Notes: The 2005 Ford Explorer one of our worst vehicles on record. "Avoid like the plague" is putting it lightly.

The 2002-2005 Explorer has a very well-established record of expensive transmission failure at under 100k miles. The Explorer has an enclosed transmission which is typically replaced with a rebuilt transmission at a cost of almost $3,000.

Adding insult to injury, the 2002-2005 Explorer also has a massive problem with the rear panel cracking. While it's a minor annoyance compared to transmission failure, ironically the crack usually goes right through the Ford logo.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
53,044 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.

2005 Ford Explorer engine problems

engine problem

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2005 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #14

May 192011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles


On July 12, 2013, I took my 2005 Ford Explorer to the Ford dealer where it was purchased because I was having problems when I put the vehicle into reverse. At times it's very difficult to put into reverse and when I put in reverse the vehicle jerks or lunges into gear. This has been happening for about 2 1/2 years. The diagnosis was of course my transmission. I cant afford to have my vehicle repaired at the cost of $3946.20 and I don't feel safe driving my Explorer in this condition, but I have no choice at this point. I went online to and found 94 complaints with the same issues on the 2005 Ford Explorer. In one of the complaints sent to - a woman wrote that she sent a complaint letter to the dept of Consumer Affairs about the issues with the 2005 Ford explores, they get back to her to tell her that the Ford dealer will put the repair under some type of warranty program and just charge me $100 bucks to replace the solenoid. This seems to be a defect in the Ford Explorer made in 2005, so why have the vehicles not been recalled and why should I have to be responsible for the repairs??

- Greeley, CO, USA

problem #13

Oct 062010


  • miles
We purchased a brand new 2005 Ford Explorer and have kept the maintenance on it. When the temperature control is turned to the warm/hot (red) position or the A/C unit is turned on, we noticed a thumping noise over the years. Within the last couple months, the thumping sound has become progressively stronger (as if someone was physically punching through my dashboard/glove compartment), causing my heating/cooling system to be inoperable. A recall needs to be issued to repair the heating/cooling system as a manufacturer defect and should not be the responsibility of the owner to fix. There have been several complaints that have been filed online along with complaints from other Ford owners that we know.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #12

Jan 092012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 41,000 miles
Vehicle drive belt falls off without notice due to crankshaft pulley separating from engine making vehicle inoperatable.

- Framingham, MA, USA

problem #11

Nov 182011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 92,318 miles


Started to feel a loss of power and hear knocking from under the hood of the vehicle so took it to the nearest garage to have it checked out and I was told us that it was the timing chain and that the timing chain on a lot of the new Ford have been going bad. No warning, no warning. It is recommended by everyone to replace the engine.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #10

Sep 042011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 105,000 miles
I was driving home and the car died. Aaa towed the car to my repair shop. My mechanic said that the timing chain or chains (there are 5 and the engine has to come out to replace the rear chain) broke and the pistons hit and bent the valves. (engine shot). I religiously change the oil with synthetic every 3-4000 miles. This is a defect that Ford is hiding- there are complaints galore on the internet. I spoke to [xxx] at Ford consumer in Mahwah, NJ and got nowhere. Please help, I cannot afford a new engine. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B).

- Fort Lee, NJ, USA

problem #9

Jul 122011


  • 58,084 miles
While driving, when I applied the brakes, the car lurched and made a noise. About 1 minute after that, a warning light that stated "engine fail safe mode" and a little wrench showed up on the left of the instrument panel. I was driving home, and the car started to speed up without my increasing the speed using the gas pedal. The car continued to lurch off and on until I got home. I researched this problem on the internet and it seemed to be the throttle body assembly that had failed. Upon taking it to the mechanic, that is exactly what is was. The car was dangerous to drive, I could have been killed had the car's speed kept increasing. The repair was $1026.

- Punta Gorda, FL, USA

problem #8

Nov 272010

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 80,000 miles


I have a 2005 Ford Explorer and I had a factory spark plug blow out of my engine. It was the third one back on the right side.

- Oak Harbor, WA, USA

problem #7

Mar 162010


  • 100,600 miles
I was driving my 2005 Ford Explorer in a residential zone (35 mph) when I blew a spark plug. I took it to the dealership 1.5 miles away, and they verified that is what happened. I have researched this problem and Ford has had this problem for years. There really needs to be a recall on this.

- Spring Hill, KS, USA

problem #6

Apr 142008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,113 miles
2005 Ford Explorer, driving on a twisty coastal highway, about 35 mph, turned wheel to follow right hand turn in the road, there was no power to the steering wheel, or to the brakes. I had to wrench the wheel really hard to the right to keep from driving off of the road. I finally pulled to the side, turned on hazard lights, removed key from ignition. I reinserted key, car started and ran as if nothing ever happened. I drove for another 20 miles, about 40 minutes, without incident. Then the engine cut out again-no warning, just all of a sudden I was unable to accelerate. Service engine light came on, small wrench icon lit up, and digital display message "engine failsafe mode" appeared. There is nothing in the owner's manual about this warning message. I have taken the car to Ford dealer service where it was purchased. They have told me a sensor on a belt was damaged when the belt slipped off its pulley, and that sensor was therefore unable to sense the crankshaft, and therefore the engine shut down. There was no indication of why this occurred in the first place, or what measures could be done to assure that it does not happen again. This engine shutoff had occurred twice before, but both times the road was uncrowded, and straight, and the car ran fine after starting back up, so I didn't really think about it. But the idea that I could have very easily driven off the road, off a cliff (!) and died, or had my family in the car and this same thing could have happened, this to me is terrifying, and unacceptable. I realize there is inherent risk in driving a car, but potentially lethal malfunction of the vehicle should not be among those risks.

- Oakland, CA, USA

problem #5

Mar 212007

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles
- the contact has a 2002 Ford Explorer XLT. The contact stated that there is a rattle in her engine. The mechanic stated that the problem was with the timing chain. The rattling noise was loudest while driving over 40 mph, and he stated that the weather was not a factor. The contact stated that the noise occurs every day. The failure and current mileage were both 75,000 miles.

- Millington, NJ, USA

problem #4

Jul 052006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,500 miles


- the contact stated that while driving the 2005 Ford Explorer with 30500 failure mileage on six different occasions at any rate of speed the vehicle stalled without any warning and had to be restarted in neutral. The vehicle was taken to the dealer on three separate occasions, and the problem could not be duplicated. The cruise control would not engage. Updated 04/05/07.

- Pontevedra Beach, FL, USA

problem #3

Jul 012006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,000 miles
: the contact stated the vehicle stalled on 3 occasions while the vehicle was in motion. The vehicle has not been to a service dealer and the contact was unsure of what caused the problem.

- Westbrook, ME, USA

problem #2

Aug 112006

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,000 miles
: the contact stated the engine surged and the check engine light illuminated at speeds of 30 mph. The vehicle was taken to the dealership on four occasions and were unable to correct the problem. The ring pin gear was replaced the first time the vehicle was taken to the dealership. The dealership determined the third and fourth cylinder spark plugs needed to be replaced on the second visit. The cylinder spark plugs were replaced on the third and fourth visit. The rear axle was replaced due to a shutter coming from the rear of the vehicle. The right handle was loose. The lumbar seat switch was loose. Updated 09/13/06.

- Cartersville, GA, USA

problem #1

Mar 012005

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 1997 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle overheated. The contact checked all the fluids and everything was fine. The temperature gauge went up and down. The vehicle was not working right now. She went to the dealership on 09/13/2005, and they told her there were no recalls on the vehicle. The vehicle only has 89,000 miles. The dealership flushed all the fluids, done oil change, and kept up with all the maintenance. The vehicle was purchased in March 2005. The heater in the vehicle went up and down, even at the lowest setting the heater got too hot.

- Kent, WA, USA

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