2018 Ford Explorer Reliability - Consumer Reports
The popular Explorer is roomy and quiet, and has a livable third-row seat, but overall it trails more modern competitors. Handling is ungainly, lacking agility but the SUV remains under control when pushed to its limits. The ride is compliant but the body tends to move about often rather than get settled after hitting bumpy pavement.
Alerts
There are 3 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Reliability

We expect the 2022 Explorer will be much less reliable than the average new car. This prediction is based on data from 2020 and 2021 models. Select the used car model year to see reported issues with those similar past models.

Overall Reliability
Most Common Trouble Spots
Common Trouble Spot
Common Trouble Spot
The 2018 Ford Explorer has been recalled 3 times by NHTSA. View Recalls
Research Years * Redesign year
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Overall Reliability Verdict
NA
NA
POTENTIAL TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine Major
NA
NA
Engine Minor
NA
NA
Engine Cooling
NA
NA
Transmission Major
NA
NA
Transmission Minor
NA
NA
Drive System
NA
NA
Fuel System
NA
NA
Electric System
NA
NA
Climate System
NA
NA
Suspension
NA
NA
Brakes
NA
NA
Exhaust
NA
NA
Paint/Trim
NA
NA
Body Integrity
NA
NA
Body Hardware
NA
NA
Power Equipment
NA
NA
In-car Electronics
NA
NA
Reliability indicates how models have performed in the past, providing the basis for predicting how the vehicles will hold up in the year ahead. These charts provide the most comprehensive reliability information available to consumers. Based on information received from our latest subscriber survey for over 300,000 vehicles, our reliability history charts give you a rundown on how 2000 through 2021 vehicles are holding up in 17 potential trouble spots, ranging from the engine, transmission, and brakes to power equipment and the electrical system. NA indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.

Learn more about car Reliability.

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2018 Ford Explorer owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

Apple CarPlay

"USB inputs aren't snug enough for a good connection"

Anonymous, (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Display screen freezes up

"Runs. Vert slow like something else is running in the background"

Anonymous, KY (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)

"The Display sometimes freezes when typing in address on the navigation, also gives false warnings that im too close to something that I may hit"

Anonymous, GA (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)

"Sometimes the screen freezes up and it corrects itself. Other times I have to shut off the the vehicle and restart it. Sometimes I have to disconnect the negative ground on the battery cable and reconnect to reboot the system."

Anonymous, MA (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)

"Can not change anything on the screen"

Robert B., LA (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)
Display screen goes blank

"black screen, then for no reason, it will come back on"

Anonymous, FL (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)

"The radio will at times just go to a blank screen. Turning off the vehicle doesn't fix it you have to hold the volume down and power button on the radio to reboot the head unit. This happens about once every 6 months or so."

Anonymous, VA (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)

"screen is blank on initial; resolves on restart"

Anonymous, TX (2018 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)

"Intermittente blank screen requiring a vehicle restart"

Anonymous, AZ (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)
External music device interface (e.g., smart phone, MP3 player)

"Problem with Serius reception"

Robert P., PA (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Hardware replacement

"Replaced Sync system"

Anonymous, IN (2018 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)
In-dash navigation system (GPS)

"The navagation is outdated and will not update , took to dealer under warranty...the dealer could not update, and said it was due to a bad module in computer that needs to be replaced ! If not under warrenty it would cot 950 dollars"

Anonymous, (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)

"The whole computerized screen acts like there is something running in the background slowing computer down greatly"

Anonymous, KY (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)

"Stops working when on trip have to use phone gps"

Robert B., LA (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)
Radio

"The satellite system searches for a signal even when out in the open. This happens at random times, never when near the dealer."

Anonymous, OR (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)

"Serius interface"

Robert P., PA (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Routine software updates

"The system software update did not completely download and subsequently install requiring the dealership to take corrective action: they installed the software update and rebooted the system; it works as designed now without any additional issues."

Anonymous, TX (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Software update fixes

"Same issues as discussed in previous comment (software update required by dealership installation)."

Anonymous, TX (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Speakers

"Speakers blown after playin music little more than half volume"

Anonymous, GA (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Steering wheel controls

"Explorer comes with Lane Keeper software. System camera failed within 10 months. Replaced at no costs and now has failed again at 12 months. Will schedule for repair within two weeks."

Gary W., SC (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Air or water leaks

"The rear cargo area would get water in it. Took it to dealer twice to have the rear hatch and tail light assemblies re-sealed."

Anonymous, NJ (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)

"There is a water leak in the rear area where the third row seat is. The floor under the third row seat gets very wet. Went to dealer to fix but still leaks, will be going back to dealer again."

Ken F., NJ (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Seals and/or weather-stripping

"Same issue as the water leaks in the same area."

Anonymous, NJ (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Squeaks or rattles

"Passenger seat was making a rattle"

Frank V., FL (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)

"It is just an annoying squeak in the rear passenger seat. It drives me crazy, because I can find it."

Chip S., PA (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)

"rea tailgate cap broke, replace, and rattle fixed"

Anonymous, FL (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Wind noise

"If you open the front window even a small amount there is a severe buffeting noise. Even opening a rear window the noise is still there."

Ken F., NJ (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Loose exterior trim or moldings

"Ford knows there roof rack molding are awful and break/ratttle/fall off"

Anonymous, (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)

"Black exterior plastic molding next to windshield coming loose."

Anonymous, (2018 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)

"Roof rack coming apart."

Anonymous, NV (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

"Front hood paint peels do to dissimilar metals. A problem Ford has with this design. Ford will repaint hood if you complain. I have had several of this design and they all have bubbling paint within a year of brand new."

Anonymous, MA (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)

"Defect with hood. Paint bubbled across front of hood. Dealership ordered new hood and painted to match."

Anonymous, CT (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Rust

"Paint on the hood bubbled up. They had to repaint the hood under warranty"

Anonymous, NV (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Battery (not hybrid or electric)

"Something was constantly draining the battery. In one month’s time Ford put 3 batteries in among other attempts to fix issue. Ended up having to do a lemon law claim."

Kevin S., WI (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)
Ignition switch

"Car wasn’t starting. Turned out it was a cracked ignition switch. They replaced that only to find out there were other electrical problems which ended up with us doing a lemon law claim."

Kevin S., WI (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)
Starter

"Problem was attributed to cross threaded bolts in the starter causing a short. Starter replaced & no problems since."

M W., VA (2018 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)

"Engine failed to start and repeated attempts caused the engine to flood. Required an oil change and replacement of all spark plugs."

Michael B., MN (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

"The compressor seized and caused the serpentine belt to break, don't know if that is the same as the timing belt. Apparently there is a supply chain problem on the compressor, the Explorer has been at the dealers for 2 weeks now and I have been told ETA on the compressor will be September 15 th or later"

Anonymous, (2018 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)
Heated or cooled seat controls

"Cooled seats stopped cooling, deal stated it was a bad wiring harness and replaced it."

Roy A., TN (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Refrigerant leaks

"The compressor hose worked free and rubbed against the pulley causing the hose to be breached."

Anonymous, (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

Transmission rebuild or replacement

"Full transmission replacement at 400 miles. Dealer said water got into transmission from a wiring harness. Took 2 weeks to repair vehicle."

Anonymous, IA (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)

"stopped shifting. Dealer replaced it under Ford warrenty"

Anonymous, VA (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

Head gasket

"Head gasket had to be replaced twice. There were problems and delays getting the replacement gaskets. Dealer seemed to handle it well, gave another suv to use during repairs."

Anonymous, DE (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Timing belt or chain

"The serpentine belt broke when the air compressor seized, not sure if that is the same as the timing belt,"

Anonymous, (2018 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Power steering pumps and hoses

"The electric power steering went out. Could not steer the vehicle at low speed."

Anonymous, FL (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)
Tire wear is uneven

"The Hankook tires on the car have terrible treadlife and worn down at 23000 miles."

Anonymous, TX (2018 Ford Explorer Limited 3.5-L V6)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Engine computer

"Broke down on approach to George Washington Bridge on a sunday night . Horrible. Prior to this trip my car was serviced by a dealer who after dealing with them I felt something was wrong. Contacted other local dealers tey would not service car if I bought it somewhere else. I contacted ford for help after repair with no assistance. after the break down I was on my own ford did tow to closest dealer I had no assistance from them to get home on long island. poor company."

Anonymous, NY (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)

"The engine suddenly ran rough and was barely able to move forward. It was towed to the dealership. The Manifold Air Pressure sensor (MAP) was replaced at no charge under warranty."

Anonymous, FL (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Driveshaft or axle

"No power, vibration, sensor was replaced OK after that,,"

Johnny J., SC (2018 Ford Explorer Platinum 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Traction control

"Apparently a sensor went bad and stopped all automatic functions from working, than as we were scheduling service the vehicle stopped moving so we had it towed in."

Anonymous, NJ (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Horn

"The horn stopped working. Was replaced under warranty"

Anonymous, IL (2018 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)
Keyless entry

"The keyless entry for the front passenger side door failed."

Anonymous, FL (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Doors or sliding doors

"Driver door did not shut easlly"

Anonymous, AR (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)
Windows

"Passenger side rear window came out of the tracks on first attempt to roll it down."

Michael B., MN (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 3.5-L V6 turbo)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor)

"The vehicle was running extremely roughly to the point it was unsafe to drive. Towed it to the Ford dealer and they determined it was a faulty Mass Airflow Sensor and replaced it."

Anonymous, ON (2018 Ford Explorer Sport 2.3-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Antilock system (ABS)

"The rear right brake had a sensor go bad and caused multiply systems to shut off and the SUV go into limp mode."

Michael M., DE (2018 Ford Explorer XLT 3.5-L V6)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

Compare 2018 Models

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This score shows whether the model had more or fewer problems overall than the average model of that year, calculated from the total number of problems reported by subscribers in all 17 trouble spots.
Recalls
PROVIDED BY
STRUCTURE
May 05, 2021
A detached roof rail cover can create a road hazard, increasing the risk of a crash.
Summary:
Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling certain 2016-2019 Explorer vehicles. The retention pins could loosen and allow the roof rail covers to detach from the vehicle.
What should you do:
Dealers will install push-pins and replace any damaged rail clips and roof rail covers, as necessary, free of charge. The interim owner notification letter was mailed on June 22, 2021. Owner notification letters (remedy available) were mailed on October 1, 2021. Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 21S22.
For more information:
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 21V316000
Potential Number of Units Affected: 616967
SEATS
Aug 28, 2019
A seat back with an improperly assembled recliner mechanism may have reduced strength and may not adequately restrain an occupant in a crash, increasing the risk of injury.
Summary:
Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling certain 2018-2020 F-150 and 2019-2020 F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 Super Duty pickup trucks, and 2018-2019 Ford Explorer, 2019-2020 Expedition, and 2020 Escape vehicles equipped with driver and/or passenger's manual front seat back recliner mechanisms. Also included are certain 2020 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator vehicles equipped with rear outboard seats and manual seat back recliner mechanisms. The recliner mechanisms may be missing the third pawl required for seat back strength, resulting in a loose seat back. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) numbers 202, "Head Restraints" and 207, "Seating Systems."
What should you do:
Ford will notify owners, and Ford and Lincoln dealers will inspect the seat structure and replace them, as necessary, free of charge. The recall began October 21, 2019. Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 19C07.
For more information:
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 19V633000
Potential Number of Units Affected: 639137
FUEL SYSTEM, GASOLINE
Nov 14, 2018
A fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source can increase the risk of a fire.
Summary:
Ford Motor Company (Ford) is recalling certain 2018 Ford Explorer vehicles equipped with 2.3L or 3.5L GTDI engine. Due to an assembly error, the fuel pressure sensor may leak fuel.
What should you do:
Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the fuel line assembly, free of charge. The recall began December 7, 2018. Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 18S35.
For more information:
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 18V807000
Potential Number of Units Affected: 144
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