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:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
34,106 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2011 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #17

Mar 012013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 23,000 miles


Vehicle has had problems from month 3 of purchase. Cooling fans blew, sunroof rattles, but the worst was a few months ago when backing out of parking space and heard a pop. The steering wheel bolt had broke. Took to dealership and they had it for 2 days to fix it. Contacted Ford Motor Corporate and never received call or email back from them. Then I noticed the steering wheel never seemed straight. It always turned to the left. It went back in the shop on 06/12/2013 to be fixed. They stated it needed a front end alignment but fact is it was never fixed correctly as they never saw this problem before. Then on 06/15/2013 drivng vehicle and all of a sudden steering wheel locked up and all the lights started flashing. Could not steer the vehicle. I managed to get it pulled over after being in a total panic as I was 1/2 mile from a major highway and would have been driving at a faster speed. My daughter was with me and she was completely in panic as she drives the vehicle and says what if it happened when she is driving it. She will not drive it anymore as she is scared to death. Car is at dealership at the present time. We will see what the "reasoning" is this time.

- Dallas, PA, USA

problem #16

May 032013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 36,180 miles
While driving my 2011 Ford Explorer the power steering suddenly went out. The vehicle gave me a warning, but only after the steering failed. The vehicle became almost impossible to steer. My only option was to try and get out of the flow of traffic in order to stop the car. Turning the car off, then back on appears to reset the issue. The first time it happened I was pulling out onto a road. Because the change was so unexpected the car couldn't be turned in time to merge into traffic. I had to turn off my car, then turn it back on while blocking two lanes of frontage road because it became next to impossible to control the car without power steering. Two incidents. The first occurred as I was pulling out of a driveway onto a frontage road (05/03/13). The second was driving down a residential neighborhood going about ~25mph (05/27/13). I can't imagine what would happen if I were going 50, 60, 65 on an interstate when this happened. I can't reasonably expect my family to travel in a car this unpredictable and unsafe. I'm not sure what the best remedy might be, but others need to be warned before purchasing this car.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #15

Dec 032012


  • miles
2011 Ford Explorer. Consumer writes in regards to sync malfunction in vehicle. The consumer stated when the system failed, the screen went black and the radio and temperature control stopped working, as well as other components. The sync has been worked on by the dealership 13 times.

- Stewartstown, PA, USA

problem #14

Aug 242012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 12,000 miles


(my wife as on her way to our daughter's one month doctor's appointment. She had just began moving from a traffic light when a bunch of lights on the dash came on and the vehicle became very hard to steer (found to be stabili-trac errors and faulty electric power steering). She managed to get the vehicle onto the shoulder without harm. After reading in the owners manual, she found that with this issue, turning the vehicle off and then back on may "clear" the issue. It did take care of the steering issue and she was able to drive again. It happened again on the way home from the doctors. Ford looked at the vehicle and has ordered another steering assembly. The same fault has happened an additional four times since the first day. That is a total of six times. The local dealership has only been able to tell us that the part is on back-order because Ford engineers are working on a revised part to correct the issue. The last time this happened to my wife she had both children in the car and was attempting to merge onto the highway. Thankfully she was able to stay in an extended shoulder after the merge lane ended. Turning the vehicle has corrected the issue every time so far.

- Walkersville, MD, USA

problem #13

Sep 092012


  • 12,000 miles
Intermittently, while driving, the advanctrak and terrain management system warning light illuminated, and the "service advanctrak" warning appeared. At the same time, the power steering failed to work, and the "power steering fault" warning appeared. The turn signals also stopped working during these episodes. This has happened 5 times since September 9, 2012, all while driving the vehicle, including yesterday. In all cases, I had to take the truck off the road and completely shut down the vehicle - upon restarting, the warnings disappeared and the power steering was restored. I have had the vehicle to the dealer twice now, with no issues found. I have a 3rd appointment with the dealer today.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #12

Sep 022012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
I was driving my parents and my toddler daughter back from visting a sibling (approx. 5 hour drive) when we stopped briefly to take a break about 2 1/2 hours away from home. When I started the car up again, I received warnings related to a power steering failure and advance trac failure. The car had no power steering and there appeared to be something wrong with the blinkers as well. On Tuesday, following labor day) I took the vehicle to the dealership where I had purchased it for repair. More than a week later, I was informed that the part was on backorder with Ford until October 1st and that there was a waiting list to get the part and there were almost 1000 people on the wait list ahead of me. I'm greatful that I had an extended warranty, however, even under the warranty they only have to provide a rental car for 10 days. I'm hopeful that the dealership will do the right thing and keep me in a car until sometime in hopefully October or November when they can repair the vehicle. I believe this to be a manufacturing defect which should be covered under the original warranty regardless of mileage. This appears to be happening to a number of people and is both a safety hazard as well as possibly a deceptive trade practice.

- Conroe, TX, USA

problem #11

Aug 302012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 11,000 miles


Power steering failed.

- Travelers Rest, SC, USA

problem #10

Jun 122012


  • 32,500 miles
The car's power steering went out while driving around 10 mph pulling out of a gas station. The screen said it was a power steering failure. Turned car off and turned back on and it went away, however it happened once more later around 5 mph.

- Fortson, GA, USA

problem #9

Aug 162012


  • 45,300 miles
The management terrain and power assist warning lights came on. Then I had no power steering. It became very difficult to steer and control car. This has happened at low speed 3 times and at a dead stop 3 times. I have been able to reset by turning the car off and re-starting.

- Highland Park, NJ, USA

problem #8

Aug 262011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 5,089 miles
Ford "myfordtouch" system has failed on numerous occasions. It has frozen, locked up, and continuously rebooted. When this occurs, you lose all functionality and ability to change radio stations, adjust climate control, use navigation, hands free functions, etc. While there is some manual controls for basic operations, it does not allow full control of tall systems. For instance, when the mft system fails, you have no ability to turn on or adjust the rear climate controls for rear passengers. Dealer has tried upgrading software, resetting software, reinstalling software, and replacing hardware. While the problem is not as bad as it has been, it continues with no resolve.

- Anaheim, CA, USA

problem #7

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 #6

Jul 252012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 12,273 miles
Power steering failure on 2011 Ford Explorer while traveling in neighborhood. Started the vehicle with remote start to cool vehicle in hot, humid houston, Texas about 3 to 4 minutes before entering it. We drove 1.2 miles to an acquaintance's residence to co-sign a check for non-profit payment. Left vehicle running for +/- 3 minutes in his driveway. Backed out of his driveway and drove 1/2 mile when lost power steering and noticed two messages on the dash. One showed "power steering assist fault" and other "service auto tracking". stopped on the street, shut off engine, and restarted the car. No message. Drove 1/4 and the event recurred as described. Returned home and parked car at our personal residence. Called russell & smith Ford service department at 5:03pm and left message. Suspect it is after hours and will not hear from them until morning of July 26, 2012. The message is not in owner's manual. Searched the internet and noticed NHTSA investigation and chose to contribute and provide contact information.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #5

Jun 082012


  • 43,878 miles
While driving my vehicle it lost power steering assist system showed "power steering assist failure" as well as "service traction control". this was the scariest feeling I have ever had. This has happen to my husband several times.. I immediately called my local Ford dealership spoke with service advisor. I was told to turn my vehicle off and restart it. I advised my service advisor that I had taken my vehicle in for service on April 30, 2012 (40197 miles) and I mention this same problem for repair. What is it going to take for Ford to realize that this is a serious, serious problem. I am afraid for my family to be in this car, we travel alot and I am refusing to drive it. I was afraid of purchasing an american car but loved the new Ford Explorer look and body. However, I don't think I'll ever purchase another Ford vehicle and I will trade this car asap........

- Snellville, GA, USA

problem #4

May 142012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 13,000 miles
While in operation vehicle lost power steering assist. Steering became extremely difficult. Warning message "power steering assist failure" followed by "service traction control " light are displayed. Shutting off vehicle and restart temporarily cleared the failure. Failed more than once.

- West Lafayette, IN, USA

problem #3

Mar 212012


  • 22,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. While driving approximately 45 mph, the steering wheel became difficult to maneuver and the brakes would not respond when depressed. The gauges on the instrument panel also stopped functioning. The vehicle did not stall. The contact stopped the vehicle on the shoulder of the road and regained steering and brake power after restarting. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostics where the technician was unable to diagnose the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 22,000.

- West Islip, NY, USA

problem #2

Nov 232011


  • 7,000 miles
The Ford sync system decided to do an upgrade and disabled all related features for about 30 minutes. This included audio, cell phone link, radio, heater and the rear view camera! it has occurred again and appears to always happen immediately after starting the car, which is when the rear view camera is very likely to be needed.

- Los Alamos, NM, USA

problem #1

Feb 012011

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 500 miles
More like adaptive 'curse' control. My 2011 Explorer limited 4X4 with the adaptive cruise always catches the rear of semi trucks in other lanes, causing it to apply full brakes and people behind me almost crash into me. My 2011 limited is totally factory original, no tow bars. Here in California the semi truck speed is 55 while autos can go 65-70mph (and in most cases everyone goes 80+). so when I'm going along at 65-70 with no vehicles head of me in my lane and the thing goes 100% brakes I almost crash. I also get the cruise control totally disabled because of an error in the sync modules. The sync computer modules control the adaptive cruise, stability control, back up detection system, auto wipers, auto parking system, traction control, 4X4 system, etc, etc. I fear that the SRS is also tied into these same sync computer modules. Ford claims the sync system automatically resets/reboots itself every 24 hours while the vehicle is off to avoid system outages. What happens most of the time is the system will run (even though the screen is off) for about a week until, while driving, the sync computer crashes just like home computers & cell phones do if left on continuously. While this crash is taking place the touch screen freezes, music playing will stop, or change volume, or change track, or change source; wipers will stop working, cruise control will shut off, backup camera system goes down or screen freezes while backing up, 4X4 is disabled, center displays will go blank. My 2011 Explorer has been in the Ford service dept for sync module replacement and reprogramming 4 times now since Jan 2011. Still no fix.

- French Camp, CA, USA

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