Discover the Ford Explorer Years to Avoid for Used Models and Common Issues

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you a Ford Explorer fanatic? Are you on the hunt for the perfect SUV but worried about potential issues that may arise with certain model years?

Fear not, as we unveil the years you should steer cleprovide insightar of when searching for your dream ride.

From transmission failures to faulty power steering, we’ll guide you through the treacherous terrain of the Ford Explorer’s problematic years include, 2002 – 2006, 2013, 2014, and 2016.

Buckle up and get ready to become an expert on which years to avoid and discovered the best years for Ford Explorer, while car-shopping.

Worst Ford Explorer Years to Avoid

Ford explorer years to avoid
©Photo Credit: DepositPhotos

Which are the worst years of the Ford Explorer and reasons you must avoid them? Most owners reported sundry issues and common problems for 2002 – 2006, 2013, 2014, and 2016 model years.

Main complaints during these years include transmission problems, wheel bearing failure, timing chain guides, water pump leakage, and faulty power steering.

Often, these costly repairs occurred after the factory warranties had expired. So, when considering purchasing a used Ford Explorer, keep these years in mind to prevent unexpected issues.

What are The Common Problems?

  • Transmission Issues

One of the most widely reported problems with some Ford Explorer models, particularly 2002-2006 and 2016, is transmission issues.

As a potential buyer, you may face problems like hard shifting, slipping out of gear, or even complete transmission failure. This is especially true for those looking for a used Ford Explorer.

Here are some of the most common transmission issues:

  • Transmission slipping when changing gears
  • Difficulty in acceleration
  • Unusual noises during shifting

Make sure to carefully inspect the transmission on any used Ford Explorer you are considering to avoid expensive repairs down the line.

  • Engine Problems

Engine problems are also commonly reported in some Ford Explorers. One prevalent issue is the rough idle and stalling caused by vacuum leaks resulting from the deterioration of the O-ring gaskets on the intake manifold.

This problem can potentially lead to catastrophic engine damage. Apart from this, other engine problems you may encounter include:

  • Timing chain guide failures
  • Water pump leakage

Keep an eye out for these problems, especially when dealing with the first and second-generation models.

  • Electrical Issues

Electrical problems are not uncommon in the Explorer, with most common complaints involving interior accessories, windows, and windshields.

While the electrical problems might not always be as severe as transmission or engine issues, they can still be a nuisance and cause inconvenience for you as the owner.

Some commonly reported electrical issues include:

  • Faulty power steering in 2013, 2014, and 2016 models
  • Power window malfunctions
  • Electrical system failures

Specific Model Year Problems

Let’s get deeper by focusing on the first, second, fifth, and sixth generations. We’ll provide insight into the issues you may encounter if you’re considering purchasing a used Explorer from these time periods.

First Generation (1991-1994)

The first-generation Ford Explorer – 1991-1994 – is an iconic mid-size SUV that paved the way for this popular model.

However, you should be cautious about choosing one due to the issues with reliability scores and a high number of complaints. Some primary issues for these years include engine stalls, transmission replacement, and exhaust odor.

During these years, Ford Ranger and Ford Explorer platforms were similar, which meant that the manual transmissions were faulty. Read what years to avoid for Ranger pickup! vs the best Ranger models to consider.

Additionally, you’ll find that these models lacked the refined safety features and powerful engines that later generations would boast. Therefore, you may want to consider skipping the first-generation Ford Explorer.

Second Generation (1995-2001)

The second-generation Ford Explorer –  1995-2001 – saw improvements in safety features and a shift towards four-wheel drive capabilities.

However, this generation still had its share of problems. Key issues include maintenance costs, susceptibility to engine failures, and lackluster fuel economy.

Although powerful and spacious, these models often required high maintenance costs. Plus, higher trims tended to have more significant issues. So, you might find yourself dealing with costly repairs if you invest in a used second-generation Explorer.

Fifth Generation (2011-2019)

The fifth-generation Ford Explorer – 2011-2019 – ushered in a more contemporary design and a switch to a unibody platform.

During these years, the Ford Edge and Ford Expedition were also popular options. While generally reliable, some model years, such as 2011 and 2016, faced a large number of complaints.

Concerns specific to this generation include rear-wheel drive system issues and subpar reliability scores. In some cases, owners even reported unpleasant exhaust odors inside the cabin.

Due to these problems, you may want to exercise caution when considering a fifth-generation Ford Explorer.

Sixth Generation (2020-present)

The latest sixth-generation Ford Explorer (2020-present) features an updated design and improved technology.

However, you might want to wait before purchasing a used version, as the first model year of any generation tends to experience growing pains.

For example, the 2020 Ford Explorer faced initial reliability issues and numerous complaints about its transmission. While it offers a sleek design, advanced safety features, and a powerful engine, you should weigh these benefits against the potential for problems with this new generation.

Recalls and Lawsuits

Class-Action Lawsuits

In recent years, there have been several class-action lawsuits involving the Ford Explorer.

Many of these lawsuits are aimed at addressing the numerous issues vehicle owners have encountered with certain model years of the Explorer.

For example, there was a lawsuit targeting the faulty power steering in the 2013 model year.

As a potential buyer of a used car, it’s essential to be aware of these lawsuits, which can give you valuable insights into the issues you might face aware with specific Ford Explorer models.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is another crucial entity when researching the Ford Explorer models to avoid.

Some of the common Ford Explorer recalls have been related to:

  • Spark plugs
  • Seat belts
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Rear window
  • Wrench light (indicating a transmission issue)

To stay informed about any significant problems with specific Ford Explorer models, it’s helpful to check NHTSA’s website for any recalls that may have been issued.

This will give you a better understanding of what to expect from certain model years in terms of reliability and safety.

Additionally, consider standard features and options when assessing a used Explorer. Some vehicles offer additional safety features that may mitigate recalls or potential issues within that model year.

Best Years for Ford Explorer and Reliability by Year

Like for any used vehicle, it’s vitally important to not only know which model years stand out as the best options, painstakingly point out the ones that meets your budget and needs.

This model comes with either a 4.0-liter SOHC V6 or a 5.0-liter V8 engine, paired with a five-speed automatic transmission, producing 205 horsepower at 5,250 RPM and 240 pound-feet of peak torque at 3,250 RPM.

To help you make an informed decision, here are a few of the best Ford Explorer years and their highlights.

The 2018

The 2018 Ford Explorer is a great choice for its reliability and updated features. In this model, you’ll enjoy the benefits of a comfortable ride and a powerful engine, along with better fuel efficiency than earlier versions.

The 2017

Another excellent year for the Explorer is 2017, which boasts superior reliability ratings and the potential to travel over 200,000 miles with proper maintenance. Additionally, the 2017 model offers a comfortable interior and user-friendly technology features.

The 2010

If you’re looking for an older model with a proven track record, the 2010 Ford Explorer is worth considering.

This year offers a very reliable engine, a spacious interior, and impressive towing capabilities. Plus, the 2010 version is known to have fewer common problems than other years.

The 2011

Similarly, the 2011 Ford Explorer provides the same reliability as the 2010 version but with a touch of modernity.

The 2011 model comes with upgraded technology and safety features while maintaining the powerful engine, making it an excellent choice for those wanting an older vehicle with a few more contemporary touches.

In summary, some of the best years for the Ford Explorer include 2018, 2017, 2010, and 2011. Each of these model years offers a balance of reliability, performance, and desirable features that make them ideal choices for your next Ford Explorer purchase.

More Buying Tips for a Used Car

First it’s essential to avoid the worst and most problematic model years and focus only on the best years with overall higher reliability and performance scores, better affordability ratings and budget friendly maintenance cost.

Get SUV that last 200k miles: The more recent options from like the 2017 model tend to have fewer complaints and offer improved reliability, with some even lasting over 200,000 miles with proper maintenance.

Lower mileage: Options with lower mileage to reduce the risk of more extensive mechanical problems down the road. It’s essential to thoroughly investigate the vehicle’s history and service records to obtain a clear understanding of any previous issues.

Body issues: Pay special attention to reported issues regarding body paint, interior accessories, and electrical systems, as these can be costly to repair. Additionally, ensure the vehicle has an automatic transmission in good condition, as they have been a source of many problems in the past.

The coolant leaks: It’s also a good idea to check for any coolant leaks, which could indicate issues with the radiator or other components.

Cargo space: Inspect the cargo space and overall interior to ensure it meets your needs, as some older Ford Explorer models may show signs of wear and tear, potentially affecting the vehicle’s overall value.

Technology and features: In terms of technology and convenience features, seek modern Ford Explorers that support Apple CarPlay, as this can significantly enhance your driving experience.

Cars that offer excellent handling and satisfactory fuel economy, like the Land Rover, will provide a smoother, more enjoyable driving experience.

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Discover the Ford Explorer Years to Avoid for Used Models and Common Issues

Are you a Ford Explorer fanatic? Are you on the hunt for the perfect SUV but worried about potential issues that may arise with certain model years? Fear not, as we unveil the years you

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