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 6 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #291

Mar 012011

Explorer 6.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles


We bought the vehicle used and found in car fax that transmission was rebuilt almost a year ago. The dealer doesn't want to honor the warranty on the transmission because we weren't the owners of the vehicle at the time. It almost appears that the transmission wasn't rebuilt properly. It is showing the classic problems of a bad transmission.

- , Ramsey, NJ, USA

problem #290

Jan 102011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

My truck kept jerking every time I would shift gears which became extremely annoying. I took it to Aamco to get a diagnostic test and they told me that I would have to replace the engine and also have the transmission rebuilt! They told me that something must have happened with the transmission before I purchased it and who ever had the truck at the time did not repair it but put a temporary seal to keep it going for about 4 years. (i.e. I purchased it about 4 years ago so I personally feel that it was the dealership that screwed me over). Overall the total is $3,000 +! I was told not to drive the truck until I get it fixed but I have no choice. I just wish I would've known about this rip off!

- , West Orange, NJ, USA

problem #289

Jan 132010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,500 miles

First time the trans would not want to go into reverse unless throttle was applied then it would slam into gear and make all kinds of noises and then would do the same going into first or drive however u want to look at it so took it to the dealer and they told me that it was unusual for that to happen like they didnt know about it but they were able to fix it in a quick manner so that told me they were lieing to me and it had happened more then once before because i used to work in a dealer in the parts department and dealers do not keep parts in stock for something that was unusual. So they told me they replaced the solinoid and bands i was ok with that it was fixed and i was on my way but now 30,000 miles later the trans is all the way gone and now i have to foot the bill of 2400 to 3000 grand for a rebuild not happy at all

- , Cincinnati, OH, US

problem #288

Mar 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


bullshit! 3000 to fix a transmission! A transmission shouldnt "go" at 80,000 miles...never buying ford again

- , South Boston, MA, USA

problem #287

Nov 212011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

I just paid $8,000 for this car used. There's no way I should have to spend another $3000-$4000 fixing the transmission when it's only got 98,000 miles on it. Ford needs to have a recall and fix this problem!

- , Jefferson, LA, LA, USA

problem #286

Sep 092010

Explorer LX 6 cyl 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 175,000 miles

Well, my problem is, I paid 33,000 dollars for this vehicle new. I know I have driven it over 200 miles now, but I feel like most of these mile were highway miles. Never pulled trailors. They are easy miles & the rear end starting singing at like 65,000 miles & the transmission starting going out around 100,000. I also own a Mitsubishi Galant & it has 206,000 miles & it doesn't have any of these problems. I think Ford skimped on the rear end & transmissions. Should have used heavier duty parts. Seems like there are a million people having the same problems I'm having, so I know Ford dropped the ball.

- , Pearl, MS, USA

problem #285

Jun 202009

Explorer LS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles


The Explorer does not to come out of park and jerks sometimes while driving. I never called ford customer service thought there no use. I also had shifting rod replaced on steering column. Transmission sometimes i have problem going into drive.Tank you.

- , Paris, KY, USA

problem #284

Jul 192011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,001 miles

Just spent $8,400 on a "new to me" 2004 Ford Explorer in what seemed to be perfect condition inside and out, and

r about 3 days later, I have noticed the transmission shifting hard, and when going from park to reverse, it jerks really hard. After reading alot on line, it seems that this is a MAJOR problem with this transmission. SO did I just WASTE my money on a LEMON?????

- , Newborn, GA, USA

problem #283

Nov 062006

Explorer XLS 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles

I bought this car in 2006 and now in 2011 I am trying to sell it so I can buy another SUV(definitely NOT A FORD). It has always shifted hard, and now it is 100,900 miles and still doing it.The last mechanic I took it to says he thinks it is a module on the transmission. Not sure yet how much, but he says it won't be a lot. Probably about 100-200. Yet, I have read all the complaints on here and am worried that it needs a new transmission. I can not figure out how Ford can continue to be a money making company with such a horrible track record with transmissions. I am only asking 6000 for my Explorer and it is well worth it. I think this is very reasonable, and if this transmission goes out, they can still have a great car for a good price if they do replace it. My SUV is in top shape except it shifts a bit hard.I forgot to mention that I JUST REPLACED a whole transmission on my 2007 Ford Eddie Bauer as well. My dad is a mechanic SO I LUCKED OUT AND HE DID THE JOB. IT COST ME AROUND 500 FOR THE PARTS and that's it. Yet when it was finished, the torque converter(a new one) began whinning. We now have to put a new one of those in. AMAZING! I can't ask my dad to work on another one for me so I took the 2004 one to someone else. How can this darn company continue to thrive? The new Explorers are making an unbelievable showing in sales. They've tripled the sales of the last year's model. Unbelievable! When I get rid of these two, I am NEVER buying another! Man up Ford and do the right thing! If you don't Karma, God, etc WILL COME BACK AND BITE YOU IN THE ASS! This internet is connecting customers and we are becoming stronger and more organized. You can't continue to ignore your customers and make money for long with this technology that's available today!

- , Lexington, KY, USA

problem #282

Jun 012011

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Transmission getting stuck in gear. Also, shifting hard. Got to the point that it flung passengers in their seats.

Spoke with Ford Hqs. They said no recall but definitely keep my receipts.

Thank you very much.

- , Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #281

Sep 012011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,400 miles


I bought a 2004 Ford Explorer in January 2011 and it had 69,800 miles. There was no apparent problems with it during the first few months, but around six months into owning it I started to notice it slipping. Now it is October and it is really slipping so I took it in to get check out. They are replacing the transmission because second and third gears were frozen together and multiple bands wore completely worn out.

I thought I researched this vehicle adequately before purchasing it, but now I see that this problem is way too common and I should have never purchased it. I am going to do everything I can to get my voice heard and get Ford to step up and get this problem recalled.

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #280

Oct 052011

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

I already did my research online about why my truck would jerk real hard when I put it in reverse and then one day my message board said check transmission. I went around pricing how much it would cost to get it fixed hoping it was only low on fluid, it wasn't I was told that I would need a new or rebuilt transmission. I took it then to ford just to confirm it was true and I paid $120 just for a diagnostic test and they couldn't find anything wrong with the transmission? My question is how could ford not see anything wrong with there own transmission. However I knew that was not true because of all the jerks and it said check transmission...then I insisted if they were sure and they ended up keeping my truck over night just to call and say yes it needs a new one. When asked how much and what was wrong with it they couldn't tell me and just priced me a new one at $3700. I just took it to the other transmission shop and paid $2660 for a rebuilt one and I'm still having some issues!!!

- , Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #279

May 102011

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Our explorer is starting to have so many problems all the sudden! 2 months ago the heater went out and will cost $1000 to fix

4 weeks ago we started noticing that the car would take a significant amount of time when shifting into drive (at a light, when backing up,etc). The transmission is going to be close to $3000.

Last winter the middle seat belt in the 2nd row became stuck and will not retrack. We have to replace the seat because the lever that lowers the seat broke as well (about a year ago). That is going to cost us $300 for the seat. The dial for the radio does not work--when we try to turn the volume down it goes up--some times all the way up. Who knows how much that will cost.

ADVICE - -Don't buy an Explorer!

- , Kaysville, UT, US

problem #278

Oct 172011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Will never buy a FORD again! I will tell everyone NOT to buy FORD!! This piece of junk is nothing but a problem. No matter how well you take care of it you will have to dump a pile of money into it for repairs...had taken this junk to the FORD dealership many times for the same problem over the years and the problems never seem to get fixed. The fix creates new replacing the whole transmission not very happy

- , Delmont, PA, USA

problem #277

Oct 132011

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,500 miles

This is my 3rd Ford vehicle. 1995 Ford F250.. no problems, currently own 97 F250 powerstroke that's been great... Decided that the family vehicle would be a Ford Explorer and found a low mileage 2004 (11,000) and bought it used from the same Ford dealer with a $2000 extended warranty to 70,000 miles. At 77,000 miles it starts shifting hard and slipping. Take it in and told shift solenoid is bad and need a rebuild for $1800. Shop got into it and said bands are bad as well as the Torque Converter is not far behind. Didn't want to spend $1800 to have the TC go out a few miles down the road and start all over so now I'm hit with $2800 bill for a family vehicle that's never towed anything with 77,000 miles on it getting a complete rebuild. Not a happy Ford Customer right now. This is really unacceptable for a vehicle that hasn't been abused with this low of mileage.

- , Portland, OR, USA

problem #276

Jul 042005

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles

Same as everyone else, warranty expired, now transmission, transfer case and rear differential all shot to Hell !! Should have researched before purchased, as usual was given run around by loser dealership, nothing they could do, just drive it. Was towed several times to dealer while under warranty, for jerking, slipping and whining, they could not replicate problem. This is a good indication of upcoming quality from all American made vehicles, I do believe, dealer told me vehicles are now made to be disposable, I guess I'll just take the bus because now I cant afford the repair cost of 5,144.00, I'm busted, just busted !! Ford will NOT do the right by us, the consumers, EVER, this is a changed America!! Buyers BEWARE!!

- , Buffalo, NY, US

problem #275

Mar 042011

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,625 miles

Our Ford was supposed to be covered under the Pre-Certified Owner Warranty, but Team Ford of Marietta, GA DID NOT HONOR this Warranty. This was a used vehicle from Ford's fleet. It is our understanding that this is a problem prevalent with 2004 Ford Explorers, as well as other years, but FORD has not recalled the vehicle. So, we took it to a transmission mechanic and had it replaced/rebuilt (?). Since, April of 2011, we had to take it back around July 11, 2011, because it began to slip and the gears stick again. It had to be towed. And, now, October 2011, we are having to take it back again for the same problem. We've had Ford products before, but after this ordeal and contacting Ford Motor and nothing is being done, we WILL NEVER purchase another Ford vehicle, and I will personally use ever outlet I have to discourage anyone from purchasing a vehicle from Ford. Ford knows there is a problem, and they are refusing to acknowledge it and fix it. I want them to buy back my vehicle. Three times!!!! Same problem!!!!

- , Marietta, GA, USA

problem #274

Oct 052011

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,000 miles

Bought the Ford Explorer brand new in 2004. Never had any problem until the transmission start slipping and I took to it to the Ford Dealer. Was told the whole transmission had to be overhauled and would cost around $3,200...My extended warranty expired out while I was deployed (20110331). The vehicle only have 66,000 miles but the warranty expired based on date (84 months). Pissed but still looking for a cheaper price to get my vehicle fixed.

- , Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #273

Jan 052010

Explorer Limited 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,553 miles

It is sad to have a wonderful, fully loaded truck with everything perfect except for the transmission that wont shift right...

- , White Pine, TN, USA

problem #272

Aug 022011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,345 miles

Very dissatisfying, vehicle when put in reverse gives of a hard shift erratically, about 4 months ago I notified Ford. They changed the oil for the Transmission the problem went away for a little bit but it is now back again and even worse!!!!

- , Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA

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