Notes: The NHTSA's complaint data shows potentially scary power steering problems with the 2011 Ford Explorer.

The NHTSA complaints are pretty serious - owners report the power steering cuts out while driving. The NHTSA opened an investigation in June 2012 but hasn't reached a decision about a recall yet. In the meantime, buyers beware.

It's too bad because the 2009 & 2010 Ford Explorer are solid, trouble-free model years.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
44,783 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2011 Ford Explorer drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2011 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #15

Oct 042013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 30,000 miles


This is the fourth time that it has happened to me. I have been driving down the street, when the car completely loses all power, cannot turn the wheel, cannot accelerate at all and you are completely unable to move the car. I have taken the car in every time to be serviced, they say that the computer shows that nothing is wrong, no codes show up. This past time I was 1 foot over train tracks when the car died. An oncoming train passed before I had time to restart my car. This could have been fatal and if my children where in the car I would never have been able to get them out of the car. It has happened at an intersection and driving 40 mph down a busy street, happened taking a left turn on a busy street. There are no warnings that it is about to happen. It literally just stops working. This is a serious and very dangerous defect on this car that needs to be addressed before a family is killed.

- Medford, MA, USA

problem #14

Mar 212014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 36,420 miles
I was driving on a major street during heavy afternoon traffic. The steering became extremely difficult and I could barely turn the wheel. The warning lights for advanced traction failure and power steering assist fault came on. I also noticed the terrain management control was no longer illuminated. I tried to turn off the road into the driveway but it was extremely difficult. I am a reasonably strong adult woman and had to use all my strength to turn the wheel even slightly while slowly moving. When I managed to get the car into a safe place I put the car in park and turned it off. When the car was started again, it returned to normal and I was able to drive it. Three days later, the same thing happened with another driver while I was a passenger. The older male driver had similar difficulty steering and turning the vehicle. I took the vehicle to the Ford dealership for service. They repaired the rack and pinion steering for an estimated cost of over $2000. The mileage on the vehicle was approximately 36,400 miles so about 400 miles past the warranty. We were able to get Ford to reduce the cost to approximately $750, some of which was for the alignment that was necessary following the repair. This incident could have been far worse with devastating results. I am a mom and girl scout leader and Transport children frequently throughout the day. At the time of the incident I had 4 children in my vehicle.

- Frisco, TX, USA

problem #13

Sep 052013


  • 46,224 miles
Lost steering assist during turn into driveway. It was extremely difficult to manually steer the vehicle, which I was able to stop due to the low speed. The next morning it was again very difficult to steer the vehicle when I backed out of the garage, however, after stopping and starting the vehicle 2-3 times the power steering begin working again allowing me to drive the vehicle to the Ford dealership. While driving the vehicle forward in their maintenance bay the steering assist failed again, at which time two computer failure codes where present, which I read and then showed to their maintenance representative. The code listed on the receipt was C200D. The second issue involves erratic shifts and loss of power when accelerating from a stop up to 35 mph. A Ford dealership has completed two-three computer software upgrades. The most serious shifting problem occurs when pulling out or turning onto a roadway and there is minimal acceleration when the accelerator pedal is pressed down, and the vehicle is unable to adjust as expected to the traffic flow. This problem was first reported 02/2013 and most recently during 09/2013.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #12

Aug 292013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 46,000 miles


While driving the car dies and the yellow wrench light appears. This occurred twice in one day. The first time it occurred I was just beginning to accelerate. I was able to pull over and restart the car. The second incident occurred while driving down the highway. I was able to pull over and restart the car. I immediately brought it to a Ford dealer who has had the car for three days and cannot find out what is wrong.

- Felton, DE, USA

problem #11

Jul 072013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 10,100 miles
Please reference previous complaint confirmation number 10475098, September 11, 2012. The problem is a complete loss of power steering assist that occurs instantaneously, without warning. This problem was supposedly repaired by my Ford dealer last fall (September, 2012) by reprogramming a control unit. The problem has now been recurring again, almost weekly (three times in four weeks). I feel this is a very serious safety issue. During the most recent incident, my wife was driving by herself. She does not have the strength to drive this car without power steering assist. Luckily she was traveling in a straight line and could bring the car to a stop. If she had been turning a corner or rounding a curve, she would have gone off the road. I have seen on the internet that other drivers have had the same problem. I will take the car back to the dealer, but Ford needs to own up to this problem and figure out a permanent fix.

- Nantucket, MA, USA

problem #10

Jul 202013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 42,354 miles
This is the second time this issue has occurred. The first time I was able to restart the vehicle and it corrected itself. Currently I cannot physically steer the vehicle and will have to have it towed. We were in the mountains last weekend so this is a very serious issue. I happen to be a male with the capability and capacity to handle extreme situations and I doubt that I could avoid an accident if this were to happen while driving. I was searching for fixes and saw that a few cases had been reported. Make this a priority as the electronics in this vehicle are severely flawed and someone will get killed soon.

- Liberty, MO, USA

problem #9

Jun 252013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 45,000 miles


I was in a parking lot when my steering wheel locked up and a service power steering light came on. I turned the car off and it fixed itself however I was driving on the 12th on the highway and it happened again.

- Frankfort , IL, USA

problem #8

May 292013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 19,000 miles
Engine overheats when idle, or in slow stop and go traffic. I had this addressed once by Ford due to a bulletin, but it seems to be doing it again.

- Garden City, NY, USA

problem #7

Feb 152012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 22,000 miles
Purchased this vehicle for my wife a little over a year ago. At first everything was fine but then at about four months we started having issues with the window not rolling up. The dealer took care of that issue with no problems. Then we take it in for the scheduled maintenance (oil change/tire rotation) & our tires had inside cupping in which the dealer does nothing about & still have not. At around 22K miles my wife notices the vehicle starting to jerk when stopped or moving. Over the past 8K miles this gets worse & gets to where the vehicle has stalled out numerous times (still or moving). I have made an appointment with the dealer to resolve this issue. Not sure the cause yet.

- Leesville, LA, USA

problem #6

Sep 112012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 26,000 miles
I was taking my kids to school and was accelerating after a stop. The power steering went out and I lost all power. The powertrain malfunction light came on with the wrench symbol. I was able to get into a driveway and turn the car off. When I restarted it everything was back to normal. Five days later I was again driving with kids. This time I was going about 35 mph on a road with no shoulder. The car lost power. I was able to get the hazard lights on and restart it before I was rear ended. This could have caused a serious wreck. The dealership service department said they could not duplicate the issue and there was no hard fault detected by the car's computer. So I just get to keep on driving and hoping for the best.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #5

Aug 272012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 15,700 miles


After stopping at a stop sign, I began to accelerate through an intersection. Approximately half way through the intersection, the power steering was lost and a chime sounded with a message stating"power assist failure" and then another message of "service advancetrac" were shown in the dashboard display. I was able to continue through the intersection and pull over to the side of the road. I turned the vehicle off and when I restarted it, the power steering was working again. This is the second time it has happened in this vehicle. The first time was in June of 2012, but I wasn't aware of this website to report the problem. I also did not make an appointment at the dealership for it to be looked at as it seemed like a rare event.

- Warren, PA, USA

problem #4

Aug 072012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 22,450 miles
I was pulling out of my garage and only got about 6 feet out of the garage and I immediately lost power steering - there was a message showing on the dash "power steering module fault". 2 days before this happened there was a very hard shaking in the front end. You could see the front passenger seat shake. The Ford dealer said that was caused by a problem with the drive shaft. And also said that Ford is aware of people having problems with the drive shaft also.

- Boston, MA, USA

problem #3

Jul 072012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 17,000 miles
While I was driving my 11 year old son and his friend, I lost all power steering. Which made it very difficult to keep control of the vehicle. I managed to get to the shoulder thru traffic. This could of caused a serious accident and harmed alot of people not just the people in my car! I got the Explorer to the dealer ship and it has been there ever since, this is now 7 weeks and counting. Ford states the part is on back order. I am number 560 and last count 2 weeks ago there were over 800 of this part on back order. This is obvious a recall issue if that many consumers are having this same problem. The dealership told me it was unsafe to drive! why has this not be put into recall yet. Does someone have to get seriously hurt before the safety of the consumers is handled. I have been in a rental car for 7 weeks and I am concerned that when they put the new part in that this will only happen again because Ford does not know how to fix this issue. Please look after our safety and the safety of others on the road and force Ford to make this recall.

- Bensalem , PA, USA

problem #2

May 012012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 29,000 miles
The steering failed while driving the vehicle on 4 occasions in my brand new XLT. The first three times it happened I returned it to the dealer to check it out and fix the problem. Each time (three total) the Ford dealer service department returned it to me and told me it was fixed. While driving the vehicle in normal driving conditions the steering would suddenly stop working, warning chimes and lights on the dashboard "service advance trac", "power steering assist fault", "terrain management system fault" and traction control failure and traction control off lights glowing while in motion. Almost crashed the vehicle each time it happened. The vehicle would also slow down even though my gas pedal position never changed. When it happened the 4th time, I almost was in a fatal accident with a tractor trailer and realized Ford Motor Corporation is not interested in fixing this problem or addressing this life safety issue all late model Explorer owners are faced with. Ford claimed they know nothing but same issue all over internet. They claimed the fix was they replaced an angle sensor in the steering column, another time it was the computer needed to be refreshed and another said there was no record in the onboard computer, nothing to fix. As I am not an expert, it seems like the computer is faulty because the sync and navigation never worked properly. Was there a crash" was there an injury or fatality" I believe if it has not happened yet, it will. The head of customer service operations manager told me I had two options "call the better business bureau", or "call an attorney". I will be doing both. I will never buy another Ford because of their inability and unwillingness to help me in this. Ford customer service from the dealer level through the toll free corporate hotline was absolutely horrifying. Search online for others unreported here.

- Burlington, MA, USA

problem #1

Apr 132012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 24,200 miles
2011 Ford Explorer was parked. Started car and power steering failure light came on alarms sounding and steering wheel was locked, yet car would back up...straight. Prior to this incident when car was stopped at a light it seemed to have a transmission slip or jump. After waiting for an hour for tow truck the Explorer started fine and steering seemed to work. Too nervous to drive. Car was towed to Ford dealer.

- Raleigh , NC, USA

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