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.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,129 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2006 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 4 of 8)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #97

Jan 012014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 118,000 miles


When I place my 2006 Ford Explorer in reverse it sometimes hesitates then kicks into reverse with a hard knock and thump. Also when placed in reverse it slips then catches the gear with a hard thump. I don't know why its doing this but its not safe. The transmission also shifts real weird with hesitation all the time. Ford should have made this an issue that they should fix. Many people have bought these Ford Explorer not knowing this condition because its not a recall issue and therefore me buy the car with problems that haven't been resolved by Ford and have to foot a big transmission bill. I am asking Ford to work with us on this. I have been a loyal customer of Ford for over 10 years but this is soon to change. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Dos Palos, CA, USA

problem #96

Mar 022009

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 72,000 miles
Shifting of transmission slams hard on a fast take off, then at 45 or above cycles gears and won't stay in overdrive.

- Portage, IN, USA

problem #95

Mar 112011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
Vehicle bangs into gear from 1st to 2nd, and constantly slides in and out of gear while the engine is revving at 2500 RPM. Also hesitates when shifting into reverse. Shop advice water getting into wire harness they fix by drying it and putting grease but issue persists (no code).

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #94

Jan 222014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 145,782 miles


The car jolts really bad when you put it in reverse and then when you change to drive.

- Andalusia, AL, USA

problem #93

Feb 112011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 40,130 miles
Driving at 45 mph, transmission shifted with a jerky motion, first started then.when you first take off it jerks and makes a noise. When you back up it jerks hard enough it whips you body back. Had it checked at a transmission place. They tore it down and found nothing ( $400). Still jerks and shifts rough. Don't know how long it's going to last.

- Pasadena, MD, USA

problem #92

Feb 052014


  • 76,000 miles
TL- the contact owns a 2006 Nissan maxima. The contact stated that upon inspection, there was a visible transmission leak. No warning lights illuminated. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and they diagnosed the problem. The authorized dealer stated that the parts to replace were the torque converter and transmission. The vehicle is in the process of being repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the issue. The approximate failure mileage was 76,000. Dyd

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #91

May 222013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 64,565 miles


I was attempting to place the vehicle in reverse and the transmission hesitated and then slammed into reverse. As the vehicle has been driven over the past year this problem still occurs and also the vehicle will slam into gear during transmission shifting. There is also a problem on occasion when the transmission downshifts. It slams with such force that it feels like the vehicle was rear ended. I have been to a few repair shops and have gotten different reasons for the problem.

- Hamilton, NJ, USA

problem #90

Feb 042014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 80,224 miles
Engine service light (throttle control) came on along with service indicator (wrench). I stopped at service station and was told (after a diagnostic) that the problem was related to the electronics in the throttle control and that it would need to be replaced.

- Fernandina Beach, FL, USA

problem #89

Jan 202014


  • 80,000 miles
I started my car and, when I put in reverse, transmission wont shift. Put on drive, didn't shift, neither on neutral. When shifted to 3rd, transmission shifted. Put back in reverse and worked/

- Manati, PR, USA

problem #88

Oct 112011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
I bought my Ford Explorer in 2006 but three years later had to replace the radiator. After that I notice that the transmission would slip every now and then. The problem seems to have escalated since June 2013 with the vehicle jacking or dragging before shifting gears. My wife is actually afraid of driving this vehicle and instead prefers to drive my 2000 Honda Accord which has been running with no problems. I took the vehicle to my mechanic who told me this has been a problem with the model and year of my Ford Explorer and that the transmission will need to be replaced and so he told me I should file this complain since this was not our fault but a factory defect which by the look of what I have seen on this site, Ford is aware of. My question is why has Ford not recalled this because after checking this site, I have seen so many complains about the same related issues (mainly radiator and transmission), are customers supposed to suffer and spend money for things that the Ford company has neglected or for their poor workmanship? I believe not. Ford needs to get their act together and solve this problems for their customers. I, just like everyone who bought a Ford Explorer would like to see our automakers doing well and that's why we buy the cars but not at the expense of our families safety or finances.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #87

Dec 182013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 123,031 miles


Dear sir first of all, I would like to state that I am not a us citizen, but, I'm a family man & I feel for others, I own a Ford Explorer 06, and recently I've been noticing that the trans has a mind of it's own, shifting wrongly, jolting into gear is not enjoyable or safe, the other day I was about to have an accident because the trans refused to shift when I tried to accelerate in order to escape a situation of hitting a car next to me, I've looked it up on the internet & found that everybody is complaining of the same issues, you can go for the below site & check the problem is that Ford won't admit that there is something wrong with the transmission, putting peoples life in danger for a few dollars more please fix this as it's very critical & dangerous at the same time [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Riyadh, AL, USA

problem #86

Feb 092010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 54,000 miles
This vehicle began having transmission problems at approximately 54000 miles. I had the transmission fixed in 2010. Now, in December 2013 with 113500 miles, this vehicle began having transmission problems again and required complete replacement.

- Hoover, AL, USA

problem #85

Nov 072007


  • 19,000 miles
My son was driving home and the truck started jerking uncontrollably and he couldn't back up so had to call a tow truck. All of the transmission fluid had leaked out due to radiator failure. The truck was off warranty so had to buy a new radiator. In order for the radiator to have a warranty had to buy another part from the Ford place for $200. Got the part and radiator. Within six months to a year, same thing happened, had to have another radiator. Have had three radiators and now this year 2013 leaking again and the radiator that I paid $600 for the radiator place has went out of business so I have to buy another radiator. This is an ongoing problem with this 2006 Ford Explorer XLT and Ford knows about it. I am afraid to drive it half the time, never know when I won't be able to move it if all of the fluid leaks out or may stop in traffic suddenly. Please help us to get Ford to recall these trucks.

- Meridian, MS, USA

problem #84

Oct 012010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
I have had the door blender plastic piece changed on my car three times! each time the season changes. I now have to replace it again. I currently have a radiator leak and will have to replace the radiator and plastic holder as well. I also currently have a transmission slippage problem and I will have to get that fixed as well. This is horrible. I purchased the Ford Explorer because I thought it was dependable. This is depressing and I can not afford it!

- Grandview, MO, USA

problem #83

Jul 172013


  • 92,000 miles
2006 eddie bauer Ford Explorer, I was pulling out onto a main highway and my transmission started slipping and causing sputter/non engagement and my children and were so scared cause we almost got hit by a semi from the transmission not engaging while crossing traffic. I was 7 mos pregnant as well. What would I have done if their father lost all of us for this highly reported and ignored issue!? there needs to be a recall before something devastating comes of this. Thank you.

- Demotte, IN, USA

problem #82

May 302011


  • 60,000 miles
Transmission on my 2006 Explorer started slipping and slamming into gear. At slow speeds it would slam and lurch forward making it completely unsafe to drive. It seems like this has been a problem for Ford for quite some time now and they will offer nothing to take care of it.

- Clay, NY, USA

problem #81

Sep 182013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 97,468 miles
Both of these things have been happening over the last 2-3 years but I can not remember exact dates. First my car has been running hot continuously over this period of time which causes me to have to put coolant in at least once every month. I took it to the dealership and they told me this was common with the Explorer but there has not been a recall so I would have to pay out of pocket. They first told me it was the line to the radiator that was leaking so I had it replaced, then next time it was the thermostat and housing that they said was the problem. So I had this replaced. Now today 9/19/2013 I had to replace the radiator. It doesn't matter what I seem to fix this problem continues to occur. Secondly my car jerks into gear when I try to put in gear. They are telling me now I need a transmission but I see this is a recurring problems with many Explorer owners and it doesn't fix the problem either. I don't know what else to do because my car is jerking which causes me to almost hit people or doesn't go into gear fast enough which causes them to almost hit me. Please help!!! these problems first started to occur around 40000 miles. My problem is radiator and transmission.

- Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

problem #80

Jan 102013

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 74,000 miles
While driving the car in town traffic, began to notice a stuttering or shuddering in the engine every time I got to around 40-45mph. Once accelerated through that it would go away. This became noticeable about 6 weeks ago, and I watched to see if it went away or got worse. After about three weeks it also started to shudder around 30 mph, especially when going uphill. It also began to jerk substantially when I stopped at a red light, almost like I had been rear ended. I took it in to my regular mechanic and we assumed maybe we had engine misfire and a fouled spark plug, as it had done some shuddering previously last fall. We had replaced all the plugs and coils at that time(74000K) and the problem went away until August. There were never any engine lights or error codes. The mechanic took one test drive and said no way, take it to a transmission place. Took it where it has been the past two weeks. I was quoted 2400-2800.00 to rebuild, stated that the torque converter had internal pressure issues and would have to be completely torn down to see what it needed. Called four days later to up the estimate, stating this particular model had a Mercedes transmission so now we at a minimum of $4000. We had an old Ford Explorer, 1998 V8 AWD that had over 165000K on it that never had tranny issues. I am shocked and disappointed that a 2006 with less than 85K that had never pulled or hauled anything other than people would have the transmission go out, just outside of warranty. And when it was taken in initially the problem was 'spark plugs', which were also an issue because they were so rusted in that they required a special tool to extract and still cracked one. Ford has a serious quality control problem.

- Stilwell, KS, USA

problem #79

Feb 012012


  • miles
The truck jolts when shifting gears to reverse and drive, I feels like a car ran into me from the back. It has caused me to bump into another car in front of me when I was sitting in traffic, as I accelerate the gas pedal it either stalls or jolts very hard, thank god it there was no damage to the other car nor mine. Ever since this happened, it has been big problem when driving on the road, and now the truck doesn't pick up speed very quickly ever since this happened, when I get to 20 mph it stalls or jolts after 3-5 seconds. My shift stick is all messed up now, when I put it in reverse, it looks like its on neutral and park looks like its on 3rd gear. Service mechanics have almost crashed my car because of this issue, and Ford has said they can't guarantee a proper repair!! then why sell it if you can't repair it properly so I wont have problems in the future. This vehicle needs to be recalled for safety issues.

- Farmers Branch, TX, USA

problem #78

Aug 052013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 77,000 miles
I recently purchased a used 2006 Ford Explorer-eddie bauer edition around June 2013. The approximate mileage at time of purchase was 76700. It has only been 2 months since my purchase and I am having problems with the transmission. When in park and shifting into reverse, the car stalls and then after a 5-10 second delay the car jerks very hard backwards. Then when braking immediately after moving backwards in order to shift into 1st gear, the truck just stalls as if its in neutral and then jerks forward violently into 1st gear. This is a very dangerous problem that could lead to a serious accident. Also when driving at a speed of 50 miles per hour or more and slowing down because of interstate traffic, the transmission acts as if it wants to stall even though the engine is revved up. Ford needs to recall this vehicle and fix this systemic problem.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

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