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:
4 / 0
Average Mileage:
49,650 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2011 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #24

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 #23

Sep 102016


  • 44,000 miles
Upon heavy acceleration such as when pulling onto a highway, or passing another vehicle on the road, an exhaust/fuel smell will enter the vehicle and be very noticeable to everyone in the vehicle. This occurs mostly when the air conditioner is on, on recirculation. My wife (primary driver of this 2011 Ford Explorer) complains of a lot of headaches and I am beginning to wonder if she is getting carbon monoxide poisoning from driving this vehicle daily. We are going to buy a CO2 detector to see if this is in fact true.

- Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #22

Aug 052016


  • 87,200 miles
My 2011 Ford Explorer lost power even though the engine did not die there was no power when pressing on gas pedal. The yellow wrench light came on the panel. I turned the ignition off and waited a few minutes and it restarted. I took it to a dealer and they couldn't get anything to register. I picked the car up anyd before I made it home it lost power again. I took it back in and they still couldn't get anything to register. They replaced the ba sensor fir $500 since my air filter was dirty and could be the cause of problem. A week later the car stopped again. It happened again a few days later and then it stalled 4 times in one day and the engine light came on and stayed. I borrowed a code reader and the code P2111 appeared. I googled this and it shows throttle body. Each time I lost power it did not die but ran rough. When I restarted it was a little hesitant to start. At first it happened when I accelerated after going at a low speed but then it happened while traveling 70 mph.

- Blooming Grove, TX, USA

problem #21

Jul 302016


  • 83,000 miles


Exhaust fumes enter the passenger compartment when the ac is running at highway speeds and at any speed when the engine is taxing ie going up a steep grade.

- Pineville, NC, USA

problem #20

Jul 162016


  • 56,000 miles
Bad burning smell under acceleration to highway speed coming from air vents. Oil was found in the air filter housing and piping near mass air flow sensor.

- Nolensville, TN, USA

problem #19

Jul 132016


  • 113,000 miles
Long story short, I pulled out of my neighborhood got about a quarter of a mile down the road. Heard the drive belt squeal for about 15 seconds, followed by check engine light, and extreme engine knock. The vehicle was shut off immediately. The codes read, crankshaft/camshaft correlation bank a sensor 1, the second code was engine knock. Vehicle towed to the dealer were they had 2 of their top technicians look at the vehicle and the both reported the water pump had failed and filled the engine up with coolant which cause the engine to expire. My wife only had the truck for 2 years and she's very careful driver. No woarning signs of a failing water pump. Just got back from a 7hr road trip a week before the water pump failed and the engine expired.

- Reston, VA, USA

problem #18

Jul 062016


  • miles


I want to state that my truck does the same thing as reported in this problem. The smells gets real bad in the cabin when entering highway or crossing vehicles NHTSA action number: PE16008 component(s): Engine and engine cooling, structure

- Warren, MI, USA

problem #17

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 #16

Apr 152015


  • 52,000 miles
After hard acceleration and let up exhaust smell gets in the compartment to the point you have roll the windows down to clear it out Ford has tried to fix it they have a service.

- Lake Jackson, TX, USA

problem #15

Nov 282015


  • 83,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle stalled without warning while the cruise control was set at 58 mph. The contact was able to coast the vehicle onto the road shoulder. Once the vehicle was restarted, it resumed normal operation. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 83,000.

- Eau Claire, WI, USA

problem #14

Aug 062015


  • 42,000 miles


Under hard acceleration I get a sting odor in the cabin. It is like an exhaust smell inside the car. It always does it above 3500 RPM.

- Kennewixk, WA, USA

problem #13

Feb 162013


  • 56,000 miles
Since purchasing my 2011 Explorer, I have just replace the coolant fan on June 20,2015. This is the second time the fan has quit working entirely and caused the vehicle to overheat and required immediate replacement. Requested Ford to reimburse cost of most recent repair.

- New Cumberland, PA, USA

problem #12

Feb 102015


  • 64,826 miles
I sent my vehicle in two months for to be fix at drew Ford dealership. They also corrected a recall on the powersteering fault. Now the fault is back and the steering wheel is immovable or extremely hard to move. They also claim this will not fall under the recall, because it has been remedy the first time. I am very upset with Ford, because this can be a 600-2000 dollar repair. Power steering should not go this fast, my car is barely 4 years old. I may have to trade it in for more reliable vehicle like a Honda or Toyota. I want to support american companies. This experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

- Spring Valley , CA, USA

problem #11

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 #10

Aug 252014


  • 60,000 miles
This is a major safety concern. While driving an indication of a malfunction in the AWD system shows on the dashboard & sync computer. The engine loses complete power and you must pull over and restart the vehicle to reset the on-board computer. This loss of power happens on the highway and is at great risk of causing serious issues to other traffic. Not to mention when I have my child in the vehicle. I have taken it to rosner Ford dealership in king george va (they couldn't find a issue 4 four times now). It happens with frequent and unregular intervals. I have repeatedly went back to the dealership to fix. The Ford Motor Company (through my experience with the service dept) seems as if they don't care even when I expressed the safety concern. I believe the computer problem is a bigger thing than realized. Hopefully this will help in getting add to the complaint list so Ford will fix the problems. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- King George, VA, USA

problem #9

Jul 202014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 73,300 miles
As I was merging on to the highway, I accelerated to reach the same speed of the traffic. The engine revved over 3500 RPM. My air conditioner was on and set to recirculate the air. Shortly after merging onto the highway, I smelled exhaust fumes in the cabin of my car.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #8

Jul 052014

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 43,000 miles
Driving down the interstate at 70mph, warning comes on the console "AWD is off" and the engine is down to idle speed (~800 RPM). Pressing the accelerator results in no speed increase, forcing me to move across 4 lanes of traffic to the emergency lane with only the brakes working (no control over my speed, otherwise). Pulled over, stopped the engine, looked around and could see no externally visible problems (fluid leaks, etc.). start the car and there are no warnings, so I continue down the road, but this time stay in the right lane and keep the speed to around 60. Less than 1 mile down the road, the exact same thing happens. At this point we call Ford to get us a tow. This was a very dangerous event to happen, especially when I had the Explorer full with my family! today the servicing dealer called and said it is a problem with the throttle body. Being that this is the 2nd time our 2011 Explorer has left us stranded on the side of the road, it was time to go searching for others with this same throttle body problem. Turns out there is a customer satisfaction notice already being done by Ford for several other 2011 vehicles, but the Explorer has been excluded. Our symptoms and part failure are exactly the same as these other models, some even from the same assembly plant. I think Ford needs to extend the 13N03 program to included the Explorer. Thank you.

- Kernersville, NC, USA

problem #7

Mar 312011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 1,200 miles
When merging into lane and passing a car about 3500 RPM exhaust gas enters passengers cabin and everyone inside will complain of very strong odor, breathing problem and headache. Had this problem since car was new and dealing with uncomfortable smell with the rest of the family. Wife had numerous times having problem concentrating driving because the exhaust fumes or odor is causing her to have headaches and almost passing out on long trips. It is a hazardous/dangerous issue. If Ford can have a fix on this and it has to be soon. I think it is thousand or hundred of thousand of Ford vehicles out there that has this problem. Pls. Don't wait for something like GM did.

- Garland, TX, USA

problem #6

Jan 012012


  • 50 miles
After a rapid acceleration in order to get to toll speeds (65mph) the vehicle started to produce a burnt smell. Thought it could be new vehicle stuff but right know its 30,000 miles and every time I go over 4000 RPM on a rapid acceleration it gives me the odor, plus the vehicle losses power on the hills. Disappointing when you pay over 40,000 for a new luxury SUV.

- Carolina, PR, USA

problem #5

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

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