Common problems with the Ford Explorer include transmission failure on Explorers with more than 100,000 miles and wheel-bearing failures on Explorers after 90,000 miles. The transmission problem costs as much as $3,000 to repair as of 2015, while the wheel-bearing repairs are less expensive at up to $1,000 per repair.
Many Ford Explorer owners complain about a binding problem in the vehicle's four-wheel drive system. The front wheels arc at a wider angle than the back wheels. Although Ford claims it intentionally designed the Explorer this way, the problem creates additional wear and tear and repair needs that the vehicle would not need without this issue.
Another common problem with the Ford Explorer is rear panel cracking. Consumers also complain about paint and body problems and problems with internal accessories. In multiple models of the Explorer, drivers report a rattling noise when starting the engine. Depending on the model of the Explorer, the gear-shift cables or the timing chain tensioner cause the rattling noise. In older models, the timing chain tensioner also causes rattling noises under acceleration.
In older models of the Ford Explorer, the automatic gearbox may not automatically shift to second or third gear. A faulty valve body is usually the problem, meaning the Explorer needs a new gearbox retrofitted to the vehicle. In 1990s models of the Ford Explorer, the rear brakes might bind upon first use of the vehicle. If this occurs, moisture is usually to blame, and the vehicle needs linings installed on the brake pads.