Ford Explorer Years To Avoid

Ford Explorer Years To Avoid – Which Years Are The Worst?

Are you looking for a used Ford Explorer and you are looking to learn the Ford Explorer years to avoid? Well, if this is the case, then you are at the right place because this article will be all about this model and we are going to find out all you need to know.

Performing thorough research is probably the key if you don’t want to get a lemon vehicle. But what is a lemon? Well, a lemon in general terms is any vehicle that has a lot of issues. In other words, it has so many issues that you cannot have a day of rest from this car and you just can’t wait to get rid of it. In worst cases, you might even want to throw it off a cliff.

So, you get the idea of what is a lemon. This is why you need to do thorough research on a car before you buy should be one of your top priorities. You need to study the problems and learn more about the vehicle.

There are hundreds of models and each of these has different generations and each one of them has different problems. And if you want to find a good purchase, you need to learn more about them. But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to help you out.

First, we are going to learn what is the Ford Explorer, then we will cover the last three generations of this model and find out the specs, common problems, reliability, best years, and also the Ford Explorer years to avoid. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.

What Is The Ford Explorer

Now before we start discussing the generations of the Ford Explorer and learn more about the different Ford Explorer models. Let’s take a look at what the Ford Explorer is and understand a little bit about the core concept of this car.

So, what is the Ford Explorer? Well, the Ford Explorer is Ford’s take on the mid-size crossover SUV market. This model currently is placed in between the smaller Ford Edge and the bigger Ford Expedition model.

Ford Explorer Years To Avoid

This model was introduced in 1991 and as of today, six generations were released on the market. Which is a crazy number of Ford SUVs and Ford created an extensive legacy when it comes to the Explorer badge.

Nowadays the Explorer is really popular when it comes to government fleet vehicles and greatly replaced the good old Ford Victoria Police Interceptor as well as the Ford Taurus.

Nevertheless, this model even though it has some fair share of issues, sells in really high numbers and is probably one of the best-selling vehicles in the US. Averaging about 230,000 units per year as of today. Although in its heyday it sold 430,000 units annually. Which is a crazy amount of cars.

That was in the past. But still, we are going to cover these generations and learn more about them in the following chapters. As well as their common problems and the Ford Explorer years to avoid.

Ford Explorer Generations

Now let’s dive into the generations of the Ford Explorer. In the following chapters, we are going to cover the last four generations of this model.

We will focus on the specs, and we will learn the basics when it comes to the dimensions and size, engines, and transmissions used. Also, their common problems as well as the best years and the Ford Explorer years to avoid.

Third Generation Ford Explorer (2002 – 2005)

We will start with the third generation of the Ford Explorer. This generation was a major revision of the second generation that was rather successful and there were changes that were made to update the looks for the 21st century.

This model is known under the U152 codename. This new model broke apart from the legacy of the Ford Ranger and Ford purposely built this model as a proper SUV. Still, it retained the body on frame design but for this vehicle, Ford created a new chassis from the ground up instead borrowing from the Ranger.

This model had a wheelbase of 113.7 inches and an overall length of 189.5 inches which places this model in the mid-size category of vehicles.

In terms of trims, there were a few. The XLS, XLT, NBX, Eddie Bauer, and Limited. But what about the Ford Explorer years to avoid? More on that we will cover in a bit.

Engines & Transmissions

In terms of engines, we can say that there were two engine options. A 4.0L Ford Cologne V6 produces 210hp and 254lb-ft of torque. While the second was a more powerful engine, a 4.6L Ford Modular V8 engine outputting 239hp and 282lb-ft of torque.

In terms of transmissions, there were a few. One Mazda 5-speed manual transmission and two Ford 5-speed automatics. But what about the Ford Explorer years to avoid? More on that in a bit.

Fuel Economy

The fuel economy of this model was rather poor. It only got 14 mpg in the city, 19 mpg on the highway, and 16 mpg combined.

Safety

The safety of this model was good for the time being. But not as good for today’s standards. You still have airbags and ABS. But considering that this vehicle is 20 years old, we cannot say that it is built for 2022 standards. But what about the Ford Explorer years to avoid? More on that in a bit.

Ford Explorer Problems

When it comes to problems, this model is probably one of the most recorded cars on carcomplaints.com. The 2002 model year has almost 4,000 complaints of which 1,500 are on the automatic transmission. A lot of people reported failures and problems with shifting.

The second most reported problem with 600 complaints is the cracked plastic panel below the rear window. There is a ton of cheap plastic used on this model.

In addition to these problems, there are a lot of electrical issues as well with malfunctioning accessories. And 163 reports for the shift lever falling off. Yes, that’s right, build quality was not one of the perks in 2002.

2003 was not much better with almost 2,000 reports, and also a lot for the same plastic panel in the rear that was prone to cracking. But also, the paint was a big problem as well. It tends to fade.

In addition to this, there were engine failures reported on the 2003 model with the V6 engine because of a bad timing chain. The tensioner fails and causes the chain to jump and fail.

The 2005 model was again problematic when it comes to transmissions. There were a number of failures. But what are the Ford Explorer years to avoid? More on that in a bit.

Ford Explorer Reliability

When it comes to reliability, we can say that the model is reliable if you get the right engine. Which is the 4.6L V8. As well as a manual transmission if you can. The V6 has a weak timing chain and automatic transmissions in the 2002 and 2005 model years tend to fail.

Best Year For Ford Explorer

When it comes to this model the best is probably to go for a 2004 or 2005 model. These have the least reports on issues.

Ford Explorer Years To Avoid

When it comes to the Ford Explorer years to avoid, we would definitely recommend avoiding 2002 and 2004. These model years have the most reports on problems. Also, avoid the V6 engine because of timing chain issues.

Fourth Generation Ford Explorer (2006 – 2010)

The fourth generation of the Explorer was introduced in 2005 and released in 2006. The model stayed in production till 2010 when it was replaced with the new generation.

What is important with this model is that mainly retained the specs from the previous generation. And we cannot say that this is a true next-generation model unless you count the introduction of AUX input on the stereo and the implementation of other more contemporary equipment for the time being.

The wheelbase stayed the same at 113.7 inches and an overall length of 192.4 inches. What was most distinguishing about this new generation were the looks, a new front fascia with a lot of chrome was introduced.

Also, this model is a body-on-frame similar to the predecessor. This model was assembled at the factory in Louisville, Kentucky. But what about the Ford Explorer years to avoid? More on that in a bit.

Engines & Transmissions

In terms of engines, the existing engines were retained. The 4.0L V6 engine produced 210hp and 254lb-ft of torque. And the 4.6L V8 produced 292hp and 315lb-ft of torque.

In terms of transmissions, there were two, a 5-speed automatic, and a 6-speed automatic.

Fuel Economy

The fuel economy improved insignificantly, with 14 mpg in the city, 20 mpg on the open road, and 16 mpg combined.

Safety

The model from this generation was crash tested by the IIHS and got good scores on most of their tests. But overall, it got an Acceptable score for the 2006 model. There were a few issues with the pelvis injuries as well as a low performance of the safety cage structure that not made it to get the highest score. But what are the Ford Explorer years to avoid? More on that in a bit.

Ford Explorer Problems

On this generation of the Explorer, there were a lot of reports concerning the automatic transmission. The transmission delivered extremely hard shifts and also it had problems with hesitation. Overall, a pretty clunky transmission. There were many failures reported as well on the 2006 model.

The 2006 model also had a ton of radiator leaks and other issues with the cooling system. Engine problems with the 4.0L V6 were also reported, namely failures, and blown head gaskets.

But as the years, went by, problems have reduced quite significantly. But what are the Ford Explorer years to avoid? More on that in a moment.

Ford Explorer Reliability

The reliability of the 2006 and 2007 models is rather poor. Especially if you go after the 4.0L engine with automatic transmission.

We would advise you to go for the 4.6L V8 with manual possibly if you want something more reliable. But what about the Ford Explorer years to avoid? More on this in a moment.

Best Year For Ford Explorer

When it comes to the best years of this model, we can say that 2008, 2009, and 2010 are really good and quite reliable.

Ford Explorer Years To Avoid

When it comes to this generation, you definitely want to avoid the 2006 and 2007 models. These have cooling and transmission problems.

Fifth Generation Ford Explorer (2010 – 2019)

The fifth generation of the Explorer was introduced in 2010 and 2011 was the first model year. This generation was produced until 2019 when it was replaced with the sixth generation. The model was assembled at the Chicago Assembly, in Chicago, Illinois.

The new model was revolutionary because it ditched the old body on frame design for some more contemporary unibody design. This allowed many suspension improvements to be introduced and this made the Explorer a proper modern SUV.

The wheelbase of this model is 112.6 inches and the overall length is 197.2 inches. It has a curb weight of 4,385lbs to 4,901lbs depending on the model. But what about the Ford Explorer year to avoid? More on that in a bit.

Engines & Transmissions

In terms of engines, there was a whole lineup of new EcoBoost engines. A 2.0L, 2.3L, and 3.5L V6 EcoBoost engine. There were still two naturally aspirated ones. A 3.5L V6 and a 3.7L V6.

In terms of transmissions, there were three of them and all three were 6-speed automatics.

Fuel Economy

The fuel economy of the 2.0L EcoBoost was rated at 20 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined.

Safety

The safety of the car was quite improved in comparison to the previous generations with the unibody design. Allowing the implementation of new technologies made this model far more reliable. And got overall 5-stars on the NHTSA tests. But what about the Ford Explorer years to avoid? More on that in a bit.

Ford Explorer Problems

In terms of issues, there were a number of problems reported on the Explorer. Namely, the paint bubbling with rust underneath on 2011, 2012, and 2013 models. Especially on the hood.

Throttle body failures on the engines were common as well as some cooling issues were present in these new engines as well. Namely, water pump failures on the Cyclone V6.

Other problems included exhaust fumes in the cab on the 2014 model. But overall, fairly minor problems.

Ford Explorer Reliability

When it comes to reliability, we can say that this generation is sort of reliable. It has some fair share of problems but still is not the worst we saw.

Namely, the 3.5L V6 engines are quite reliable engines. Overall mechanically, these engines are far better than the 4.0L in the previous generation of the Explorer. But what about the Ford Explorer years to avoid? More on that in a bit.

Best Year For Ford Explorer

When it comes to the best year for this model, we would advise you to go for a newer model year. 2018 and 2019 have the least reports from any model year. So, these two years are the logical choice.

Ford Explorer Years To Avoid

When it comes to the Ford Explorer years to avoid, we would say that you should avoid 2013, 2014, and 2016. The 2016 model has a ton of problems with throttle body failures. So, definitely avoid this year.

Sixth Generation Ford Explorer (2019 – Present)

The sixth generation of the Explorer was introduced in 2019 and 2020 was the first model year of this generation. As of today, this model is still in production.

What is interesting about this model is that it is heavily upgraded in comparison to the previous generation but overall it keeps the same wheelbase of 119.1 inches and overall length of 198.8 inches. Also, the weight is pretty much the same, ranging from 4,345lbs to 4,727lbs.

Even though it looks like an upgrade, this model is built on a different platform. The CD6 platform is shared between the Explorer and the Lincoln Aviator. But what are the Ford Explorer years to avoid? More on this in a bit.

Engines & Transmissions

In terms of engines, this model includes three different options. A 2.3L turbocharged inline-4 generating 300hp and 310lb-ft of torque. As well as a bigger 3.0L V6 that is also turbocharged producing about 400hp and 415lb-ft of torque. The 3.3L V6 is the biggest engine, producing 318hp and 322lb-ft of torque. But this only is included in the hybrid version.

In terms of transmissions, this model includes the 10-speed Ford automatic.

Fuel Economy

The fuel economy is rather good, the 2.3L engine gets 20 mpg around town, 27 mpg on the highway, and 23 mpg overall.

Safety

The safety is also good and the newest model implements the most modern tech when it comes to driver’s assistance. Also, the model was tested by the NHTSA and they gave it 5-stars out of five possible. The IIHS also gave it a Top Safety Pick Award for the 2020 model. But what about the Ford Explorer years to avoid? More on that in a bit.

Ford Explorer Problems

When it comes to problems, there were some issues reported with the transmission, even though it is a 10-speed, it simply does not work well with the car and people claim that shifts come rather not as smooth as they should. And this is probably a software problem. Hopefully, they will sort it out.

Other problems were reported with the build quality and use of cheap rattling materials that look not as good. Particularly not in a $50,000 car like the Explorer. But what are the Ford Explorer years to avoid? More on that in a bit.

Ford Explorer Reliability

When it comes to reliability, we cannot give the Explorer a rating as of today. Mainly because this model is rather new and relatively unproven on the roads.

Best Year For Ford Explorer

When it comes to the best year, we would say that you should go for the 2021 or 2022 model. Namely, because these models are rather new and do not have issues like the first production year models.

Ford Explorer Years To Avoid

When it comes to the Ford Explorer years to avoid, we would say that you should avoid the 2020 model.

Ford Explorer Years To Avoid

Namely, because of the reports of hard shifts for this model. Go for a 2021 or 2022 model if you can afford one.

Conclusion

In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the Ford Explorer. First, we learned what this model is all about and in which class of vehicles it belongs.

Then we discussed the four most recent generations of the Explorer. We covered the main specs, engines, and transmissions. Common problems, best years, as well as the Ford Explorer years to avoid.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

Where Is The Ford Explorer Made

The Ford Explorer is made in the US. Namely, at the Chicago Assembly in Chicago, Illinois. The last two generations are assembled in this factory. Previously, the model was assembled in Louisville, Kentucky.

How Long Is The Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is just an inch shy of 200 inches. More precisely, the last generation is 198.8 inches long which puts it in the mid-size category.

How Long Do Ford Explorers Last

These vehicles even though have issues, can last for a really long time. Especially the unibody models produced since 2011. These are used by the police in really big numbers and they proved to be quite reliable vehicles.

Are Ford Explorers Reliable

Yes, newer Ford Explorer models are really reliable vehicles. They don’t have many problems as they did in the past. Even though, they lack in some areas like craftsmanship and choice of quality materials. Still, they are a good value for the money. Not that there is no better option available.

What Year Ford Explorer Is Best

When it comes to the best year, we would recommend going for a 2018 or 2019 model year. These two model years have the least reports of any model years on problems. So, if you want something less of a headache, these will be the ones.

What Year Ford Explorer To Avoid

When it comes to the years to avoid, we would recommend avoiding 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2013, and 2016. These have the most reports for problems on carcomplaints.com. So, if you want something more reliable, always go for a model that is less prone to issues.

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