Ford Explorer's History of Bad Transmissions

Ford Explorer Transmission Failure
Higher mileage transmissions are bound to fail

The Ford Explorer has a huge problem with transmission failure, mostly from the early 2000s -- especially the 2002–2004 Ford Explorer.

Signs of Transmission Problems in Your Explorer

Ford Explorer Transmission Problems

Transmission problems in Ford Explorers are one of the most commonly complained about issues of any car on the road. With a typical repair cost over $2,000 it's easy to see why owners are so upset. One dealer even claims that 1 out of every 10 Explorer's from the early 2000 model years will have transmission failure at some point. The Explorer model years with the most transmission complaints:

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 Recourse & Actions You Can Take

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.

You can also save money by ordering replacement parts online. Find the parts that fit your vehicle and have them shipped to your door, now offering free shipping

Actions You Can Take

This step is crucial, don't just complain on forums! The sites below will actively manage your complaints and turn them into useful statistics. Both and the CAS will report dangerous trends to the authorities and are often called upon by law firms for help with Class Action lawsuits. Make sure to file your complaint on all three sites, we can't stress that enough.

  1. Step 1: File Your Complaint at 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. Step 2: Notify the Center for Auto Safety

    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. Step 3: Report a Safety Concern to NHTSA

    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

What Other 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.

Here's the rub. I have owned this car for two years. Prior to that I drove another 2004 Ford Explorer that my company provided for me. The bands got worn at 60,000 miles and the transmission had to be replaced. I figured it was a fluke and bought this one. I know , I'm an idiot . I have learned enough this time to never buy another Ford product.

Lex B, Hockessin, DE

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Ford Customer Relationship Center

P.O. Box 6248 Dearborn MI 48126