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 20 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #11

Jan 212007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


The vehicle has been shifting hard for sometime now. Ford said all I need to do is add an additive but I took it to the best Tranny guy in town and he told me to clean it and trade it before it was too late. Said it was going to cost me thousands to fix it and it wasn't worth it. I think FORD is a rip off, they don't own up to their problems, you can't get the info you need from them on anything for example they lost my request for title when I moved... go figure, and the dealership rolled an illegal $5000.00 lease termination when I purchased a vehicle from them. Didn't find out that was against Ford policy with its dealers until this year... they take no blame on that either. I WILL NEVER BUY A FORD AGAIN AND PLAN ON TELLING EVERYONE ABOUT THE PROBLEMS I AM HAVING.

- , Columbiana, OH, USA

problem #10

Jan 202007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

I was in Austin when my Transmission went out. The overdrive light came on and it would not shift. I had my transmission rebuilt one month prior to this and then this happened. This time the transmission guy replaced the entire thing. I picked up my car four days ago and now the O/D light came back on again. This is causing me so much distress because I need my car and have no other form of transportation. Can anyone help me?

- , Katy, TX, USA

problem #9

Nov 122006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Purchased this car in germany by way of delivery from the U. S. shipped this vehicle from germany to new jersey and drove it to az and now there is a problem with the gears not shifting when you shift them . It takes a good bit of time for it to shift after you've changed gears. At 1st i thought that it was just my wife and her driving skills but after reading other complaints about this vehicle I now know different. If Ford is unwilling to fess up and take responsibility for making screwed up vehicles then why should we as consumers continue to support them.

- , Sierra Vista, AZ, USA

problem #8

Jan 132007

(reported on)

Explorer XL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles


We had the recall on this looked at. They put the fluid they said was needed. However it never did the trick. I think Ford needs to recall these bad transmissions before it gets too late and they end up with another law suit like the roll over issue. FORD DO THE RIGHT THING HERE.

- , Goochland, VA, USA

problem #7

Nov 062006

(reported on)

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

Apparently, this is an significant problem with the Ford Explorer, that should be looked into! I too am having the identical problem @ 53K miles on my 2004 Ford Explorer. It started with the annoying thrust/bang when the car was put into reverse... then recently when driving and the car shifts gears you feel the hesitation. I've had a car diagnostic performed at three different locations one being a Ford Service department and the problems is within the transmission (Broken OD Band & the "lovely" shift solenoid). And, the cost ranges from $2,200 - $3,200, the dealership being the most expensive. I put myself at risk everyday, because it's not covered under warranty!

- , Roselle, NJ, USA

problem #6

Nov 292006

(reported on)

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

having more transmission problems previously was fixed when under warranty now no warranty. I'm sure damage already done and previous fix was temporary. trans slipping, shifting harder than it used to, not to mention losing rear axle grease. did you know that there is no way to check and see if your running low on transmission fluid in this model?

- , Grayson, KY, USA

problem #5

Nov 292006

(reported on)

Explorer LX V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles


dealer replaced fluids and solenoid "transpack" at 30,000 miles. my 2004 explorer was having major delays when changing from reverse to forward (like when you back out into traffic and need to take off before getting smashed by oncoming traffic). we're talking 15 sec delays at most. dealer fixed under warranty and had recall for this problem.

now I'm at 68,000 miles and having some possible slipping on take off, losing rear axle grease, shifts hard, and it has always been rough when turning in tight spaces like parking lots etc. It's like the 4x4 kicks in when you turn steering wheel hard.

- , Grayson, KY, USA

problem #4

Nov 152006

(reported on)

Explorer XLS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles

I have a 2004 Ford Explorer and at 7000 miles I started having problems with transmission. When going from park to reverse it hesitates for a 5 to 20 seconds before engaging into gear. We took it to the dealer under warranty and we were told they adjusted it. It stopped for about 3 months and it started again. At 37000 the transmission started slipping and shifting hard. I can only believe that all my transmission problems began at the factory when the put the wrong tranny fluid into it. Ford knows about the problems and will not fix these bad transmissions. They paid to have the transmission fluid replaced but that does not fix the damage already done. 2004 Ford Explorers are lemons! I will not buy another Ford EVER!!!

- , Shorewood, IL, USA

problem #3

Oct 272006

(reported on)

Explorer LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

The transmission would hesistate and bang when going from park to reverse. the delay could at times be as much as 20 seconds which has put us in danger quite a few times. Someone has to actually DIE before Ford will cover this problem once you are out of warranty. The dealership said they wanted $85 / hour to diagnose known and common problem and then more to fix.

I will NEVER buy another Ford product and unitl take take my last breathe i will tell everyone not to as well!

They have no moral compass whatsoever

- , Swampscott, MA, USA

problem #2

Sep 022006

(reported on)


  • 57,000 miles

Transmission was slipping in 2nd & overdrive. The shift solenoid was replaced at 55,000 miles, and three months later, at 57,000 miles, the same problem came back. To replace the shift solenoid was about $900, and the same Ford dealership in Waldorf, Maryland that did the shift solenoid replacement is telling me that I will have to buy a new transmission.

The shoddy work and poor replacement products have pushed me from ever buying another Ford product, or any auto manufacturer that they own. This includes Jaguar and Mazda. My wife and I are now looking to buy a car, and I would not take a Ford if they gave me a free Ford GT if they gave it to me.

I can fully understand why the company is losing money in the domestic auto market. I was told that Ford had fixed the previous transmission problems before I bought my truck. I am now of the belief that this car company will never be able to fix this problem.

- , Temple Hills, MD, US

problem #1

Sep 022006

(reported on)


  • 55,000 miles

The truck would hesitate & bang going into reverse. The 2nd gear was slipping. I was told to replace the shift solenoid. This solved the problem for about 60 days.

- , Temple Hills, MD, US

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