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 7 of 8)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #37

Sep 132012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 80,700 miles


While trying to stop my vehicle suddenly accelerated and I had to put it in neutral to come to a stop. I pulled into a parking lot and shut the engine off and then started it up again and my engine revved at around 4000 RPM. The only way I could drive the vehicle home was to keep constant heavy pressure on the brakes. It always wanted to accelerate.

- Tewksbury, MA, USA

problem #36

Sep 012012

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
No events leading up to failure. Regular vehicle usage. After 5 years and 85000 miles, the transmission began clunking and hesitating to shift. When shifting into reverse or drive, the transmission jolts violently. This failure has not yet been corrected but has been diagnosed and a rebuilt transmission is on order. I am complaining now because so many similar reports have also been filed across the internet. Upon seeing all the complaints I decided to lodge mine for more to see. This is a huge problem and is going to cost me $3500 to fix since the vehicle is no longer under warranty.

- Spotswood, NJ, USA

problem #35

May 162012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 99,150 miles
Transmission started jerking while going down the road. It also began jerking when shifting into drive or reverse. I had originally thought maybe the fluid could be low but after seeing all of the people that this has happened to and no-one being able to get anything done I am considering looking into a class action suit for all of the owners. I also had problems with the traction control while on a vacation in the mountains. That made the engine rev but both rear wheels stopped moving on a blind hillside curve. Ford needs to do something with these vehicles.

- Jesup, GA, USA

problem #34

Jul 122012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 64,500 miles


When I went to shift into reverse would not move. Immediately after that when tried to go forward was loud noise and I had to start forward in 3rd then shift into drive, little wrench appeared on dashboard. Light went out and could then start out in drive without having to start in 3rd, however could no longer use reverse. Took to transmission shop for evaluation and was told needed to have transmission rebuild as there was metal inside that was blocking valves. This is costing me $2400. Had to fix as I am away from home on the other side of country and need it to go back home.

- Woodbury, NJ, USA

problem #33

Jul 292010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 45,000 miles
I discovered a leak in the radiator after noticing that the temperature gauge needle was bouncing around at an idle. After about a minute, the vehicle overheated and started steaming. We ended up having to have the radiator replaced at a cost of $600. (it was also over 90 degrees that day and I was stranded with two small children, the youngest was 4 months old.) then about a month ago, in May 2012, I was at a grocery store and when I went to enter the vehicle I noted a large puddle of antifreeze on the ground and it was dripping from the radiator. We had to have the radiator replaced, again at a cost of $600. The same mechanic repaired it both times and said it was the same issue as the first one. Now we are having transmission fluid leaking from the cooling line that leads from the transmission to the radiator. These incidents have caused us serious hardships financially and could have caused physical injury due to the fact that it was extremely hot out on both occasions and I had small children with me miles from home. I have already contacted Ford Motor Company and they have declined to do anything about this issue. I am requesting, as are many others, that a recall be issued. And I also suggest that you research this problem on the internet as it is a major one. It is strange that Ford changed the radiator in the 2007 model year Explorer.

- Pana, IL, USA

problem #32

May 012012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 94,000 miles
I have a 2006 Ford Explorer XLT and this will be third transmission to go into the vehicle. In addition, I have replaced the radiator three times and an engine block seal. These are very costly fixes for a car that is only a couple of years old. I have reached out to Ford customer service and they are not helpful or sympathetic at all and claim that they are not aware of any transmission problems. Meanwhile, when you search the web it is an issue across the board. I feel their customer service is horrible and so are their cars. I would never recommend a Ford to anyone, not even my worst enemy. I could have bought two cars for the money I am putting into this vehicle.

- Port Chester, NY, USA

problem #31

Apr 052012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 56,785 miles


Had complained about a hesitation in 2008, after several times at the shop they did something to the throttle body. Now the transmission slips in 3rd gear. At only 56785 miles this is terrible.

- Monroeville, PA, USA

problem #30

Mar 012011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
I have done a tremendous amount of research and notice that hundreds of others are having the same issue with the 2006 Ford Explorer. The transmission is giving numerous issues. Hard to shift into reverse, roars, slips when changing gears, etc. The most disturbing problem is the transmission just jumps into gear without moving the gear shifter lever. The transmission stalls at red lights and then just jerks forward after several seconds. Please help before there is an accident.

- Hartselle, AL, USA

problem #29

Mar 192012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 96,500 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle was shifted into park with the engine on and the vehicle rolled away as the contact attempted to exit the vehicle. The vehicle crashed into a tree, injuring the contact. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who was unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was notified and was in the process of assisting the contact with the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 96,500 and the current mileage was 96,934. Updated 07/13/12 the consumer stated when she stepped out of the vehicle, with the engine still running, she was knocked on the ground by the door. The vehicle rolled down the street backward and hit a tree. Updated 07/31/12

- Pompano, FL, USA

problem #28

Dec 272010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 44,000 miles
2006 Ford Explorer with less than 40,000 miles started to hesitate while driving on the freeway. After checking out all the fluids, I have noticed that the radiator (antifreeze) was way below level. I had to fill up the radiator with 1-1/2 gallons of coolant. I have taken my vehicle to the Ford dealer every time for a oil change and was never told that the coolant was below level. At 44,000 miles, the leak was so bad that the radiator had to be replaced. Just after a year later another failure to the radiator. Had to replace the radiator a second time at 65,250 miles. This to me is a safety concern, if the radiator fails which could cause the engine to seize and possibly cause an accident.

- Garden City, MI, USA

problem #27

Aug 042010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 75,000 miles


Transmission would slip, temperature gauge shoot to height for 5 seconds then drop back down discovered low coolant. Leak got worse. Cracked radiator discovered this is common problem replaced radiator, now having thermostat housing replaced. 6 weeks after repair took to Ford due transmission fluid leaking Ford said it was in quick connect because I used an after market radiator said only way they could fix it was to replace my entire radiator again for $1300. Could not replaced fittings had to get it all together. Asked them why I would want a Ford radiator since they fail. They said yes this is a common problem.

- The Colony, TX, USA

problem #26

Feb 082012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 122,000 miles
2006 Ford Explorer is a lemon. Thousand of problems across the nation. Take one to a garage and the mechanics tell you which problem you have before you tell them, one of three. Transmission failures, radiator replacement every 30000 miles and bad wheel bearing causing tires to come off during driving. Lucky for me only two encountered so far. Transmission failure. Getting on interstate and stalling in traffic is a danger to my family and other members of the motoring public. Average cost for transmission repairs are $2500 to $4000. Ford should have recalled these vehicles for safety issues.

- Conover, NC, USA

problem #25

Jan 092011


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle would sporadically decelerate to 40 mph without warning. Later, the transmission warning light was illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who advised the contact that the transmission needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the failure who stated they would assist him at a later date. The failure mileage was 70,000 and the current mileage was 104,000. The VIN was not available.

- Lexington, SC, USA

problem #24

Jan 042012

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 47,422 miles
The air bag malfunction light and wrench light both lite up on the dash. The car appeared to be running strange, shifting hard. After turning off the vehicle, it would not restart for approx 20 minutes. It would run fine for a day or so then the lights would come on again. Took the car to the Ford dealership, they drove it for approx 23 miles and the lights wouldn't come on. The battery tested low so they replaced the battery. When test driving after the battery replacement the wrench light and airbag light finally came on. They turned off the vehicle and it wouldn't start. After waiting 15 minutes to an hour it would start but the lights would come on again and once again after turning it off it wouldn't restart. They charged me an additional $759 to fix the instrument cluster (after around $300 for the battery and diagnostic testing). Very frustrating - my 2006 only has 47K miles and is rarely driven.

- Tigard , OR, USA

problem #23

Feb 212010


  • 86,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle would not shift out of park. The contact received an unknown safety recall letter from the manufacturer regarding the shift lever circuit board. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer to have the shift lever circuit board replaced but the repair did not remedy the issue. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer a month later but the dealer did not find a problem with the shifter. The dealer suggested to the contact to apply the emergency brake before shifting the vehicle out of park. The contact called the manufacturer regarding the shifter and the manufacturer stated that it was up to the dealer whether the vehicle would be repaired under the recall a second time. The failure mileage was 86,000.

- Friendsville, TN, USA

problem #22

Dec 012009


  • 43,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle was leaking transmission fluid and radiator coolant. And as a result, the radiator failed. A private mechanic made three attempts to repair the failure by replacing the radiator but to no avail. The dealer did not offer any assistance since the vehicle was no longer under warranty. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure however, did not offer any assistance. The current mileage was 78,000 and the approximate failure mileage was 43,000.

- Greensburg, PA, USA

problem #21

Aug 012011


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated when the gear was placed in reverse it engaged with force, and the vehicle stalled. The failure was experienced several times. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, but a diagnostic test was not performed. The vehicle was not repaired nor did the dealer replace any parts. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 80,000 the current mileage was not available.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #20

Aug 012011


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated when the vehicle gear was placed into reverse the gear engaged with force, and the vehicle also lost power. The failure was experienced several times. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, but a diagnosed was not performed. The dealer did not replace any parts. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN information was not available. The failure mileage was 80,000 and the current mileage was not available.

- Fort Worth , TX, USA

problem #19

Aug 122010

Explorer 8-cyl

  • 39,750 miles
At random times and not often, when I put the SUV in park, and turn off the truck and remove my foot from the brake, the truck will continue to roll. It is as though the SUV is in neutral, put it is in park. The SUV will roll until something stops it like a curb or applying the brake. To fix the problem, I have to place the shift gear to from park to another gear and back to park. At that time, the truck will catch. Over the past year or so, it has occurred 6 or 7 times. I took the truck in for service and they checked the transmission and gear box and found no issue. The problem occurred again last week. Since the dealer cannot see the problem, they say there is no problem. However, it is a matter of time of when it occurs and I am not aware of it not locking and it rolls when there is nobody to stop it or a curb. There is no pattern since it has occurred at work, grocery store, home, etc.

- Lexington, SC, USA

problem #18

Sep 262006


  • 7,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated the automatic transmission began slipping in 2006 when the vehicle was purchased. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer who stated there was no failure with the transmission and it would not fail; however, over time it became progressively worse. The manufacturer was notified but stated there were no recalls and to contact NHTSA in order to file a complaint. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 7,000 and the current mileage was 62,000.

- Melbourne Beach, FL, USA

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