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It’s time to bust out those attractive detective hats for the Ford Explorer. We’re investigating this popular SUV for transmission problems. The Ford Explorer isn’t the most reliable SUV in the bunch, but is the transmission to blame? 

Does the Ford Explorer have transmission problems?

Front angle view of white 2023 Ford Explorer midsize SUV
2023 Ford Explorer | Ford

Yes, actually, Ford Explorer transmission problems are in the top 10 most common issues for this SUV, it’s not as bad as it used to be. According to Car Complaints, older Explorer models used to struggle with transmission issues. The 2023 model could be clear.

Some of the Explorers involved are from 2002, 2004, and 2006. So, if you have an Explorer from that generation, then you probably already faced the problem. However, the 2016 Ford Explorer’s most common complaint is about transmission failure. 

There are reposts of hard shifts, sudden loss of power, unintended acceleration, lurching, and grinding. The transmissions started to fail between 16,000 to 95,000 miles, casting quite a wide net. 

However, there are no recalls or investigations about transmission issues. Also, the Explorer was redesigned in 2020. That’s when it got a new smooth-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission. This transmission is an excellent upgrade.

Ever since 2016, there have been fewer reports of transmission issues. The 2020 model has seven complaints, the 2021 model has three reports, and the 2022 has no transmission problems listed. This indicates that the problem may have been corrected. 

In July 2023, one report of transmission failure has been listed for the 2022 model. The 2021 modal still only has three reports.

What are the most common Explorer problems? 

The biggest Ford Explorer problems are reported for models produced between 2000 to 2010. The sixth-generation Explorer or models produced after 2020 have a much lower rate of problems and complaints. The reliability ranking has been improving.

However, some feel as if the newest Explorer generation was rushed. It did have a rough start, with 14 recalls. But those problems should have been corrected for free. The 2021 model only has five recalls, and the 2022 model has four. 

Some of the recalls about the engine structure and ineffective parking brakes are concerning, but Ford addressed these issues. 

The most common 2021 Explorer problem includes powertrain issues. There are 10 reports of gears slipping, the vehicle rolling while in park, and sudden loss of power. 

The 2022 Explorer has 62 complaints so far. The most common issue includes transmission issues about hard shifts and a delay before going into reverse. But only 12 people complained about this issue, and the 2023 Explorer model currently has zero complaints.

Is the Explorer worth buying? 

a 2020 Ford Explorer Timberline version int he woods
Ford Explorer Timberline | Ford

Yes, the Ford Explorer is an excellent three-row SUV to consider. The Ford Explorer’s transmission problems are a thing of the past. While the Explorer has a bad reputation, it’s getting better. Also, it has been outselling the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco.

Owners love how the Explorer drives and handles. It’s rated as a comfortable and spacious family option. It has a smooth ride, and wind noise is kept at bay. Also, it rates highly for being attractive inside and out. 

Here are multiple different trims available to suit various needs. The Explorer Timberline is oriented for off-roading adventures, the King Ranch trim adds luxurious amenities, and the ST is incredibly athletic. 

The biggest Explorer issue seems to be with its value. For its price, it could have nicer interior materials and more standard features. Don’t let its troubled past stop you from enjoying a newer model.