Notes: The 2005 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.

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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
56,782 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2005 Ford Explorer transmission problems

transmission problem

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2005 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #40

Oct 062011


  • 80,400 miles


While driving on the highway, transmission slippage occurred switching suddenly from drivinig to neutral, gear could not be changed unless vehicle was parked and brake pedal was pressed down. Scary situation considering that I could be driving on the left lane. Please consider this as a safety complaint and request for safety recall.

- Wayne, NJ, USA

problem #39

Jun 302011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 120,000 miles
I have 2005 Ford Explorer that I was driving in freeway with speed of 60mph with 3 kids in the vehicle and my wife and just tranny failed and speed drop almost get in accident now I am without the car and without the work I did change my Toyota to the american vehicle 2 years ago to help economy of usa and now I have no idea that where I get $3000 to replace the tranny.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #38

Jan 152011


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Ford Explorer. The contact stated when shifting the gear selector there was a delayed response and the vehicle would lunge forward. The failure occurred intermittently. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The contact planned to notify the manufacturer regarding the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 60,000.

- Florence, SC, USA

problem #37

Feb 152011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles


Repeated failure of 2005 Ford Explorer transmission model 5R55S. 3 total failures requiring complete overhaul in 3 years. Repairs performed by same qualified independent and Ford dealer recommended repair alternative facility. Ford wouldn't provide a warranty at 90,000 mile first failure. Most recent repair 2/24/2011 and 3rd costing $2500. Mileage between 2nd and 3rd repairs-38,000 miles. Present mileage 130,000 on vehicle. Chassis mileage is high but 3 failures in 3 years on low mileage transmission between overhauls is not normal.

- Fontana, CA, USA

problem #36

Jan 302011

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 65,500 miles
2005 Ford Explorer transmission failing with mileage of 65K miles! was told by Ford it would cost approximately $3500 plus tax to fix. Called fmc and was told I had to work it out with the service dept at the dealership. No acknowledgment of other complaints by fmc main office or dealership; dismissed notion of any validity to complaints showing up online; was told that they would simply make note of it in their system and that was it! so far nothing serious has happened, but apparently others have not been so lucky. Had a few close calls on the highway when trying to drive home from a funeral out of town.

- Carson City, NV, USA

problem #35

Nov 142009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
I own a 2005 Ford Explorer. This incident happened in November of 2009. The Ford Explorer had approximately 80,000 miles on it. I pulled into my sister's driveway which is a flat, gravel driveway. The Ford Explorer is an automatic transmission. I shifted the car into park and then exited the Ford Explorer. After exiting the Ford Explorer, it started moving backwards. The open door knocked me down and then the tire on the driver's side ran over my leg. My sister ran and stopped the car. The gear shift moved from park into reverse.

- Ashton, ID, USA

problem #34

May 012009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles


I own a 2005 Ford exploer with 74K miles that continues to have transmission problems including shifting hard when placing in reverse, as well as lurching upon slowing down and stopping. I purchased the vehicle May 2005 and the problem started around 65K miles. I've been told that I need a solenoid valve body by the dealership that will cost $1100 with no diagnostic testing. I've taken the vehicle to a transmission body shop to be informed that my year vehicle has such problems and why Ford doesn't do something about these problems. The transmission place did not find transmission code problems, but the problems still exist. They did receive get an engine code error and referred me to electrical specialist. I'm disturbed to find out on-line all the problems that other owners are having concerning transmission problems and the same issues that I am having. Ford Motor Company needs to be help responsible for these issues and cover the problem since they already know the issue even without doing a diagnostic.

- Fort Washington, MD, USA

problem #33

Oct 232009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 46,000 miles
Common transmission failures on 2002 to 2005 Ford Explorer. My 2005 Ford Explorer transmission failed without warning and almost caused my family to get rear ended on the highway and then almost into a rollover on the highway due to being in the passing lane and trying to get over to the break down lane. I had to have the whole transmission rebuilt at 46,000 miles which was not covered under warranty.

- Hanson, MA, USA

problem #32

Mar 122010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
My letter to Ford Motor Company is as follows: Ford Motor Companymain topic: Vehicleserviceissuesyour inquiry: My 2005 eddie bauer edition Ford Explorer is having problems with the transmission. It slams into reverse and slips going from 2nd to 3rd gears. I got on the internet to research what could be done about this and was appalled by the staggering number of owners having this same problem. ( many of them paying the money ($3,000) to have the problem fixed only to find it happens again in few thousand miles. When I saw all those people having the same exact problem that I was having, I thought surely Ford would have done something about this by now. But after searching your website for a recall notice, I found nothing!! can this be right" how can you commercialism selling quality products with problems like this being ignored" if I have the problem fixed (by a authorized dealer), what assurances do I have from Ford, that the problem will not return? I'm not a fan of class action lawsuits, but it seems this is the only way big corporations listen to the masses anymore. Their response: I regret the circumstances that prompted you to write us. Please be informed that Ford and the national highway traffic and safety administration (NHTSA) work together to proactively identify areas of concern through investigation of consumer and dealership feedback. If a concern is noted, a recall is conducted to remedy a safety or emissions concern in the interest of customer satisfaction and environmental responsibility. However, due to our rigorous safety standards and constant testing, not all issues result in recall or customer satisfaction programs. I am truly sorry that currently, there are no safety or emissions recalls for your vehicle concern. If a program is announced on this specific component, Ford will notify you by mail. On the other hand, please be advised that the projected life expectancy of our vehicle parts is obtained through etc.

- Daingerfield, TX, USA

problem #31

Jun 062010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 45,606 miles
I just bought a 2005 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0L V-6 4X4 with 45,000 miles, and within one month, the transmission began to slip while driving. I took it to rob sight Ford in Kansas City, mo and they charged me $1,200 to fix the valve casing, but the transmission is still slipping. A week later, the defroster quit working, and now only blows out of the front vents. I checked with several dealerships and they all said it would be at least $1,100 to fix the blend door actuator. So now I have a 5 year old car with 45,000 miles that has no defrost capabilities and needs a new transmission, both of which are extremely hazardous if malfunctioning.

- Shawnee, KS, USA

problem #30

Jun 182010


  • 48,244 miles


While traveling on vacation from California to Oregon on I-5, the vehicle began to shake, shutter, then clunk. "od off" light came on, along with a warning indicating check transmission. Loud whirling noise coming from transmission. It felt like there was no power, and the vehicle was going to stop. I was able to get over to the offramp, to get off the freeway. I did not feel it was safe to try to get back up to freeway speeds, as there seemed to be little power. Due to the sudden loss of power, I had the vehicles behind me, right on my bumper. Vehicle was purchased new, and has been serviced at all required intervals. Vehicle has 48,000 miles. Made it into a Ford dealer in Oregon, and was told after placed on a diagnostic machine, and all warning codes cleared it may be safe to drive back to California. Went about 300' from the dealership and "od off" light came on, "service vehicle soon" light came on, and check transmission warning came on. Drove it back into the dealership, and they removed the transmission pan, and diagnosed the problem as internal transmission failure. Found metal, and clutch material. Cost to replace transmission $3,657.

- San Ramon, CA, USA

problem #29

Feb 012010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
The 2005 Ford Explorer, when shifted into reverse, has a delay then slams into gear and the vehicle lurches rearward. Also, the truck has a delay when shifting through some forward gears as well. The truck will delay or hesitate when shifting through the gears, then slam into the next gear.

- Newnan, GA, USA

problem #28

Jun 072010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 56,000 miles
I drive a 2005 Ford Explorer. For the last 6 months or so, when I shift the car into drive or reverse, the car jumps while I have my foot on the brake

- Fontana, CA, USA

problem #27

May 212010


  • 95,000 miles
I have a 2005 Ford Explorer, I bought the vehicle new in 2005. The vehicle's first major problem was in 2008 when the transmission "lost" 3rd gear. It was rebuilt by Ford and has never been the same. Yesterday 21 May 2010 the transmission did the same thing it did in 2008... slammed hard into reverse and now it won't shift out of 1st gear. This is twice I'm having to pay to have the transmission replaced in a 5 year old vehicle.

- Laurel, MD, USA

problem #26

May 082010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 59,989 miles
The message screen on my 2005 Ford Explorer started displaying "check transmission" while driving. A few minutes later, the O/D light started blinking and the check engine light came up. I called the dealership and was told that it is a very common issue with Explorer and specifically the 2005 model. The apparently are so backed up that it would take 2-3 weeks for my car to be fixed. After researching the problem, it seems that the design of the transmission was flawed. I'm no expert but it seems to happen around 60K miles to every one. Too much of a coincidence. I barely made it home. It took less than 3 hrs for the car to stop going.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #25

Apr 122010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 39,304 miles
The transmission started slipping and would not engage right away. Engine would rev but vehicle wouldn't go. The vehicle then started smoking from underneath. The dealer stated that the transmission had a massive fluid leak inside the converter housing and fluid was dripping on the hot exhaust. The leak was caused by a defective pump seal in the transmission, with only 39,200 miles. The repair cost $1100. Last year I spent $800 to replace the failed solenoids in the transmission body that were posted in a Ford technical service bulletin. However, Ford did not wish to cover the cost since I was outside of the warranty by one year although I only had 35,900 miles at the time.

- Willow Street, PA, USA

problem #24

Oct 102008


  • 49,000 miles
Complete transmission failure at 49,000 miles car 3 years old.

- Franklin Lakes, NJ, USA

problem #23

Mar 292010


  • 107,000 miles
Ford Explorer 2005 transmission failure. Car would not leave first gear. Had I been on a highway could have caused an accident. This problem seems to rampant with all Ford Explorer--Ford should have had a recall on them!!

- West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #22

Feb 092010


  • 209,100 miles
I have a 2005 Ford Explorer that has developed a transmission problem. While driving on the highway, the od light started blinking and there is a message that says check transmission. I called Ford customer service and they said I need a new transmission at an estimate O $1800.

- Knightdale, NC, USA

problem #21

Dec 012009


  • 64,000 miles
I bought my 2005 Explorer new. I have never been in a wreck. At 13000 miles my transmission started going out and was repaired under warranty. Now at 64000 miles my transmission is jerking into reverse and dragging into 3rd just like before. What really scared me was I was trying to pass a car and when trying to accelerate my car jerked, revved up and then clunked into gear. Thank goodness there wasn't a car coming or I would have been in trouble. I took it in and Ford says they are unaware of any problems. They said I just needed my computer updated. Well $200 later it is still not fixed. The car is still slipping and jerking. My car is not quite 5 years old and there is no reason why my transmission should be going out for the second time. Thank you for looking into this matter.

- Sweeny, TX, USA

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