2004 Ford E-350 Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 2004 Ford E-350 as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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Known Problems

There was a program in 2004 to replace the automatic transmission reverse planetary assembly for a factory defect. The defect caused the transmission to shift hard and possibly slip. If this repair is not done already, further damage may occur to the transmission, and overhaul / replacement may be necessary.

The Check Engine Light may illuminate, the engine may run rough and have misfires on acceleration. Commonly the ignition coils and/or the ignition coil boots are the cause of this problem. The rubber boot that insulates the coil to the spark plug can dry and crack allowing arcing. Inspect the coils and boots, and replace them as needed. Our technicians also recommend replacing the coil boots any time the spark plugs are replaced.

Appropriate cooling system maintenance is very important for this engine. Coolant should be inspected for nitrite levels at each service, and use of an additive, or replacement of coolant, should be done as needed. Deteriorated coolant can lead to EGR cooler and / or engine oil cooler failure. Failure of either can cause coolant loss and overheating, prolonged overheating can cause head gasket failure. White smoke may also be emitted from the tailpipe from the burning of coolant. The cooling system should be thoroughly inspected, and replace the EGR cooler and components as needed. With extended overheating, the head gaskets should be inspected for damage. If the cooling system is especially contaminated with oil, flushing agents and a degreaser like Simple Green may be needed to effectively flush the contaminants.

The spark plugs may become dislodged from the cylinder heads. A loud popping noise can be heard and a subsequent misfire experienced. The threads on the spark plug ports in the cylinder head(s) can become stripped or missing when the spark plug is dislodged. The threads in cylinder heads may be replaced using “Lock-N-Stitch” aluminum inserts. Our technicians tell us thread replacement is performed when the vehicle is out of base warranty. Vehicles under base warranty receive a new cylinder head.

Damage to the fan clutch wire harness and / or erratic fan clutch operation can cause the engine cooling to not turn on. A new fan clutch assembly will be needed to fix this problem.

This concern relates specifically to the E4OD and 4R100 automatic transmissions. Transmission fluid leaking from the front of the transmission bell housing may also be accompanied with shifting and transmission engagement issues. This is often caused by transmission overheating and is the sign of a significant internal transmission problem. The superficial cause is the failure of the front pump seal of the transmission. The immediate repair is to remove the transmission, replace the front pump and seal, replace all fluid with the transmission filter, and verify proper flow through the transmission fluid lines and cooler. It is also recommended to make sure the vehicle is not pulling a load that is heavier than the gross vehicle weight limits because this can cause the transmission to overheat. Depending on the transmission's mileage, this can also be a good time to consider a complete overhaul or replacement with a remanufactured unit, as often just the pump and seal replacement is a short lived remedy.

Electrolysis can cause repeated failures of the heater core and radiator. The diagnosing technician should check for voltage present in the coolant, with the battery disconnected, because electrical current in the coolant causes electrolysis. Corroded or deteriorated parts should be replaced, and the coolant should be flushed. Ground straps can be added to help prevent future corrosion of components.

This concern relates to vehicles equipped with the E4OD and 4R100 automatic transmissions. Fluid leaks from the rear of the transmission and excessive vibration felt in the vehicle while driving can be caused by a lack of lubrication to the rear of the transmission and rear seal failure. The extension housing (rear portion of transmission) can lose lubrication if the fluid supply hole becomes clogged. This leads to rear seal failure from lack of lubrication, and can cause bearing failure in the extension housing. The extension housing and gasket should be replaced and verify the fluid supply hole is clear of debris.

If the slip yoke in the driveshaft is binding, it can make a clunking noise when pulling away from a stop. The slip yoke will need to be lubricated.

Broken pieces from catalytic converter can travel to the muffler and rattle, causing a buzzing noise to be heard in the muffler or exhaust system. The exhaust catalytic converter and muffler/pipe assemblies should be replaced.

Leaking exhaust manifold gaskets can cause exhaust fumes to enter the vehicle. The exhaust manifold gaskets should be replaced as needed.

The front end may make a rattle noise over bumps. There may be handling issues, and play in the front wheels on inspection. If there is up and down movement on the front wheels while the lower control arms are being supported, inspect the upper and lower ball joints for excessive play. These are prone to failure from moisture entry and lack of lubrication. The ball joints should be replaced as needed.

Engine oil may leak externally from the cylinder head gasket. The gaskets were contaminated with metal debris from the factory – between the block and gasket and/or the head and gasket. To correct, the head gasket must be replaced and the mating surfaces on the cylinder head and block need to be inspected for chips or damage. In some cases the cylinder head will not be repairable and will need replacement.

If the engine runs rough, has low power, and is overfilled with oil on dipstick, this is often caused by a leaking fuel injector(s). Each injector should be inspected for looseness and / or leakage. Loose or leaking injectors will need to be replaced.

The Check Engine Light may come on with codes in engine computer memory for P0401, P0402, P0404, and P1335. In addition white or black smoke will be emitted from the tailpipe and the engine will feel down on power. This is most commonly caused by build up of black sludge and other solid deposits in the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) System (EGR Valve, EGR Cooler, Exhaust Back Pressure (EBP) Sensor, and EBP tube), intake manifold, turbocharger and the EGR throttle plate. Regularly adding a cetane booster to the fuel will aid in a more complete combustion and the engine oil should be replaced at the proper intervals to avoid sludge build up. Installing an EGR baffle kit also helps to prevent future EGR valve contamination.