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 16 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #91

Aug 142008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


I finally got up enough nerve to complain about the intermittent problem of the loud "thud" I hear when shifting my 2004 Explorer into reverse. Of course, the SUV didn't make the sound while at the dealership for two days. I drove around with the technician who said "he thinks" it's the solenoid pack. Service manager told me it would cost about $950 to repair the pack. After reading the posts, I don't feel it's worth my while to repair. Would you believe I am just short about a year of paying it off. I bought this truck because one of the cylinders on my 8 cylinder Expedition went and I was at the end of the warranty period. I thought I was getting away with something because I traded it in the knick of time. Looks like the "Fix or Repair Daily Problem" has caught up to me!

- , Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #90

Aug 012008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

don't know whether to suck it up and get a new tranny or just sell it as is. i just don't want to hand anyone else this problem.

- , Austin, TX, USA

problem #89

Aug 182007

Explorer MP 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,000 miles

I purchased this 2004 Ford Explorer V6/4.0Liter from a local dealership and it had a bad rear end. As I test drove it, the salesman told me they had a full 30 day warranty from the date of purchase on ANYTHING! I am a mechanic for a major airline and work on my own cars pretty much unless I need some sort of special tooling. Anyway, I thought they might be selling me the car due to the bad rear end so I bought it with the intent I would be taking in back in less than 30 days and get a new rear end. The Ford mechanic came out on a test drive with me and agreed it needed a new rear end. They ordered one from the local junkyard that had been in a wreck and had 130,000 miles on it. I drove it and it was bad as well so I took it back again and, in the meantime, I called the junkyard where they got it at and found out about the high mileage (they told me that it had 25,000 miles on it). They replaced it again and everything was OK from that point on. After I had driven it for awhile, I noticed that when you were slowing down as if making a turn in a residential neighborhood and the car shifted back down into 1st gear it would pause on accelaration about 2 seconds. Now this is kind of scary because you sometimes need that instant acceleration in certain situations. I took it to 3 separate Ford dealerships and they set the programming on the transmission to "learn" my shifting and driving patterns again. This did not help and all 3 dealers did the computer tests on the transmission and it passed with flying colors. However, I still have this problem and it will NOT go away and nobody has a solution to it. When I accelerate after a turn, I can actually watch the tachometer spool up followed by about 2 seconds when the drivetrain kicks in the rear wheels. The "expert" that drove with me said there was nothing wrong with the transmission and they I would probably just have to live with the situation. How can this be? This is downright dangerous! Nobody wants to let me in on what to do at Ford and on the Ford website for complaints. I'm stuck with this vehicle and this annoying problem and I'd imagine my trim piece on the rear lift should be cracking any day now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- , High Point, NC, USA

problem #88

Jan 012008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles


Same problem with transmission. Hard shifts in between 1-2 gear. Also a loud whining noise coming from engine compartment. Seems to get louder when taking off. Very annoying. This vehicle was in the shop 2 times @ Ford dealership before I purchased it for transmission problems. Stupid me bought it after talking to previous owner and she said that they fixed it. I bought 100,000 mi. extended warr. for comfort, but haven't taken it in yet to see if this covers it. Ford NEEDS a recall. Also the small thin plastic strip right below the rear window hatch split down the middle right to the left of the ford emblem.

- , Dyersburg, TN, USA

problem #87

Jul 262008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

I purchased the explorer with 42,000 on the odometer. I payed $11,000.00 for it. At the time of purchase my wife said, its to good to be true. Unfortunately she was right. I put the Explorer in reverse to back out my driveway when I heard a loud bang. 10 minutes later I was on the highway. I depressed the gas peddle in an attempt to pass the car in front of me. The Explorer hesitated, I refuse to be stuck with this piece of sh*t. I know a good lawyer, Ill be giving him a call. I WILL NEVER BUY US VEHICLES AGAIN!

- , Bradford, MA, USA

problem #86

Jul 272008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

I purchased this this SUV with 42,000 miles on the odometer. I payed $11,000.00 for it. At the time of purchase my wife said its to good to be true, unfortunately she was rite. I was unaware of fords horrible trani problems. The problems began the day after I signed papers. I put the truck in reverse to back out the driveway, when I heard a loud bang. Ten minutes later I was on the highway. I depressed the accelerator in an attempted to pass the car in front of me. The explorer hesitated, at this point I was pissed off. I have read the complaints and I'm disgusted. Ive owned Ford and Chevy trucks guess what, they both suck. Toyota all the way.

- , Bradford, MA, USA

problem #85

Aug 012004

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,000 miles


I bought my 2004 Ford Explorer in June of 2004. I really wish I would have known then what I know now. I have had the same problem with the gear slipping and shifting hard as everyone else. I have had the solenoid replaced not once but 3 times!!!! Not only that but I have developed 2 cracks under my rear glass window that just randomly happened one day. I thought maybe something hit it, but I was noticing that alot of explorers had the same crack. Last but not least, I have had the motor replace in my back driver and passenger side windows twice!!! And guess what, my back driver side window will not roll down now. I am assuming the motor is gone again!! Which doesn't at all surprise me!! I recently just paid my vehicle off and this will be the last ford I will ever own. I will be getting rid of it within the next year. I just amazes me that these vehicles brand new retail for $25k - $40k. I bought mine for about $25k and the very next year, it was only worth about $13k. It is very disheartening to put soo much money into these and have so many problems!! I hate my explorer!! The only good thing about it for me now is that it is paid off!!! Please take my advice and do not purchase a ford!!!!

- , Oliver Springs, TN, USA

problem #84

Jul 302008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

My wife wanted another Explorer since she drove her 1991 Explorer for 12 years. So, off we go to buy a new piece of crap Explorer. Well, at 40,000 miles, the same transmission problems started. It started with the hard shift into reverse. Now at 47,000 miles, It's having shifting problems in drive as well. I'm in the military stationed in the Netherlands and although there are Ford dealers here, not too many have "Explorer Experience". I took it to a Ford dealer in a local village just to see if he could give it a look over. To my astonishment, he said "Transmission problems with this model are well known". He then proceeded to call his friend, the transmission guy, who stated "That's just the way this model shifts, drive it until it dies". Lovely, here I thought I'd be spending $5K fr tranny work.

I'm leaving Europe in a few months, shipping the Explorer back to the states. I hope and pray that the piece of sh*t falls off the boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!!!! This is the last time I'll buy a Ford........and they wonder why they're losing money!

- , Apo, AE, Netherlands

problem #83

Jul 082008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I don't know where to start. first my Explorer started lifting off the ground jumping back when i shift into reverse. Getting whip lash was an every day thing. Next the driver's rear passenger window only worked on cool days and then stopped working completely after a few months. Then the driver visor just crumpled in my lap while driving. Oh yea then the transmission started acting wired. It would take about 10 to 15 second to engage, then would take forever to get into the next gear. took to the dealer telling him the transmission was slipping, they said we know it is a problem with these explorer and it will cost you $900.00 bucks to replace the solenoid, it worked great for 2 weeks and now i am back to the same problem. it pisses me off i just dumped $10 K to pay off this piece of junk and now i own it. i called Ford and they said that they can't do anything about it. it is funny i am in the military and going off to war in 7 months and i have to leave my 2 yrs old and a busted car. i asked Ford what the hell am i fighting for when i am buying American.

- , Carrollton, VA, USA

problem #82

Aug 072007

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,625 miles

(1) FORD RECALL 5R55S/5R55E/5R443 TRANSMISSIONS April 04 2005.

Vehicle ID # 1FMZU73K04UB05472 04B22 Ford Explorer XLT


This vehicle was taken back to Action Ford Mercury, Hartsville, SC. On 10/23/06 with the same problems. The warranty has expired and the service department stated that I would be required to pay for a portion of these repairs. I have taken this vehicle back to Action Ford Mercury (4) times, for transmission repairs. (See attachments),10/11/04, 06/08/05. Obviously, with (4) repairs , something is not right with the transmission in this vehicle. Both statements reference solenoid replacement. This transmission obviously has a �factory defect�, and should be repaired once and for all, or replaced. Expecting a customer to continuously bring a vehicle back in for repairs, for the same problems, even only paying deductible payments is ludicrous.

I also talked in length with the Action Ford Mercury Service Manager, �Richard�, and he stated that they have not had any problems with the Explorer transmissions. Seems that this is not quite true, at least Nationally, in reference to the information retained on consumer web sites (See attached). Actually , this is a well documented problem with the 2004 models.

Need to find other victims in Florence, Darlington, County, South Carolina to file Class action. Please email.

- , Hartsville, SC, US

problem #81

Jun 072008

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


Well, I had the transmission fluid flushed two years ago due to a recall. At the time the transmission was starting to buck when put into reverse. Problem was rectified until recently. I called Ford Customer service to find out if there are anymore recalls on this transmission problem as i read all the complaints on this site. The rep looked into it, and was very kind. He said there is not any recalls and for a recall to occur more people have to complain...each complaint gets logged into the system and after enough of them something gets done. Unfortunately he had no idea how many complaints it took or how many have already been made. But here is the phone number to make your complaint. 1-800-392-3673. If a recall comes about and you already had your problem fixed you can submit your receipt for a refund. Please call and complain, because this should be a recall....There are so many of us complaining about this problem!

- , Coventry, RI, USA

problem #80

Jul 212008

Explorer ED 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

Same problem as the other 76 complaints the transmission shift hard and was told told that it needed replaced, my extended warranty is 100 miles over so they will not replace.... A coalition of people needs to be started this needs to be a recall because this problem is so normal and happens way to often, the explorer is suppose to be a good car... Of course i need to replace both front wheel hub assemblies another ford problem that also a ton of BULLSHIT but what can you do besides bend over, ford need to do something to keep its customers loyal to their brand but in the crunch the economy is in i doubt that will happen

- , Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #79

Apr 012008

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles

I purchased a 2004 Ford Explorer XLS about four years ago. Me and my wife have gone to great lengths to take care of it. For the last few months, however, my transmission is slipping and shifting very hard. Of course, my car is out of warranty since it is over three years old. However, the vehicle currently only has 28,000 miles. This has got to be a joke. To make matters worse, I am a government employee and I purchased my vehicle overseas. The German dealerships and mechanics are notorious for ripping off people. I am scared to take it to a mechanic because I know I will probably end up with a 3000 to 4000 Euro--not dollars which means I will likely pay in the neighborhood of 4800 to 6500 dollars. Any suggestions from anyone what I can do? Regardless of whatever suggestion you make, I know this for sure -- Ford has definitely lost this customer for life. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice,...No need to say it because Ford will not get the opportunity. The Germans have a running joke about Ford vehicles over here. I wish I had listened.

- , Boeblingen, Baden Wuerttemburg, Germany

problem #78

Apr 142005

Explorer Sport 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles

Not too long, but many miles, after I bought my 2004 Ford Explorer Sport the transmission stated to shift a little hard. I thought maybe I just needed to change the fluid because I had put some serious miles on it in such a short time.It was now 2006 and I had over 75,000 miles. I took it to the dealership to have the oil changed and asked about the hard shifting. Luckily I had a dealership that was fairly honest with me. I was told that the problem was more than likely the solenoid but not definitely. It would cost me to have it checked out. I was going out of town and I didn't want to leave the car. They said it would be fine but would be fine for traveling but it would just be shifting hard. I was having my transmission fluid changed anyways so I opted for the Flush. This was a suggestion on the dealerships part because I had so many miles on it and had never changed the fluid. This actually helped the shifting. It did not go away completely, but it was better. The dealership actually told me that it was not necessary to rush to change the part because it would help but maybe not forever. They said if I could handle the hard shift then I didn't need to spend the money as it wouldn't hurt anything. I see now they weren't telling me the whole story here. I now have 151,000 miles on my Explorer. I have never changed the Solenoid and that flush was the last time I changed the transmission fluid. I figure I can sit here and spend a few hundred dollars several times changing the solenoid or go on the advice of the dealership and just put up with it as long as the transmission is still going. It is a little annoying, but now it's just a habit of being patient while it gets in gear from park to drive or reverse to drive. I don't have any problems with it shifting while driving. I will jump on a class action if one comes along but for now who has the money to keep changing something that is just going to end up doing the same thing?

- , Justin, TX, US

problem #77

Apr 012008

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 27,000 miles

I had previously owned a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT V6 with no problems! In Oct. 2006, I traded my Explorer in on a newer 2004 Ford Explorer XLT V8 with approx. 12,000 miles on it. Here I am less than 2 years later and only at 28,000 miles and my transmission is slipping and has an extremely harsh engagement when put in to reverse. I took my vehicle in to a local auto repair shop with a Ford Certified mechanic as the owner, and was told that the solenoid needed replaced at a cost of $687 at a minimum or that the transmission would need replaced at approx. $3,000 - $4,000. I'm pitching a fit here! Of course my vehicle is out of warranty because it's older than 3 years but come on! It has less than 30,000 miles and this is just crazy! I have called my Ford Dealer and spoken to the sales man who has sold me my last 2 Ford Explorer's, (I also own a Ford F-150 pickup) as well as vehicles to my family and explained to the salesman that this is a KNOWN Ford issue and asked for assistance. He has directed me to the Service Manager to see if Ford will help us out in getting this fixed. I will keep you posted on how this goes! My biggest concern is if they decide to replace the solenoid, from what I have read, many people have the same issue again after just 12 months! I am disgusted that FORD has not made this right out via Goodwill Repairs to all who have presented this problem and if I do not see favorable resolve, I will not purchase another FORD vehicle. Period.

- , Grants Pass, OR, USA

problem #76

Mar 202008

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles

I have a 2005 explorer with the same problems. Delayed shifting into reverse, clunking, shifting into fourth hard just to name a few. Ford replaced the solenoid at 22,000 miles. It now has 42,000 miles on it and the same problem is back just 12 months later and out of warranty. One of the things I�ve heard is that the transmission fluid causes the solenoid to gum up and stick. I dumped a bottle of ZMAX for transmissions in to the trans and it has work properly now for three weeks. You�ll have to have your local oil change guru do it because those wonderful ford engineers who designed this piece of crap decided to make this transmission a sealed unit. Good luck and I hope this helps you

PS�. I got barred from the local ford dealer because of my abrupt manors.

- , Crawfordville, FL, USA

problem #75

Dec 002000

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

Alright, well we purchased a brand new 2004 Ford Explorer on July 1, 2004. When we brought it home (on a trailer) it was leaking transmission fluid after we drove it about 3 miles. It had 26 miles on the odometer. We took it to the shop and it had to have a new drive shaft. We stayed optimistic and then about a year later the problems poured on! Since we have bought it we have had it in the shop 3 times for transmission problems because it feels like you got rear ended when you let off of the accelerator, and kluncks like crap when you put in reverse. The other day it quivered like a scared chihuahua!!! We have had the leather replaced in it twice. We have had the rear end fixed at 50,000. The back windows wont work 75% of the time. This is the most baffling thing to me, over the winter on the back door under the window, that plastic piece cracked entirely on its own!!!! We also know of 3 other explorers in our city alone that have the same cracked butt on their explorer!!!!!!

- , Dickson, TN, USA

problem #74

Jul 032007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,000 miles

my 2004 explorer problems started @ 12,000 miles, Aug. 2004. they still continue as 2 different ford dealers can not duplicate the problem. both have changed the solenoid valve, replaced the fluid, power train module, and now that I refuse to pay for anything else, they can't find a problem. I have spoken w/ ford customer relations center 7 times, e-mailed w/them 4 times, and recently, have called them everyday since last Tuesday, w/out a returned call. 2 different times a dealership has performed "no service" as they tell us the trucks hesitation is w/in specs. on 6/4/07, they placed a flight recorder on the vehicle. i drove for 3 days, returned the truck, and they now say all the data recorded tells them nothing is wrong with the truck. I left the vehicle there for 2 more days as the head mechanic wanted to drive it around town. The service manager called and said to pick up the vehicle. he told me they drove it for 90 miles and can't find anything wrong. I wrote down the mileage when I left my house and when they returned it. it was only 36 miles. they even doctored the paperwork to make it look like they drove it a while. I have rented a car twice because of this, paid for services that started way before the warranty expired, been in very dangerous situations in traffic because the vehicle would not move, and recently, rolled downhill, backwards, while driving uphill, in forward drive. 3 ford representatives,(service manager, head mechanic, and service technician) all told me the vehicle was fine to drive. I asked them if they would buy the vehicle back from me and all 3 said "NO".

i tried the lemon-law but after a few contacts with the attorneys, they said it wont work as I am not the original owner.

- , Tarpon Springs, FL, USA

problem #73

May 302008

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,000 miles

Ladies and Gentlemen, this story may seem long, but will contain a lot of information. I will try to keep it as short as possible. My Brother and Sister-In Law purchased a 2004 Eddie Bauer 4.0 L V6 Explorer. This saga concerns the automatic transmission. My Brother kept excellent records. Purchased in May 2004. On March 5, 2005 they received a recall notice about the transmission fluid, brought it in at 5,534 miles and flushed/replaced the fluid with "XL11 additive-Oil - Friction Modified". Drove off. By Jan 30, 2006 (12,485 miles) my Sister in Law brings it in for the transmission shifting abnormally. The following is the text taken from the actual invoice "Shifting Abnormally Advise - cause: 12485 SOL. Malf(unction) ran ELCTRANS DG no code test drove dealy in gear removed trans pan replaced sol. body and reprogram PCM and retest N. 052108 replace trans solenoid 3058 WF. 6 XT*5*QM Fluid Transmission". In short at 12,500 miles the transmission is shifting abnormally. She has it fixed, at least according to the her. I Purchased it from my brother in Oct 2006. They bought an Asian made Van because they have two kids, and parked the Explorer in the garage, nice and safe. I have taken very good care of this car. Recently at 34,000 miles the transmission after warming up shifts into reverse from a dead stop very VIOLENTLY. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if this continues it will tear up the transmission. Called Ford at 1-800-392-3673, shuffled around just to be told that no extended warranty on vehicle offered by Ford. Hey, I'm calling about the crappy tranny, not a warranty. I have entered a complaint at This site has REALLY opened my eyes to the tranny problem with Fords. I WILL NOT purchase another American made car.

- , Richardson, TX, US

problem #72

May 292004

Explorer Eddie Bauer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,000 miles

When I put my vehicle into reverse it delays than engages very hard. Occasional slipping at higher speeds. Transmission was first serviced in 2004 and new solenoid seemed to solve issue; now problem is back at 41K miles and out of warranty. Afraid to throw good money after bad...

- , Pleasanton, CA, US

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?