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:
2 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
32,558 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2006 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 3 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #74

Dec 012006


  • 30,000 miles


When slowing down to come to a stop my 2006 Ford Explorer lunges forward as if something is skipping. It has been doing it since 30K miles and they would not replace or fix it under warranty, said it was out of warranty issue. Said it would not brake but would just be an annoyance.

- Katy, TX, USA

problem #73

Dec 012006


  • miles
My 2006 Ford Explorer frequently lurches/lunges when coming to a stop and starting up from a stop. It feels like the car is being rear-ended.

- Placerville, CA, USA

problem #72

Nov 202009


  • 48,000 miles
2006 Ford Explorer hard or slow transmission shifting.

- Sevierville, TN, USA

problem #71

Mar 052008


  • 19,200 miles


I bought a 2006 Ford XLT Explorer with apx. 17,000 miles. I had it for about 3 months it had about 19,000 miles. I drive it about 100 miles to a convention and by the time I got there and pulled into a parking lot the vehicle started shifting hard, jerking and lunging. It was making a loud banging sound and felt like the transmission was going to fall out. I took it to Ford, they did some work on the transfer case and replaced a module. About a month and a thousand miles later, it started doing it again. Took it back to Ford and they did some more work. The shifter lever was replaced. Later it started doing it again. I have taken it back several times and the vehicle continues to have the problem. It doesn't do it every day but does do it several times a week, some days are worse than others. As time goes by it seems to get worse and happen more often. Sometime when I put the vehicle in reverse there is a delay to engage and one morning it cause me to back into another vehicle. It also has a cracked running board.

- Live Oak, CA, USA

problem #70

Dec 172009


  • 60,000 miles
Last night the car was in drive but would keep kicking out of gear... I would push the gas, the engine would rev, but the car wouldn't go anywhere. I even rolled backwards down a hill on a highway and almost hit another car! I had to shut the car off, and restart it in order to get it to back in gear. This happened 10-15 times in a 20 minute drive! I was nervous to even drive it home! it is at the Ford dealership now... I will keep you posted... will never buy an american car again! it is completely unsafe to drive!

- Hightstown, NJ, USA

problem #69

Dec 122009


  • 35,038 miles
My 2006 Ford Explorer frequently lurches/lunges when coming to a stop and starting up from a stop. It feels like the car is being rear-ended. I have taken it in to be repaired and it seemed to work ok for a short time, but it has started doing the same thing again. It makes me wonder if it is safe to drive.

- Glenwood, MN, USA

problem #68

Jul 202008

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 32,000 miles


I have a 2006 Ford Explorer XLT V6 with 55K miles on it. I bought this vehicle with approximately 30K miles on it and within about 2,000 miles of the purchase I started noticing shifting problems. For some reason the vehicle seems to shift fine, but has a mind of its own. Most vehicles shift 1st, 2nd, 3rd, so on per the speed and shifts to assist gas mileage as well. Well, my Explorer will shift into what I believe is 5th gear at 30 miles per hour and its sounds like its bogging down and there is almost no acceleration at all! as well it will shift into 5th when climbing a steep hill and when it finally does downshift it makes a "clunk" noise and drops into 2nd gear causing the engine to rev way up and it suddenly feels like your taking off in an airplane. If you let off the gas to slow down it drops right back into 5th gear again and then the story repeats itself. I have taken the vehicle to the dealer 3 times now and the only changes made were a tcm update and adaptive learning strategy memory clearing and neither of those things fixed the issue at all. I notice as days go on that the problem is getting worse and I never get a good answer. Upon doing some research I have found that many people have had the same transmission related issues from lunging, to clunking, to severe shifting delays. I'm worried that my transmission or drivetrain will experience some kind of critical failure and Ford wont take any responsibility. I contacted Ford directly and the only answer I got from a csr was, "unfortunately we have no comment to assist you at this time." I would really like someone to look into this issue for a possible transmission or drivetrain recall.

- Buckley, WA, USA

problem #67

Feb 252007


  • 36,500 miles
2006 Ford Explorer lunges in & out of gear. When I pull out the transmission hesitates when it shifts from second to third gear, it is almost as if I have completely let off the gas and then gave it gas again. Next problem... when I am slowing down whether I hit the brake or just let off the gas my car makes a terrible noise. It sounds like a whining noise, and a loud pop. It feels as if I have been hit from behind. It sounds as if my car is about to quit right then and the.

- Menifee, CA, USA

problem #66

Nov 232009


  • 42,000 miles
When I come to a stop the engine revs....almost feels like I am getting bumped from behind. Happens constantly and have been watching for a recall on this and have not seen one as of yet. I have seen alot of complaints about this issue.

- Sandusky, OH, USA

problem #65

Oct 122009


  • 40,000 miles
It has a shifting delay going from park to reverse. When it does shift, there is a jolt. Seems like the transmission is ready to fall out.

- Red Bud, IL, USA

problem #64

Sep 142009


  • 40,000 miles


2006 Ford Explorer automatic transmission that slips and causes a jolt when it downshifts, feels like one is being rear ended. Additionally there is a weird sound as this happens. Ford has unsuccessfully tried to reprogram the car. Took the car back for the Ford mechanic to look at and was told there is nothing he can do.

- Phoenixville, PA, USA

problem #63

Jun 102009


  • 50,000 miles
Transmission jerks when shifting into gear or while stopping. 2006 Ford Explorer..

- Powell, TN, USA

problem #62

Sep 102009


  • 41,100 miles
The SUV jolts when shifting gears, rpms rev and is slow to change into gear. Occasional loud cluncking noises, also loud noise when accelerating.

- New Ipswich, NH, USA

problem #61

Oct 012009


  • 30,000 miles
I have had problems since I have bought this vehicle earlier this year...when I come to a stop it feels like someone rear ended me. This happens very frequently and have been watching for a recall on this and have not seen one as of yet. I have seen alot of complaints about this issue.

- Roland, OK, USA

problem #60

Sep 252009


  • 56,000 miles
Purchased 2006 Ford Explorer. Feels like my transmission is going to fall out of the car when I put the car in gear to take off or even when I come to a stop at a red light. Horrible!

- Kennesaw, GA, USA

problem #59

Aug 142009


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2006 Ford Explorer automatic transmission has a jolt when it downshift at stopping. It feels like one is being rear ended. This is a very common problem with these transmissions. Ford tried to reprogram the car, but it doesn't fix the problem. Problem occurs in about 1 out of 10 stops. The distraction is a safety issue as one stops to try to figure out why this happened. Ford needs a better solution to this common problem.

- Dunkirk, MD, USA

problem #58

Aug 302009


  • 34,000 miles
I recently purchased a 2006 Ford limited edition Explorer. Within 24 hours of purchase I noticed that the vehicle would "lunge" forward while attempting to bring the SUV to a complete stop. It feels as if you were just rear-ended! I purchased the extended warranty and have been told to bring the car to service. Recent research has lead me to believe that this SUV's model year has this same disturbing trend among vehicle across the usa. A thorough investigation needs to take place and a recall is my recommendation. Consumers should not suffer for an obvious flaw on the behalf of a major manufacturer.

- Roselle, NJ, USA

problem #57

May 092009


  • 34,000 miles
I have a 2006 Ford Explorer. The transmission shifts very hard/jerks in reverse as well as when transmission should automatically go from 1st to 2nd gear. The jerk feels as if you have been rear ended and then car lunges forward.

- Ft Lauderdale, FL, USA

problem #56

Aug 052009


  • 30,000 miles
When coming to a stop, the car feels like I have slammed on the brakes or someone has rear-ended me. It happens about every mile or so. Dealer says they don't know what I am talking about, the brakes are fine.

- Whittier, CA, USA

problem #55

Aug 012009


  • 15,000 miles
When coming to a stop, transmission jerks and it feels like you are getting rear-ended. Lots of complaints about this on various websites. Started right after car was bought, Ford said they could not find anything wrong, so we have been dealing with it... but it is getting worse, and I'm afraid I will get stuck with a costly repair.

- Morris Plains, NJ, USA

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