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Are Ford Explorers Junk?

I'm looking for an SUV. I've ruled out many brands and types due to research. However I'm curious about the Explorer line. I've read several reviews about transmissions on the Explorers. Is this a continuing thing in the Explorer line or is this a thing in general with all SUVs? What's the difference in the Explorer Sport, Eddie Bauer Line, Ford Escape? Any information you can provide will be useful


  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    interesting tag line you have there - are they junk. The Explorer has been the most popular SUV in the world since they came out in 91, instantly making the Jeep Cherokee old news, and maintained that lead until 2006, when foreign competition finally put so much pressure on the market, and gas prices rose. The 2006 is probably the finest Explorer ever - it's quieter, smoother, has a class leading 6 speed transmission, and an available V-8 that puts out 300hp, making the truck just flat fun to drive. If you look around, you will see a zillion 10-14 year old Explorers still running all over the place. So, how could they be junk? All cars are subject to some issues. Toyota currently has a disaster on their hands with their 07 transmission in their new Camrys and they still don't know what to do about it. Honda had the same problem in 04. GM makes pretty good transmissions, mostly because they're so old in design, the flaws have long since been worked out. But they are still putting the same old 4 speed transmissions in everything but Cadillacs.

    I have owned 6 Explorer/Mountaineers now - a 94 that I sold at 140,000 and the only thing wrong was the shift motor for the 4WD had quit. I have had a 97, 98, 02, 04 and now own an 06. Personally, I think they're the best design for a mid-sized SUV out there. They are still truck based, so you can tow with them, and they're tough as nails. My son ran one of them over a curb so hard it blew both front tires. But after new tires were put on, it didn't even need an alignment, let alone any parts!

    The standard V-6 has been around since 1976 or earlier. It's made in Germany, and will literally run forever with very little maintenance. The V-8 makes the car a blast to drive. The third seat is actually comfortable for Adults and folds away flat into the floor. The truck has an independent rear suspension, making it step over bumps like a car, and without the toss and turn of say the Jeep. They are fully up to date as far as technology goes. Ford has done a fine job on this truck. They are machines, and machines sometimes break. There are lemons out there, like with everything else made. But generally, they are some of the most dependable and tough trucks on the road. They are NOT junk. Buy with confidence. ;)
  • I've read several articles about the transmission crapping out around 30,000 miles in the 97. My brother in law had a 01 which he traded in because the transmission was failing. He had about 45000 miles on it any responses?
  • mav2kmav2k Posts: 4
    If you bought Microsoft Windows for 300 Bucks, and you use it in your computer, you can download a patch, services pack, etc. then fix some problems.. If it don't work. You put the software in the trash, It only cost 300 bucks.

    But if you bought a 30K US$ SUV, and drive it everyday with the same BIG Tranny problem, I'm sure, You will hate the SUV.

    3 moths ago, I read many reviews about the Ford Explorer EB. but I'm not a lucky man then I don't read anything about problems with the tranny

    Now You are safe. Don't BUY THE EXPLORER!!!

    I'm sorry, but I paid for a SUV no for a SUV with a Big tranny problem. :lemon:
  • fsmmcsifsmmcsi Posts: 792
    My 2006 EB V8 does occassionally have a rough downshift to 1st when coming to a stop. I have driven it 10,000 miles and it does not bother me enough to have taken the time to visit the nearby dealership. I will take it to them, but mainly because they wanted to see the navigation and sound system I told them I would install (Pioneer AVIC Z-1 with Bluetooth and XM with Nav Traffic, Cerwin Vega speakers).

    Far from being junk, the Explorer is one of the very best values now on the market.

    NVbanker - one of my brother in-laws had a Mustang II with the V6 from Germany. He asked me to rebuild the engine and transmission for him, so I took it apart, but found that the high mileage engine hardly needed to have the cylinder bores honed.
  • mav2kmav2k Posts: 4
    "the Explorer is one of the very best values now on the market"

    I know, and I agree with you, I bought a Ford Explorer EB. But my friend, nobody buy a Brand New SUV for get problems :mad: .

    "My 2006 EB V8 does occassionally have a rough downshift to 1st when coming to a stop"

    You are a lucky man, In my first 5K milles, My 2006 EB V8 does occassionally have a rough downshift to 1st when coming to a stop but now, ALWAYS, everyday. I need to take time to visit the dealership AGAIN!!!. I'm sorry, But It's my first FORD, I will not to buy ford again in my life.
  • Thanks for the input. I appreciate it. Do you have suggestions on what kind of SUV is good? Do all have problems with trannies? I'm been looking mainly at the GMC Jimmy and the Chevy Blazer. I'm expanded and thought about the Bravada or the Mountaineer. I know nothing really on those two vehicles. The Hondas and Toyotas are either too small for what I want or to pricey. Isuzu and Hyundai are garbage overall so they are 100% out. Nissan is okay but not really.
    Any suggestions? I'm looking to spend 6,000 but am REALLY looking to go much lower.
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    There are very few vehicles that I would tell someone never ever to buy. But these 2 are an example.

    Because of their 20 year old design, they have the distinction getting just about the WORST crash test score of any SUV ever tested by IIHS.


    Notice how the passanger/drivers space is crushed. The dummies head is hanging out the window. You would be dead.

    vs a 2002 Ford Explorer: (note how the passanger/drivers space is maintained.


    vs a 2006 Ford Explorer:

    2006 Ford Explorer test Good accros the board which is the highest score.
  • 70ss454_man70ss454_man Posts: 107
    Explorers aren't junk, in fact they're far from it. I have a 1993 with 196,000 miles on it and it has been the single most reliable vehicle I have ever owned. The tranny is also original, and that should be saying something because I constantly tow my quads up to the mountains and steep grades. NO sign of wear there. I have gone nearly 11,000 miles out of the service range (3000 miles) and I barely noticed the effect. The current problem I am having though, is that it wont start because I need to replace the distributor. The "problems" I've had with it are
    1)Mass Air Flow Sensor
    2)4x4 can't make up its mind whether it wants to work or not, but most of the time it does.
    3)Bad thermostats causing it to over heat on the freeway and baked the oil. This also proves how strong the engines are, because I continued to drive it at the temperature red-line most of the way home, and it didn't quit.

    I must also note that I needed to have the transmission fluid changed to to hesitation. It was disgusting to see what I was driving around with.
    If you think these things are junk, then my my you're sadly mistaken. I cannot seem to kill mine, and neither can most other people.
  • trraffictrraffic Posts: 6
    I bought my 97 AWD V8 in the fall of 99. Not including tires, brakes, and oil changes, I think I put around $1000 into it, maybe $1500. My biggest problems were the O2 sensors went (three out of four), but not a huge deal. I had a lot of knocking, which was mostly reduced by putting it out of overdrive and/or getting better gas. The alternater went once, and something else plus a couple of little thing. Unfortunately, this year the heat died, and my mechanic did some fix which caused that to work but then not my AC. Then my check engine light started flashing like crazy one day and my car started to vibrate. At that point, when it was going to cost just under $300 to fix that and then just under $500 to get the AC fixed, I decided to trade it in, with about 106,000 miles. Some days I kind of regret it. I got 12 mpg with probably 80 to 90 percent city driving, but compare that with my 10 years younger car now, which is smaller, not AWD all the time like the Explorer, and a V6, and so far I have been getting around 15. For an America car, I think it served me well, and if my child and I were not in that car in traffic during the week,I probably would have kept it longer.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    a 97?? I had a 97 - ran 200,000 miles on one transmission, and probably is still running..... Did you mean 07?
  • I know this aint been written on for awhile but I strongly disagree on these being junk, the tranny's yes if you beat them around they will begin to have problems but other than that they are strong running trucks, I've seen'em go well over 250k miles even 309k on the original motor!!! The first and second generation explorers are the best SUV you could buy 91-2001 The manual shift tranny's however are the better tranny's in these, The explorer stock 4X4 system is excellent, Had bad winter this past winter and did not get stuck or anything and I even had regular street tires on it at the time, and mine is a 92 explorer sport my dad has 2000 XLT. So info for anyone thinkin of buying one, go for it!! :)
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    "The Hondas and Toyotas are either too small for what I want or to pricey"

    Are you sure about that? I was thinking the Pilot to actually be a bit larger than the Explorer. Compare the price with similar equipment. You might also want to go to and compare "True Price to Own". Also check out KBB for resale values on 2-5 year old similar equipped models. "Pricey" involves a lot of things. Not just the buying price.

    As far as durability goes... My 79 year old mom's 95 V6 Explorer's auto tranny laid down at about 60K miles. Cost her about $3k to replace. At her age of about 85 the tranny laid down again with about 90K on the vehicle. The first tranny lasted 60K the second one lasted 30K.

    I drive it occasionally and it feels as though the car is falling apart. The steering column is loose and rattling, the driver seat is sagging (mom weighs 110 lbs) and the suspension seems to be noisy and weak.

    But that is a 95 and this is 07. I would expect the V8/6 speed to be a good combo. The 4.6 has been around for a while and proven itself to be reliable. I understand that it now incorporates variable valve timing which should improve power and fuel economy. Durability of the 6 speed will have to be proven.

  • A trans. oil additive " trans medic" often will help the ford auto trans. . This additive is blue in color . this will help you to identify it.use only mercon v fluid in your ford. CW
  • i agree w/ you 100%. These babys may be labeled as "exploders" but they are certainly NOT JUNK. Sure, they have their problems, some (okay......most) of the early 90's models had/have tranny problems and the paint often fails making it look like crap, but my '91 is by far one of the funnest, the most reliable and easy to maintain vehicles I have ever owned. I purchased it almost 2 years ago for 650.00, fully knowing that she had a glorious 300,000 miles of experience and adventure under faded chassis. the person I bought it from is amazed that she still runs and everything on her still works. I just tell him and everybody else that criticizes her that with just the right amount of TLC and regular oil changes THESE THINGS JUST WILL NOT DIE...... I also tell people that based on my experience, I would buy another one just like her in a heartbeat. ......
  • m never buying another Ford. I used to be a staunch "Buy American" consumer. As American car companies market share continued to plummet, I continued to feel that it is my patriotic duty to buy American.

    Well, I finally woke up and realized that everyone else is right, and that I was naive.

    Last week the O/D light came on in my Ford Explorer. I drove it right home and got the manual out to see what the problem was. "Transmission problem" was what the manual indicated, as well as several websites I reviewed.

    I didn't worry at first, since I figured this would be covered under warranty. My Explorer is just under 5 years old and just under 60K miles. Surely there would at least be a 60K power train warranty. No one would buy a vehicle if they knew the transmission would only last 59K miles.

    Well, the dealer told me a new transmission was needed (5th and 2nd gears were worn down), that it would cost $3500, and that it is not covered by warranty. And to add insult to injury he charged me $90 to tell me the transmission was bad (something I obviously knew) - isn't this similar to stealing?

    I then asked him what trade in value I could get (not that I really would buy another poor quality Ford, but I wanted to explore all options). $5500 is the most they could give. I laughed - since I had taken very good care of the vehicle. It told me that they didn't want the vehicle either - so much for them really standing behind their product. They know the quality is poor.

    Obviously I was quite irritated. I asked what caused this. None of the possibilities applied since I took good care of the vehicle and had it serviced according to the maintenance manual. In fact, the dealer (Cover Ford in Austin) did the 30K checkup. I spent $1K on that (and probably got ripped off).

    I took it to a transmission specialist and had it fixed for under $2500. He informed me that he sees a lot of issues like this with Explorers - probably a poor design and poor quality. Also, judging by various websites there are indeed lots of complains like this.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Ford knew of the poor design - since the warranty that came with the vehicle was only 3 yr/36K even for powertrain. If Ford had good quality, why couldn't they step up to the plate and offer 60K or even 100K power train warranty. They must have known the poor quality. In my mind, this is deceptive practice - and I kick myself for not recognizing this as a red flag.

    Well, for the 2008 Explorer I see Ford is offering 60K powertrain warranty. So they must have made some improvements (which further underscores their recognition of the poor quality in earlier years). But it's still a far cry from 100K that some vehicles come with. You also have to wonder what other quality issues are lurking.

    I think the choice is now clear to me. In the future I will be considering something like a Honda Pilot. Ford deserves the trend of lower market share. Consumers are very wise, and the quality the provide is reflected in their declining sales and marketshare.

    Please don't make the same mistake I made. The foreign competition provides much better quality and customer service.
  • jwp1775jwp1775 Posts: 6
    No. I have a '94 with a 4.0 L V6 that I bought new. It now has 320,000 miles on it and is still running strong. Burns no oil, no tranny problems. Heads never off. One tune-up. No 4WD problems. A very reliable truck.
  • I own a 2002 that I purchased new. It had the cracked rear panel, seat belt light, and airbag light fixed under warranty. However at 67k the rear bearings went out and it cost me over $1,000 to fix it. The dealer wanted more just for one wheel so I took it to my local mechanic. They had one helluva time with it. I see that wheel bearings are a chronic problem on this car. Just hope my transmission lasts. This was my 13th Ford and I am sad to say that it will be my last. The wheel bearings are a design defect, installed with way too much preload and should be the subject of a recall. Where do you go when the brand you have cheered for lets you down?
  • jhs517jhs517 Posts: 4
    I would not call them junk, but you need to be very careful about what year you want. If you're thinking about a 2002, think again. Whenever its a model change, and the 02 is a drastic model change, there are going to be lots of issues. Fortunately, I was lucky, because i read many horror stories about owners with 02s. I did have the trans rebuilt, and I just had to deal with it. I will admit that i feel very safe in my explorer. The 4x4 comes in quite handy during the michigan winters. the back trim panel has a crack, just like the others, but it doesn't matter. for the most part, mine has been ok, the usual stuff, wheel bearings, which are expensive, the back coil springs cracked and replaced. just think carefully what you want before you go out and get one.
  • I have a 2003 Explorer with a V8 and a third row seat. I bought it to replace a 1997 Toyota Camry, as we needed something with towing capacity and the ability to hold up to 4 kids in the back during carpools to school and after school activities. It is a great vehicle. We did have transmission problems, but only after about 110,000 miles, half of which were spent towing a large bass boat. The interior features were well thought out and I loved the split door feature on the tailgate. Very easy to pop the rear window and drop in a couple bags of groceries, baseball equipment, soccer equipment, etc. If you need to really haul something, the rear seat folded flat and the entire tailgate lifts. I would recommend running boards, else you end up hopping into the car. My family has had great experience with Ford trucks (dad's most recent F150 had over 250,000 miles) and will continue to buy them.
    I think it is a mistake to think that you can avoid car problems by buying a particular make. And I disagree in particular with the broad assertion that foreign competitors provide much better quality. For example, we spent 25% more on a Camry than I would have spent on a better equipped Taurus. My husband leased a Taurus a year or two later and had absolutely no problems with it the entire time he had it (about 80,000 miles). Meanwhile, I was warned by Toyota of an "oil gelling" problem that may occur if I followed the recommended oil change schedule. And I had numerous other smaller problems that took me to the dealer, as well as poorly designed interior features (seat belt, cup holder and vanity mirror) that broke within a couple of years of light use.
  • This message is for those that may ask the question about whether Ford Explorers are junk. This is a company car and is taken in for service on a regular basis. Junk issues as follows:
    42,000 Miles - radiator replacement
    72,000 Miles - front wheel bearing replacement
    86,000 Miles - radiator replacement
    109,000 Miles - transmission replaced
    133,000 Miles - radiator replacement - service informed me that Ford acknowledged problems and issued a corrective action bulletin with dealerships.
    When I buy my next car Ford, GM and Chrysler will not be on the list of choices!!!
  • I could add to that class action suit as at 72,000 miles my transmission was replaced due to unpredictable, dangerous stalling while driving 75 miles per hour on a freeway, a ford dealer told me to replace the transmission as the transmissiom head had completely cracked?
    I have since read on this blog of a similar problem that some one else had and they only replaced the V2V valve, now am wondering if I got taken by ford yet again, anyway I have also had to replace the ball joints in front at 72000 miles, so I would be interested in a suit
  • I bought my 96 Explorer 4x4 in September of 2009 for a thousand bucks. I have put 160,000 miles on it in two years. I have had the usual wheel bearing issues with it (four in two years) but the tranny didn't start failing until this year. I think that's pretty good for 300,000 miles. The seats are a poor design, one of these days I might go to the junkyard and buy a seat from a newer one with a better design but who knows. I'll still run the crap out of my Explorer and it will keep me going.
  • csiwifecsiwife Posts: 1
    Ford replaced our 2006 Ford Explorer radiator 3 times as well! The last time was at 102,000 and even though my husband brought the vehicle in several thousand miles before that - they misdiagnosed the problem so we were stuck paying for the radiator and Ford would not honor the warranty. Now we are at 104,000 miles we are having tranny problems. The vehicle will be going into the mechanic tonight for repair. We always try to buy American products, but highly doubt that we would buy another Ford. We owned serveral Explorers prior to this one, and have always had problems.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Yes, the current Xploder model is nothing more than JUNK.

    Junk that Ford couldn't sell when it was labelled FreeStyle....

    And then also didn't sell labeled as a Taurus X.....

    Now they relabelled it yet again as an Xploder and the name just simply fits.

    EB, Eddie Bauer (not EcoBoost) is simply a nice set of seat covers.

    EB, EcoBoost is now dead in the water, Ford will undoubtedly soon be licensing Mazda's SkyActiv, or if Mazda is smart this time Ford will have to BUY Mazda.

    The ony good news is that Ford is now using water cooling of the PTO in order to alleviate, possibly, the high failure rate of same. It looked to me as if the coolant was also being piped all the way back to the rear diff'l/clutch in order to cool it and alleviate another HOT spot.

    Anyone know the truth on that last bit..?
  • OMG! :sick:
    Where do I begin? I purchased a 2004 Ford explorer in July 0f 2011, and traded in my 2001 Oldsmobile of 5 years. I also purchased the 12 month 12,000 mile warranty. Before driving it off the lot I had the dealer fix the ABS system because the light was on. There is a crack going down the back of the trunk but nothing else was wrong at the time so I left the crack alone.
    In April of 2012 I took it to the dealership for a belt, check trans, shocks, ball joints, and a ticking in the heater when knob was turned to heat (not cool). The dealer was very rude for 1 and tried to charge me almost $800. for items not on the warranty. I told him to just fix what was on the warranty and also give it a oil change. He informed me that the trans was fine and charged me for looking at it because nothing was wrong so my so called warranty still came out to almost $400. out of pocket expenses. After getting the car back my heat went out and I was told by a mechanic Buddy that my breaks, rotters, emergency break pads and the back tires were shot. So I had him replaced them because this was also not covered on warranty.
    Just last week my RPM started jumping with miles over 65.(no lights were on at the time)So I took it to 6 different places getting estimates on what could be wrong. All shops said the same thing. "Start with fuel filter, oil filters and oil change". I was told if that does not work then something else is wrong but with no lights on it was hard to tell. I did all of what I was told. The day after I paid for all this the service engine light came on. I took the car to Auto Zone to get it checked. (EGR Valve code)
    The man at Auto Zone told me to take it off and clean it with spray and let it dry before replacing. I took it to a shop and had them do this. The same day I picked up the car my service engine light came on again, O/d light and the car was driving like I was hauling a bus and jumping. I took it back the next day and he replaced the EGR valve new since the same code was showing up. Later that day after getting it back the car started doing the same thing after driving for 5 miles this was Friday 9/21/12. *I have now turned to the internet and I am MADDER THAN I WAS BEFORE LOOKING ON THE NET!!! OMG!!! ***** :sick:
    I still owe a car note on this car, I am a student working a part-time job and a single parent. I have no ideas what to do next. I refuse to put a trans in it and refuse to pay for it if I can not drive it. I am so upset that I bought a FORD. I would rather have a old beat up Chevy any day then buy a brand new Fix Or Repair Daily/ Found On Roadside Dead = FORD!!!!
    FORD!!! GET OFF YOUR [non-permissible content removed] AND HELP THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE YOU RICH!!!!!!!!!
  • The first mistake was buying a 2003-2007 Explorer. I'll bet you have a V6. The V6 during these years all have crappy transmissions. In 2008, they DID make some improvements and thus can give a longer warranty. These older transmissions typically go out at around 60,000 miles. Myself, I didn't buy one just because of this issue. I have a 1996 and it lasted until 300,000 miles before it had tranny problems.
  • Yes they are. If there were any truth in advertising their commercials would say "Ford Explorer...3 decades of junk". My 1996 V6 transmission went out at 72K. A/C compressor, and left front axle not long after. Rear springs are junk. The only reason I kept it as long as I have is to take my large dogs to the vet. It's 22 years old and has 110k on it which is indicative of how much I hate driving this rattle box.
  • berriberri Posts: 10,166
    I didn't have good luck with mine, nor did several others I knew who owned one. But that was awhile ago.
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