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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2004 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 15 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #111

Nov 202008

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles


My 04 ford explorer xlt spt/nbx has been in the shop for 8 weeks now. It started slipping and jumping in gear.There is little information out there on this transmission and the transmission shop that has it can't figure it out... This transmission shop has been in business for many years and they know their stuff. They have contacted several technical support people from ford and they are not having much luck. What can I do? I really need a vehicle and I'm not sure whats going to happen with mine.

- , Hitchcock, TX, USA

problem #110

Dec 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles

My 2004 Ford Explorer began experiencing delays in shifting gears last month. Tool truck to local Ford dealership. Dealership "recalibrate PCM to latest updates". Transmission seemed to be fine for 2 weeks but now the same problem is back. Was going to take the truck back to dealership until I stumbled upon this website and saw all the same complaints. Not sure what the heck to do now!!! I own 3 Fords...starting to second guess my loyalty to Ford!!!

- , Russellville, TN, USA

problem #109

Jun 152008

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

Purchased the car from an local used car dealer and noticed some minor slipping of the transmission when shifting from reverse to forward. 1 month later noticed slipping of transmission when driving forward approx 40 to 45 mph. The reverse to forward slipping has significantly deteriorated to the point of being dangerous and the slipping in forward now happens at multiple speeds between 2 and 45 mph. I am currently having a local transmission person look at the problem.

- , Sparta, NJ, USA

problem #108

Jan 052006

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


Same as everyone else who owns this vehicle! Takes about 30 seconds to finally go into reverse. Slips e crazy in Drive jerks our f'n heads off here in Chattanooga! Plee help us someone! We really need a class action sut here! Also, rear painted piece under back window is cracked and also the damn radio wont eject cd's. Lets take legal action! Email me at if you have any class action information.

- , Ooltewah, TN, USA

problem #107

Sep 192008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,000 miles

I came to this site hoping to find the route to go to get this problem fixed but after reading I see that Ford will not recognize this manufacturing problem. And Ford wants our business!!!! What ever happened to customer service. I would NEVER look at a Ford for my next vehicle simply due to the fact they seems to be dumping their equipment malfunction in the customers lap. There really should be a law that protects the buyer from such things. I am the lucky owner of the Explorer with the bad transmission along with the cracked tailgate trim. Buying a new car is not in my budget so from reading about all the attempts to get these things, I don't see that I will get any help.Someone at Ford needs to make a believer in me as to why I should buy American made.

- , Hampton, GA, USA

problem #106

Dec 252006

Explorer LX 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles

I have a 2004 ford Explorer, the trans don't work good at all? Ford will not fix the trans, because no one knows how? Why--Because a mech can not fix what is bad with another bad part .Can I hurt FORD--- YES My family and I can ! We have all dreven fords for a long long time but no longer will we put up with FORD B,S ! Five New Fords will be some other brand this year . If you call an air head at ford and ask for help you get B.S. Cleveland Tn. More than one third of the cost of a 2004 Explorer has been spent without any chang .Whin I go to trade this Explorer in they ask me to fix the trans or pay for it or no trade. Junk is junk ! What can I do?


- , Cleveland, TN, USA

problem #105

Nov 012008

Explorer XLT Sport 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles


Bought 2004 ford Explorer because it was Editor's pick on Too many problem to list from the transmission to the air sensor on the throttle body. The car only has 65,000 miles . I will never buy an American car again. friend has a honda accord with 187,000 drives better than mine and only ever changed the oil.

- , Framingham, MA, USA

problem #104

Jul 072008

Explorer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,285 miles

It is a pain in the ass to have to wait a couple seconds when I shift into reverse.

I took it in to a ford dealer to get it diagnosed, and according to them I need to replace the solenoid body (cost including labor and parts $1,100.00) these vehicles should be recalled since there's been so many complaints. Ford has seriously lost a customer.

- , Fontana, CA, USA

problem #103

Feb 012006

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 33,000 miles

Same problems as the other 102 entries. 3 trips to the dealer and still no improvement.

Dealer acts like they don't see the problem...

- , Tullahoma, TN, USA

problem #102

Dec 012004

Explorer XLS V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,000 miles

Why can Ford not get the transmission right in an Explorer? Our 2000 Explorer XLT at 44000 miles was at the dealership in Dec. 2003, getting a new transmission put in under our extended warranty when we decided to trade for a new 2004 Explorer. Why, why, why, we did that I will always wonder, because we had that thing less than a year when we started noticing the same transmission problems that the other one had. Harsh engagement, and also kind of a vibration when making a turn and accelerating such as turning at a stop sign or pulling out from a parking lot. Its not as bad as our 2000 model was yet but I am worried that it could get worse. We have had it in to the dealership several times, the first time in '05 when there was a recall on the transmission fluid, but they have never been able to cure the problem. After having two Explorers with the same problems we have learned our lesson and will never get another Ford.

- , Fairfield, IL, USA

problem #101

Oct 012004

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,000 miles


Wow...just stumbled on to this web site. I have been having this problem with my Explorer from very early on. It seems to be getting worse and now I see what I have to look forward to when I need to repair it. I really want to dump this vehicle, but I almost feel guilty passing it on to someone else. I owned a Ford Ranger before and it had some quirks, but this SUV has been a mess. Not only that, the value of it has plummeted over the few years I've owned it. I WON'T buy a Ford again.

- , San Luis Obispo, CA, USA

problem #100

Aug 012007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 52,000 miles

From what I'm hearing this is a common issue that ford needs to deal with and man up to the faulty equipment. They just need to replace it with a better trans and eat the bill!

- , Eugene, OR, USA

problem #99

Sep 072006

Explorer XL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 24,000 miles

at 24000 miles had same hard shifting problems as everybody else.Ford replaced solenoid

pack.At 62000 doing the same thing ford says need a new transmission.Also they say my tough luck its not covered.They know they have a problem they should stand behind it.

- , Lake Placid, NY, USA

problem #98

Nov 062006

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 18,000 miles

Same story. Fixed under warranty and dealer butchered repair. Brought back in to fix again following day but dealer charged to a rear end universal joint ripping off Ford. Transmission started same exact problem right out of warranty. Hard shift to reverse, slipping 2 & 3 gears. 4 wheel low not working now.

Just same old poor quality and lousy dealer service. Radio messed up.

Update from Jan 27, 2013: So here we are in 2012. Replaced all bearings and living with the crack in the back window plastic panel going straight through their logo. We are babying the transmission. Always have but Ford screwed the pooch on these All Wheel drives. I had to buy this one.

To solve and save your hard shift changes from F to R or R to F. Let the fly wheel slow down and it will shift better.

Update from Aug 7, 2013: Transmission is still an issue.

- , Hixson, tn,

problem #97

May 152006

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,000 miles

Fixed under warranty at 13K, Dealership states replaced solenoid and did complete overhaul of transmission, only had the car for 5 hours. Problem occurring again at 48K miles. Two mechanics state there is no way dealership could have overhauled the transmission without having the vehicle for over one day. Dealership completely bull shitted the repairs, it is a complete band aid. Two very reputable transmission mechanics in my area state they do not know what the actual fix/problem is. They see it all the time. One of them actually does work for FORD (go figure!) They don't even know what the problem is. I'm now having to consider replacing my whole transmission if they cannot fix the problem.

- , Haverhill, MA, US

problem #96

Apr 072008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I bought my 04 Ford Explorer from Fairway Ford in Anderson, SC in 2006. I should have known when the car was listed well below book value that something was wrong. The transmission slipped for the first time one month after purchase. It didn't happen again until sometime well after that. It has gradually gotten worse over the last 6 - 8 months. The transmission jerks and slips really bad from Park to Reverse and has started hesitating and slipping between 2nd and 3rd gears. The service engine light has come on and now the overdrive flashes at certain times. I will never buy another

FORD again!! I honestly believe they knew of the problem when they sold it to me.

- , Anderson, SC, USA

problem #95

Aug 012008

Explorer XLT Advanced Trac 4.6L V8

  • Manual transmission
  • 62,137 miles

The transmission slips, is very delayed when shifting between gears. It even would go out of drive when I came to a stop at a light. I would give it gas the RPMs would shoot up then the gears would catch, jerking the whole truck. I'm just waiting for the time I snap the universal joints.

I put it in to be fixed, they had to take the whole transmission out replace the spring bolt kit and a front pump seal. 7.2 hours labour

Now here I am 5 months later and it is doing the same thing again. Now when I'm at the light if it goes into neutral and my RPMs go up I just rev the sh*t out of it and let the whole truck jerk forward when it finally goes into gear. I'm sick of dealing with this lemon!

- , Guelph, Ontario, Canada

problem #94

Mar 012008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

I am sure by now FORD is totally aware of this transmission problem and I cant believe they are not at least giving out good faith coupons or discounts to have fixed.

My 2004 ford explorer is shifting hard in reverse as well and i took to mechanic and suggestion was replace selenoid kit now after reading complaints on this web site i am not sure if i want to spend money to fix it.

I have to tell you my sister bought a 2004 Kia Optima within 30 days of my 2004 explorer and never once had it in the shop i feel like a fool for saying i had to be loyal to Ford since that is the only make of car i have ever owned.

- , Shepherdsville, KY, USA

problem #93

Oct 282005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,000 miles

I bought my explorer in Germany for the exchange car sales in 04, the transmission would hesitate when going from park to reverse. I took it to the ford dealer. They said it was the solenoid, so it was replaced. This problem was rectified, not even a year later, I had to take it back for the same problem, once again they said a faulty solenoid. Here I go again taking it back to the dealer for the third time, now they tell me that the transmission has to be replaced at my expense. But i'm getting in contact with head military sales dealer from the service section and producing all paperwork showing how many times this has occurred. Now I see why FORD actually means "Found On Road Daily"

- , Apo, AE, Germany

problem #92

Apr 122008

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,000 miles

Just after my "Used Vehicle Warranty" ran out, the trans starting slipping . You could be just driving slow and give it gas its like a sudden urge. Other times when i park and go into reverse it wont go, then clunk it goes into reverse. I shoulda learned from having Fords before there transmissions totally SUCK!!!! This will be my last Ford vehicle thats for sure. When this trans goes it stays where it is, Im not made of money..

- , Montague, NJ, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?