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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
73,955 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2005 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #9

May 022016


  • 95,000 miles


Car stalled while driving at highway speeds. Brakes and steering became impaired. Lucky, I was in the rightmost lane and was able to narrowly avoid collision. Incident occurred after a ~3hr drive as I was exiting the highway (I.e. slowing down). Upon restart, engine turned over, but was undriveable due to iterative surge/stall cycles.

- Loudonville, NY, USA

problem #8

Nov 302014

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 113,641 miles
Hello while driving down the highway, the upper ball joint in the drivers side front broke and caused damage to the axle, tire, and wheel. This caused issues with control of vehicle and could have cause a much greater accident than what occurred. I was able to avoid a major accident, partially due to the low speed at the time, however had this occurred while I was on the interstate or on a crowded highway, this could have had exponentially worse outcomes. I have been told by numerous mechanics that the ball joints are an issue for Ford Explorer and this isn't my first issue with them myself. I also had issues with my 2004 Explorer. This was not an original part to the vehicle and was checked less than a week before it broke and passed inspection. Please look into ball joint issues for Ford Explorer and keep something like this from happening again. A picture of the vehicle is below. Please contact me for more information if needed.

- Chapel Hill, NC, USA

problem #7

Mar 182011


  • 80,000 miles
Because of the recent GM recall ignition issue, I thought I should let someone know about the serious similar issue I had 3 times before I traded my car in. The car would just shut off while driving. And all 3 times, I pulled to the side of the road and restarted the car and continued on my way. I was lucky to have a place to pull over safely. I took it to my mechanic twice, found nothing wrong. Took it to Ford and they found nothing wrong. I traded the 2005 for a 2011. I also told the dealer that I traded it into about the engine just shutting off for no reason and to check out the problem before they sold it again.

- Truckee, CA, USA

problem #6

Feb 212009

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 48,958 miles


I own a 2005 Ford Explorer that I purchased in June, 2005. On Saturday, February 21, 2009, I attempted to shift my 2005 Ford Explorer, which had roughly 49,000 miles driven at the time, into reverse in order to back out of my driveway. In doing so, the gearshift almost completely broke away from the steering column. I was able to turn the ignition off, but was unable to remove the key from the ignition. After having the vehicle towed to the dealer, I was informed that the gearshift is not a serviceable part and that the entire steering column would need to be replaced. The service representative stated she had never seen this issue before, it was not covered under warranty, and the cost for a new steering column and associated labor would be more than $1,600. She also informed me that a used steering column from a junkyard would cost much less, but that she would not be able to provide the exact amount until early Monday morning. On Monday morning, I was informed by krf South that they could obtain a used steering column and the total costs for parts and labor would be $620. I chose to have the used used steering column installed due to the price differential. Simply put, a gearshift should not break off from the steering column through normal vehicle use. I believe this to be a serious safety issue that should be addressed by Ford. I was fortunate enough to be able to turn off the ignition after the gearshift broke away. Had I not been able to turn the vehicle off, I would have needed to remain in the vehicle with my foot on the brake until I could get assistance. Now I have a replaced steering column, with the everlasting thought that the gearshift could break off at any point in the future. I have a wife and 3 small children and I am hesitant about her using the vehicle due to the fact this may very well happen again.

- Wexford, PA, USA

problem #5

Feb 122011


  • 60,000 miles
Started Explorer to back out of driveway and the gear shifter broke off of the steering column. Had to replace entire steering column for $1500. No previous problems at all.

- Dover, MA, USA

problem #4

Nov 142009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
I own a 2005 Ford Explorer. This incident happened in November of 2009. The Ford Explorer had approximately 80,000 miles on it. I pulled into my sister's driveway which is a flat, gravel driveway. The Ford Explorer is an automatic transmission. I shifted the car into park and then exited the Ford Explorer. After exiting the Ford Explorer, it started moving backwards. The open door knocked me down and then the tire on the driver's side ran over my leg. My sister ran and stopped the car. The gear shift moved from park into reverse.

- Ashton, ID, USA

problem #3

Oct 222010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 96,000 miles


This incident refers to a 2005 Ford Explorer eddie bauer VIN # [xxx]. after making an investment to purchase a vehicle, one should not have to worry about the safety of himself or family because the gear shifter broke off of the steering column. This is what has happened to me, then going to the Ford dealer for a part and being told it cost $1300 dollars to replace the entire steering column. When the cheap white metal that held it together just sheared off. Does a death need to occur to do something about this? information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- York, PA, USA

problem #2

Apr 292010


  • 47,000 miles
I was driving on 77 North in fancy gap, va, when suddenly I lost power steering and acceleration. I noticed smoke coming from car and in fact the car in front of me said he noticed black smoke and flames underneath the car. I pulled over to the shoulder and the car was immediately in flames. I exited through driver side door. My passenger had to exit through driver door as well because flames were spreading across the passenger side of the car. We distanced ourselves from the vehicle as the entire thing became engulfed in flames. Carroll county fire department and va state police arrived. It took over 45 minutes for the fire to be extinguished; the car kept re-igniting, even after several applications of water and anti-flame chemicals. The entire vehicle melted, including tires. Nothing was salvageable. The vehicle was a 2005 Ford Explorer with only 47,000 miles. It was meticulously maintained and recently serviced.

- Clayton, NC, USA

problem #1

Jul 212007


  • 45,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Ford Explorer. When attempting to start the vehicle, the engine began to sputter. She restarted the vehicle to resume normal vehicle operation. On another occasion while driving, the power steering and brakes failed without warning, which caused her to crash into a fence. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic for inspection on two separate occasions. The failure was contributed to the fuel sensor and throttle position sensor. The throttle position sensor was replaced. The repair did not remedy the failure. The failure mileage was 45,000. The current mileage was 80,000. The vehicle identification number was unavailable.

- Jonesboro, AR, USA

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