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:
5 / 0
Average Mileage:
35,105 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 #12

Jan 102016


  • 90,000 miles


2011 Ford Explorer XLT: Upon rapid acceleration (example: Accelerating onto highway via highway entrance ramp) vehicle looses momentum then lurches forward. Vehicle is not smoothly transitioning from lower gears to higher gears. Vehicle purchased from Ford dealer, certified used with approximately 70,000 miles. Issue occurred at approximately 90,000 miles.

- Canton, MI, USA

problem #11

Jun 062016


  • 41,500 miles
I have experience twice the same problem with the throttle of this vehicle. I change the part about 7 months ago and had to replace it again last week. The vehicle just decreases speed suddenly to about 5 miles per hour and a light come on the dash with a wrench. This has happen twice already and it can cause a serious accident if driving at a highway. I was driving on a highway and luckly I was on the inner side and could pull over but if it had happen on the outter lanes this could have cause a serious accident.

- Cabo Rojo, PR, USA

problem #10

Oct 262015


  • 43,000 miles
I began experiencing problems with the steering wheel mounted controls while driving, which were intermittent. First, the volume button failed and then cruise control functions failed. The cruise control would sometimes cancel on its own, causing a sudden unexplained loss of speed while I thought it was engaged. The "resume" and "cancel" button functions also swapped. "resume" would cancel the cruise control and "cancel" would resume cruise. I only figured this out after pressing cancel while in cruise control to slow the car for traffic ahead of me and it did not respond or slow the car. The car continued at its set speed until I hit the brakes to slow it. The diagnosis for the problem was that the clock spring had failed and it was replaced. I feel this is a serious safety concern, especially since the driver air bag may have also been affected. This car has only 43,000 miles on it. The first time I took the car in for service, they reinstalled software which did not fix the problem. I do not yet have the invoice from the replacement of the clock spring because it has not yet been paid while I test the repair. The clock spring did appear to fix the problem. The car was repaired at perry Ford in san luis obispo, ca.

- San Luis Obispo, CA, USA

problem #9

May 052013


  • 23,500 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the vehicle accelerated independently, causing the contact to crash into a garage. A police report was filed and the contact sustained minor injuries. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the failure could not be duplicated. No repairs were made to the vehicle. The contact also stated that while accelerating, the engine rpms would increase rapidly. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure was 23,500.

- Saint Louis, MO, USA

problem #8

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 #7

Oct 032014


  • 53,067 miles
I have a 2011 Ford Explorer XLT. The throttle body has recently gone bad and is staying stuck in the open position. The dealership says it has to be replaced. It is an obvious safety hazard for it to get stuck when going at a high rate of speed or even a slower rate for that matter. The throttle bodies were a big issue for the Ford escapes in the past so Ford extended the warranty for them, unfortunately it doesn't apply to the Explorer although it the exact same problem.

- Orange Park, FL, USA

problem #6

May 112014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 49,116 miles


My wife, and three children were driving at freeway speed with the cruise control set. The power steering failed and the warning lights came on. The controls on the steering wheel locked out and she could not cancel the cruise control. The loss of power steering made it difficult for her to get pulled over. She tried to call me for help but no functions of the sync system worked. She pulled over and waited for me. I restarted the car and the steering was reset. I drove it to the dealership. Today is Sunday so I will arrive there tomorrow and have it evaluated. Very hazardous and scary for my wife and the children. Unexpected loss of power steering is a safety issue that can cause accidents.

- Arcadia, OK, USA

problem #5

Nov 032013


  • 53,000 miles
I was getting ready to turn into the parking lot.. when 2 sets of lights came on..the system indicators came up.. one indicating the power steering error and another indicating the power steering locked... then the steering wheel became very hard to turn.. making so very hard to turn into a parking space.. someone had to push me into the parking lot out of the way.. later to call Ford dealership doesn't want to assist me with this problem... I drive a 2011 Ford Explorer.. the car is 2 years old. I reviewed other concerns of this matter.. is there a recall...

- Charlotte , NC, USA

problem #4

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 #3

Jun 042011


  • 12 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. Ford has finally admitted that there is a problem, and they are working on a fix (after my family has been breathing polluted air for almost 1.5 years).

- Highlands Ranch, CO, 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

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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