Aviator Rear Panel Cracks Are Inevitable

Own a 2003–2005 Aviator? Chances are your lift-gate is cracked. Complaints about cracked rear panels in that generation of Ford SUV’s including the Aviator, Ford Explorer, and Mercury Mountaineer is one of the most commonly issues reported on CarComplaints.com

A Manufacturing Problem?

The crack is caused by the buildup of water and air behind the window panel over time. It’s more than cosmetic as some owners have said as the crack grows it allows water to enter the vehicle and soak the trunk floor. There are even some reports of sensors getting fried from all the moisture. The rear panel lawsuit wants Ford to cover the cost of repairs — which can be hundreds of dollars — saying the company knew about the problem during manufacturing, but kept pumping out the panels anyway. For more information about the problem and the lawsuit, visit FordProblems.com.

Ford redesigned their SUVs in 2002[1] and started using a polymer called ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) for their rear panels. ABS is supposed to be resistant to heat and tough impacts, which makes sense and points to a possible manufacturing defect causing the cracking.

The automaker switched to a blend of plastics known as Xenoy in 2003 which, interestingly enough, has experienced cracking problems in other applications.

Vehicles Affected

Make Model Years
Ford Explorer 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
Lincoln Aviator 2003, 2004, 2005
Mercury Mountaineer 2003, 2003, 2004, 2005

Not Just Cosmetic

The cracks allow moisture to build up and corrode components that were supposed to be protected by the panels. Eventually, the cracks will allow the rear panel to break off while driving.

Vehicles That Might Have This Problem

Model Generation Years PainRank
Aviator 1st Gen 2003–2005 9.71

Story Timeline

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OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, you can help make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint

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  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify the CAS

  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA

  4. Contact Lincoln

    Lincoln Support

    P.O. Box 6248 Dearborn MI 48126 USA

    • 800-521-4140

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