How Long Do Ford Explorers Last: Problems You Need To Know

by Conner Mckay

Ford Explorers are among the class of SUVs prominent for reliability, excellent safety records,  and awe-inspiring off-roading capabilities. Ford Explorers are reputedly top performers when it comes to safety and overall performance. If you are wondering how long do Ford Explorers last. Here is your answer.

On average, Ford Explorers last for up to 16 or 17 years. However, this depends entirely on how you treat your Explorer. With regular maintenance, moderate exposure to rough terrains, and good vehicle handling habits, alongside other factors, your Ford Explorer can last for this long.

If you own a Ford Explorer or want to get one, there’s more to learn about than their mileage. This article has all details about these SUVs.

Ford Explorer Years To Avoid

The 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 Ford Explorer model years should be avoided. They have the highest number of complaints.

Complaints regarding the 2002 Ford Explorer include gear switching issues, fluid leakages, shaking or grinding, check engine light signaling, persistent burning smell, and transmission problems.

The 2003 model has solenoid issues, failing brakes, transmission problems, stalling, faulty timing chain cassettes, OD light issues, and overheating.

As for the 2004 Ford Explorer, it has complaints similar to the 2003 model. Additional issues include cracks in exhaust manifolds, the probability of spark plug ejection, and a faulty rear window wiper.

Again, the 2005 Ford Explorer has issues similar to the 2004 model.  Body and paint problems, transmission issues, engine problems, faulty windows and windshields, drivetrain problems, brake problems, suspension problems, and electrical and interior accessories glitches.

Finally, the 2006 Ford Explorer has issues similar to the previous problematic model years. It also has steering and wheel and hub problems and seat belt (such as the seat belt buckle) and airbag problems.

How Long Do Ford Explorers Last

Ford Explorer Reliability

The Ford Explorer has an overall reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5, according to Consumer Reports and RepairPal’s rating. This rating places the Ford Explorer as the 19th of 26 SUVs in its category. With this rating, the Ford Explorer is reliable.

Moreover, the Ford Explorer has a good reputation for performing well in safety ratings. The NHTSA even rates the 2010 and 2020 Ford Explorer models 5 out of 5. This goes to show that overall, the Ford Explorer is a reliable SUV.

How Long Do Ford Explorers Last: Ford Explorer Generations

The Ford Explorer has had six generations in its over 30 years of existence. From 1991 to date, here is a list of the generations of the Ford Explorer.

How Long Do Ford Explorers Last: #1. First Generation (1991 to 1994)

The first generation of Ford Explorers took their inspiration from the Bronco II. This generation of Ford Explorers came in both two and four-door versions. They use Ford’s 4-liter V-6 engine with a power rating of 155hp to 160hp.

This Ford Explorer’s generation used a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. They also had a standard rear-drive and optional four-wheel drive.

How Long Do Ford Explorers Last: #2. Second Generation (1995 to 2001)

The Ford Ranger still inspired the second generation of Ford Explorers. However, Ford significantly updated these Explorers to have a better aerodynamically shaped front and made other mechanical adjustments.

This generation of Explorers came with a 5-liter V-8 engine and an all-wheel drive system. Ford also released a 4 liter SOHC V-6 engine and a 5-speed automatic transmission. Ford updated the transmission system and replaced the recirculating ball steering of the first generation Explorers with a rack and pinion system.

How Long Do Ford Explorers Last: #3. Third Generation (2002 to 2005)

Ford designed the third generation of Ford Explorers differently from the first two generations. Ford developed them to have an independent rear suspension and a seating capacity that could take up to seven passengers.

This generation of Explorers also has a 4.6-liter V8 engine capable of delivering 240 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. These Explorers can tow as much as 7,300 lbs of load.

How Long Do Ford Explorers Last

How Long Do Ford Explorers Last: #4. Fourth Generation (2006 to 2010)

Ford released the fourth generation of Explorers with a 4.6-liter engine and a novel six-speed automatic transmission capable of delivering 292 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. Ford also designed this generation of Explorers with a tougher frame, improved tech and convenience features, a refined interior, and better suspension.

How Long Do Ford Explorers Last: #5. Fifth Generation (2011 to 2019)

The Taurus Sedan inspired the fifth generation of Ford Explorers. Ford designed this generation of Explorers for improved fuel economy. The first rollout of fifth-generation Explorers has a 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers 290 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque, with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Ford also developed a budget-friendly 2-liter turbocharged engine capable of delivering 237 horsepower and 250 lb-ft. Shortly after this, Ford designed a 2.3 liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine to produce 280 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.

Ford still moved further to design a four-door, twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine capable of delivering 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. In the last year of this generation, 2019, Ford added more tech features. These include adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay, rain-sensing Wi-Fi, etc.

How Long Do Ford Explorers Last: #6. Sixth Generation (2020 to date)

Ford rolled out the sixth generation of Explorers with a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine able to deliver 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque on a 10-speed automatic transmission.

This generation of Explorers also features tech updates, including Wi-Fi, Android Auto, and Waze navigation, cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, etc.

How Long Do Ford Explorers Last: Ford Explorer Reliability By Year

The most reliable Ford Explorers are notably the 2010 and 2011 models. However, other years like the 2008, 2012, 2013, and 2016 model years perform well too. These models are less likely to give you any issues.

On the other hand, the most unreliable Ford Explorers are the 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006  models. These models have the most complaints of all Ford Explorer model years.

Best Year For Ford Explorer

The best Ford Explorer model years are 2007 through 2012 models. Although among these years, the best performing is the 2010 and 2011 models. These models are very reliable and have had the fewest complaints. According to, users of these model years reported less than 200 complaints.

2017 Ford Explorer Problems

The most common problems with the 2017 Ford Explorer are premature tire wearing, exhaust leaks into the car cabin, and sudden rear window shattering.

  • Early Tire Wearing – Many users complain of factory-produced 2017 Ford Explorer tires wearing out early. This reportedly occurs after the SUV has done about only 20,000 miles.
  • Exhaust Leaks Into The Car Cabin – The 2017 Ford Explorer also has issues with its exhaust. The smell of the exhaust gas leaks into the cabin (find out more in our guide on gas leak in car), especially when you hit the accelerator.
  • Sudden Rear Window Shattering – There have been many complaints regarding the rear window of the 2017 Ford Explorer shattering suddenly and for no apparent reason. This happens even when the car is at rest.

2013 Ford Explorer Problems

The recurring problems with the 2013 Ford Explorer are defective fuel systems, electric power steering glitches, exhaust leakages, detachable wheels, and failing brake hoses.

  • Defective Fuel Systems – Many 2013 Ford Explorer users complain that the SUV’s fuel tank seams come welded improperly. This defect in the fuel system has the potential to cause a fire outbreak.
  • Electric Power Steering Glitches – Another major problem with the 2013 Ford Explorer is problems with its electric power steering. This situation reduces your ability to control the steering and typically demands more effort from you to keep steering the wheel.
  • Detachable Wheels – The wheel bearings of certain 2013 Ford Explorers detach from the wheel while driving. This situation could result in the complete separation of the wheel from the vehicle while in motion.
  • Exhaust Leakages – Owners of the 2013 Ford Explorer complain of poisonous Carbon Monoxide leakages from the exhaust into the car’s cabin.
  • Failing Brake Hoses – The front brake hoses of the 2013 Ford Explorer are prone to failure.

2014 Ford Explorer Problems

2014 Ford Explorer users complain that the SUV has problems with its suspension, engine problems, steering complications, bad toe links, and harmful exhaust gas leaks.

  • Suspension Problems – The 2014 Ford Explorer has issues with some of its suspension components. The rear suspension toe links of this Ford model break almost always. This situation could make you lose steering control.
  • Steering Issues – The 2014 Ford Explorers’ most life-threatening problem is its steering glitches. The power steering of this model can suddenly become difficult to handle or fail impromptu. A loud squeaking sound from beneath the car’s hood usually accompanies this.
  • Water Pump Glitches – Another major issue with the 2014 Ford Explorer is its water pump failing. When this happens, the coolant usually leaks into the oil, thus further complicating issues. This will typically cost you more to put things in order.
  • Harmful Exhaust Gas Leaks – Users of the 2014 Ford Explorer complain about gas leaks. This situation results in a choking carbon monoxide smell in the vehicle’s cabin and typically intensifies under specific driving scenarios.

How Long Do Ford Explorers Last

2018 Ford Explorer Problems

The most common problems with the 2018 Ford Explorer are a faulty fuel pressure sensor that could leak, infotainment and satellite radio issues, transmission problems, and foul-smelling gas in the vehicle’s cabin.

  • Infotainment and Satellite Radio Problems – The satellite radio in this Explorer model loses connection, and the Sync 3 system often misbehaves.
  • Transmission Problems – Many owners of the 2014 Ford Explorer complain of hard downshifts that come along with noise.
  • Foul Gas Smell in Car’s Cabin (forcing you to learn how to get gas smell off hands) – Many owners of the 2018 Ford Explorer also complain of a nauseating foul smell in the vehicle’s cabin, even with all the windows shut.

2011 Ford Explorer Problems

The most significant problems with the 2011 Ford Explorer are suspension problems, power steering issues, and pungent exhaust gas in the car cabin.

  • Power Steering Issues – The power steering of the 2011 Ford Explorer goes out suddenly. When this happens, you will typically need to lean more into the wheel to make turns. Many users also complain about steering locks while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Suspension Problems – A common complaint with this model is fractured toe links in the rear suspension. This situation causes your rear wheels to turn freely in every direction instead of being set in the right direction.
  • Exhaust Gases in the Car Cabin – Many users complain that exhaust Carbon Monoxide gas leaks into the car cabin. This situation becomes intense under certain driving conditions.

2008 Ford Explorer Problems

The problems with the 2008 Ford Explorer are seat cover and airbag issues, heater malfunctioning, defective timing chain cassettes, rough idle and stalling, and transmission problems.

  • Seat and Airbag Problems – The seat covers of the 2008 Ford Explorer interfere with the complete deployment of the airbag. This is because they are made of thread that is heavier than what is compatible with seats with side airbags.
  • Transmission Problems – The bolt that secures the transmission oil cooler line may loosen. This could result in your transmission fluid leaking.

2016 Ford Explorer Problems

The most common 2016 Ford Explorer problems are throttle and check engine light problems, failing power steering, and power loss while the vehicle is in motion.

  • Throttle and check engine light problems – Many users complain that the vehicle suddenly powers down when speeding on highways. The check engine light also comes on after the car begins decelerating.
  • Failing Power Steering – Owners of the 2016 Ford Explorer also complain that the power steering of this vehicle fails suddenly while driving. When this happens, your steering typically becomes more difficult to steer.
  • Power loss while driving – The 2016 Ford Explorer tends to stall suddenly while you drive. Many owners of this Ford model complain about this issue.

2012 Ford Explorer Problems

The most common problems with the 2012 Ford Explorer include body and paint, interior accessories, and a failing power steering.

  • Interior Accessories Problems – Many owners of the 2012 Ford Explorer complain that the armrest of the Explorer cracks.
  • Body and Paint Issues – Most owners also complain that the paint on the vehicle’s hood flakes and cracks.
  • Failing Power Steering – The power steering tends to fail while you drive. This situation makes steering more difficult.

2006 Ford Explorer Problems

The 2006 Ford Explorer has transmission issues, leak radiators, and suffer total engine breakdowns.

  • Transmission Issues – The 2006 Ford Explorer suffers transmission issues. This problem with its transmission system causes it to lunge when you want to shift gears.
  • Leaking Radiators – Many users complain that the radiators of the 2006 Explorer fail after about 65,000 miles.
  • Engine Breakdowns – The crank pulley and other engine components of the 2006 Ford Explorer breakdown typically within the first 80,000 miles.

2002 Ford Explorer Problems

The most problematic issues with the 2002 Ford Explorer are a faulty transmission system, warped body paint, cracked exterior, rusted hood, and shattering rear glass.

  • Faulty Transmission System – The 2002 Ford Explorer is notorious for transmission problems. This problem typically manifests in your inability to switch gears, flashing check engine light (sort of like the flashing check engine light in a Ford), shaking or grinding, burning smell, solenoid failure, and fluid leakages. Most 2002 Ford Explorer users complain of experiencing these problems after just 50,000 miles.
  • Body  Paint Issues and a Cracked Exterior – Many owners of the 2002 Ford Explorer complain that the rear panels of this Explorer have many cracks.
  • Rusted Hood – The aluminum hood of the 2002 Ford Explorer is prone to rust and corrosion.
  • Shattering Rear Glass – The rear lift glass of the 2002 Ford Explorer is very likely to shatter when you attempt to open its rear lift gate. This is due to the defective lift gate brackets.

2010 Ford Explorer Problems

The Ford Explorer 2010 model has significant issues with its transmission system, heating system, rough idle and stalling, worn-out timing chain cassettes, and plastic intake manifold cracks.

  • Transmission Problems – The transmission system of the 2010 Ford Explorer lunges and jolts occasionally. The transmission cam and gear slam into each other. When this happens, it causes your car to accelerate or jerk.
  • Heating Problems – The heater of this Explorer model gets stuck at its highest setting. This situation doesn’t allow you to control the temperature as you would love to. This is due to issues with either its actuator or actuator blend door.
  • Rough Idle and Stalling – Another major complaint by the 2010 Ford Explorer owners is its rough idles and engine stalling.
  • Worn Out Timing Chain Cassettes – 2oo2 Ford Explorers suffer worn-out timing chain cassettes early into acquiring them. This issue usually starts as a rattling sound from your Explorer engine.
  • Plastic Intake Manifold Cracks – The plastic intake manifold of this vehicle is susceptible to cracking. When this happens, typically notice that your Explorer’s coolant begins leaking.

2004 Ford Explorer Problems

The most common complaints about the 2004 Ford Explorer are body and paint issues, a cracked rear window panel, a failing transmission system, and a blinking O/D light. Others include malfunctioning heater, rough idle and stalling, plastic intake manifold cracks, a faulty solenoid, worn-out timing chain cassettes, unpredictable acceleration, and deceleration.

  • Failing Transmission System – Many owners complain that the 2004 Ford Explorer suddenly jumps and slips gears while in motion.
  • Malfunctioning Heaters – A major complaint from owners of the 2004 Ford Explorer owners is that the heater gets stuck at its highest setting and becomes unresponsive to attempts to adjust its setting.  This condition is most often because of the Explorer’s broken heater blend door.
  • Unpredictable Acceleration and Deceleration – Some 2004 Ford Explorers accelerate and decelerate suddenly even without your control. This is common when you try to decelerate to a stop slowly. The car hesitates and suddenly jerks forward.
  • Faulty Solenoid – A well-functioning solenoid allows your SUV’s computer to control transmission fluid pressure and shift gears. The 2004 Ford Explorer is notorious for failing solenoids. This situation typically escalates to affect its engine and transmission system.

2007 Ford Explorer Problems

The most significant problems of the 2007 Ford Explorer are coolant leaks due to plastic intake manifold crack, potential liftgate crack, heater getting stuck at hottest setting, worn timing chain cassettes, rough idle and stalling, cracked exhaust manifold, and possible spark plug ejection.

2005 Ford Explorer Problems

The significant issues with the 2005 Ford Explorer are transmission system issues, brake failures, defective OD lights, faulty air conditioning system, rough idle and stalling, rattling engine noise and failure, and plastic intake manifold cracks.

  • Transmission System Issues – The 2005 Ford Explorer jerks unexpectedly occasionally.  Owners of this Ford Explorer model also complain about unresponsive gears and issues with shifting from one gear to another.
  • Brake Failures – Many users of the 2005 Ford Explorer complain about failing gears, unusual acceleration, and deceleration when driving. The vehicle comes to a halt suddenly and quickly accelerates after automatically shifting gears.
  • Defective OD Lights – The OD lights speed warning light comes on regularly. This still stems from issues with the car’s transmission.
  • Faulty Air Conditioning System – The 2005 Ford Explorer is prone to heating up even when the air conditioner is running. The heater gets stuck at its highest level due to a broken heat blend door.
  • Rough Idle and Stalling – This Ford Explorer model also experiences rough idle and stalling. This happens alongside sudden power loss and misfiring. These problems stem from cracks in the ring gaskets that cause vacuum leaks in the vehicle’s case.
  • Rattling Engine Noise and Failure – This Explorer’s engine bearings and timing chain fail and make a rattling sound.  The wheel bearings are responsible for the movement of most parts of your Explorer’s engine. A rattling sound indicates that your engine bearings and timing chain are failing.
  • Plastic Intake Manifold Cracks – The 2005 Ford Explorer suffers coolant leakage because of cracks on its plastic intake manifold. This situation causes your vehicle’s engine to heat up.

2003 Ford Explorer Problems

The most common problems with the 2003 Ford Explorer are exterior body faults, OD light issues, transmission problems, faulty heating systems, plastic intake manifold cracks, brake failures, rough idle and stalling, and solenoid problems.

2000 Ford Explorer Problems

The 2000 Ford Explorer has common Ford Explorer problems that include OD light issues, potential rear wiper blade failure (which you can fix by learning how to put on windshield wipers), cosmetic crack on the liftgate, and worn timing chain cassettes.

Other issues include exhaust manifold cracks, transmission problems, squealing in front wheels, engine misfiring, faulty heating systems, plastic intake manifold cracks, brake failures, rough idle and stalling, and solenoid problems.

2009 Ford Explorer Problems

The 2009 Ford Explorer problems include wheel bearing failure, rough idle and stalling, heater problems, potential spark plug ejection, and acceleration problems.

Ford Explorer Longevity Facts:

  • The Ford Explorer can reach 200,000 miles when properly maintained, but some design flaws in the third and fifth-generation models may limit its life to just 80,000 miles.
  • Performing suggested maintenance, including the recommended 18-point inspection, can help identify problems before they become serious, thus extending the lifespan of the vehicle.
  • The fifth-generation Ford Explorer faces suspension issues, including corrosion in the rear suspension toe link that can lead to a fracture, and a related recall was issued in several stages through 2021.
  • The fifth-generation model also has issues with cracked engine blocks, leaking coolant, and foul odors in the cabin that may or may not be associated with carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • The third-generation Ford Explorer has a bad transmission that affects model years 2002 to 2006, leading to early vehicle death, and symptoms start with hard shifts or slipping gears.
  • Following a rigorous preventative maintenance schedule can help extend the functional life of a Ford Explorer and reach the legendary 300,000-mile mark.
  • The Explorer’s average cost of annual maintenance is higher than comparable models but crucial to keeping the SUV on the road, averaging around $732 per year for oil changes and repairs.
  • Skipping a repair to save money will only lead to a more expensive fix later, especially when it comes to the engine and transmission.
  • Some owners report reaching over 300,000 miles on their Ford Explorers, while J.D. Power rates the SUV as having average reliability over the years 2010 to present.
  • While some years of the Ford Explorer struggle to stand up to the sterling Ford reputation, the popular sport utility vehicle is still ranked by J.D. Power as one of the 10 best midsize SUVs.

FAQs On How Long Do Ford Explorers Last

Here are some popular FAQs:

Are Ford Explorers Reliable

Ford Explorers are reliable. The overall reliability rating for Ford Explorers based on Motoring Reports is 3.5 out of 5. Although there have been complaints regarding the Explorer over the years, most have been over minor issues. Moreover, they have an average repair cost of $732, which is within the average SUV’s maintenance cost.

How Much Is A Ford Explorer

The present generation of Ford Explorers (2020 till date) ranges in price from $32,765–$58,250. Fifth-generation Ford Explorers (2011 to 2019) go for anywhere between $13,345– $34,766. You can get a fourth-generation Ford Explorer (2006 to 2010) for anywhere between $6,532– $9,496. Third generation (2002 to 2005) Explorers cost about $5,132– $5,698. Furthermore, the second generation (1995 to 2001) Explorers are worth anywhere from $2,712- $3,983. The oldest generation of Ford Explorers (1991 to 1994) cost anywhere from $2,490 -$3,911.

How Much Can A Ford Explorer Tow

The Ford Explorer (2022 model) can tow a maximum of 5,600 lbs of load. Previous models pull less. In general, the towing capacity of your Ford Explorer depends on its generation, trim level, weight distribution, and total passengers.

How Long Is A Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is 198.8 inches long or 16.5 ft long. The 2022 model of the Explorer is this long to accommodate three rows of seats. Ford designed them like this so they can comfortably serve as a family SUV.

Is Ford Explorer A Good Car

Yes! Overall, the Ford Explorer is a good car. Its reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5 places it slightly above average in its class of SUVs. It also ranks 19th out of 26 in its category of SUVs. Although the Explorer has a long trail of significant issues with its transmission and other minor problems, it is still a good car overall.

Ford Explorer How Many Seats

The 2022 Ford Explorer has a maximum seating capacity of 7. Ford designed them to have a front row with two seats, a middle row bench with three seats, and a back row with two seats. The Explorer can seat up to 8 people.

How Much Does A Ford Explorer Weigh

The Ford Explorer varies in weight from 4,345 to 5,076 lbs. This is heavier than most mid-size SUVs but lighter than larger SUVs like the Ford Expedition. The weight of your Ford Explorer depends on what trim level and model year you are using.

Where Are Ford Explorers Made

Ford Explorers are made in the Chicago Assembly plant in North America and The Changan factory in Chongqing, China. However, Ford produced previous generations of ford Explorers in their other assembly plants in Russia and Venezuela.  

How Many Miles Can A Ford Explorer Last

On average, Ford Explorers can last up to 200,000 miles. Some Explorers last up to 300,000 miles. However, the number of miles your Explorer can last depends on how regularly you maintain it, the terrains you frequent, and how well you care for them.

How Much Horsepower Does A Ford Explorer Have

Ford Explorer models and generations have different horsepower ratings depending on their engine type. However, the present generation of Ford Explorers delivers horsepowers ranging from a standard 300hp to 400hp for its premium trim levels. The fifth generation of Ford Explorers has a horsepower ranging from 280hp to 365hp. However, in general, the horsepower of Ford Explorers increased with the more recent model years.

How Tall Is A Ford Explorer

The present generation of Ford Explorers is 69.9 inches in height. The height of the Ford Explorer depends on which generation you are referring to. The first generation of this vehicle is around 67.9 inches tall, while the second and third generations are about 71.4 inches tall.

Do Ford Explorers Hold Their Value

Ford Explorers generally don’t hold value and depreciate faster than their peers. Ford Explorers lose up to 37% of their initial value after five years of using them. This means your Explorer typically loses one-quarter of its initial value in its first two years.

Conclusion On How Long Do Ford Explorers Last

While Ford Explorers are a reliable SUV, they have their fair share of problems. When deciding to get this SUV, you want to know how long your Explorer will last and what challenges you will likely face.

If you are still wondering how long do Ford Explorers last? Your Ford Explorer will last up to 16 years. That is a long time, so you’ll get value for your money.

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1 comment

Tanis Walters 01/03/2024 - 1:03 am

Thinking about buying a fiord explorer 2016 go $15,000 trying to get back croud


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