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 1 of 2)

problem #37

Jan 162017


  • 107,000 miles


The battery charging system comes on while drive at normal speed and the steering becomes very hard and then everything shuts down and if you are lucky you might make it off the side of the road. This is very scary as I live in a rural around where you can't always get over in an appropriate area. In the past I could let it set for a minute and restart it and would be fine. Recently had to have it jump started for it to run again and then seems fine. Just last night/this morning it was so bad that we had to let it sit for several hours before we could get it to jump start it again. I have saw that others have had similar complaints. When I searched my VIN number it says there is no recalls but when I was searching for recalls it mentions the power steering as a recall. The recall was prior to me purchasing this unit. I am frustrated and this is a great safety recall that Ford should fix on all vehicles. The date entering as event happened was the last event but it started back in may of 2016.

- Louisville, IL, USA

problem #36

Dec 012016


  • miles
There are allot of issues going on with the truck we have just hit around 70K miles, this started a few months ago the passenger back door is not latching correctly upon being closed. The whole electrical system has been faulty for some time now A/C doesn't work correctly/ remotes and lights on car on constantly flickering... happens while vehicle isnt in motion and when in motion

- Corpus Christi, TX, USA

problem #35

Sep 192016


  • miles
The steering has never worked correctly, something just does not feel right with this vehicle. Also - the sync system does not work correctly and the screen randomly reboots and is not working correctly. Lastly the car system does not recognize when keys are in the car, so every time you go to start the car does not work. How this is unsafe - is in cold weather you have your keys in hand and the car will not start, which means you could be left in the cold and the car will not start. This is not safe.

- Cuyahoga Falls, OH, USA

problem #34

Dec 242015


  • 70,000 miles


While driving at a speed of 55 mph, in a down-pour rain, on a state hwy, on a straightaway, the power steering was lost when the "check charging system" warning light came on (check battery light came on as well). Steering was extremely difficult. Cause at this time is unknown.

- Clermont, GA, USA

problem #33

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 #32

Aug 022015


  • 33,000 miles
When starting, non of the safty features work, no backup camera, proximity alerts, radio, air conditions; no of the info/safety system works. After driving a few blocks, "sync" comes on screen and you are notified that the system is doing maintenance on itself, after a few minutes, all appears repaired. Your car should not reboot at inconvenient and unsafe times

- Los Alamos, NM, USA

problem #31

Jun 012015


  • 55,000 miles


While idling and while getting car up to speed the ac cooling makes a weak sound and does not produce cool air. While idling the car overheats when the ac is on and blows hot air. Due to the effect this is a car with less than 60,000 miles on it the ac should still be in operational condition given it's only used 2-3 months a year since ownership. Car will also overheat while it's blowing heat during winter months. Engine coolant is at optimum levels and car will smoke while exhaust is on. This needs to be addressed and an investigation should be done as reading numbers reviews on-line this is an ongoing issue with all Ford model vehicles, average costs to repair are over $2,000 to replace what should be a new ac system, we should not be having to replace the entire system due to known failure by Ford.

- Oak Harbor, WA, USA

problem #30

Dec 122014


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while the vehicle was being serviced, the technician discovered that the electrical pump failed. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 80,000.

- Avon, CT, USA

problem #29

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 #28

Jun 032013


  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. While driving at any speed, the power steering and computer failed. In addition, the engine, ABS, traction control, air bag, and security sensors illuminated. The dealer advised the contact to reset the master controls. The vehicle also exhibited computer failure. The firmware was updated multiple times, however the failure recurred months later and included various electrical shorts. While driving at an unknown speed, the power steering failed. The vehicle was towed to the authorized dealer for diagnostic testing. The contact waited for months to determine if the dealer was able to provide a remedy to the firmware failure. The vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign numbers: 14V286000 (steering) and 14E001000 (steering). The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 40,000.

- Holly Springs, NC, USA

problem #27

Jun 162014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 53,550 miles


On June 16th, 2014, I was traveling 40 mph with my 3 year old and 18 month old in the car and I lost all power steering and ended up in a ditch. There was no way to control it or even turn the wheel. It happened again on June 19th, 2014 however, my husband was driving and was able to get the car off the road.

- Holly Springs, NC, USA

problem #26

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

problem #25

Jun 032014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 56,000 miles
At approx 1430 on June 2nd on highway on ramp accelerating had the service advancetrac warning light and chime come on and the traction control off light and chime come on and lost all power steering control of vehicle. I immediately put on my emergency flasher and let off the accelerator and forced my Explorer to the shoulder. Once on the shoulder of the highway I cleared the faults, I wish I would have taken cell photo of fault, and turned vehicle off and then restarted vehicle with no issues. I did not have any other issues for the rest of the drive approx 25 to 30 min.

- O'fallon , MO, USA

problem #24

Mar 302014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
While driving on the interstate at about 70 mph, an electrical light came up on the dash and I immediately lost power steering. My family was in the car and it was extremely frightening. I was able to muscle the car over to the right lane at which point, power steering was restored. The issue happened again around 20 minutes later and then rectified itself after a minute or so. I drove the car to the dealer and spoke with them about what happened. They kept the car for a week and could not "replicate the issue". this was the first week of April. I am now learning that Ford was aware of this problem back in January and has issued a recall.

- Glen Allen, VA, USA

problem #23

Mar 012014


  • 44,000 miles
The car basically shuts off and you lose power steering. No warn lights just cuts off immediately. We brought the car to the dealership and they ran a diagnostic and told us the issue was with the power steering sensor and that it would cost $2,000 to fix. I took to the internet and searched the issue to find out that there have been a number of owners that have had the same problem. I called Ford customer service and they opened a case for us. They came back with $1,000 in financial assistance but it will still cost us $1,000 for soemthing I feel is not a part that "wears out". it is a very dangerous issue and I think that Ford should take care of replacing the part before someone really gets hurt.

- Mantua, NJ, USA

problem #22

Jul 082013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
We purchased our 2011 Ford Explorer in January of 2011 and have been the exclusive users of the car ever since. Our vehicle has experienced three total losses of power steering ability since July 8, 2013. When an event occurs, the "power steering failure" light comes on and the vehicle immediately becomes difficult to steer. Two of the occurrences have taken place while traveling at high speed on the highway. In one instance, my wife was driving the car with our young son and struggled to control the vehicle after the failure. Ford attempted to address the problem by installing two separate new steering columns into the vehicle, yet the problem persists and seems to have had collateral effects on other electrical and mechanical components of the car. I have advised Ford customer service of the problem but as of 11/20/2013 I have not had any kind of affirmative response.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #21

Oct 082012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 19,000 miles
I was driving to work going about 55mph give or take 5mph when the steering went stiff and made it hard to steer through the turns. It was worse when I had to make slow turns. If I had to avoid an accident quickly I don't think I would be able to avoid it. When I got to work shut the car off turned it back on and I guess it reset because the steering came back. When I T happened again I called the brewster Ford and said to turn the car off and on and that would fix the problem I rough the car to the dealer after if happened a few time but they said they wont be able to find anything since there are no errors when I brought it in it happened a few more times brought it back again the check it said they found nothing and then charged me almost $200 if finally completely went this all happened over a 1yr time period put a call into brewster Ford and corporate still waiting to here from either one that was almost 2weeks ago.

- Brewster, NY, USA

problem #20

Jun 032013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 30,000 miles
Traveling at freeway speed the warning message appeared on the instrument panel before the power steering quit. When I restarted the car it appeared to have corrected the problem. On September 10th, the same warning came on the instrument panel before the power steering quit. I was traveling at 35mph. I restarted the car and it appeared to correct the problem again. When I previously took it into the dealership they said there was nothing wrong and reset the system.

- Kirkland, WA, USA

problem #19

Aug 022013


  • 20,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start with the illumination of the key not detected warning message. The vehicle was towed to the contact's home where she received directions from the dealer over the phone in how to restart the vehicle. The manufacturer was not notified. The VIN was not available. The approximate failure mileage was 20,000. The consumer stated the vehicle was installed with a no mechanical key start system. The ia key failed, which left the consumer stranded. The no key detected alert appeared on the dashboard. The key was fixed. However, the error message remained on the dashboard. Also, the engine overheated.

- Walnut Creek , CA, USA

problem #18

Aug 042013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 35,928 miles
I was traveling at 40 mph on a busy city street when all of the sudden I heard a warning bing sound and saw the power steering fault and all terrain management failure warnings on my instrument panel. Lost total ability to steer the vehicle and had to put on emergency lights, stop on side of the road, turn the vehicle off and on (hoping that it would reset and resolve the issue) and doing this cleared the warnings and I was able to steer again. However, two days later the problem happened again after starting the vehicle in a parking lot and before starting to back out of the parking space. Once again turning the vehicle off and on again reset the warning and regained steering ability again.

- Madison Heights, MI, USA

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