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 5 of 8)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #77

Aug 162011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 60,000 miles


While attempting to shift Explorer from park to reverse the transmission did not engage for 5 to 10 seconds when it finally did engage there was a loud noise that sounded as if the transmission fell out of the vehicle and the vehicle lunged with great force. The has occurred on many occasions and is posses a danger to myself and family and any one who may be parked or standing to close. I have had this vehicle in to my local Ford service center and they have been unable to resolve the problem. The vehicle was taken in twice while under warranty: First time they stated they could not find anything and the second time they replaced the shifting mechanism. In November of 2012 the engine would not engage at all and had to be towed to my local Ford dealer and they stated that is was the gear shifter again, this time I paid $500 to have it repaired. The car worked correctly for about 3 months and I though it was finally fixed, however it is once again doing the same thing. It delays 5-10 seconds between shifting, drops into gear very hard and lunges forward. Ford is now telling me I need a new transmission at the fantastic price of an estimated $2500. Given all the complaints about this transmission I think Ford needs to replace them at their cost before we start seeing an increase in transmission failure crashes, injuries, and possibly fatalities.

- Pima, AZ, USA

problem #76

Aug 152013


  • 77,180 miles
While driving at 40 mph car speed went to 0 mph, transmission totally slipped. Second time it has happened. Once I sit there for about 15 minutes on side of road it will they start to work as it should. But it does make loud noises while motor shifts gears. This is a known transmission problem yet no Ford recall. Unacceptable!!!

- Williamstown, NJ, USA

problem #75

Aug 092013

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 81,846 miles
Issue. Hard jerks/clunks while shifting into reverse and them forward. Also feels as if your are being hit in bumper as you are stopping while transmission is down shifting. This seems to be an on going issue with so many 2006 Explorer, please look into a recall as this a defect with the Ford model. Also way too expensive for parts and labor! failure at mileage of 81,800. Too early to die with this mileage!

- Eagle River, WI, USA

problem #74

Apr 022013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 87,000 miles


Transmission disengaged at red light. It started going backwards instead of forward. Had to put into park and then back into drive to get it to drive. Still going on. Now when actually on the road it is getting out of gear when vehicle is at driving speed. Engine revs up to 5000rpms, then down to 1000rpm. Vehicle lunging. Will get hurt I'm sure.

- Douglasville, GA, USA

problem #73

Jun 172011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 62,000 miles
Same issue as many many other people. Hard jerks/clunks while shifting into reverse and multiple gears and overdrive. Also feels as if your are being hit in bumper as you are stopping while transmission is down shifting. This seems to be an on going issue with so many 2006 Explorer, please look into a recall as this a defect with the Ford model.

- Bonita Springs, FL, USA

problem #72

Jul 192013

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while traveling at unknown speeds, the vehicle suddenly jolted and failed to shift from third to fourth gear. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was found that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was being repaired. The manufacturer was contacted about the failure. The failure mileage was 75,000. Updated 9/17/13

- Tunkhannock, PA, USA

problem #71

Jan 012013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles


Same as a bunch of complaints about transmission lunges hard jolt when shifting, wrench light comes on and off regarding the 2006 Ford Explorer, now they are telling me that I need to get a new transmission that will be $3500 aprox. I have done some research and there are a lot of complaints on this issue. Please do something!! I can't afford this an have to borrow family money to get back on the road.

- Eliot, ME, USA

problem #70

Jul 042013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 88,250 miles
On this date, the Explorer, while trying to back into driveway, would not go into reverse and was weak when trying to back, as if it did not go all the way into gear. Also gear shift was hard and would hesitate when accelerating and slowing down it would jerk into gear. Something really needs to be done cause I have not even had the vehicle one week and the dealership said everything looked fine. Well I had them change the transmission fluid as part of the deal and these are the problems that are occurring after that. Taking it back to be corrected. Really like vehicle so hope it is fixable.

- Chestertown, MD, USA

problem #69

Jul 032013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 73,000 miles
Vehicle was just at the Ford dealership for over a week in March for transmission related issues, new radiator, etc. Just four months later, I am having the same issues that many others are writing about; hard shift into reverse, vehicle is jumping/jolting forward from a stop, RPM fluctuation while idling.

- Renton, WA, USA

problem #68

Jun 222013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
When putting the vehicle in reverse its a hesitation then a loud noise, and a violent jerking like you have been hit from the rear, also at 40 miles and hour it jerks.

- Clarksville , TN, USA

problem #67

Feb 092011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles


Vehicle has problems downshifting when decelerating and shifting when trying to accelerate, instead of a smooth shift, its a jolting bang, similar to being rear ended. This is extremely dangerous because it makes you panic because you think you've been rear ended. It is jolting!!!! I have heard that there is a problem with the gasket in the transmission valve body which causes shifting malfunctions, but Ford won't own up to the defect and initiate a repair recall because it would be too expensive, I personally know of 5 other Explorer owners that have the same problem. The jolting bang comes from the engine accelerating when you depress the gas pedal, but the trans does not engage until several seconds later which causes a jolting due to the engines high rpms as you depress the pedal. The sudden engagement of the trans when the engine is revving at high rpms cause a jolting bang.

- Tobyhanna, PA, USA

problem #66

Jun 152013


  • 13,000 miles
The contact owns 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated while driving various speeds, the transmission failure prevented him from shifting into the higher gears. The rpms increased and the acceleration decreased. The failure occurred several times. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for transmission failure; however, the vehicle was taken to a local mechanic after the check engine light illuminated. There were no failure codes present when the failure occurred. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 130,000.

- Spout Spring , VA, USA

problem #65

Sep 092011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
During a left turn across three lanes of traffic our Explorer would not accelerate. It lurched to start and would not go above 10-15 mph, nearly stalling. We were able to drive the car home but could not get it to go above 20 mph. At speeds 10 - 20 mph it jerked violently. This was a common occurrence at speeds 45 - 60. Moderately accelerating between 45 - 60 mph has caused hard jerks for years with this car prior to it being off warranty. We've taken it to ted britt Ford several times and each time they said there was nothing wrong. We also noted they only put it on the ticket once, the other times telling us they took it off since they didn't have the issue and wouldn't charge us for it. The time mentioned in this incident the dealer offered to split the cost with us due to our previous issues and their inability to fix it. They also did not fix the issue as we still cannot accelerate at speeds 45 - 60 without hard jerking from the engine or transmission. We no longer use this car on the highway because it is dangerous trying to switch lanes or merge on to a highway when the car violently shakes at highway speeds. It would not accelerate and often left us running out of merge lane space without the ability to get into traffic. I have read several such problems with this car and I am surprised nothing has been done about it. We have spent thousands having this car looked at and in failed attempts to fix it.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #64

Apr 012013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Transmission was shuttering in reverse as well as 2 and 3 gears. For having this trouble at 70000 should not be acceptable and having a transmission go out can be dangerous. In doing research online transmission replacement is quite common on my type of Explorer. I suggest that Ford needs to have a mandatory recall on these vehicles.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #63

Apr 082013


  • 10,010 miles
My 2006 Ford Explorer is leaking transmission oil. This leak is coming from the left quick connect fitting at the bottom of the radiator where it connects to the trans cooler line. I was told by the Ford company that there is no quick fix to this problem, they will have to "replace the radiator" for a cost of approx.....$950. The radiator cost $500 labor $450. The quick connect fitting that's causing the problem is $10. Help, help, help.

- Hartford, CT, USA

problem #62

Mar 182013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 86,000 miles
With only 86,000 miles our Ford Explorer transmission has failed once again. When we had 23,000 miles on our vehicle we noticed the transmission was shifting rather hard and took it to the dealer and they found nothing wrong. At 58,000 miles the transmission engagement was so rough that we had to get it repaired. Since the warranty is only up to 36,000 we decided our best bet is to not take it to the dealer. We had the valve body repaired and it ran fine up until now. 86,000 miles and this vehicle is once again at a repair shop having the transmission fully rebuilt. In the time I have owned this vehicle I have paid over $7,000 to keep it running with regular maintenance, tires, radiator repair, brakes and now the third transmission.

- Hollister, CA, USA

problem #61

Feb 012013


  • 140,000 miles
I recently paid off my truck after years only to have the car jerk or lunges when I drive above 60 mph I have to pull over and restart car in order for it to reengage into gear. It also lunges backward when putting into reverse as well as when I go around a curve or down a hill over 40 mph it lunges as well. I am single mother who has only this car as transportation to take my 6 year old son to school and drive me to work and I am scared to do so because of the lunging. I have also paid 3000 to aamco transmissions to have a rebuild transmission put into the truck and the issue is still not resolved have taken it back into the transmission shop 3 times in the last month and they still have not corrected the issue....this is a serious issue that Ford needs to resolve before someone gets seriously hurt or injured.

- Gilbert, AZ, USA

problem #60

Jan 142013


  • 87,000 miles
Just like many others who have reported the same issue with their 2006 Ford Explorer, when backing out of the driveway, I put the vehicle in reverse. There was a jerk as the transmission seemed to finally engage. I thought the trans broke at the time? this has happened more then once. I have also experienced the same issue as others with the delayed shifting from 1st to 2nd gear. My Explorer has just 88K miles on it.

- Sparks, NV, USA

problem #59

Mar 212013

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 63,000 miles
Transmission jerks pretty badly at low speeds. Could definitely be a safety problem. This is a known problem that Ford won't recall.

- Fortson, GA, USA

problem #58

Mar 092013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 89,000 miles
Same as a bunch of complaints about transmission lunges hard jolt when shifting, wrench light comes on and off regarding the 2006 Ford Explorer, now they are telling me that I need to get a new transmission that will be $3500 aprox. I have done some research and there are a lot of complains on this issue.please do something!!

- Dulzura, CA, USA

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