Higher Mileage Explorer Transmissions Are Bound to Fail

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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. Make sure you get a comparable warranty on the rebuilt transmission.

Generations Where This Problem Has Been Reported

This problem has popped up in the following Ford generations.

Most years within a generation share the same parts and manufacturing process. You can also expect them to share the same problems. So while it may not be a problem in every year yet, it's worth looking out for.

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint

    CarComplaints.com 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