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 8 of 20)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #251

Aug 012010

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles


Having bought this car new in the end of year sale at a local dealer, we never got any letter for a possible fix for the transmission. All along the transmission would jerk when put in reverse and would slip. Six months ago it started getting worse had the transmission serviced by a reliable mechanic we are still having problems with it. Right now we are in the process of getting prices on either rebuilding or replacing it, but either way it is going to cost a lot and for something that Ford knew was a problem. Not good business.

- , Hampton, AR, USA

problem #250

May 152009

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

I bought this explorer V6 XLT. new and bought the extended warranty. Under warranty the solenoid in the transmission had to be replaced. This was covered under my extended warranty. At about $120K miles the OD would shift in and out depending on the acceleration and terrain. The last time I had the car in to the dealer they said I needed to have the transmission flushed and new fluid added. I have 145K on the car and it has been well maintained. I wonder if I have the transmission flushed, that it will get worse.

- , Huntsville, AL, US

problem #249

Jan 152011

Explorer ES 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,346 miles

what a p.o.s. bought in 07 tranny shifted weird 58,000 miles was told buy ford dealer was normal now tranny shifts hard going into drive reverse and any other gear going down the road slowly has gotten worse over the last 4 years

- , Piqua, OH, USA

problem #248

Jul 252007

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles


This has to be the most frustrating vehicle I've ever had. The first incident occurred at 95000 miles and came back again. Now, the O/D light came on a couple of days ago but turned off after engine shut down and restart. I'm currently at 152000+ miles. Like all the other ranters out here, I have the crack in the rear panel. I guess changing the hinges did not fix the problem.

- , Chandler, AZ, USA

problem #247

Jan 132011

Explorer LX 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

The transmission slips between shifts making the engine rev up and the car jar as the car slams into gear.Hruuuuu...Suks.

- , Grand Prairie, TX, USA

problem #246

Jul 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

I bought this explorer for my wife. She thought this was a very very very nice looking explorer. She drove it and just fell in love with it. Now couple weeks after owning this explorer in started to just need part after part replaced an now its the transmission which is a very costly part which is awful when you just bought it and then overnight it acts like the thing is going to fall out going down the road.

- , Janesville, WI, USA

problem #245

Feb 112011

Explorer Limited V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,000 miles


Starting shifting hard in reverse a few times. Then the Transmission light came on but turn off when I restarted the car. About a week later the Service Engine light came on. Mechanic said it would be a min. of $3300 to fix. With this many complaints you would think FORD would do something. Not a happy a Ford customer. No more Fords for this family.

- , Littleton, CO, US

problem #244

Aug 032004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles

I am just finding out about the transmission problem, when every time we had the car in for service and asked about haw hard the car jumped and sounded when you changed from Park to Reverse and Reverse to Drive he told us that this was normal for the Ford Models. First all the sh*t that I went thru with my rear door and this time it was my fault that I was not big enough to be able really slam the rear door good. That was why it would just fly open driving down the interstate or any road. The lights would come on and say the door was open, but I had shut it numerous times. Now the DAMN REAR DOOR has CRACKED all the way down the middle under the glass. THE DEALERS TELL ME THAT THE 03'S,THE 04'S AND THE 05'S ARE ALL HAVING THIS ISSUE. BUT GUESS WHAT FORD REFUSES TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT THIS ISSUE!!!!!!!!!!!

I have seen comments from other 2004 Ford Explorer Owners that have this same issue going on, there was one gentleman that his rear window shattered with his son in the rear seat. He had to have numerous stiches from this and FORD will DO NOTHING!!!!!!

My vehicle is now paid for, I did take out the extended warranty, but wouldn't you know it, it expired a couple of months before my rear door cracked.

I am now in a complete different situation in my life and I was so excited about having my vehicle paid for, I thought that I was doing OK. 2004 Ford Explorer that I have taken good are of,now only has less than 54,000 miles on it, inj really good shape I thought.


- , La Vergne, TN, USA

problem #243

Mar 022007

Explorer ESL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

transmission slips since the day we purchased it used. I immediately had a flush and change of fluid. This did nothing to correct the problem, however we now have over 100000 miles and it is still running with the hard shifts. By accident I stumbled across a web site some time ago that reported ford had a recall on some of it's 2004 model due to them using the wrong xmission fluid from the factory that would lead to the type of problems that everybody is talking about. I have not investigate this any further, but intend to do so. I have a after cooler for the transmission, but because I bought it used I am not sure if it is factory installed or not. I intend to invesgitate further before it s***s itself. I believe any experienced, reputable transmission shop should be aware of this problem or I will not trust my repairs to them.

- , Tomball, tx, USA

problem #242

Dec 282010

Explorer 58000 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,150 miles

I bought this car in 2007 as used with 28000 miles on it. in 2009 the transmission started acting weird. it was a problem with the reverse and than it does not pass the 4 gear. so I took it to dealer to fix it. He said that the SOLENOID need to be changed and the problem will be fixed. the solenoid cost me $ 1462. However I still have the feeling that the car does not act the way it suppose to. This is going to be my last ford. no more American car. foreign cars are a way better. Hopefully we can get some thing from the recall if it does happen.

- , Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #241

Jan 012005

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles


I never liked the way the trans shifted into gear from day 1. Now its at the point when I put it into gear it bangs and sometimes takes a second or two to engage. I had it since Nov 03 and now Feb 2011 it only has 43,000 miles. I'm afraid I'll be do for a new trans soon. It shouldn't be...

- , Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA

problem #240

Oct 152010

Explorer Limited V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Having the same problem as I hear from everyone else. Loud banging when backing up Finding out that .04 was a very bad year for explorers.

- , Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #239

Aug 192009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

This is the second time for a problem with this truck. Had it at the dealer ship just after the warranty went out around 37,000 an paid a little over $600.00 to fix it . Lasted till 80,000 them took it back and paid around $200.00 to fix.

- , Livingston, TN, USA

problem #238

Jun 012006

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 37,000 miles

Had it at the dealer ship just after the warranty went out around 37,000 an paid over $600.00 to fix it.

- , Livingston, TN, USA

problem #237

Jan 112011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

The transmission slips between shifts making the engine rev up and the car jar as the car slams into gear.

- , Vineland, NJ, US

problem #236

Apr 012010

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6 Flex Fuel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 58,000 miles

It never shifted very smooth. The dealer said because it was drive by wire. then it got really bad. I bought the extended warranty because I was afraid of this. I broke even, the warranty was 1250 up 60k miles and the rebuild was about the same.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #235

Aug 312004

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10 miles

I purchased the car in august of 2004 new. When I first drove in reverse it woud "jump," at about 7500 miles there was a recall and it stated the transmission was jumping and it needed a additive to fix the problem---it continued on and I now have 122,000 miles and it will need to be replaced. That is amazing when you spend 30,000 on a new vehicle!! I feel I got a lemon!!!!!! Then after the first 2 yrs the paint was peeling off the roof, and of course that is not covered in the "full of it" full coverage. What is this world coming to?

now I am laid off, which makes it even better.

- , Ferndale, MI, USA

problem #234

Jan 032011

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

Well ford explorer have the worse transmission ever put in any car,

I'm on my second rebuilt transmission in lest than 5 years and ford wont

take care off the problem. I won't buy a ford ever in my life!!!.

- , North Bergen, NJ, USA

problem #233

Dec 012010

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles

i was really upset that the tranny had to be rebuilt and that there was a fix in the bore kit. why wont ford admit to the problem? if there is a fix for it! i guess its to line the pockets of the transmission shops! these cars should out last any thing on the road, for the price! ford used to stand for some thing! no fill tube on a automatic transmission! what the hell!! this is one of the dumbest things, in a long line of things, that Ford has done.

- , Sedro Woolley, Washington State, USA

problem #232

Dec 142010

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L Flexible

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,500 miles

Sounds like I've had all the same problems everyone else is having. Hesitating when shifting and then lunging forward when engaging, clunking in reverse, driver's side front and rear window periodically stop working, gas gauge sometimes gets 'stuck', front hubs and bearing needed to replaced. I told the dealer about the clunking in reverse in the first year but was told that was 'normal'. Now at 96500 miles it is out of warranty and am having the trans rebuild for $2,328 as we speak. Hopefully we can get a recall out of this and get our money back.

- , Redford, MI, USA

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