Inadequate Heat in '06 Explorer XLT? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Inadequate Heat in '06 Explorer XLT?


Well-Known Member
November 5, 2002
Reaction score
City, State
New Milford, CT
Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 & 2006 Explorers
We have two Explorers, a '98 and an '06 that we got two months ago.

While the '06, in mild weather, starts to produce heat within a couple of minutes of startup, it never really gets hot in very cold weather (below 30ºF).

By contrast, our '98 takes a little longer to start producing heat, but after ten minutes' driving, we have to lower the temperature dial to 12 o'clock position because it becomes oppressively hot inside, even when the outside temp is in the teens.

Our '06 never produces enough heat and we have to leave the dial at max to get barely adequate heat when it's in the teens out. Oddly, the air coming out of the vents feels very hot, but the cab never seems to really get hot.

The other issue is that our feet are always cold in the newer XLT model, as there's no hot air being blown directly toward the footwell, but instead more toward the base of the front seats. The foot area never gets direct heat.

The temperature guage climbs to about 40% scale when the vehicle is fully-warmed up, as does on the '98 model.

I wonder if the reason for this is either a design issue, or if Ford started using lower temp thermostats on the engine cooling systems?

Despite the newer truck being "tighter" and holding the heat better when the engine is off as in sitting at an airport waiting for someone, than our older truck, which starts to get drafty within seconds of shutting off the engine, it doesn't seem to provide adequate heat when the weather is in deep winter, like it is now.

Does anyone have experience with owning two Explorers about ten years apart and the relative performance of the heating systems? I wonder if this is a matter that should have dealer attention, of if this is just a poor design on newer Fords?

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almost sounds like a blend door issue. Not sure how they work in 4th gens though. Perhaps a bad heater also.

Are you sure it is not low radiator antifreeze ? When you drive , the water pump is pushing the antifreeze thru, and when you idle, it slows down. I had this happen to a few cars, and with the Ford Explorer radiator problems, who knows ?

I agree the angle of air flow doesnt hit the feet but it is quite warm in my truck.

You said the air coming out feels plenty hot, but just that the overall cabin temperature doesn't get warm enough. That would tend to rule out a problem in the system itself. Maybe a large air leak somewhere...back doors?

Definately not an air leak, because, as I mentioned, when I park and wait with the engine off, the '06 stays warm for a pretty long time. Definately no drafts.

Part of the problem is that there's no heat directed to where our feet rest, so they end up feeling chilly in this newer Ford. When the road conditions are bad, we generally take the older Ford, and find the heat to be excessive unless we dial it down. But park for just a minute and you feel the cold start to creep in. So despite the obvious air leaks in the '98, it has much more heat when running.

I'm sure it's not a coolant issue, because the vent exhaust temp is pretty hot. Also, I do not see the temp gauge fluxuating when I turn the fan up to max. Generally with low coolant, you see the gauge rise to 3/4 scale and drop down rapidly when the blower is turned on.

It just never gets really hot, even after a longer drive. I am wondering if the difference between our two vehicles is a matter of design, or a matter of a wrong thermostat installed. It's just 2 months old from the dealer, which has done a full diagnostic on it when I brought it in for checking the lag in the acceleration. No problems were reported.

Yes, had me thinking there may be cold air mixing with the heater core air, giving us slightly less to max temperature.

Does anyone have an '06 that has surplus heating capacity, or are they all marginal when the weather gets below 20ºF?

I have a 08 and I feel the same way. The past 2 weeks its been under 20 and my drive is 1 hour and it seems that it takes a very long time to warm the truck. My truck has 500 miles on it so I do not think its a thermo issue. I do notice there is 0 heat that hits my heat and as someone else said it could be that I feel cold because my feet are cold.

I just had the radiator and thermo replaced last weekend and the heat is very hot now. I have an 06 Limited.

My '96 put out more heat than I could stand. In the '06, pretty much nothing happens to the left of 12:00 on the dial. It warms up quickly enough, but the knob always has to be cranked farther than I think it should be. Also, the way the air flow to the feet has been moved is not optimal, either.

The 4th gens do not have a cooler thermostat than previous, but that doesn't mean something in the heating system wasn't changed.

So I guess there is really nothing the dealer can do about the heat. It seems that it's just the the 4th gen is designed.
Now that the thermometer has dipped into the low single-digits for the week ahead, I'm not really looking forward to the driving in this truck.
The paradoxical thing about this is that in milder weather, the '06 starts blowing warm air out the vents in as little as two minutes from startup in the morning, whilst my '98 can take a good five to six minutes of driving before even luke warm air emerges from the vents. Yet who wins when fully warm? The '98! Go figure..
If this is the norm, I guess we'll have to live with it. Maybe it's go something to do with the fact that it pipes ductwork under the vehicle to feed the rear seat heating vents and perhaps a lot of heat is lost in that duct, and hence taken away from the front vents?

Does anyone have experience with owning two Explorers about ten years apart and the relative performance of the heating systems? I wonder if this is a matter that should have dealer attention, of if this is just a poor design on newer Fords?

I have the same problem with my 06XLT. Cold feet on the driver side, better on the passenger side.
My old 94 EX could roast me out.

With the nice weather this weekend i decided to investigate the drivers and passenger floor heat vents. As you can see in the picture there is what i call a toe vent and a leg vent. On the drivers side the Toe Vent is a small one and the leg vent is half blocked from the factory. On the passenger side they have the same vents but the leg vent is wide open. I'm going to try blocking off the leg vents and direct more heat to the toes.

Sorry for not getting back on this sooner.
What I ended up doing was blocking off the full open leg vent on the passenger side. I felt it increases the air flow to the drivers side. The few times i had a passenger riding with me i didn't have any complaints that their side was cold.
Overall my feet were more comfortable.