First Signs of the Carpocalypse: 2011-2016 Ford Explorer Paint Problems

Car Talk Car Complaints

Car Talk Car Complaints | Oct 18, 2016


Our latest installment of First Signs of the Carpocalypse covers the Ford Explorer from 2013 through the current model year. Drivers report that the paint on the Explorer begins to bubble and then peels back. The worst areas are the hood, but owners are reporting paint defects on other parts of the vehicle including the doors, tailgate, and fenders.


Let’s keep it real for a moment. All cars, from all manufacturers, can have paint chips and minor damage along the leading edge of the hood. Stones, salt, and sand constantly bombard the leading edges of every vehicle, and those impacts do damage.

As you will see from the owner video above, the damage is beyond what one normally sees when a stone makes a small chip in a hood. The problem is bubbling under the paint that then manifests itself as an area of missing paint. The defect then seems to cause the paint damage to migrate up under the surrounding paint, revealing more unpainted surfaces.


One common thread in the many customer reports logged at is a lack of Ford interest in addressing the issue at Ford dealerships. Defects are one thing. They happen. However, when a manufacturer opts to avoid owning the issue and taking action to correct it, we feel it is fair to point out that disinterest on the automaker’s part.

Reader kikimac2, from O'Fallon, MO, wrote to, “I noticed the bubbling and chipping of paint on the lip of my hood about two months ago, and I've been in a battle with Ford ever since.”


That is a picture of kikimac2’s hood above. He went on to say, “My car is only three years old but it might as well be 13 with the way it looks. I spent way too much money on this car for this to be happening, and it’s embarrassing for me to drive. I'm no longer a proud Ford owner! It's ridiculous that they refuse to fix what is obviously a defect with the paint. They need to take responsibility for this!”

The defect seems to appear at an average of 42,000 miles. However, some owners reported the issue to Ford within the first year of ownership and still found no help. Meredith, from Westminster, CO, explained to her experience when the Explorer was only one year old with just 15,000 miles, saying “This car's hood began rusting about a year after I bought it new. Even though I paid for the best extended warranty, they (Ford) refused to pay a dime. What really chaps the cheeks is that they are well aware of the problem and will not even meet me half way. I will NEVER buy a Ford again.” It is hard to imagine how Ford could walk away from a vehicle not just under warranty, but also under a supplemental extended warranty. Exactly what is the point of a warranty that does not protect a person from a financial disaster?

If you think we are being overly dramatic calling this a financial disaster, consider that the average cost to repair the paint defect is $1,321. Add to that the fact that a vehicle with a paint defect will be less valuable as a trade-in and may be hard to sell later on.

The Ford Explorer is a vehicle with very few complaints overall. It is a great family hauler with good looks and a tough personality. We would not suggest that buyers avoid the Explorer, but we do suggest they factor in paint repair when doing a value analysis of the Explorer vs. its competitors. (Shoppers should also read and consider our previous report on the 2016 Explorer’s troubles with another issue.)

Here's a video that Ford released in 2013 showing its new paint defect detection technology. Was this perhaps a result of the complaints Ford had received or just a coincidence? 

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One