The 8 Most Common Explorer Problems

We've pulled together a list of the problems Explorer owners.

  1. Door Ajar Light

    Ford owners are dealing with a door ajar warning lights that won’t shut off. 2011-2013 Ford Edge owners, in particular, are having this problem in record numbers. The problem happens just outside the car’s standard warranty and has prompted…

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  2. Rodent Damage

    Newer Ford vehicles use an electrical wire coating that is a more eco-friendly, soy-based material. But maybe it's a little too eco-friendly? There's been an uptick in owner complaints about rodents using the coating as a chew toy and causi…

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  3. Explorer Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

    Exhaust concerns have reached a fevered pitch for the 5th-generation Explorer. There are reports of nausea, headaches, and even carbon monoxide poisoning. Ford reluctantly issued a “complimentary service” program following multiple lawsuits…

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  4. Explorer Cracked Rear Panel

    If you own a 2002-2005 Explorer, chances are your rear lift-gate is cracked. It’s a widespread problem in all Ford-family SUVs from that generation, including the Mercury Mountaineer and Lincoln Aviator. But what’s causing the split?…

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  5. Spark Plugs Ejected in Triton Engine

    Ford Triton engines are spitting out spark plugs like sunflower seeds, but the suits in Detroit act like there isn't any problem. They're wrong. We believe this defect affects the following 2-valve engines: Triton 4.6L V8, 5.4L V8, 6.8L V10…

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  6. Explorer's Exploding Rear Windows

    It doesn't matter if the temperature is hot or cold, or even if the car is moving or parked, the rear windows of some Ford Explorer, Escape, Edge and Mercury Mountaineers SUVs are just exploding at random.

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  7. Ford Aluminum Hood Corrosion and Rust

    Cars are prone to rust, unfortunately that's just the way it is. This is especially true for those who live in rust belt states where salt is used to clear ice from roads. We can fight the onslaught with regular washes and waxing ... unless…

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  8. Explorer Transmission Failure

    Nothing lasts forever and transmissions in early 2000's Ford Explorers are no exception. One dealership claimed 1 out of every 10 Explorers from the 3rd generation will experience a premature transmission failure, and with a typical repair …

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What Explorer Owners Complain About

Sometimes it helps just to tally up the complaints and see where the biggest stacks are. Use this information to learn about troublespots or to run for the hills.

Worst Topics

Worst Years

Explorer Generations

The Explorer has 6 generations, each with their own issues. Using the same PainRank™ system we've determined that you're better off avoiding the 3rd generation (2002–2005).

  1. 6th Generation Explorer

    Years
    2020–2020
    Reliability
    9th of 94
    PainRank
    0.6
    Complaints
    1
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a Explorer
  2. 5th Generation Explorer

    Years
    2011–2019
    Reliability
    85th of 94
    PainRank
    39.52
    Complaints
    1689
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a Explorer
  3. 4th Generation Explorer

    Years
    2006–2010
    Reliability
    86th of 94
    PainRank
    41.52
    Complaints
    1117
    Continue Front 3/4 view of a Explorer
  4. 3rd Generation Explorer

    Years
    2002–2005
    Reliability
    94th of 94
    PainRank
    123.38
    Complaints
    9096
    Continue
  5. 2nd Generation Explorer

    Years
    1995–2001
    Reliability
    76th of 94
    PainRank
    28.75
    Complaints
    940
    Continue
  6. 1st Generation Explorer

    Years
    1991–1994
    Reliability
    46th of 94
    PainRank
    7.06
    Complaints
    99
    Continue

Explorer Key Numbers

  1. 12,945 complaints

    Running tally of owner grievances filed to CarComplaints.com.

  2. 1,403 service bulletins

    Documenting the process of troubleshooting common problems.

  3. 80 recall campaigns

    Time-sensitive, free repairs for widespread safety problems.

Recent Explorer News

There's a lot of news out there, but not all of it matters. We try to boil down it to the most important bits about things that actually help you with your car problem. Interested in getting these stories in an email? Signup for free email alerts over at CarComplaints.com.

  1. Tagged
    #recall
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    Ford is recalling a problem that can cause a sudden loss of power while driving or an unexpected rollaway while parking. Neither of these things are ideal.

    The issue revolves around excess vibration that can prematurely snap a link shaft bracket somewhere in the powertrain. I'm guessing the transmission? Maybe the flux capacitor? Who can say for sure.…

  2. Tagged
    #recall
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    Ford needs to repair 18 driveshafts that they believe have fractured weld seams.

    Only trouble is they'll have to recall a heck of a lot of vehicles to find them. The affected vehicles are all 2020 Ford Explorers or Lincoln Aviators built in Chicago between 08/24/2019 and 09/30/2019. That's roughly 12,200 vehicles.

    So while less than 1% will actually have the problem, it's imperative that all affected owners bring their SUVs in for inspection.…

  3. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    A Texas man has been awarded $4.8 million dollars for losing his arm after his 1999 Ford Explorer rolled over in a crash.

    Ford was held liable for using a cheap tempered window glass that didn’t do what tempered glass is designed to do.

    The jury ruled there was a design defect in the 1999 Ford Explorer when it was originally sold by Ford, a defect that caused the plaintiff to lose his arm. And when asked to determine how much Ford was responsible for his injuries, the jury ruled Ford held 90 percent liability.

    On the surface, this sounds like a win for the little guy against a major corporation, but that line gets a bit blurry when you consider:

    1. The plaintiff was twice the legal intoxication limit when he crashed.
    2. The jury couldn’t bring themselves to hold Ford 100% liable for the crash because the dude still had original suspension parts on his SUV with over 300,000 miles on the odometer.

    The details of the case almost have you sympathizing with Ford. But then you remember the company’s net worth is around $143 billion and they used cheap glass to save a few bucks back (at our expense) in 1999.

  4. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) says enough with the "special programs" and "complimentary service" campaigns,

    it's time for an extensive recall program for 1.3 million Explorers with carbon monoixide problems. The CAS says the SUVs have cracked exhaust manifolds that allow carbon monoxide to enter the cabins and that claims about CO exposure have increased 900% since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation a year and a half ago. That's not even counting the thousands of complaints sent by owners to Ford and sites like CarComplaints.com.

    The "complimentary service" program only lasts until December 31st of this year. The CAS is looking for something more permanent, saying it is possible that Ford and Ford’s customers have just been lucky up until this point, but the time for Ford to take more serious action is now, before that luck runs out.

  5. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    The Austin Texas police department is starting to put Ford Explorer Police Interceptors back into service after pulling all 397 off the streets earlier this year.

    An additional 42 used by other city departments were pulled as well. The issue is exposure to carbon monoxide. After multiple officers complained about feeling sick the department made a move to equip all the SUVs with carbon monoxide detectors. Multiple officers filed lawsuits against Ford. At least one officer says the exposure led to nerve damage. Yikes.…

  6. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    Another day, another police officer accusing Ford of negligently poisoning them while on the job.

    Austin police officer Ryan Hancock says his symptoms (nausea, headaches and vision problems ) continued the next day and caused him to seek medical help. According to the lawsuit, tests conducted at the hospital showed his symptoms were from carbon monoxide poisoning. Furthermore, the plaintiff says his nervous system has been damaged by the fumes.

    Hancock is represented by Brian Chase, the same attorney repressing officer Zachary LaHood in another carbon monoxide lawsuit against the automaker.…

  7. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    The free customer program may sound good to some Explorer owners, but the Center for Auto Safety says the program doesn't go far enough and the automaker should not be allowed to get by with anything less than an official recall.

    Recalls are reserved for safety-related issues. Ford obviously doesn’t think this qualifies, but in my opinion they’re wrong.

    By calling it a “service campaign,” the automaker doesn’t have to follow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) rules for notifying all owners. Instead, only owners who hear about the campaign through other means will get the repairs.…

  8. Tagged
    #investigation
    Posted on

    Ford will finally address Explorer owner’s concerns about exhaust entering their cabin. Just don’t call it a recall.

    From David Woods on CarComplaints.com Ford announced "complimentary service" for 1.4 million model year 2011-2017 non-police Explorers in North America. Ford insists the SUVs are perfectly safe to drive and the "complimentary service" is not an official recall.

    For whatever reason, Ford appears dead set against recalling this problem. In July 2017, the automaker created a “special program” to fix carbon monoxide (CO) exposure in Explorer Interceptor police vehicles.…

  9. Tagged
    #investigation
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    NHTSA isn’t too happy with Ford’s response to the carbon monoxide problem. Welcome to the club.

    Ford tested 4 Explorers, some that had been repaired using the steps recommended in TSBs, and didn’t find a problem.

    Ford says all these CO levels are well below any standards, especially since investigators found only “momentary" levels that quickly disappeared. In addition, when investigators allegedly drove the SUVs without using wide-open throttles, the carbon monoxide levels were zero.

    NHTSA took Ford’s “there’s nothing to see here” conclusion under advisement, and then promptly upgraded their investigation to an “engineering analysis.” They also expanded it to include the 2011-2017 Explorer, roughly 840,000 vehicles total.

    Game on.

  10. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    There’s a new Explorer carbon monoxide lawsuit in town, and this one is expanding the size of the problem.

    [Plaintiff Mary] Boatner says that on July 6 she drove the Explorer from Alabama to Michigan and noticed a strong chemical odor. Ms. Boatner rolled down her windows for fresh air but the odor was still there … When Ms. Boatner arrived in Michigan, and for several days thereafter, she allegedly experienced restlessness, lack of focus, fatigue, nausea and headaches.

    Mrs. Boatner owns a 2017 Explorer, which falls outside the scope of the current NHTSA investigation.…

  11. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    Ford Explorer Police Interceptor carbon monoxide problems have led to three police officers suing the automaker after they allegedly crashed their patrol vehicles.

    One of the officers is from Austin. The other suffered a dangerous crash after passing out in their patrol car.

    Ford has been working with police departments to inspect the SUVs and seal any spaces created when aftermarket police-related equipment was installed in the rear of the Explorers.

  12. Tagged
    #news
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    Ford Police Interceptor carbon monoxide leaks will be repaired by Ford in a special program created for Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles, including sedans and Explorer SUVs.

    Hey, look who showed up! Nice of Ford to finally join the discussion. Ford is limiting this program to the police fleet, because it believes the modifications made to these vehicles – for lights and special equipment – are causing the problems.

    The repair program does not apply to non-police Explorers because owners of those vehicles report exhaust fumes entering the cabins, while Explorer Police Interceptor drivers report getting sick from carbon monoxide.

    Since when are fumes entering the cabin are ok?…

  13. Tagged
    #investigation
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    A NHTSA Ford Explorer exhaust manifold investigation has been upgraded and expanded to include more than 1.3 million model year 2011-2017 Ford Explorer consumer SUVs and Police Interceptors.

    I’m not sure what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was waiting for here. Ford has already settled one lawsuit, consumers continue to complain about headaches, police officers are passing out, and city officials want the SUVs off the road.

    Out of 2,719 complaints filed to NHTSA, there were 41 reported injuries and 3 crashes. For what it’s worth, NHTSA says there’s currently no proof that carbon monoxide caused these problems.

    Ford, meanwhile, has received 1,254 warranty claims, 606 reports from dealers and 55 legal claims.

    What. A. Nightmare.

  14. Tagged
    #news
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    A Texas police department has yanked 60 Ford Explorer police vehicles off the streets after carbon monoxide detectors activated in all 60 SUVs.

    This is the same department that installed CO detectors across its fleet a few months ago. I’m guessing they didn’t like the results.

    City officials are considering taking about 400 of the Ford Explorer Police Interceptor SUVs completely off the roads until someone can determine what is causing the problems.

    City officials want the SUVs off the road, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is in town investigating … so where the heck is Ford in all of this?

  15. Tagged
    #news
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    This ever-widening carbon monoxide problem is a potential disaster for Ford, one that they should plug up immediately.

    In April 2017, [an] officer was driving in Henderson, Louisiana, when she passed out and the Ford Explorer police SUV flipped over. Local media reports say the officer was taken to a hospital and tests confirmed she suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning … According to witnesses, the Explorer wasn't speeding and state authorities say there is no evidence alcohol played a part in the crash.

    Consumers are complaining of headaches, police departments are installing CO detectors across their Explorer fleets, and officers are passing out, flipping over, and landing in canals. This is as cringeworthy as it gets.

  16. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    A lawsuit concerning Ford Explorer exhaust leaks has been dropped in Illinois.

    A Ford Explorer exhaust leak lawsuit is over as a federal judge granted the wishes of Ford to dismiss the proposed class-action lawsuit.

    The lawsuit never made it to the class-action stage as the plaintiff couldn't prove his case. The judge ruled the plaintiff didn't provide enough details to prove the Ford Explorer has defects that allow exhaust fumes and carbon monoxide to enter the cabin.

    This is a setback, but not a death blow for Explorer owners wanting nationwide action for carbon monoxide poisoning. The plaintiff in this case was given a chance to amend his complaint, but failed to do so.

  17. Tagged
    #news
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    Exhaust odor complaints in the Ford Explorer continue to seep in.

    The Austin Police Department has announced they plan to install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in the 360 Explorers in their fleet. Police officials say recent reports suggest officers may be getting ill from carbon monoxide poisoning in the SUVs, a problem serious enough that a safety bulletin was released on February 27, 2017.

    The bulletin says two incidents have been reported within the Austin PD after an officer got lightheaded while driving the Explorer, and another report of a suspicious odor experienced by a sergeant driving an SUV.

    Nearly three years ago, a Florida resident sued Ford after feeling sick from exhaust fumes entering the cabin of her Explorer.

    The police department plans to use stickers that change color if CO is detected, costing about $50 per vehicle. Carbon monoxide detectors are often required by law in the home, are cars next?

  18. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    Defective electronic throttle bodies (ETB) are causing Ford vehicles to suddenly decelerate and enter "limp home" mode, which is like trying to drive a snail through a molasses puddle.

    A lawsuit that is seeking class-action certification wants Ford to fix their ETBs.

    "The plaintiff wants Ford to pay damages and equitable relief, fix all vehicles named in the lawsuit by replacing the electronic throttle bodies, inform consumers through advertising campaigns about the dangers of sudden unintended deceleration and educate consumers about their pre-purchase or pre-lease legal rights once all the facts are known."…

  19. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    'Tis the season for holiday cookies, silent nights, a dashboard that stays lit like a Christmas tree, and frantically stepping on the gas pedal wondering why your SUV is no longer accelerating.

    OK, those last two are special "treats" for 2016 Ford Explorer owners. Owners complain about vehicles that lose power while driving, leaving drivers urgently pressing the gas pedals to no avail. Symptoms typically include seeing a "wrench light" illuminated with the words, "See Manual," all while the SUV loses speed as it enters "limp home mode."

    If this has happened to you than you'll be happy to hear an investigation has been opened to determine if a lawsuit is needed. It's not as helpful as a recall, but it's a step in the right direction. The investigation is focusing on the throttle body – a part, which many owners have told us, is not readily available.

  20. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    A settlement has been reached. This all went down shortly before the trial was set to begin.

    If the court finalizes the settlement, the plaintiffs will include anyone who purchased or leased a 2011-2015 Ford Explorer from Florida Ford dealerships.

    Well, that’s great for Florida residents but it stinks for everyone else. And Explorer owners know all about what stinks.

    Hopefully this settlement will lay the groundwork for future action nationwide.

  21. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    MyFord Touch intended to bring sophisticated technological control to your vehicle’s center console.

    Emphasis on intended because the system is well-known for failures. While a glitchy navigation system is an inconvenience, a proposed class-action lawsuit says the system can be dangerous in how it limits access to basic vehicle functions.

    Ford is on the receiving end of a proposed class-action lawsuit filed in a California court. The lawsuit claims the system is a safety hazard because it often fails and can cause serious problems with the defroster and rear-view camera.

    Common complaints about MyFord Touch include a terrible navigation experience, rear-view camera failure, issues controlling the temperature, no way to turn on the defroster, and more.

  22. Tagged
    #investigation
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    Following 154 complaints and an ongoing lawsuit in Florida, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has decided to open an investigation into exhaust fumes entering 2011-2015 Ford Explorer SUVs.

    Typical complaints say exhaust fumes enter the cabins while the Explorers are operating at full throttle, such as when going uphill or merging onto freeways. Owners of the 2011-2015 Ford Explorers also say the fumes can be triggered by turning on the air conditioning in recirculation mode.

    The smells have led to headaches, nausea, and concerns of carbon monoxide poisoning.

    NHTSA says nearly 639,000 model year 2011-2015 Ford Explorer SUVs are included in the investigation.

  23. Tagged
    #recall
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    Ford is bringing back some 2016 F-150s and Explorers because the driver's seat could pop off in a crash.

    The automaker says the seatback may not have been properly welded and could fail to hold the driver in a crash.

    The recall is expected to start on August 15th, 2016.

  24. Tagged
    #recall
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    The engine block heaters in the 2016 Explorer are taking "warming up the car" to a whole new level ... by setting the engines on fire.

    Ford Says a "bad combination of the engine block and heater can cause the heater to catch on fire, something that has occurred at least two times in Canada. Fortunately the fires didn't cause any accidents or injuries.

    Ford didn't say when the recall will begin.

  25. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on

    Ford has asked a court to throw out a lawsuit about exhaust odors inside Explorers Despite issuing a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) titled Explorer Exhaust Odor in Vehicle.

    Not surprisingly their appeal was denied.

    Ford filed the motion to dismiss by claiming it wasn't responsible for breach of warranty claims because Sanchez-Knutson bought her Ford Explorer from a dealer, not directly from Ford. U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas didn't buy that argument, and he further rejected Ford's claim that only the federal government has jurisdiction in the exhaust claims.”…

  26. Tagged
    #lawsuit
    Posted on
    Source
    carcomplaints.com

    A Florida woman says her 5th generation Explorer is poisoning both her and her 5-year-old daughter with exposure to carbon monoxide (CO).

    The plaintiff says she complained about exhaust odors inside the cabin 8 times to a local dealership, only to be told the stink won’t hurt anyone. Yeah, about that.

    The lawsuit claims independent testing of the Ford Explorer confirmed carbon monoxide was entering the cabin of the vehicle while it was being driven.

    The CO allegedly builds up when the auxiliary rear air conditioning is on and the engine is running at a higher RPM. This matches up with other stories told by owners to CarComplaints.com, saying the problem also happens during heavy acceleration:

    When I accelerate fast, the exhaust enters the vehicle from the AC unit. It is only a matter of time before a child that is strapped into his seat dies of C.M. poisoning! The smell is extremely worse in the back seat, never mind sitting in the 3rd row! You would probably die a silent death rather quickly!

    None of this should come as a surprise to Ford, considering they issued a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB 12-12-4) in December 2012 titled Explorer Exhaust Odor in Vehicle.

    The TSB tells mechanics how to respond if a customer makes a stink about the stank:

    Some 2011 - 2013 Explorer vehicles may exhibit an exhaust odor in the vehicle with the auxiliary climate control system on. Customers may indicate the odor smells like sulfur. This Technical Service Bulletin contains steps to correct the condition, including replacing the left side rear air extractor, installing a new drain valve, and applying new layers of undercoating.