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 1 of 2)

problem #35

Sep 082016

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 60,000 miles


While driving 65 mph on the interstate, I heard a ding, saw a large wrench icon on the left side of the dash, and I lost all accelerator power. My car slowed to a creep. The auto propulsion mechanism would drive it about 2 mph, and I could push the accelerator to the floor and nothing happened.

- Dumfries, VA, USA

problem #34

Oct 282016


  • 126,000 miles
Have extensive engine damage due to water pump failure with no warning! I was driving my vehicle down a main highway and all of a sudden the "engine coolant overtemp" came on then "low oil pressure" and my vehicle shut down! I couldn't drive the vehicle. Luckily I drifted to side of the road so that my car could be towed without having an accident! shop determined water pump failure and water leaked into my engine poor engine design on Ford part) and destroyed the engine with no warning! no engine light came on or anything. Please investigate this. There are numerous complaints about this same situation. I called Ford to complain but all they did was take down my compliant. This is a safety issue because I was driving in traffic and this could have caused an accident. The whole car just shut down!

- Bassett, VA, USA

problem #33

Sep 192016


  • 3,500 miles
Driving at speed light on the street at 35-40 miles and all of the sudden the speed goes down to about 5miles and starts to shake and a wrench light appears on the dash board and I have to pull over and turn of the car wait about 5-10 mins turn it back on and works perfectly normal about, this has happend once every week for the past 4 weeks, last week we took it to the dealer for several recalls the car had, and tokd them about it but they didnt say anything. Theirs need to be a recal on this because this is a serious dangerous situation

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #32

Sep 142016


  • 70,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. While driving 35 mph, the vehicle felt as if the transmission attempted to shift gears independently without warning. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 70,000.

- Toledo, OH, USA

problem #31

Jul 062016


  • 83,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. While driving 35 mph, the vehicle failed to accelerate and the service vehicle soon warning light illuminated. The contact coasted the vehicle to the side of the road and restarted the vehicle. In addition, while driving, the vehicle failed to downshift. The failure recurred four times. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, but the cause of the failure could not be determined. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 83,000.

- Jennings, LA, USA

problem #30

Jun 212016


  • 38,000 miles
I was leaving my house pulling a kayak trailer with one kayak on it, went about a half block and the engine slowed down and the Ford Explorer would hardly move. Was able to go around the block and make it back to my driveway. After stopping and restarting the problem was gone. I had the Ford Explorer towed to the dealer were I bought it, they checked it and said it didn't show a error code on the computer and drove it twice and could not make it happen so there was nothing they could do. I researched the problem and found out it is the electronic throttle body and they have changed over one million of them. Both you and Ford are aware of the problem but a recall was never issued. Also once this happens it will happen again until the problem is fixed. I have a vehicle with 38 thousand miles on it that is unsafe to drive and cannot get it fixed.

- Youngsville, LA, USA

problem #29

Nov 012015


  • 94,000 miles


While driving at 35 mph going straight ahead, the car suddenly shifted into reverse, causing the vehicle to skid to a stop, this locked up the front and rear wheels skidding on the pavement. There was transmission fluid on the ground when it was towed to the dealership. Also the rear view camera came on at the same time so the occupants could see the car behind them, also indicating the car was in reverse. The transmission lever/handle was still in drive. I believe this was some type of electronic malfunction, but no warning lights came on, and on the computerized vehicle check it indicated no malfunctions, temporarily the hill assist light came on but went out shortly before the car was towed. The car could not be shifted into any gear, nor move forward or backwards. The front wheels were locked and skidding as it went onto the tow truck. The rear wheels moved at this point and it is a four wheel drive vehicle.

- Downers Grove, IL, USA

problem #28

Aug 132015


  • 65,000 miles
Faulty electrical switch within the gear shifter knob periodically indicates that car is not in "park" when the car is actually in park. This is worrisome since you are always afraid your car will roll away. This problem occurs periodically for me and is remedied temporarily by frantically "clicking" the gear shifter switch until the message goes away. This problem seems to be a problem that is not unique to me. There are several posts online about the exact same issue.

- Bryn Mawr, PA, USA

problem #27

Aug 232015


  • 36,800 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. While accelerating from a traffic light, the vehicle started to vibrate uncontrollably. The contact stated that the failure only occurred when driving from a complete stop or when decreasing in speed. Also, while driving 15 mph, the vehicle stalled. The contact was able to restart the vehicle. The failure only occurred once. The contact also stated that the interior lighting on the instrument panel would dim occasionally while driving. The contact stated that the failure was intermittent. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic to be diagnosed. The mechanic was unable to duplicate the failure. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 36,800.

- Lockport, NY, USA

problem #26

Aug 112015


  • 111,450 miles
I revieved safety recall notice 14S06/nhsa recall 14V-286 from Ford Motor Company in dearborn, Michigan informing me that a recall was to be performed on my power steering. The notice also stated that the power steering gear would be replaced under warranty free of charge (parts and labor) should it fail before 150,000 miles or the end of December 2015. "the loss of power steering effort, especially at low speeds, which may increase the risk of crash" was stated in the letter. I took my vehicle to the local Ford dealer(southwest Ford of greenville, Texas) and was told that the programming of the power control module was complete but they could not replace the power steering gear unless directed by Ford to do so. The letter stated the gear would be replaced at no charge (parts and labor) if the gear is replaced before 150,000 miles on the vehicle, or December 31, 2015. The Ford dealer service department said they are not authorized to replace the gear unless directed by Ford home office. If this is a known safety issue I would like to have it replaced before it fails. I am not close to the 150,000 miles but the end of 2015 is near.

- Greenville, TX, USA

problem #25

Jul 162015


  • 34,147 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. While driving approximately 55 mph, the vehicle stalled after the power train warning indicator illuminated. The vehicle did restart, however, the vehicle failed to respond properly when the accelerator pedal was depressed. The vehicle was towed to the dealer but the failure was unable to be determined. The vehicle was not repaired, however, the failure recurred on three other occasions. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 34,147.

- Dewey, OK, USA

problem #24

Jun 142015


  • 81,000 miles
Traveling at low speed coming to a stop, felt like a lost in power and advance trac system failure, power steering failure warnings go off. I turn the vehicle off, I thought the vehicle shut down. I started driving again and same thing happen at low speed at next stop sign. I drove a little further and turn car off. Upon returning all systems were working fine. On 6/19/15 same thing happen at low speed, advance trac and power steering failure and still not working after several hours sitting.

- Van Buren Twp. , MI, USA

problem #23

Nov 082014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 56,458 miles
Referencing previous complaint for same issue see tcn jen28-49151 traveling to dinner at 7:00pm again powertrain warning light came on, engine ran rough and speed dropped to approx. 1 mph. Pulled off side of road, turned off car. Restarted and continued on my way. Same thing occurred again this morning 11/14/14 at approx. 7:15 am on way to work. This time thankfully I was not on the causeway where traffic moves at app 50 - 60 mph as I was the first time this occurred. When this happened twice in October I took my car to the dealership both times and they could find nothing wrong. This continues to happen and I am afraid that one day my car will malfunction like this on a busy road at a higher speed. I was lucky the first time on the causeway that I made it up the bridge to coast down on to the grass without causing an accident.

- St Simons Island, GA, USA

problem #22

Oct 242014


  • 55,200 miles
I was driving my 2011 Ford Explorer on the causeway- heavy traffic moving at about 50 - 55 mph. Approaching first bridge incline, speed dropped to approx 1 mph creeping along, accelerator pressed to floorboard. Orange wrench icon appeared on instrument panel. Put on hazards to notify traffic. Cars pulling around trying to avoid hitting my vehicle. Not enough room on emergency lane of bridge to pull completely out of traffic lane - made it to top of bridge - coasted down half way in emergency lane and left lane until reached bottom of bridge and could pull over to grassy side of road. Turned vehicle off. Waited, then restarted vehicle. Drove directly to Ford dealer who hooked it up to computer and found nothing wrong. They test drove it, then called to say they could find nothing. I asked them to service the car as it was time. They kept the car over the weekend to service it on Monday 10/27/14 and tested the system one more time- still found nothing wrong. I picked the car up 10/27/14 and left dealership at about 1230 and by about 1245 the same thing happened again- no acceleration - just about 1 mile an hour and vehicle running slightly rough- wrench appeared again. I pulled over in to a parking lot, turned the engine off; restarted and drove back to the dealership. This time they ran a different computer check and got a code that suggested brakes and accelerator depressed at same time. No, I do not try to brake and accelerate at the same time. The service department drove my car for about 30 miles trying to recreate the incident. They still can find nothing wrong with the vehicle. I pick up my vehicle after work today. My car receives regular service at the dealership and is not driven roughly. I am concerned that this could happen again. Wrench icon indicates power train issue.

- St. Simons Island, GA, USA

problem #21

Jan 012014


  • 27,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. After parking the vehicle, the shift to park warning indicator illuminated. The dealer stated that the shift to park sensor failed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified. The VIN was unavailable. The approximate failure mileage was 27,000.

- Harrisburg, OR, USA

problem #20

Sep 162014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 85,885 miles
While driving to work, my vehicle experience an issue with throttle response. A wrench warning light appeared and the check engine light came on. At that point, the vehicle began shuddering and the internal systems slowed the vehicle to approximately 5mph. After stopping on the shoulder of the interstate, I shut the car off, pulled the key, reinserted the key and restarted the vehicle. It started up normally, but immediately exhibited the same symptoms. I checked the owner's manual and found that the wrench warning light indicates a "powertrain fault". I contacted Ford roadside assistance and got the vehicle towed to the nearest dealership, thinking that a warning light indicating a "powertrain fault" would be covered under my powertrain warranty. The dealership diagnosed the problem as an issue with the throttle body of the vehicle, that the throttle body is not covered under the powertrain warranty, and charged me over $700 to fix the problem.

- Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

problem #19

May 202014

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 38,500 miles
The vehicle when shifted into park would not shut off, with the vehicle not seeing the shifter in park. On inspection in September 2014, it was determined that the shift lever was failing, which can cause the vehicle to slip out of park and move unexpectedly. Ford indicated there was not a recall on this at this time and would not cover any repair work for this serious safety issue.

- Rosemount, MN, USA

problem #18

Jun 172014


  • 20,652 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. While driving various speeds, the vehicle would jerk violently. In addition, the vehicle would decelerate on its own and failed to accelerate when the accelerator pedal was depressed. The dealer re-installed the software, transmission sensor, and shift control cable, but the failures recurred. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 20,652.

- Mountian View, CA, USA

problem #17

Jul 222014


  • 36,500 miles
My daughter and I were driving about 55 mph on a highway, and all of a sudden the truck lost power. All of a sudden an orange wrench symbol appeared on my instrument panel, but I had no idea what it meant. Very scared, I put on my hazard lights and had to move to the right in 3 lanes of traffic!! I was so terrified a car or truck was going to smash into the back of our vehicle. The truck was only able to go about 5 mph even though I was pushing the gas pedal as far down as possible. When we finally were able to pull over, I turned off the truck. I then looked through the Ford manual to try and identify the orange wrench symbol, which was lit up in my instrument panel. It indicated that the vehicle had a power train malfunction. After waiting 15 minutes I then started the truck up, with success. The truck seemed to be working again and oddly enough the orange warning symbol had disappeared. There were no warning symbols at all anymore. I drove it immediately to our Ford dealership. I had to get a rental because they were so busy and told me they wouldn't be able to look at it until Thursday. This afternoon (24 hrs. Later) Ford called and told me we needed a new throttle body part ($650). This truck is only 3 years old!! we could have been seriously injured. I thank god we weren't as this is a very active highway.

- Houston , TX, USA

problem #16

Aug 302012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 12,852 miles
Upon medium to heavy acceleration, such as accelerating onto a freeway, the vehicle cabin is filled with exhaust fumes from the engine. This injures the respiratory system of the passengers. They are working on a fix (after my family has been breathing polluted air for almost two and a half years). Ford has finally admitted that there is a problem, and send me a letter that said. [xxx] Ford customer service division March 7, 2014 [xxx] [xxx] subject: Customer concern - exhaust odor on 2011-2014 Explorer, edge or mkx we thank you for taking the time to discuss the concern of exhaust odor in your vehicle. To address your concern about exhaust odor, we have performed several inspections and sealing actions where applicable on your vehicle to help minimize the amount of odor coming into the passenger compartment. With these changes you may still experience odor under certain driving conditions such as, when performing wide open throttle (wot) accelerations with the climate control system in recirculation mode. Ford Motor Company engineers have evaluated the air entering the cabin during worst case driving conditions (several wot accelerations with the climate system in recirculation mode). Test results indicate cabin air quality levels are well within the ambient air quality standards established by various global environmental protection agencies such as the U.S. epa, osha, the kingdom of saudi arabia presidency of meteorology & environment and the government of dubai environment health and safety division. Again, thank you for your time. [xxx] customer relations analyst please help me, Ford don't want to help [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Carolina, PR, USA

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