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 1 of 6)

problem #114

Mar 042013

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles


Every time taking off from a stop. Vehicle would go 3 mph for 15 seconds, would then jolt and lung forward fast. This happened all the way to work for 27 miles. When I contacted Ford regarding this issue, they said they had no previous complaints. This is definitely a safety issue. The vehicle almost hit the car in front of me several times. Later the vehicle would not go into reverse. I was stranded in the parking lot until the vehicle in front of me had moved. The dealer overhauled the transmission and replaced the servos in the valve.

- Gasport, NY, USA

problem #113

Jan 122012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 73,000 miles
2006 Ford Explorer. Consumer states transmission failure the consumer stated the dealer neglected to detect any signs of the problem, before the termination of the used vehicle warranty.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #112

Aug 192011


  • 72,569 miles
While being parked on an inclined hill, my Explorer would not get into gear. Had to call aaa to tow to transmission specialist who adjusted the gear but stated you might have more transmission problems. Since then my car has had problems where the gears have been grinding as I'm driving. I'm afraid I might have more serious problems in the future since I've been reading reports from Ford owners that this is becoming a major problem with Ford vehicles.

- Watertown, MA, USA

problem #111

Aug 272011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 100,400 miles


No events leading up to failure. Regular vehicle usage. After 4 or 5 years, the transmission began clunking and hesitating to shift. When shifting into reverse or drive, the transmission jolts violently. The check engine light is on. The failure has not yet been corrected but I am complaining now because so many similar reports have also been filed across the internet.

- Massachusetts, MA, USA

problem #110

Mar 132010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 69,810 miles
I have a 2006 Ford Explorer and I had to replace transmission and rear before vehicle reached 70, 000 miles. I was told by the mechanic that they could not replace transmission oil and differential until 100,000 miles. Ford should guarantee the transmission and rear end up to 100,000 miles, it's nt fair to the consumer.

- Opelika, AL, USA

problem #109

Aug 042010

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 145,000 miles
2006 Ford Explorer XLT sport utility 4X4 4.6L automatic transmission. The transmission slips or hesitates going into gear. At stops it has a tendency to slam down shift hard. The transmission slips so much between gears it affects the mileage so I get really bad gas mileage less then the 13 low end of the 13/18 mpg suggested. It will take about $2,000 to get another transmission. I still owe $8,000 on this car. I am just about ready to say come get it.

- Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #108

Jun 212011


  • 60,000 miles


The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that fluid was leaking from the vehicle. When inspected, he discovered that the transmission pan was corroded and was causing the leak. The vehicle was then taken to the dealer where they advised him that the pan needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired along with additional parts. The manufacturer was contacted and they offered no assistance. The failure and current mileages were approximately 60,000.

- Lincoln Park, MI, USA

problem #107

Jun 162011


  • 64,303 miles
I own a 2006 Ford Explorer with 64000 miles. Yesterday without any warning the transmission went out while in heavy traffic, I had the vehicle towed to a dealer where they say the transmission would need replaced. I checked online and found this to be a very common problem with this year and make. And everyone had exact symptoms. Ford acts like this isn't common and plays dumb to the fact. I still owe $15000 on a vehicle and cannot afford $3000 to repair. Someone please look into this issue and stop Ford from taking advantage of citizens. Thank you

- In, IN, USA

problem #106

May 312011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 69,000 miles
2006 Ford Explorer with 69,000 miles. Transmission failure. Makes a loud noise as engine is working but transmission isn't working properly. Have been told to either sell it or try to put in a new transmission. Also, control box on dash panel went out at 30,000 miles. $700 to repair. Transmission could be upwards of $4,000 to repair

- Tyler, TX, USA

problem #105

Jul 152009

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 48,000 miles
I have a 2006 Ford Explorer that is jerking when I put it into reverse and also has jumped out of gear a couple of times, thank goodness I was sitting in it and no one got hurt. Taking it in again to the shop tomorrow hope they can find a problem. If anything is done I will keep the old part.

- Ozark, AL, USA

problem #104

Apr 132011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 60,000 miles


Bought and own a 2006 Ford Explorer, eddie bauer purchased as used in 2008 with 19,000 miles on it. At 60,000 the transmission lurches, and slips....feels like someone is rear ending you. Slow to respond when accelerating, makes clunking sound when putting into park or reverse. Researched on the internet and there are thousands of complaints regarding the 2006 Ford Explorer transmissions and apparently Ford has issued no recall and offers no repair solution (unless you shell out $2500 for a new transmission). It is unbelievable that a SUV with 60,000 miles needs a new transmission!! I still owe just under $10,000 for this truck, where is the justice in buying american?? I would appreciate your comment to this on-going Ford problem. Please Ford...... do something!! thank you!

- North Huntingdon, PA, USA

problem #103

May 122011


  • 65,000 miles
Radiator leaks badly, plastic cracked. Transmission shifts too hard and hesitates going into reverse ending with a loud bang into gear.

- Madison, AL, USA

problem #102

Dec 152010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 66,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the parking gear shift would not shift out of park to drive. The contact stated he would have to continually depress the brake and rattle the gear shift in order for it to move. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where he was advised that the vehicle was not under recall and referred him to the manufacturer. The manufacturer was contacted but provided no additional assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 66,000. Updated 06/02/11 when the consumer arrived at the dealer to get the recall fixed, he was informed the letter had expired and the recall didn't apply to his model year. Updated 08/05/11

- Brooklyn, NY, USA

problem #101

Apr 122006

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 29,000 miles
My wife came home from shopping and tried to back into the carport and the SUV started to lunge and jerk, so we took it to the dealer about 10 minute later and we are waiting for it to be repaired. The date we went to the dealer was 4/12/11 and today is 4/14/11.

- Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #100

Sep 162007


  • 38,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle was in park and when attempting to shift into reverse, the vehicle exhibited an unusual dropping noise and began to jerk violently. In addition, when starting the engine the vehicle would often lunge forward abnormally. When braking, the vehicle would also jerk violently as if someone had crashed into the rear of the vehicle. The contact also stated that she was unable to see out of the passenger rearview mirror when the second row seat was upright because the headrest was obstructing her view. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer several times who was unable to duplicate the failure. The contact called the manufacturer who offered no assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The current mileage was approximately 109,000 and the failure mileage was approximately 38,000.

- Cabot, AR, USA

problem #99

Dec 012010


  • miles
Ford Explorer transmission lunges, jerks, will only drive in 3rd gear, no warning, wrench light came on, now check engine light is on. Over $2500 they say to repair it. Hundreds of people having the same problem. Ford should investigate.

- North Little Rock, AR, USA

problem #98

Nov 012010

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that he was unable to shift out of park. The contact had to take apart the steering column. The failure occurred whenever the vehicle was operated. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer where it was repaired. The failure continued so the vehicle was taken back to the dealer where the contact was informed that the gear shift needed to be replaced. The vehicle had not been repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 40,000 and the current mileage was approximately 42,000. Updated 03/31/11

- White Hall, PA, USA

problem #97

Oct 052010

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 65,000 miles
At 65,000 miles, my 2006 Ford Explorer limited automatic transmission needed to be replaced. The car suddenly started to buck and it wouldn't change gears. The mechanic was told by Ford that there has been 17 adjustments on my transmission since it went out. I had to pay $2600. For a new rebuilt. Transmission!!! the vehicle was well maintained and I have proof of the service history. This should not happen at 65,000 miles! also my radiator has been leaking for last couple of years. I have been holding out on replacing it, but I understand that's another popular problem with this vehicle.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #96

Oct 232010


  • 55,884 miles
2006 Ford Explorer eddie bauer addition blue w/beige trim. Without warning wrench light then transmission light came on. Cars rpms were stuck at 3..3.5 yet car was not accelerating. After driving 18.7 miles other than feeling & hearing cluck as car shifted gears. Has appended several times (4). In heavy traffic slow acceleration can lead be rear end collision, I have been lucky so far. Rapid and hard cluck when moving from park causes vehicle to lurch which is potentially dangerous in tight parking spaces such has garage. The dealer has worked on the car twice for a total of 8 days. I will be taking back again Nov 19th 2010.

- Hampton, VA, USA

problem #95

Oct 212010

Explorer 4WD 8-cyl

  • 97,000 miles
I took my 2006 Ford Explorer to the Ford dealership for maintenance. The service personnel found the transmission pan heavily corroded just above an exhaust cross over pipe. Transmission fluid had been dripping onto the exhaust cross over pipe. There is approximately a 1.5 foot section of the exhaust cross over pipe that is covered with blackened transmission fluid. The heaviest corrosion is exactly above and parallel to the exhaust cross over pipe. The transmission pan actually has small holes in it just above the exhaust cross over pip. The exhaust cross over pipe is about 1 1/4 inches below the transmission pan. As a result of the exhaust cross over pipe and the transmission pan being so close to each other, the constant heat from the exhaust cross over pipe has cause the transmission pan to corrode, rust and leak transmission fluid right on the exhaust cross over pipe. This is a fire hazard. The dealership is replacing the transmission pan. Ford Motor Company has denied coverage of this under my extended warranty plan. I am currently seeking a remedy from Ford. The old part is available.

- Howell, MI, USA

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