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.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
64,326 miles
Total Complaints:
63 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (31 reports)
  2. repaint (27 reports)
  3. strip all paint and start over (5 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 4)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #43

Jan 012010

Explorer XLS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


Another issue on my car. I had my car washed in January 2010 and my guy called me over to point out some bubbling paint on the hood in 2 separate areas - I know what the issue is - Ford used a cheaper lighter aluminum when they made these hoods and didn't use the correct heat resistant base coat for the paint to stick. I just refuse to pay a few more thousand dollars to have this fixed until they recall it - Which I hear might be in the works along with a class action suit.

I also have rust on the roof of my car and it was car-ported for the first 5 years of it's life. I also have little nicks where the paint looks like it got nicked all over the car (less than 10000 miles on this issue)- this happened early on in the life of owning the car. I took it to the dealer thinking the paint was so bad it couldn't stand the element (I live near the beach) The body shop at ford told me I drove behind a truck that spilt gravel????? Um no I didn't and there are no nicks in my glass. I think I would know if I drove behind a gravel truck or any thing blowing crap out of the back of it.

Ford needs to step up to the plate - I laugh that they were boasting on how great their sales have been this year.

- , Costa Mesa, CA, USA

problem #42

Jan 012008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

Paint peeling around the edge of the hood. Looks horrible - even ford's paint jobs suck.

- , Chicago, IL, US

problem #41

Jan 012010

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

In addition to numerous other issues I've had with this SUV, the paint is peeling on the top of the vehicle and it is starting to rust. Lovely.

- , Chula Vista, CA, US

problem #40

Apr 012005

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,000 miles


At the time it was still under warranty. but now it's not under warranty and i have bubbly paint in different spots on the vehicle including the hood where they repainted it

- , Akron, OH, USA

problem #39

Jul 012010

Explorer XLT V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

I've always had fords. This is my second explorer that we bought for my wife to commute to work with. I was washing it and when I squirted it with the hose, a big chunk of paint just blew off the roof. Now looking at it, I can see there is about a 10" patch of paint that is just peeling for no reason along the roof. I'm sure as I rip it off, it will just get worse until the car starts to look more and more ghetto and I'll have to park it around the corner so I don't offend my neighbors. This is bullshit plain and simple. After reading the other rants, I can see that Ford will do nothing for me. I'll have to have the damn car repainted now. Gotta tell you, I've bought many fords, but in today's marketplace we have a lot of choices and this will be MY LAST FORD!!! CUL8er Ford Motors. I'm switching over to Hyundai.

- , Huntington Beach, CA, US

problem #38

Oct 072009

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 88,417 miles

This vehicle has had MANY problems and this has added to my dislike of this vehicle. The paint is peeling off of the top of the vehicle and it is starting to rust. I know that this has been a common problem with this vehicle and dont understand why Ford will NOT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for their messes.

- , Gastonia, NC, USA

problem #37

Sep 282009

Explorer XLT 4.0V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 81,000 miles


the paint is peeling off the roof its silver so i should have known this would happen ford has had this problem with silver since the 80,s another reason to get rid of this pile of*t

- , Campbellsburg, IN, USA

problem #36

Feb 012010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

Ok, so not only do I have the cracked back panel to deal with, this piece of crap I paid 34,000 dollars for now has faded patches of paintwork and paint scraping off all over the place. This SUV is a right lemon and should have been recalled a long time ago. We need to all get together and log an official complaint.

- , Dover, DE, USA

problem #35

May 012010

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

This is complete crap! This is the 4th Ford that Ive owned and never seen this problem. I took it to the dealer and the body shop manager was very polite and said that he had seen this problem a # of times. But because my vehicle is so far out of warenty that there was nothing that he could do and that I should contact Ford directly. Now this is the 4th ford but the one vehicle that I have had the longest. ONLY 6 YEARS! Ive had vehicles that were over 15 yrs old with the original paint that looked better. The body shop manager said the problem is that the primer had let go of the paint. Now Im no freaking professional but that sounds like a manufacters defect to me. 6 years and the paint lets go... All I can say is that if this isnt resolved by ford 100% then they have just lost a customer for life. Ill go back to Chevy or a import!

- , Norcross, GA, USA

problem #34

Jun 012009

Explorer XLT 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

Find it hard to believe that a car with white paint, is washed regularly and waxed would incur the problems to the paint that it has.

- , Oakdale, NY, USA

problem #33

Jun 172009

Explorer Eddie Baur 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles


I had paint bubbling on the front edge of the hood. Ford immediately agreed to have the hood repainted. However, when I got the explorer back and lifted the hood, the paint rolled of like a melted gummy bear. I took it back and they had to repaint it again. This time it appears fine.

- , Redding, CA, US

problem #32

Jan 302010

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,631 miles

There needs to be a recall to repair the peeling paint issue on the 2004 Ford Explorers. I had the same paint issue on a 77' Ford Granada many years ago, and never was able to get Ford to fix it. I have aways preferred Ford vehilcles, especailly now since they did not take any bailout money from the government. Also, the back door panel just below the window is cracked and should be replaced at Ford's expense.

I feel I should have listened to a mechanic friend who warned me not to purchase another Ford Explorer. This is the 2nd one I have owned! He suggested a Chevy Tahoe. I will think twice next time.

- , Lincoln, NE, USA

problem #31

Jun 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

I purchased the truck 8 months before i first noticed the paint starting to seriously peel on the roof,i only noticed it when i was washing the truck.i was standing on the sidestep washing the roof when i seen it peeling like an orange covering !it sucks !i haven't fixed this problem yet. this isn't the only problem I'm having either ,this had been the very 1st ford I've bought and definitely my last !!!

- , Everett, MA, USA

problem #30

Aug 112009

Explorer V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

When I was going down the road one day and the paint on the roof was blowing of in sheets. I took it to the ford place. They said that since my warranty was up I would have to pay for it myself. My husband Spray painted the top because It was starting to rust.

- , Concord, NC, USA

problem #29

Jul 142009

Explorer Pearl 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

When my vehicle reached 86,000 miles the O/D light flashed on and then a loud beep followed and the check transmission light came on and continued blinking. When I took the vehicle in to Ford they told me to check the transmission cost would be $500.00. That price would not go toward repairing the problem it would just be to check to find out what the problem was. I was then told the problem could be between $1500.00 to $3500.00 for the first problem. If that was not the problem then the second problem could cost $3500.00 to $6000.00. The car is driving fine however, when I reach the speed of 45 to 60 the OD light comes on and the Check transmission light starts to blink. I have not had it repaired yet because of the cost.

- , Bellwood, IL, USA

problem #28

Dec 242009

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

I have the peeling paint problem too. It's been bubbling for years but I never did anything about it, now I kick myself. Enough problems already with this car, although I like it when it's good, it always comes up with something new to make me swear I'll never get another Ford. This is one of those things. Bubbling paint for years now it chips off. Auto body guy says he has fixed tons of them with this problem for the now-defunct dealership. The only way to do it is to strip and completely repaint .. no guarantee the color will be exact so might have to buff down and match up quarter panels too. I don't have chips on the roof that I know of, but maybe I should check. Ford should make good on this ... things like this are the reason the dealer is out of business - although they have just been taken over by Lincoln/Mercury so I'm not really sure it isn't just more of the same.

- , Lincroft, NJ, USA

problem #27

Jul 022007

Explorer 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

Paint on hood bubbling. We took to Dealer but were out of warranty. Bubbling on front of hood significant and unsightly. I take pride in the condition of my car, but I've put this one in the category of "the beater". I'm definitely not happy with Ford, as I believe this is a manufacturing defect that they are unwilling to accept responsibility for. I'll buy a Honda next time. should be ashamed.

- , Grove City, OH, USA

problem #26

Jul 142009

Explorer Pearl 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

The paint accross the front of the hood of the vechile started peeling. Ford told me that I could get it fixed at my cost ever though I had seen other ford vechiles with the same problem in the same area of the car. I started noticing this year as I paid attention to other same like fords.

- , Bellwood, IL, USA

problem #25

Sep 122007

(reported on)

Explorer XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 79,585 miles

The truck just turned 4 years old. The paint started peeling at about 3.5 years old. Ford won't cover because of the mileage, they say mileage is the same as years. I say it's a factory defect which the ford representative agreed. Ford should stand behind their defective paint. I have had an 89, 93, 97, 00, 04 ford trucks no wonder ford is in trouble. This will be my last.

- , Lakewood, OH, USA

problem #24

Jun 262009

Explorer Limited V8

  • Manual transmission
  • 45,000 miles

Just went to the dealership today to have them take a look at my paint job. The car only has 50,000 miles on it (about 45-48,000 when I first discovered the issue) and the paint is bubbling up in multiple places at the front edge of the hood. Normally I would think that it was caused by rust, but when you depress the bubbled paint it flakes off and you see the pristine aluminum underneath. Just found out that Ford knew about this years ago and issued a Technical Bulletin about the issue - BUT NO RECALL!!! Check out this link to see the bulletin -

Seems to me that if Ford states that there were issues with the parts prior to painting, then they should take responsibility for fixing the issue. The dealership said that since the car's over its 36,000 mark they have no responsibility to fix the issue.

- , Minneapolis, MN, US

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