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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 20
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
75,663 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.

1998 Ford Explorer electrical problems

electrical problem

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1998 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #33

Dec 282015


  • 160,000 miles


The contact owns a 1998 Ford Explorer. While driving 30 mph, the speedometer, windshield wipers, interior lights, and four wheel drive failed. The failure recurred several times. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 160,000.

- Elk City, OK, USA

problem #32

Nov 022015


  • 200,000 miles
The contact owns a 1998 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle hesitated to start and smoked appeared on numerous occasions. In addition, the overhead lights in the vehicle did not work and the battery had a shortage. The contact stated that the service engine light remained illuminated. The vehicle was taken to a dealer to be repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the issue. The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was 200,000.

- Hemet, CA, USA

problem #31

Oct 132015


  • 100,000 miles
Only got my service dog out, thank god I was in a glass front restraunt. Cd player caught the dash on fire and burned the truck completely up. Truck was parked and off for 20 min.

- Texas City, TX, USA

problem #30

Apr 162015


  • 191,000 miles


The cruise sensor on top of the brake master cylinder stay hot all the time and it keeps blowing my number 13 fuse that goes to the brake lights and when I put a new fuse in. The cruise sensor starts sparking an smoking really bad im a phrase that it's going to catch fire soon.

- Oxford, MS, USA

problem #29

Jun 202011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 99,000 miles
May 20, approximately 03:30am, while driving about 35mph to work in the dark with head lights on; headlights unexpectedly turned off. Luckily that section of the street, had street lights working properly; but, I was approaching an unlit stretch of winding road with a 45mph speed limit. This could have become very dangerous. (dashboard lights were not affected.) turning the normal headlight switch did not seem to fix the problem. I tried the bright light function, which is part of the turn signal lever. They did not come on at first; however when jiggling the "turn signal lever, " I noticed a "looseness in the lever, at the base where it connects to the steering column." Wiggling it, turned the head lights back on, temporarily; but, wiggling from vibration in traffic caused them to turn "off" again. The turn signal lever on the 1998 Ford Explorer is used to control the "bright lights" and also controls windshield wipers. I am not certain; but, I believe I had the turn signal lever assembly repaired several years ago by a Ford dealer in san diego...neither of the dealers I used to have service my vehicle are still in business. I believe the problem with the turn signal lever at that time, had to do with the wipers cutting off unexpectedly; and, eventually, not working all together. First: Is this something the government should investigate "before" having the vehicle repaired" second: Should Ford be the one investigating this problem? third: Should Ford replace the turn lever assembly and provide the labor at their expense"... on a personal note, after working for the same company for 12 years and being a workaholic, I just got laid off last week. This expense is definitely going to cost several hundred dollars in parts and labor, when I can least afford it. At this time, I can rule out trying to apply for a night job.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #28

Dec 062011


  • 130,000 miles
The contact owns a 1998 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving approximately 30-70 mph, the vehicle would loose power but the engine would continue to run. The vehicle would eventually stall but was able to be restarted after several minutes. In addition, the wiper blades would also fail and would not operate as they should when inclement weather arose. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where they advised the contact that the wiring in the entire vehicle needed to be replaced. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was approximately 130,000.

- Fairmont, WV, USA

problem #27

Sep 092011


  • 98,000 miles


The contact owns a 1998 Ford Explorer. The contact was driving 30 mph when burning fumes were emitted into the vehicle. The contact moved the vehicle from the roadway, found that there were flames coming from under the hood, and extinguished the fire with an extinguisher. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer and the manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 98,000.

- New Castle , IN, USA

problem #26

Jun 162011


  • 23,000 miles
The contact owns a 1998 Ford Explorer. The contact stated while the vehicle was parked the vehicle burst into flames. The fire department was called and extinguished the fire. The vehicle was destroyed. The contact did not mention if there were any injuries. The fire department confirmed that cause of the fire was electrical. The contact called the manufacturer regarding the fire and filed a complaint. The contact was concerned that the fire could have caused serious injuries. The failure mileage was 23,000.

- Hot Springs, AR, USA

problem #25

Nov 142010


  • 150,000 miles
TL. the contact owns a 1998 Ford Explorer. The contact stated while sleeping the contact heard a loud bomb. The contact looked out the window and the vehicle burst into flames. The contact called the fire dept. To put out the fire. No one was injured nor was any property damage. The contact called the manufacturer regarding any recalls and the manufacturer informed the contact the vehicle has no outstanding recalls. The fire dept. Determined the fire was started by a electrical component on the driver side. The contact stated someone could have been seriously injured due to the fire. The failure mileage was 150,000.

- Etters, PA, USA

problem #24

Dec 292009


  • 108,000 miles
Cigarette lighter caused wiring harness to burn. Smoke filled the cabin when lighter stuck and immediately turned off vehicle. Afterward several exterior and interior lights stayed on. The rear wipers were also activated.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #23

Oct 242009


  • 112,000 miles


The contact owns a 1998 Ford Explorer XLT. The contact stated that the turn signals were inoperable. The dealer replaced the directional control arm yet the failure recurred within a year. The directional control arm was replaced a second time by the dealer. He also noticed that the wires were discolored and stated that the vehicle needed several additional repairs. The contact declined to have the vehicle repaired. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who stated that the control arm did not need an additional replacement but suggested replacing the fuse. On a separate occasion, while using the turn signals, the turn signal switch inside began smoking. There were no additional repairs made to the vehicle or related recalls. The manufacturer stated that since there were no recalls, they would not provide any assistance. The failure mileage was 112,000 and the current was 191,000.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #22

Jan 102010


  • miles
The contact owns a 1998 Ford Explorer. While trying to use the lighter in the vehicle, it began to smoke. The contact spoke with the manufacturer and no action was taken. The current and failure mileages were not available.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #21

Mar 062009


  • 147,000 miles
The contact owns a 1998 Ford Explorer. The contact was awakened in the early morning hours because his vehicle caught fire while parked. He inspected the vehicle and noticed that the flames were coming from under the hood on the driver's side, next to the wheel well. A couple of minutes later, the engine was engulfed in flames. The fire department was called and extinguished the fire. A police and fire report were filed. The fire department determined that the fire was caused by electrical failure under the hood. The contact called the manufacturer and was informed to call his insurance company to have them file a complaint against Ford. The insurance company stated that because the contact only had liability insurance, they could not file a complaint against the Ford manufacturer. The insurance company advised the contact to have the vehicle inspected by an electrical engineer to determine the cause of the failure. The engineer stataed that the cost to inspect the vehicle would be $250 per hour. The vehicle has not yet been inspected. The failure mileage was 147,000.

- Tampa , FL, USA

problem #20

Feb 282000

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
1998 Ford Explorer equipped with dual media (am/fm/cassette/cd) radio; there is a failure of the graphics display (I.e. time, station identity). The display sporadically lights up briefly for a few seconds every few months. Also dashboard lights do not work at gas gauge.

- Parma, OH, USA

problem #19

Jan 222006


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
We returned home from a concert at approximately 11 pm on January 21,2006. This was the last time the vehicle was driven. On S January 22 2006 at approximately 8:30 am we were awakened by our fire department concerning 1998 Ford Explorer limited was in flames. No investigation was done, but they said it was an apparent electrical fire. Exploded front tires, busted windshield, hood and grill demolished, engine compartment destroyed, both front fenders burnt, gas and brake pedals melted, dashboard damaged it is basically a total loss.

- Easley, SC, USA

problem #18

Aug 132005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 141,000 miles
At about 6:00 pm on Saturday 13 Aug 2005 I went into my garage to get something and noticed it was full of smoke. I saw smoke coming from under the hood of my 1998 Ford Explorer. When I raised the hood, flames rolled from beneath it. I immediately extinguished the fire and then disconnected the negative battery terminal. My wife had already called 911 by this time. The fire fighters determined the source of the electrical fire to be a connector on the brake master cylinder. I was very lucky to have caught the fire in time. If this had happened when we were sleeping we might not be alive now. I have not received a notice of recall for this. I am sending the vehicle to the dealership on Monday, if this is not a recall part I will have to pay for the repairs. I think that people should know about this problem and probably not park their Ford in the garage.

- Killeen, TX, USA

problem #17

Jun 302005


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The vehicle caught on fire. The fire department checked it and concluded fire came from driver's front side around the battery. This happened on June 30, 2005. The vehicle was parked about 6 or 7 hours before it caught in fire. Contacted Ford, they sent a letter saying sorry, but they didn't have any recalls on this type of vehicle.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #16

Jun 112005

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
My wife had the Ford Explorer parked outside the curves gym where she and her mother work out. When they were finished they were talking outside when her mother noticed smoke coming out othe the SUV. The Explorer then caught on fire and burned.

- Boulder City, NV, USA

problem #15

May 052005

Explorer 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles
5-5-05 3:30 a.M. licking county fire department was called due to fire 0F my 1998 Ford exployer. It had set for two days before the fire. Its not clear what caused the fire. Co-counsel, lieff cabraser representing owners of Ford vechicles claims Ford speed control deactivation switches. Also known as "brake pressure switch, " powered by the battery and is mounted above flamable flammable reservoires of brake fluid. If certain conditions occur, a fire can break out, even when the engine had been turned off and, in some cases, idle for days.

- Reynoldsburg, OH, USA

problem #14

Jun 172005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
On June 17, 2005 caller's vehicle caught on fire. This happened while vehicle was in the driveway turned off for about an hour. Caller said a passerby noticed the fire and warned her. Caller's fiance put the fire out and suffered smoke inhalation. He did not go to the hospital. Vehicle was totaled. No report was filed with fire department.

- Cliffton, PA, USA

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