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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
89,359 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2006 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #7

Aug 222016


  • 107,522 miles


The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the passenger side air bag indicator illuminated, which indicated that it was deactivated even when a passenger was in the front seat. The vehicle was taken to a dealer, but was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 107,522.

- Beaumont, TX, USA

problem #6

Jun 032016

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 103,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. When the vehicle was started, the passenger side air bag warning light illuminated. The contact stated that the front passenger seat was occupied; however, the warning light remained illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer to be diagnosed. The mechanic was unable to retrieve a fault code. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 103,000. Updated 11/29/16

- Beaumont, TX, USA

problem #5

Feb 152015


  • 64,000 miles
The dashboard on the passenger side is starting to melt -very sticky to touch.

- Palm Harbor, FL, USA

problem #4

Feb 092015


  • 100,000 miles


NHTSA case # [xxx] just know I realize what is the problem; it is related with weather temperature. Beginning winter the airbag sometimes lit.. when temperature dropped, lit continuous, so, I reported Ford customer relationship. (at that time I had no idea that the failure was linked to temperature}. when temperature began increasing, again airbag lit sometimes. Now that weather is good, the airbag light is normal ok. My car's airbag is at risk at low temperatures. How this is a safety issue, I want Ford fix it. Thanks [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Claymont, DE, USA

problem #3

Dec 202013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 97,570 miles
At start up in cold weather the air bag warning light glowed on dash and stayed on until next start up when engine was warm it happened a lot but is fine in warm weather.

- Otter Lake, MI, USA

problem #2

May 132014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 106,000 miles
I was in the process of parking my 2006 Ford Explorer XLT, pulling very slowly into my parking spot, when the engine started roaring, it lunged, hit a parking curb and then thrust into a concrete pillar in a parking garage. The airbag deployed and engine died. My vehicle was totaled! I received burns from the air bag chemicals on both of my hands. I'm still shaken up about it. Neck is sore and lower back hurts.

- Denham Springs, LA, USA

problem #1

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

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