Notes: The 2004 Ford Explorer one of our worst vehicles on record. "Avoid like the plague" is putting it lightly.

The 2002-2005 Explorer has a very well-established record of expensive transmission failure at under 100k miles. The Explorer has an enclosed transmission which is typically replaced with a rebuilt transmission at a cost of almost $3,000.

Another common problem for the 2002-2005 Explorer is wheel bearing failure at around 90k miles, with a typical repair bill of $500 to $1000 depending on how many wheel bearings failed.

Adding insult to injury, the 2002-2005 Explorer also has a massive problem with the rear panel cracking. While it's a minor annoyance compared to transmission failure, ironically the crack usually goes right through the Ford logo.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
No data
Average Mileage:
85,430 miles
Total Complaints:
14 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (9 reports)
  2. do bodywork and repaint area (3 reports)
  3. replace section above passenger rear tire (2 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #14

Jul 012015

Explorer Eddie Bauer 6 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles


Overall, a good SUV. One spot of rust has occurred on the right rear quarter panel, just below the gas cap access door. As I view the web site, it seems like I am not alone with this problem.

It seems my Explorer has all three of the common problems, rust, cracked rear panel, and of course the big one, a bad transmission.

- , Butler, MO, USA

problem #13

Jan 012010

Explorer Limited 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

click to see larger images

body is rusting body is rusting body is rusting body is rusting body is rusting body is rusting

Leading edge of hood started pitting several years ago. Started with blistering of paint. Now paint has completely peeled away and aluminum base is now showing. Hood latch is also "rusting" at the contact point with the iron fasteners to the hood. Appears that non-iron parts were not treated properly to prevent electrolysis. Repair shop said that the entire hood needs to be replaced. They also pointed out that other major metallic chassis parts are also rusting at a non-normal rate.

- , Honolulu, HI, USA

problem #12

Nov 012014

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 214,000 miles

Thought this one was my fault. Not the case. Paint bubbled up under gas cap, chipped off then rusted. NOW will not pass inspection.

When I saw another Ford same year with the same problem, I Knew it wasn't me.

- , Quakertown, PA, USA

problem #11

Jan 012001

Explorer LXT 6 Cylinder

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


Rusting above the gas tank spout. Paint is chipped off and rusting.

- , Dearborn, MI, USA

problem #10

Jan 012012

Explorer LXT 6 Cylinder

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Front of hood is chipping paint and rusting. Dealer told me it's best to replace the whole hood, otherwise they're chasing the rust around inside and outside the front rim of the hood.

- , Dearborn, MI, USA

problem #9

Jul 112011

Explorer LXT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles

paint on roof peeling Had bumper repaired from accident years ago and paint now

bubbling up and peeling lousy paint job

They claim paint not under warranty.

- , Danvers, MA, USA

problem #8

May 012007

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles


Paint slowly started to peel now the entire roof is rusting. The area around the front of the roof is especially rusted.

- , Delmar, NY, USA

problem #7

May 282008

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,469 miles

When i bought this vehicle used, there was an area on the front of the hood that was blistered, and you don't have to be a genius to know that the metal underneath the blisters is rusting out. I told the dealer at purchase and was told they would take care of it. I was supposed to schedule it when i pick up my plates. When i went back i was told the dealer was no longer there, and that he had no right telling me that it would be fixed. Now the blisters are breaking open with rot under it. Ford says that type of problem is handled by the dealer. I fought for awhile, and then the dealership closed. Problem still unresolved and getting worse.

- , Belleville, NJ, USA

problem #6

Aug 012011

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

my husband has tried to fix the rust but it returns the next day. to get it fix will cost 1500.00 ! we do not have the money and feel ford should fix it

- , Glen Burnie, MD, US

problem #5

Feb 032010

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 133,552 miles

My estimate to fix the rust is 1500 dollars and I just don't have that kind of money right now.

- , Welch, WV, USA

problem #4

Aug 132011

Explorer Limited 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles


I do not understand how a vehicle which has been meticulously maintained, never wrecked, regularly washed and waxed (probably what caused it) could start rusting on the hood. The paint is terribly bubbled up. Not worth the time and money to fix since I know ford has no pride in their product and will not voluntarily fix it. I hope everybody sees how poor quality this vehicle is. Cant wait to unload this piece of crap.

- Kevin

- , Bonney Lake, WA, USA

problem #3

Dec 312010

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

Terrible surface rust popped up about 6 months ago and is only getting worse. Very annoying since this car is only 6 years old. You would think a paint job on a vehicle should be made to last, but apparently Ford chose to cut their cost in the paint department. I have had nothing but problems with the vehicle since I purchased it. The transmission went out after 80,000 miles and had to be rebuilt. I also have a mysterious crack down the middle of the back hatch (I have seen this same crack multiple times around town on similar Explorers that seemed to of been manufactered in the same year). I feel ripped off for this purchase and will never own another explorer.

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #2

Dec 282007

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

I was looking at the hood of my wife's Explorer and noticed the paint bubbling at the front lip of the hood. Opened the hood and see a bunch of bubbling on the edge. When I poke at it the paint flakes off and it is full of rust. I think this is ridiculous for a 4 year old car that is in San Diego where it barely rains and never snows. Just another issue in a long line... Wonderful "Made in America" products... Will definitely be looking for a Toyota or Nissan when it is time to replace this piece of cr@p.

- , San Diego, CA, USA

problem #1

Mar 052008

Explorer Sport V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

One day while washing my car I noticed some bubbles on my hood. I thought it was just the paint. When my husband came home, we opened the hood and saw the problem, it was rusting under the hood and coming through the paint. I called the dealer to see if this would be covered and I was told that there had to be a hole in the body. Well at this point there is not, but I still have another 8 months for one to develop and I'm sure it will since it is already pretty bad. I just couldn't believe that they didn't want to fix it immediately since I will be driving around with this obvious defect on a brand new vehicle! What advertisement!!!

- , Newell, WV, USA

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