Notes: The previous generation of Explorer was so awful that the redesign in 2006 was greeted with much optimism. That didn't last long.

The transmission continues to be the Explorer's worst reliability problem. Owners report shifting hard & lunging, typically starting as low as 40k miles with a $1,600 average repair bill. On top of that, the radiator is prone to failure around 60k miles. Repairs for the radiator run $500 to $1,000 & many owners report they've had to replace the radiator multiple times for leaks, indicating a possible design defect in the OEM replacement parts.

Ford did make some significant changes to improve handling and safety. Electronic stability control was added in addition to side impact air bags, but beyond that this is a vehicle that should be avoided at all costs.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
43,236 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.

2006 Ford Explorer cooling system problems

cooling system problem

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2006 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 3 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #35

Jul 142008


  • 38,213 miles


I own a 2006 Ford Explorer which I purchased new from the dealer. In July of 2008 with 38,000 miles on it the radiator had to be replaced because it was leaking. Ford would not cover the cost because it was out of warranty. I now have 75,000 miles on the vehicle and the radiator is leaking again and will need to be replaced. I see other complaints in your database about the same issue and if this problem is searched on the internet many complaints can be found. I would like to state that this is a safety and environmental issue that Ford should address. From a safety standpoint, if the cooling system fails completely at highway speeds and the motor stalls or freezes up a crash could easily occur from loss of control. Environmentally, I wouldn't think the epa wants leaking antifreeze coming from hundreds (thousands?) of vehicles every day" environmentally, antifreeze is highly toxic to dogs and cats, and puddles of it in on garage floors should make Ford want to take care of the problem"

- Hartland, WI, USA

problem #34

Feb 012010


  • 25,000 miles
Our police department has a 2006 Ford Explorer that is going to have its 3rd radiator put in the vehicle.

- Wernersville, PA, USA

problem #33

Dec 282009


  • 55,000 miles
In late December 2009 I noticed liquid pooling on my driveway from my 2006 Ford Explorer so I took it to my local Ford dealership. I was told the radiator was cracked and the vehicle was unsafe to drive. I had an after-market radiator installed due to the ridiculous price of the radiator from Ford. On February 19, 2010, I again noticed fluid pooling on my driveway and immediately took the Explorer back to the Ford dealership. I was told the O-ring leading into the radiator had "failed" and it was leaking transmission fluid. The dealership said yet another radiator would have to be installed if they could not order the O-rings individually. I was again told the vehicle was unsafe to drive. The O-ring was replaced on February 24, 2010 and I was spared the extra expense of another radiator. The vehicle has 55,000 miles and all regular maintenance is performed on time.

- Plant City, FL, USA

problem #32

Feb 222010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 42,000 miles


2006 Ford Explorer---eddie bauer edition, 4.0L V6 with 42,000 miles on it. Radiator "split at the seams" causing it to leak. Taken to Ford recall, no tsb on this offers from Ford to help with the repair cost---estimated by them to be $1000.

- Huntington Beach, CA, USA

problem #31

Feb 062010


  • 60,000 miles
First the check engine light came on and the thermostat was replaced within a week the radiator was leaking. This caused the vehicle to overheat again. The dealership said they were replacing several radiators on this vehicle due to a weak spot in the radiator. Ford refuses to acknowledge an issue without you confirming it first. Getting stranded on the highway with children is not pleasant, when you have your vehicle serviced regularly.

- Yukon, OK, USA

problem #30

Feb 122010


  • 40,000 miles
I believe the Ford Explorer 2006 radiators need to be recalled! first of all, let me just say that on there are 47 complaints about radiator leaks and having to replace radiators. I believe this to be a safety issue because if it could leave someone stranded on side the highway, or even explode or catch on fire! please look at and review the complaints about Ford 2006 Explorer radiators! many people have gotten this same radiator replaced more than once! ok, now to me...I bought a 2006 Ford Explorer in January of 2006. In March of 2008, I was told that my radiator needed to be replaced. I couldn't understand why a vehicle with 40,000 miles on it, which get scheduled maintenance checks regularly with a mechanic could have such a problem. Well, needless to say...I got it repaired out of pocket because my 36,000 mile warranty had expired. It was very costly. Well, I continued to get my vehicle maintenance as scheduled. Well, just a couple of days ago or less than 23 months(less than 2 years) later, I experience the same problem. Another radiator leak! I hardly even go any where! the new radiator was yet again another Ford radiator! I could have been left on side the road or had some sort of explosion! I believe there are defects in these radiators and I believe that Ford Motor Company is issuing out faulty equipment. I believe that we, the consumer, or suffering the consequences due to their need to stay afloat. Afterall, they too needed a bailout and what agreat way to save money if radiators or builtto last only a short time, and people go to keep paying for new ones! please check on this. I believe a recall is needed!!!!!!!! P.S. while writing this letter, just received a phone call that a technical alert has been put out on 2006 Ford Explorer radiators, and because of the complaint...the model is not being made anymore! please check into this!

- Beaumont, TX, USA

problem #29

Feb 132010


  • 51,000 miles


Radiator has failed at 51,000 mile. From google searches and results at this appears to be a very common problem. Ford will not cover the cost of the repair.

- Poughquag, NY, USA

problem #28

Feb 052010


  • 45,000 miles
At 45,000 my radiator failed and Ford needed to replace it. I do not take the car off road, and keep all required maintenance. This is very early for a failure, and a very common problem for this vehicle.

- Happy Valley, OR, USA

problem #27

Feb 032010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 67,875 miles
Radiator started leaking for no reason in 2006 Ford Explorer have been told by repair shop and other owners that this is a common thing the repair shop said that because this is a design flaw to expect it to happen again in a year I do not have 600. Dollars to put out every year on a vehicle that is not paid for should I let it go back.

- Raymond, MS, USA

problem #26

Jun 282006


  • 40,000 miles
2006 Ford Explorer has cooling systems problems. The engine light and gauge would suddenly rise. The engine would rev and the heat would blow cold air. In July 2009 I had the radiator replaced and was told by a Ford dealer that would fix the problem. Seven months later the same problems have started again. Engine suddenly overheats, then suddenly drops, cold air from the heating system. I am taking the truck back to the dealer. Dealer says they will not warranty the radiators, fans, etc., because of the steady problems they are having with them.

- Warwick, RI, USA

problem #25

Jul 102007


  • 42,000 miles


I have a 2006 Explorer with 42000 miles. I purchased the vehicle new off the lot. I have had numerous issues. It began 2 years ago with fluid leaking. I took the vehicle in to Ford and I had "cracked hoses." I then called this past summer to make an appointment concerning leaking fluid and my engine fan constantly coming on and off. I was told that was normal in the summer. Now a few months radiator is bad and also now out of warranty. Had I listened to myself in the summer and forced the issue it would have been under warranty then. There are a lot if issues with 2006 Explorer radiator failures which I have come across in the internet.

- Sandusky, OH, USA

problem #24

Oct 172009


  • 45,000 miles
Ford Explorer 2006- radiator leaks. Problem starts at around 40K. There are numerous postings on the internet with the same problem. Ford refuses in most cases to replace radiator. Replacement cost are approx. $450.

- Newark, CA, USA

problem #23

Jul 282009

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
I have a 2006 Ford Explorer XLT with the 4.0 V6. I have the famous radiator problem that it seems 90% of 2006 owners have. Ford has issued a tsb, but no recall. I know people who have been through radiators every 5,000 miles. Mine didn't fail until about 75000 miles, but it still failed, spewing antifreeze all over the driveway, and causing a lot of hours of labor for me. The part was about $300, but I spent over 6 hours installing it, so I didn't have to pay the dealer $1,000 to do so. This is definitely a safety issue, especially if you are on the road when it fails. So many people have hadthis problem, and it should be a recall by now.

- West Friendship, MD, USA

problem #22

Oct 282009


  • 42,000 miles
2006 Ford Explorer 4.0 liter. Radiator started leaking at 42,000 miles and just short of 4 years old. Leaking from the lower tank seal. Must be replaced, can't be repaired. Ford will not take care of this known defect. This failure isn't due to corrosion, it is an engineering defect. Many Explorer owners complain about this known defect and can only get help if they are fortunate to still be within the 36K mile 3 year warranty.

- West Allis, WI, USA

problem #21

Apr 102009


  • 50,000 miles
2006 Explorer radiator leak.

- Sanford, FL, USA

problem #20

May 202009


  • 50,352 miles
I am currently having a problem with the vehicle the radiator is leaking, and I have to check the water level in the vehicle every two days to make sure that I do not completely run the vehicle hot and take the chances not having a vehicle by messing the motor up. This problem started just before I made my first payment on the 2006 Ford Explorer (May 25th) the vehicle began to making a loud noise like a fan continuously running whenever I would come to a complete stop and start moving again. Then one day the air conditioner just stop blowing cold air and the temperature gage started to rise to hot my husband checked the radiator and found that the vehicle needed water bad. We have noticed water under the truck but we thought that it from the air conditioner the water under the truck is due to the fact that the radiator has a leak. We have had to replace the battery on the car as well this cost $79 this had me late for work as I did not find out the battery was dead until I was on my way to work one morning. I have check to see just how much this is going to cost me to have the radiator replaced and it is in the ball park of $400 -600.

- Shreveport, LA, USA

problem #19

Jul 062009


  • 46,000 miles
Radiator failure at 46,000 miles. Mechanic said no reason why failure occurred, just started leaking radiator fluid. Drove through rocky mountains, failure may cause engine failure due to overheating. Poor materials and workmanship.

- Ballwin, MO, USA

problem #18

May 132009

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
I have a radiator failure on my 2006 Ford Explorer, 4.0 L V6. This is now the second radiator I have had to replace in less than a year. I have done alot of research online and have come across hundreds of blogs and forums with people with the same problem. Ford will not acknowledge there is a problem. If so many of us are having the same problem there should be a recall. People are having to pay alot of money over and over for something that is a manufacturer defect.

- Apo, AE, USA

problem #17

Apr 212009


  • 55,000 miles
Had to replace leaking radiator. Was covered under extended warranty.

- Phoenxiville, PA, USA

problem #16

Mar 152009


  • 48,000 miles
Had a radiator failure the first year. Had a second radiator failure 36,000 miles later in the same spot on the same style radiator. Looking at the complaints on one of the Ford chat boards it looks like there are hundreds of us with the same problem from 2006. Dealer admitted they knew of the problem but that replacement was not yet covered by Ford and the radiators were currently on back order due to heavy demand.

- Belmont, NH, USA

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