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Higher Mileage Explorer Transmissions Are Bound to Fail

Nothing lasts forever and transmissions in early 2000’s Ford Explorers are no exception. One dealership claimed 1 out of every 10 Explorers from the 3rd generation will experience a premature transmission failure, and with a typical repair cost over $2,000 bucks, it’s easy to see why owners are so upset.

Transmission Failure in 3rd-Gen Explorers

These problems tend to appear in the 3rd generation (2002-2005) Explorer.

What signs can you look for when it comes to transmission failure? Is your transmission slipping between gears, making a clunking / rattling / grinding noises when accelerating or are you suddenly having trouble shifting between gears? You should bring your SUV in immediately to get serviced.

Possible Solutions?

This repair is not currently covered under a recall or class action lawsuit (that we are aware of). Ford has offered some out-of-warranty Explorer owners a “goodwill repair”. Most people do not have any luck getting a discount on the transmission repair by going to their local dealership. Your best bet is to call Ford’s customer service line at (800) 392-3673.

If you are not offered a goodwill repair or discount on the transmission repair, we recommend having the repair done by an independent transmission repair shop or a local mechanic, because the repair cost is usually significantly less than at the dealership. However make sure you get a comparable warranty on the rebuilt transmission.

Where This Problem is Likely to Occur

Model Gen Years PainRank
Explorer Gen 3 2002–2005 123.2

What Owners Are Saying

“I am a 59 year old very careful driver who takes care of his cars. I own a 2004 Ford Explorer That I purchased two and a half years ago. It has 97,000 miles on it. The check engine light came on last month . I took it to the dealer . He says the bands are worn and that I will need over $3,000 for a new trans. A car with 97,000 miles on it shouldn't need a new transmission.Obviously Ford knows they screwed up.”

2004 Explorer Owner in Hockessin, DE

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, you can help make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint

  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify the CAS

  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA

  4. Contact Ford

    Ford Support

    P.O. Box 6248 Dearborn MI 48126 USA

    This site is not affiliated with Ford.