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 1 of 8)

problem #157

Sep 082016

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 129,872 miles


Driving down the hwy the powertrain malfunction indicator came on. I lost all use of the fuel pedal and brake. Had to get to the side of the hwy with out dying. If I turn the car off and back on the indicator is gone and works just fine. This situation has happened at least 5 times in the last 3 months. Nothing shows up when I plug in a code reader.

- Arvada, CO, USA

problem #156

Jul 132016


  • 15,000 miles
I am a military spouse and driving home from ft bragg at 50 miles an hour my truck started costing so I had to pull over and have it towed. I had a Ford do a full diagnosis a month before this and the truck only needed barons. Lafayette Ford fay nc 28306

- Sanford, NC, USA

problem #155

Jan 122016


  • 96,000 miles
The transmission jumps and engages very hard, it lunges forward also

- Hilliard, OH, USA

problem #154

Apr 072016


  • 16,200 miles


Check engine lite and orange wrench lite which shuts car down no excelration pedal power steering gone and no brake control on freeway coming home. Trans. Will not shift and jumps when wrench lite is on very dangerous this has been going on since April took back to dealer sent to mechanic replaced 2 parts on excelleration module. Still not right.

- Pinson, AL, USA

problem #153

Dec 072015


  • miles
Ihad the transmisssion replaced twice, first time at 57000 miles and second time 127000 miles. This is the first vechile I owned and had to replace transmission. Was this problem ever address. Thank you ed lingerman 814-528-746912.

- Erie, PA, USA

problem #152

Jun 102016


  • 133,000 miles
While driving car stalls while switching gears eventually jolts/jerks hard, wrench light signaling a powertrain issue appears in display. As I am doing research I realize this is a common transmission issue with Ford. Definitely will not purchase another Ford and will discourage everyone else I know from purchasing. Ford takes no responsibility for this issue in its vehicles. Completely unacceptable for a large company like Ford.

- Portland, OR, USA

problem #151

May 052015


  • 120,000 miles


Tranny slips really 3 times I had no ppwer going up the hill been told its their bad 2006 almost reended 3 time S pl fix this so I can drive saflty you need to fix it and soon I have aslo for my kids and my safty I cannt worry about Ford has known all the time since day one pl do right by your company cause I can nt afford

- Worc, MA, USA

problem #150

Apr 012016


  • miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. While driving various speeds, the transmission malfunctioned and the vehicle randomly jerked, slowed down, and unexpectedly surged forward. While at a stop sign, the vehicle suddenly surged forward and struck a pedestrian. There were no injuries and a police report was not filed. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and the transmission was replaced multiple times, but the failure continued. The manufacturer was notified. The VIN and failure mileage were not available.

- Grayson, GA, USA

problem #149

Apr 032016

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 69,400 miles
Complete and total catastrophic failure of transmission while driving 65 mph on highway. I was traveling in my car with my family when we heard a loud explosive bang from under or car. I shook my wife and scared my children. I knew it definitely was not good and felt an immediate loss of forward momentum at highway speeds, we were traveling in the fast lane at the time and other vehicles were following behind us. They were not happy and hammering their horns at our sudden and unexpected deceleration. Luckily no one rear-ended us or panicked and slammed on their own brakes which could have caused a major collision on a major interstate. I was able to coast over to the emergency lane and come to a safe stop with in a few feet of a yellow emergency call box. We signaled for assistance and help came to me and my family within 10 minutes. (thank you to all by the way) we had the car towed to a local major brand transmission shop where they found the transmission fluid to be burnt and black, metal pieces in the pan and determined the transmission to be a complete loss and have it replaced with a certified rebuilt transmission. 69,000 mile at time of failure. Not acceptable at less than 100,000. This is a safety issue because if this were to happen to an inexperienced driver or other drivers around these vehicle when it happens at highway speeds, a serious possibly life threatening or fatal accident could result from this type of mechanical failure. This is not a slipping transmission or a car that wont shift gears or an issue similar to those type of complaints. This is a total and complete failure of a major vehicle component under normal operating circumstances. I don't have pictures, as I am remote from the vehicle until I pick it up when service is finished but I will be able to provide towing receipts and repair bills from servicing transmission shop.

- Philadelphia, PA, USA

problem #148

Jul 062015


  • miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. While the vehicle was parked, the gear shifter stuck in the park position. The contact mentioned that the brake pedal had to be depressed with force or the vehicle had to be restarted in order to move the gear shifter out of park. The failure recurred intermittently. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed, but the details of the failure could not be provided. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was unknown.

- Livonia, MI, USA

problem #147

Jan 232016


  • 123,000 miles


The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to move in reverse. After several attempts, the vehicle operated normally. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who diagnosed that the transmission failed and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 123,000.

- Pine Forge, PA, USA

problem #146

Nov 272015


  • 141,000 miles
My 2006 Explorer has recently started shifting hard and sometimes will not shift into gear right away. When I pull up to a stop light or become stationary it will try to die and sometimes will. And will also not go into gear unless I give it a lot of gas and then it takes a minute to pick up complete speed. I have already had to replace multiple things on this vehicle and am seeing that others have been having the same trouble. Ford do the right thing and recall this vehicle. Also my interior lights have gone out and is not the fuse or bulbs.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #145

Jan 262016


  • 145,000 miles
I bought this vehicle used 7 years ago from carmax. It has had transmission problem from day 1. it always shifts hard. Today the little wrench light came on as I pulled into my driveway..

- Dallas, NC, USA

problem #144

Mar 012012


  • 52,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. While driving 30 mph, the vehicle began to jerk and an unknown warning light illuminated. The vehicle was towed to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the transmission needed to be overhauled. The vehicle was repaired; however, the failure recurred. The vehicle was towed to a dealer where it was diagnosed that a part within the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 52,000.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #143

Jan 042016


  • 107,000 miles
Recently my 2006 Ford Explorer XLT was jolting/jerking when I put it into reverse, it did not do it all the time just randomly, and about two days ago I put my Explorer into reverse to leave my driveway and when I was accelerating it would not budge, the engine reved like it was trying to reverse but nothing. It only does it when I'm in reverse though. I've been recently researching this problem and it seems to be a very common problem amongst this year, I've actually seen hundreds of complaints online, Ford should be replacing this and paying for the cost, definitely dangerous and also expensive. Had my vehicle for under a year and have approx. 107K miles and ive had it less than a year and still owe roughly 7K on it.

- Sioux City, IA, USA

problem #142

Nov 102015


  • 107,000 miles
Eddie bauer V8 2006 Explorer 107000 miles the ABS and srv lights came off. The car was stuck to the ground and would not speed at all. Got a mechanic to check and many different codes showed up. In the past when the same lights came up I took the car to a Ford dealer and they found nothing.they recommended to change the front tires but they couldn't find any problems. For what I know it seems the Ford Explorer has a lot of problems and Ford refuses to do a recall to fix it.

- Germantown, MD, USA

problem #141

Oct 302015


  • 57,000 miles
Difficulty putting vehicle into driving gear while stationary ever since its original purchase in 2006.transmission pump was replaced in 2010; however, was informed today that this part needs to be replaced again. Vehicle has undergone regular transmission maintenance so not sure how this problem arose again. The initial repair was done at a Ford dealership in germany as I was stationed there due to military obligations. This repair was not covered by power train warranty as we were outside the United States. It placed in the parking position, it becomes very tedious and dangerous when trying to revert gears to reverse or drive.

- Ludowici, GA, USA

problem #140

Mar 192015


  • 92,000 miles
Transmission failure resulting from Michelin incorrectly marking tire sizes: I had four Michelin cross terrain P235/70R16 tires on my SUV. Two wore out and where replaced with Michelin latitude P235/70R16 tires as the cross terrain model was discontinued. The SUV then started having transmission problems especially when accelerating and the transmission failed and had to be replaced. The new transmission immediately started having similar transmission problems also. After multiple specialists examined the SUV, the problem was isolated to the 4X4 module engaging the transfer case during acceleration. It was determined by measuring the tires that the vehicle in fact had sets of tires with different circumferences, even though the tires were marked as being the same size. When the circumferences of the tires are not the same it causes the 4X4 module to believe a slipping condition is present and engage the transfer case. The continual engagement of the transfer case results in damage to the transmissin. I contacted Michelin consumer care four times over a two month period only to be totally ignored. Michelin has sold tires that are marked incorrectly as to size, which results in damage to your SUV, and they refuse to accept any liability.

- West Palm Beach, FL, USA

problem #139

Oct 202010


  • 60,000 miles
Transmission issues, it hard shifts, slams into gear, no immediate engaging into drive or reverse. Ford has checked the transmission and test driven it then claims it is operating fine. Dangerous issue with no accountability. Issues begin about the 60,000 mile mark.

- Lakeland, FL, USA

problem #138

Apr 182013


  • 99,256 miles
Transmission was not shifting from 1st to 2nd leaving you not moving in traffic or worse not being able to cross traffic. Also extreme hard shifts into reverse from park. I put a new (rebuilt)transmission in 4/18/13 and 9/9/15 it has only been two weeks and already it is doing the hard shift thing.

- White Lake, MI, USA

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