Ford Explorer Transmission Problems

2023 Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is one of the more popular SUVs out of Ford’s entire range as it is more than large enough for most people, but isn’t as gargantuan as the top-spec Expedition. The first Explorer was introduced in 1990 and was often regarded as the best SUV in its class. Also, Ford managed to sell a ton of these throughout the years which means that the Explorer is likely here to stay.

As far as its mechanics are concerned, the Explorer tends to be an adequately reliable SUV, but in this article, we are going to focus on the most common Ford Explorer transmission problems. The first problem we are going to talk about is gear slipping and the general difficulty of shifting gears in a comfortable manner.

The Explorer is also known to be a bit jerky, especially during stuff like three-point turns or parking. Stalling can also happen, especially with older torque converter units. Lastly, we are also going to mention potential complete transmission failures which are definitely worrying since they can cost multiple thousands of dollars to fix or replace.

All in all, the new 10-speed transmission on the Explorer is set to stay for a while to come which means that Ford is likely to make it better and better as time goes on. These are also available for Ford’s F-Series of trucks which is an incredibly popular line of trucks which means that Ford needs this transmission to be as reliable as possible.

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Gear Slipping & Difficult Shifts  

Gear slipping, delays, and erratic gear changes seem to be a fairly common occurrence with this 10-speed unit. These are typically caused by sticking valves and solenoid problems which can sometimes be solved via simple system resets. The clutch plates can also wear out while sheer lack of transmission oil can also lead to these problems.

Be sure to top up the fluid if necessary, if not, a complete transmission inspection is indeed a really good thing. If the issue is down to clutch problems, more specifically the clutch plate, it’s just best to replace it as this is the only good way how one can fix this problem.

Jerky Low-Speed Transmission

Jerky low-speed transmission performance is mostly a problem with dual-clutch units, but some torque converter transmissions are also guilty of this problem. The 10-speed transmission with the Explorer also seems to belong in that group. The good thing is that most of these are related to improper transmission maintenance, more specifically, clogged transmission fluids.

Faulty mass airflow sensors and contaminated transmission fluid can also cause these issues. First, it’s best to reprogram the transmission module if the fluid and the filters are okay, if they are not, replace them both and reprogram the module. Sometimes the solenoid assembly can cause these problems and the only way to repair this is to replace the assembly.


Older Ford Explorer models were known to stall without any obvious reasons. The stall is typically caused by a persistent transmission issue and because the transmission is coupled at all times, the shaft stops rotating and thus stalls the car. This can be really stressful, especially if it happens often which is usually the case if you ignore this problem.

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When it comes to repairing this problem, check the fuel pump as it can sometimes cause the car to stall due to lack of fuel. Some air filter and exhaust problems can also cause the car to stall. Lastly, the transmission electrics and modules can disconnect for a few seconds and cause this problem to take place.

Transmission Failure

A transmission failure is the worst issue you can encounter as you need a complete transmission rebuild/replacement if you want to resolve it. Thankfully, these problems are mostly a thing for older pre-2010 Explorer models, but the bad thing is that they are rather common. Another bad thing is that these can happen in just a few tens of thousands of miles on the clock.

Owners have reported the car needing to reach really high RPMs to even be able to shift. When this persists and you don’t take care of it immediately, a complete failure is imminent. Try to inspect the solenoid immediately or the clutch as fixing these two can prevent the transmission from dying.

FAQ Section

Is the Ford 10-Speed Transmission Any Good?

If you go online and look for information regarding the 10-speed Ford unit, you will often find many owners and legal advisors complaining that the 10-speed is faulty and prone to loads of issues. The former often holds merit as there are various issues with the 10-speed while the latter is predominantly there in order to incite shakedowns and large class action lawsuits.

The reality is that the 10-speed is more than good enough if you take proper care of it. Sure, it does suffer from issues, but that is the case with virtually all transmissions out there. These mechanical units are delicate and require timely and proper maintenance, otherwise, all of them are going to fail.

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Is the Ford Explorer a Good SUV?

The Ford Explorer is indeed a really good family SUV that does the trick for those looking for safety, comfort, space, and relatively low-running costs for a family SUV. The Explorer isn’t a luxury SUV as it does not try to be one, it is a family SUV that does everything you want from a family SUV without costing a ton of money.

It isn’t the most comfortable or the most reliable SUV in its class, but it does make up for it by offering really good base equipment, good and strong engines, and lots of standard and optional safety features.

Which SUVs Rival the Ford Explorer?

The Ford Explorer resides in the mid-size family SUV segment which is packed with loads of amazing options as this segment is really competitive. The most popular Explorer rivals include the Kia Sorento, the Ford Bronco, the Hyundai Santa Fe, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Honda Pilot.

As the Explorer can offer three rows of seats, some always compare it to physically larger and more expensive SUVs such as the Kia Telluride and the Hyundai Palisade.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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