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 1 of 4)

problem #75

Nov 172009


  • 78,000 miles


The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the radiator and water pump were replaced because the vehicle was over heating but the repair did not correct the failure. The contact consulted with his personal mechanic and was advised that the head gasket would need replacing. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 78,000 and the current mileage was 90,000.

- Homesdale, PA, USA

problem #74

Jun 202011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 46,200 miles
Radiator failure causing leak which could result in engine overheat and possibly fire..

- Weirton, WV, USA

problem #73

May 152010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 28,000 miles
2006 Ford Explorer-bad radiator leak. Started leaking with only 28,000 miles on it. Called dealership and they stated it would cost $ $1100 to fix. They also tried selling me an extended warranty.

- Hawthorne, NJ, USA

problem #72

May 122011


  • 65,000 miles


Radiator leaks badly, plastic cracked. Transmission shifts too hard and hesitates going into reverse ending with a loud bang into gear.

- Madison, AL, USA

problem #71

Jun 102008


  • 25,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the radiator was leaking abnormally. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the contact was advised that the radiator would need to be replaced with an updated radiator and the computer would need reprogramming. The contact had to continuously apply antifreeze or water to the radiator so the vehicle would not over heat. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 25,000. The VIN was not available.

- Jefferson, OR, USA

problem #70

Apr 252011


  • 32,000 miles
2006 Ford Explorer eddie bauer 4.0 with leaking radiator starting at 30,000 miles. Also the vehicle at defective thermostats and reservoir, that had to be replaced. Ford refused to recalled this part for whatever reason, even those they know about it. Here are listing of other people making complaints on other website of their radiator leak and other cooling system parts going bad as well. Many vehicle has been effected I think Ford should definitely issue a recall on this particular are several websites with consumers expressing concerns about their radiator problem:"style=100625344&sub=&reviewid=221461699"P=1900967.

- Hilo, HI, USA

problem #69

Mar 302011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 43,600 miles


Check engine light came on. Vehicle returned to dealer, determine thermostat needed to be replace at no cost. Just purchased vehicle 3/29/2011 has 43,600 miles. Now I worrying about the radiator going bad.

- Egg Harbor Township, NJ, USA

problem #68

Jan 282011


  • 43,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated the radiator and thermostat failed and the vehicle was taken to the dealer who replaced the radiator and. The manufacturer was contacted who stated there were no recalls for either failure. The VIN was unavailable. The failure mileage was 43,000.

- Alamogordo, NM, USA

problem #67

Mar 102011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 59,000 miles
I have a 2006 Ford Explorer and recently had work done. After that work I noticed that colling fan was coming on constantly and that it was extremely loud and sounded like engine was roaring. They determined that radiator was leaking so they replaced entire colling system. Problem still persists and vehicle only has 60000 miles on it. I am so upset and think they dont know what wrong. They had car ffor 5 days and they cant fix it. Now I read all this bad info and ask wht is there no recalls and how does Ford have the ordasisty to charge all these people for a known defect... this needs to stop and shame on Ford...

- New Windsor, NY, USA

problem #66

Mar 242011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 52,000 miles
Developing coolant leak below Ford Explorer 2006 radiator. My mechanic has declared the radiator defective and is failing. This is the second failed radiator. The first fail was in Oct 2009, aprox 48K mileage, and was considered a problem known by Ford. Now I face a second replacement of excess $800 estimate March 24th 2011. My estimated mileage was 24K between repairs. This needs to be solved or our future cars will never be Ford!

- Renton, WA, USA

problem #65

Mar 212011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 34,000 miles


About 3 weeks ago, while returning from the park with my dog, my warning light for temperature illuminated red and I saw that the temp. Gauge had spiked to hot. I pulled over and as I was going to shift into park, the temp. Gauge fell back into the normal operating range very quickly. I thought it was just an anomaly. About 3 weeks later, I noticed that the fan was running loudly and shortly thereafter, the temp spiked again. I did so research on-line and found out that this model Explorer has been having issues with radiators failing. I brought my truck in to my mechanic who found that my radiator was indeed compromised and was leaking from the bottom of the unit. A new radiator, thermostat ad water pump were installed costing me close to $1000.

- N. Bellmore, NY, USA

problem #64

Jul 012008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the radiator was replaced June of 2008, but the failure was not corrected. The vehicles coolant level was low. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who performed a diagnostic test which determined that the failure was located in the radiator seal and caused the engine coolant to leak. Report 1320050701 was filed with the manufacturer and they will not assist with the repairs, because the vehicle warranty expired. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 62,000 and the current mileage was 105,000. Updated 07/20/11 updated 08/01/11

- Br0wnsville, PA, USA

problem #63

Jan 252011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 72,686 miles
I began noticing a coolant smell after use, then noticed a leak that progressively became worse. I added coolant to keep desired levels. I had a mechanical shop inspect and it was determined the radiator was leaking. I purchased this vehicle as a "demo" from a local Ford dealer w/ 11K miles on it. At 30K miles the radiator was replaced w/ oem by Ford under warranty as it was leaking in a seam. I had the radiator replaced again, so the vehicle is on its' third radiator. Mileage at last replacement was 73K. So 3 radiators in 73K miles. The mechanical shop contacted Ford about parts and was told there had been problems with these radiators and an"upgraded" radiator is available because of the issues. I went with the upgraded oem version, parts/labor was about $800.

- Barboursville, VA, USA

problem #62

Aug 252010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 87,000 miles
Car radiator ran hot, light never came on. Radiator drained of all fluids while on highway, blew head gasket on engine, damaged engine had to replace engine and radiator. This is the third radiator on car, first at 33,000 miles, second at 67,000 miles, last incident vehicle had 87,000 miles. I had extended warranty, if not cost would have been over $ $7000 dollars.

- Brooksville, FL, USA

problem #61

Dec 042010


  • miles
2006 Ford Explorer radiator leaks, had replaced 3 already and Ford knows about the problem but does nothing about it until somebody gets hurt or killed then it's to late.they have a fix for it but who pay the people not Ford. When the truck stalls because it gets hot I believe that's a safety issue. Don't you?

- Milford, PA, USA

problem #60

Nov 302010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 32,655 miles
2006 Ford Explorer radiator leaks with only 33K miles causing engine to overheat. Radiator being replaced under extended warranty.

- Abilene, TX, USA

problem #59

Nov 042010


  • 65,000 miles
Noticed leaking under 2006 Explorer. Taken to dealer and told radiator needed replacing for $980. Vehicle has 65,000 miles on it. Told radiator was leaking from the fins and that this was "common". in checking this out, this is not common for a car of this age, however, it seems 2006 Explorer are prone to this problem. This is clearly a Ford problem and Ford should replace the radiators at no charge.

- Agawam, MA, USA

problem #58

Nov 092010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
Radiators on 2006 Ford Explorer. My first radiator was replaced at 37,318 miles. I now need a new one at approximately 65,000 miles. This will be the third replacement on just my vehicle. Ford has offered no help as to the cost of replacing an obviously defective part. Checking on line, I see other Ford Explorer owners are experiencing the same thing from Ford. I request a recall for this defective vehicle.

- Raytown, MO, USA

problem #57

Nov 092010


  • 50,000 miles
Noticed low coolant level and shortly after the vehicle overheated for about 10 secs, then went back to normal temp. Took to the dealer to get checked out, and they said I needed a new radiator because there was in fact a small leak. Repair costs were $1100 to replace a radiator, yes a radiator that had 50K miles on it. Radiators are not supposed to go out that easily, and after researching on the web I have found dozens of people with the same sort of issues. Ford has already released a tsb for this faulty part but will refuse to give me any kind of reimbursement, or pay for any of the work done. The only reason I even used the Ford dealer was to get the PCM update that only they can do. Please help, companies have to be held accountable for the products they sell.

- Elgin, SC, USA

problem #56

Nov 052010


  • 62,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer eddie bauer edition. The contact stated that the radiator leaked and had to be replaced at his expense. The manufacturer had not been notified. The failure mileage was approximately 62,000.

- Corry, PA, USA

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