall on the tranny fluid and that once they replaced it there would be no more problems, wrong, now I have to pay out of pocket $2000.00 or more to have the tranny fixed, when Ford should have fixed it right the first time. I will never buy another ford as they do not stand behind their product, it is no wonder they are in financial trouble what with as many complaints that I have read.

- , Kalamazoo, MI, USA

problem #150

Mar 182009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,376 miles

My car when I put it in reverse it shifts really hard there should be something ford could have done to make there vehicle better than what this one has turned out to be

- , Lone Grove, OK, USA

problem #149

Oct 162007

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,500 miles

Put it in reverse and I tense up waiting for it to jump into gear. As I drive forward, right around 40 mph the tranny will jump again while the RPM's go from around 2k to almost 4k till it shifts into the next gear. Truck is great other than the transmission is garbage. Apparently Ford figured this out for the next generation because the problem is non-existant for any model 2006 and forward, and like any car maker they won't do anything about it. I've read about various fixes for this problem, to only have those people have the same problem start up again within 1-2 years of the fix and a couple thousand dollars. I'm not into wasting money, so I'll just deal with it til the sh*t dies, or till I get so sick of it I replace the transmission completely. Awesome how Ford knows about it, has changed it for future models, but pisses on all saps who have the bad tranny. Best part is Ford doesn't know how to fix it either! Classic.

- , Bay Village, OH, USA

problem #148

Sep 282008

Explorer Eddie Bauer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,389 miles


I bought my lovely 2004 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer Edition in 2005, and after a year of it being problem free, we had a massive flood, which had me going to insurance to get the engine and interior replaced (which took 2 months for Ford to get the carpets and engine replaced).

After i FINALLY got it back, I had to go back to Ford 3 TIMES because the engine didn't feel like it had any power to it, only for my husband to finally check under the hood himself, and find that they had put in twice the amount of oil in the car. So we went back to ford and TOLD them what they obviously missed the first 2 times, and they blamed it on Minute Lube, because that's where we usually go- but common sense. We just got the car back in less than 1 week, why the hell would we go for another oil change! DUH FORD DUH!

After that was done and over with, one cold January day, the explorer just stopped working, wouldn't start, tried boosting it, nothing, thought it was the starter, NOPE..find out that it was the PAT system. For some reason, our keys just didn't have the right code and basically locked us out of our own vehicle. It cost me $1000. for them to get my car started!

And the worst part!? AFTER they gave me back my car, that's when my O/D light started flashing, my service engine soon light came on, my check tires light came on and my transmission light came on. and (this is the best part), they said that it may fix itself if I just keep driving it! But no way was I driving a whiplash prone car in winter, so I just parked it.

Its June now, and I decided to see what Ford can do about it. After talking to the lady on the phone, she told me that my car was still under the power train warranty and to bring it in. (this is when i found out that, my car no longer shifts hard. In fact, It doesn't shift at all- i am constantly in 5th gear roll eyes here) A day after my car was brought in, I had a phone call from the same lady from Ford telling me that it WASNT under warranty and that i had to pay $105. for the diagnostic and another $120 for them to take out the pan to find out the problem, because the diagnostic didn't give them any information. (I had a diagnostic done by A1 Transmission, who came up with the exact same information for free!) Now, my car is stuck at Ford, because I refuse to pay for a diagnostic that came up empty handed and pay even more to get another test done, which will just tell me that the transmission needs to be replaced and it will cost $3000. Just waiting to meet with my insurance company and go from there.....

I wish I didn't even contact Ford! I wish i never bought a Ford.. in fact. I will NEVER buy another Ford.

- , Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

problem #147

Jun 052009

Explorer XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,600 miles

Stalled at a traffic light on a state highway (speed limit 50 mph between lights) just going from a dead stop at red to accelerating at green! Scary, because I was on a blind curve and stalled in the fast lane! Thought there was a problem with my 50k mile service at Jiffy Lube, but now see there has been a pretty big problem all around. Anyone gotten any satisfaction?

- , Hilton Head, SC, USA

problem #146

May 252008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

This is follow up to my complaint #58.

We had the transmission replaced (after emailing, calling, kicking and screaming for several months to ford.) The cost of the transmission was $2900 through our own mechanic and luckily it was a Ford Transmission with a 3 year/100K mile warranty. Three weeks and only 1000 miles later, complete transmission failure with the BRAND NEW transmission.

Luckily it was under warranty still. We were coming back from a weekend trip that involved a 2 and a half hour drive each way and BARELY made it home.

This is a serious problem that Ford needs to own up to.

- , Las Vegas, NV, US

problem #145

May 162007

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,302 miles


Yet again, in this time of car companies telling us that "We build great car". Another lemon is down the road....This is my fist SUV, which has great size for a family and there 2 dogs. But this will be my first and last Ford ever!!!! Quality is not job #1....This has been one big head ache after another....What a pice of CRAP!!!

- , Alliston, ON, Canada

problem #144

May 202009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,888 miles

Don't really know if bitching here will do anything! I have a 2004 Explorer with major transmission problems. I already spoke with someone at the Ford 1-800-392-3673 #. What a waste of time. Will not take it to the dealer. I won't settle for a bandaid. Lets face it they're going to quick fix it only, knowing you'll have to bring it back for more work somewhere down the road. My complaint is the same as most of the others here. O/D light flashing, service engine soon light is on. Shifts real hard into 2nd, bangs into reverse. Took it to an independent tranny shop. They said it's going from 1st to 3rd, then 3rd to 5th. WONDERFUL!!!! With only 72,886 miles I wouldn't expect this.

We've been ford people forever, this is my 4th Explorer.........not so much anymore. Always buy American we say. For what? Tired of getting ** by these "American" companies. Once this beast is fixed and I can unload it, I'll be going against my life-long commitment of buying only American. Lets face it, today things are made to break. The good ole days are gone. So is my trust in Ford products.

- , Austell, GA, USA

problem #143

Jan 302009

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

I, as well, have a ford exploder that has been excellent until it started pausing and jerking into reverse. Then it began feeling as though the engine might fall out of the bottom of the car while it was shifting. It takes a while to engage when upshifting. I have taken it to the dealer twice. "We can't replicate the problem or find anything wrong!" I found the original recall letter stating, "Your vehicle was filled at the assembly plant with a transmission fluid formulation that, over time, may cause delayed and harsh reverse transmission engagements. Under Customer Satisfaction Program 04B22, and at no charge to you, your dealer will install a transmission fluid additive that will correct the fluid formulation and maintain the shift quality of your transmission. The longer that your vehicle is operated with the original fluid, the greater the possibility that your vehicle will experience transmission shifting concerns in the future." TRANSLATION: This is totally our fault that your car is currently experiencing transmission problems!!!!!! I'll see if this gets me anywhere with FORD. Unless they fix it, they've lost my business!

- , Englewood, CO, USA

problem #142

May 132009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 127,000 miles

Just fixed numerous problems with this explorer just to find out the transmission is going out.

- , Calumet City, IL, USA

problem #141

May 112009

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles


I have driven Ford vehicles for 40 years and this Explorer is a big disappointment. It had the rough reverse from the very start. Had the fluid recall taken care of immediately but not a cure by any means. Has been terrible in P to R and highway shift is hard. Has been worse lately. Scares me! Talked with my dealer today and let him know I am not impressed with Ford.I have 46,000 miles on and this rig doesn't hold a candle to a 96' of my friends with 140,000 miles! The price we pay for their product and the quality we receive is a joke! Such an expensive fix!!! My next rig will be Chevrolet,Dodge anything but a Ford!!!

- , Kensington, MN, USA

problem #140

Feb 122006

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

I bought a brand new 2004 ford explorer with 30 miles on it. Had a recall on transmission fluid, took it to dealer they replaced fluid. Truck began to jerk when shifting of gears. Took back to dealer in 2007 they replaced some type of noid switch. Heck I dont Know. Rear window will not roll down, car still sound as if its not in gear and CD player is stuck not ejecting cd's. I just called dealer as we speak they told me to bring it in but I was responsible for each diagnostic check. As much as I loved my truck, I must say that I will not buy another ford anything. I should have stuck with my Nissan's. I have had problems with this truck since 2005 and to no avail. I tried to call 1-800-848-0991 and a recording told me fro a charge of $4.99 they would give me another number to call. Something has got to be done about this and I am so hurt,disappointed and pissed like the rest of you all about the lack of help from Ford. Its, ok though I'm a firm believer that God will prevail. If a class action suit is started someone please advise. In the meantime, I continue to pray and ride.

- , Loganville, GA, USA

problem #139

Apr 032007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles

At 25,000 miles I got the recall saying they need to put an additive in the transmission. I tried to make the appointment and all the local Ford dealers were out of the additive and didn't know when they were getting it. By the time it came into stock my transmission was leaping into reverse after a brief delay and clunking while upshifting at low speeds of 25 to 35 mph. The dealership said I now need the shift solenoid replaced. This was all done under warranty. Now at 70,000 miles, it's happening again and it is not under warranty.... I don't know how much this will cost yet as my appointment is tomorrow.

- , Arleta, CA, USA

problem #138

Apr 042007

(reported on)

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

We need to all get together, and contact Ford concerning a "recall", or repair on their transmissions. I've never been a Ford person myself, but decided to give them a try. I thought that the Explorer looked pretty sharp. Now I see why I have never owned a Ford before, and unless something is done about this problem, by them, their future purchases of vehicles by me, or my Family doesn't look very bright. I guess the old saying still stands,"Fix or repair daily". Or, "Found on the road dead".

- , Lake Worth, FL, US

problem #137

Apr 032007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles

I wish I would have checked out this website BEFORE I purchased a used 2004 Explorer. We had a 1995 Explorer with 150,000 miles that we just traded in. We loved our Explorer and wanted a newer one with a 3rd row seat to fit our growing kids. I love the new car. BUT, after reading the posts on this site, I took it out for a ride (my husband has been driving it for the last 3 days that we have owned it). When I shift from drive to reverse, the car hesitates a few seconds and then bang! Like it was shot out of a cannon. VERY SCARY! I am calling the dealership that I bought it from the morning. I only bought it 5 days ago. Of course the dealership has a return policy of 3 days with no questions asked. I wish I would have checked for this problem 2 days sooner! I am sure they are going to tell me that they will service it and everything will be OK (according to them). I am so disappointed. We like the vehicle but the safety of our family is the most important thing. I was up all night last night worried about it. We went to a reputable dealer, checked out the Carfax report but didn't put it from Drive to reverse when we test drove it. And my husband didn't need to do it in the couple of days that he drove to work. It is OK going from park to drive or reverse. It is when you are in drive and go to reverse and reverse to drive. YIKES! I never expected this.

Does anyone know, since I didn't buy this car new, does the Lemon Law apply if I take it in 3 times for the same issue or is that only for cars purchased new?

I am wishing for my 1995 with 150,000 miles back now!

- , Wernersville, PA, USA

problem #136

Apr 042007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,800 miles

When you shifted into revearse gear, the transmission would hesitate and then slam into gear. Would also hesitate when taking off in forward from a dead stop. Had to take it to the dealer 3 times before they agreed that there was a problem AND they would fix it. They claimed they had to have a regional manager test drive it and give the ok to go ahead and fix it. When I first encountered the problem, my first thought was to check the transmission fluid... but there is no transmission dipstick!! I looked under the truck and saw transmission fluid dripping from the bellhousing. I had no way of knowing how much trans. oil was lost. Dealer told me it was "overflow" and that there is a special tool and procedure to check the transmission oil level. I prefer the dipstick method!! I have no faith that the transmission is going to last too long after warranty is up. Had it in for the differential whine and it's going in again for the same problem again (see seporate complaints under drive train)

- , Sunrise Beach, MO, USA

problem #135

Jan 102007

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,000 miles

This started slipping when Ford added something to the transmission after a recall. They said there was a problem but prior to the recall I had none. It appears to be caused by whatever they added that caused the problem.

- , Avon, OH, USA

problem #134

Jun 012008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles

Just a while ago, I was going to enter an average post just to complain about the pathetic transmission in my 2004 Explorer XLT. But, after just spending 30 minutes on the phone with Ford Motor Company, my blood is boiling and I am ready to blow!!!!! I spoke with a very polite woman on the phone from FORD and told her my concerns..... 1. My transmission was slipping between 2nd and 3rd gear 2. The car was hesitating between park & reverse and drive & reverse 3. Loud "bang" and massive jolt when the car finally would engage in reverse 4. The crack on my rear tailgate under the rear window 5. the list goes on....... After a brief conversation and giving her my contact information, she asked me what I would like Ford Motor Company to do for me today. Naturally, I said, "I want them to replace my transmission!!!". She asked me if I would hold while she looked up the information on the Explorer. After holding for approximately 5 minutes, she came back and told me that there was nothing that Ford could do for if I expected her to say anything different. I explained to her that I knew it was not her fault, but that Ford should be ashamed of itself. Ashamed for selling a transmission that they knew was faulty, ashamed for not informing the consumer of the problem, and even more ashamed for not standing behind their products!!!! Now, I am a strong believer in "Buy American" as I am a Union Print Shop Owner.... but, if our American Manufacturers are not willing to stand behind their product, how can they expect the American consumer to stay loyal to American Made Products? I have owned numerous cars in my lifetime..some Dodge, some Ford, and when I was younger and uneducated about buying American I even owned a couple of Mazda vehicles. The unfortunate part of owning all of these different cars is that it made me aware that the quality and customer service of the foreign vehicles beat the quality and customer service of any of the american made products. I don't claim that all American Made Vehicles are in the same category as the Explorer that I am now stuck with - I am just trying to make a point.... Ford needs to stick behind its products!!! They need to take care of the consumers who have been filling their pockets for the last 75 years!!! I have to admit... I will most likely never buy another Ford again as long as I live!!!! Not that the lack of one car buyer will hurt them, but it is just the point!!!! Before I go..... to all of you experiencing the same problem.... we need to flood Ford Motor Company's phone lines with these complaints. If nothing else, at least we will cost them $$$$$ in time spent on the phone listening to all of us complain. The number that I just called and actually spoke to a human being is..... 1-800-392-3673 PLEASE CALL THEM - PLEASE CALL THEM - PLEASE CALL THEM!!!!!!!

- , St. Charles, MO, USA

problem #133

Mar 202009

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 69,000 miles

69,000 miles and I can't get it into second gear without slipping and noise! Cannot afford such a fix for a car I haven't finished paying for yet!

- , Charleston, SC, USA

problem #132

Mar 162009

Explorer XLT Sport 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,500 miles

Only 26,500 miles on the Ford 2004 Explorer under normal driving, no off road at all. Started having shift delay problem when shifting from P to R and from N to D in late 2008. Heard big 'bang' when shifting from P to R and from N to D. Had it tested with dealer and 2nd gear problem. Spent $3200 to replace the transmission completely. Sick of the transmission.

- , Lisle, IL, USA

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