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How Long do Ford Explorers Last?

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

Table of Contents

Since 1991, Ford Explorers have been the powerful vehicle of choice of families all across America.

Why do people love their Ford Explorer? Besides their great looks and range of exceptional SUVs, people love the reliability of the Explorer. They offer outstanding handling, plenty of cargo space, and peppy yet powerful engines.

But how long do Ford Explorers last?

Are you thinking about upgrading to a Ford Explorer? Or, do you think your ford Explorer is too old? Here’s everything you need to know about the lifespan of this great vehicle.

The Average Lifespan of Ford Explorers

The life of a Ford Explorer ultimately depends on outside influences. How you drive, where you drive, and maintenance are the biggest influences that determine the lifespan of a Ford Explorer.

In most cases, a Ford Explorer can last anywhere from 10 to 17 years. With regular maintenance and annually driving 12,000 miles, you can expect a new Ford Explorer to last you closer to 15 years or longer.

Why does this matter?

Any responsible and budget-savvy vehicle owner wants to invest in a vehicle that’s going to last. Whether you’re buying a new or used Ford Explorer, it’s still an investment. A long-lasting vehicle will give you a greater return on your investment and should save you money.

What Influences the Explorer’s Longevity?

Many influences are affecting the lifespan of your Ford Explorer. Being aware of these influences will help you make smarter decisions and ensure your vehicle lasts as long as it possibly can.

How You Drive

Hard reckless driving will take a toll on your vehicle. Hard driving, such as fast accelerations and sudden stops will wear down your Explorer’s engine, transmission, brakes, and other aspects of the vehicle.

Towing trailers, campers, and other heavy items will also take a toll on the Explorer’s longevity.

Over time, this will shorten the lifespan of your Explorer. It will also cost you more to maintain and fix.

Be gentle with your Explorer. Avoid sudden accelerations and sudden stops if you’re not in an emergency.

Your Location

The environment you live in will affect the lifespan of your vehicle. Those living in mountainous areas may regularly drive up steep mountain passes and highways. This climbing requires more effort from your engine and will cause it to wear.

Those living in colder climates will experience more snow and long winters. Most towns and counties will salt the roads to prevent ice. This ice will eat away at the metal on your Explorer’s undercarriage causing rust and holes.

You mitigate these issues by driving through mountain passes at a slower pace. Regularly wash your vehicle to clean off salt, dirt, and other debris that can affect the exterior of your vehicle.

Maintenance Habits

Do you want to know the secret to ensuring your Ford Explorer lasts for a long time? Practices good maintenance habits.

Regularly maintaining your vehicle involves regular oil changes and occasional fluid changes.  Keep an eye on your Explorer’s transmission and service it right away if you notice anything odd about it.

Regular maintenance will keep your Explorer running at its best for years and years.

Expected Mileage of a Ford Explorer

The average Ford Explorer can achieve anywhere from 80,000 to over 200,000 miles in its lifetime. Some vehicle owners have reported achieving 300,000 miles and more on their Ford Explorer.

If you want your Ford Explorer to reach or surpass these mind-blowing mileage numbers, you need to take care of your Explorer.

Regular performance maintenance should get you to 150,000 miles with ease. Your Explorer may need significant upgrades to the suspension, transmission, and steering.

Around 200,000 miles your Explorer may experience issues with the timing chain.

Fixing these problems right away will help your Explorer run better and last longer.

Consider the history and former owners of any old Ford Explorers you’re thinking about buying. If possible, request a car history report.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any effective way to tell whether a previous owner mistreated their Explorer. If you’re buying used, do your best to maintain and care for your Explorer.

Exterior Rust and Damage

Those owning Ford Explorer models from the early 2000s and later can expect to see rust in about four years.

The first Ford Explorers in the 1990s consisted of durable steel. As demands for lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles grew, Ford switched to aluminum for the vehicle’s body. The only drawback is the aluminum isn’t as durable or dense as steel.

The aluminum body is susceptible to corrosion, which you can notice in the form of rust, bubbling paint, and peeling paint.

You can help delay this corrosion by regularly washing your Explorer and storing it in a safe dry place when you’re not using it.

Ford Explorer Reliability

If you’re familiar with Ford Explorer’s, you might know some earlier models were far from reliable.

Today, that has changed. The Ford Explorer lineup features the latest safety and handling technology. Every model undergoes intense testing to ensure it’s safe, long-lasting, and durable to live up to your vehicle’s needs.

Ford Explorers vs Similar Vehicles

How does the Ford Explorer compare to other vehicles in its class?

Similar vehicles to the Explorer include the Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and the Jeep Cherokee. The Ford Explorer is just as reliable with a mileage expectancy close to the Honda Pilot and a life expectancy similar to the Cherokee’s 17-20 years.

Like the Ford Explorer, these similar vehicles will also need lots of care and maintenance to achieve these longer lifespans.

Be Aware of the Year

Like a fine wine, vehicle manufacturers will offer better vehicles during certain years and poorer vehicles during other years. No, they don’t do this on purpose. The reason depends on new technology, testing, and design.

The best years for the Ford Explorer were between 2007 and 2012 and 2017 to 2020. If you’re planning to buy a used Ford Explorer, these years will offer you the most reliable Explorer with fewer problems.

Anyone thinking about buying a Ford Explorer needs to avoid models made from 2002 to 2006. These models received the most complaints are the worse years for the Explorer. Common problems include premature transmission failure, radiator leaks, and slipping transmissions.

Fixing these issues will cost you around $2,800!

If in doubt, read customer and vehicle owner reviews. These will give you a better idea of what problems you can expect to encounter and how much they’ll cost to fix.

From there, you’ll make a smart decision when buying old cars such as a used Ford Explorer.

Maintaining Your Explorer

Are Ford Explorers expensive to maintain? The answer is no. But if the maintenance becomes too much, it may be time to sell your vehicle.

There is a caveat. If you bought a model between 2002 and 2006, maintenance will cost you much more.

The average maintenance cost of an SUV is between $200 and $400 per year. The cost to maintain your Ford Explorer falls within that budget.

Depending on your driving habits, who services your Explorer, and other factors, that cost can be as low as $80 per year.

Some individuals with cut maintenance cost by servicing their vehicles themselves. This practice is best for those with car mechanic experience and skills. If you don’t have the necessary knowledge or skills, you could cause more problems that will cost more to fix.

Lifespans of the Parts

While your Ford Explorer may last up to 200,000 miles, many parts will need replacing. Here’s a look at the expected lifespan of various parts on your Ford Explorer.


The Ford Explorer’s brakes have a lifespan of around 40,000 miles. Your driving style and the terrain you drive will affect the lifespan of the brake. Some Explorer owners have brakes that last well over 65,000 miles while others had brakes that last as little as 25,000 miles.

The cost to replace your brakes (not the entire braking system) is around $200.

Hybrid Batteries

The 2020 Ford Explorer models improved gas mileage by adding a hybrid battery. These have a minimum lifespan of 80,000 miles or eight years.

Since this technology is new, there’s little reported information on the lifespan of the batter. If it’s like the hybrid batteries found in other hybrid vehicles, these batteries will likely last the life of the Explorer.

The replacement cost of an Explorer battery is around $5,000.


Well-maintained Ford Explorer transmissions free from factory defects can last anywhere from 80,000 to 180,000 miles. Like most parts, how and where you drive will affect the lifespan of your Ford Explorer.

The Explorer year you choose will affect the life of your transmission. Fortunately, most issues that arise are manufacturer defects covered by a warranty.

For best results, follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance regimen. Servicing and minting your Explorer now will save hefty costs in the future.

Make the Most of Your Ford Explorer

Has your Ford Explorer just hit 100,000 miles? If so, it doesn’t mean it’s time to retire your trusty Ford.

With proper care, maintenance, and gentle use, Ford Explorers, new or used, can last at least ten to fifteen years or 150,000 miles. You’ll love the reliability and affordability of a Ford Explorer.

Have questions or want to start your search today? Let us know! We’re happy to help you find the right SUV to fit you and your family’s needs today!

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About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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