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.


fairly significant
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
13,601 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

problem #6

May 102012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles


Like many other 2011 - 2014 Ford Explorer, my 2011 Explorer limited appears to have a design flaw that allows exhaust to enter the cabin under hard acceleration (I.e. using an on-ramp, passing vehicles, etc.). whether that A/C is on or not, these noxious toxins fill the cabin. The concern is that if exhaust gets in under hard acceleration, it would seem logical that small amounts are entering at all times. This poses a serious health and safety risk to the occupants. Ford failed to address the issue, saying it didn't exist until last year (2012) when they released a tsb to "fix" it. For most (per an Explorer forum I belong to), the fix was temporary or didn't work. My vehicle has been in the shop numerous times, at one point for several weeks, and the problems still exists. Someone needs to hold Ford accountable and make them fix this serious problem.

- Abilene, TX, USA

problem #5

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 #4

Aug 162012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 29,549 miles
Power steering assist disabled and associated warning light enabled. Vehicle had been stopped with engine running and in gear. Disable occurred when I started to move forward. Problem corrected itself after turning off and restarting vehicle. Continued to drive vehicle. Occurred a second time, approximately 1 week later, while turning into a parking space. Power steering was again enabled by turning off and restarting engine. Parked vehicle in garage for about 1 week until it was driven to the dealer where diagnosis was steering gear needed replacing. No repair performed to date, approximately 3 weeks later. Reportedly the part is on back order.

- Lago Vista, TX, USA

problem #3

Jun 222012


  • 15,000 miles


Power steering failed while driving. Traction assist control also failed at the same time. Shutting the engine off and restarting brought the power steering back but not the traction control. The traction control began functioning again after the truck sat for about 8 hours.

- Greenwood, WI, USA

problem #2

Nov 072011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 11,056 miles
When pulling out from a stop sign, the car accelerated up a hill reaching a speed of close to 90 mph within a short distance. The car was difficult to control and almost collided with an oncoming car. Only by putting the transmission into neutral was it possible to slow the car down and pull off the road. Once off the road the engine continued to run in the 6000 to 7000 RPM range. It was not possible to slow down the engine speed. After shutting off the engine and restarting, the engine continued to run at these high RPM. The car was towed to a Ford dealer that evening (incident occurred in the evening). The next morning, I went to the car dealer and started the car. It ran fine. Ford did replace the throttle body. Car has been running fine but we are concerned it could happen again.

- Canonsburg, PA, USA

problem #1

Aug 252011


  • 6,000 miles
Cooling fans failed, engine overheated ran rough and then stopped running. 3/4 gallons of anti-freeze boiled out of overflow and on to engine.

- Patterson, CA, USA

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