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:
42,976 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 fuel system problems

fuel system problem

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2011 Ford Explorer Owner Comments

problem #14

Oct 142015


  • 37,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the contact's vehicle was rear ended by another vehicle. The contact also stated that a strong fuel odor was present in the vehicle after the crash occurred. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed and repaired; however, the contact could not provide information about what component failed and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 37,000.

- Seabeck, WA, USA

problem #13

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 #12

Jul 032015


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. While driving approximately 2 mph, the odor of exhaust fumes filled the vehicle without warning. The vehicle was taken to a local dealer where it was diagnosed that the vehicle was out of warranty. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and offered to pay a portion of the repair cost. The failure was remedied, but recurred later. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer awaiting further diagnosis. The failure mileage was approximately 50,000.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #11

Jul 152016


  • miles


We have had issues with smelling exhaust in the cabin of the vehicle. It happens when taking off from a stop or accelerating suddenly. We have noticed this for a while now and it has happened many times. We know you are investigating the issue but wanted to let you know we are experiencing the issue also. We have less than 55,000 miles on the vehicle.

- Morrisville, NC, USA

problem #10

Apr 172016


  • 67,390 miles
Gas leak driver side fuel tank at seam

- Barnardsville, NC, USA

problem #9

Sep 012015


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. While accelerating over 65 mph, the odor of fuel was present inside the vehicle. While driving at various speeds, the power steering and power terrain messages displayed before the steering wheel became locked. The driver was unable to turn the steering wheel. After shutting the vehicle off and restarting the engine, the vehicle operated normally. The cause of the failures were not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failures. The failure mileage was 80,000.

- Camden, NJ, USA

problem #8

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 #7

Apr 092015

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 67,000 miles
I am not certain where to fully post this or what can happen for this car. I gave this car back to westlie Ford in camas, wa. It was confirmed by a doctor that 3 people got sulfur poisoning from this car. I saw this car instantly back on Ford lot even though I had advised them it gave me sulfur poison. When my friend emailed inquiring about the car they advised that the car had not been checked but was a keeper. They car was a lemon from the start and even though I had the car for 7 months it had been in the shop for about 2 months of that time period for different repairs. We also inquired about that with everything on the car fax report. They came back that it was just basic maintenance. 7 issues in 7 months was not basic fixes. The other major thing beside sulfur poison was the car was leaking and had mildew issues before I found the leak. I am just worried about the next family that gets in this car. If it hasn't been properly fixed the next person can have the same issues as my family.

- Washougal, WA, USA

problem #6

Oct 222014

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 34,690 miles
When filling the gas tank the gas nozzle would shut off. Even when I was very slowly pumping in gas, the pump would shut off very much like a tank indicating it was full which I know was not the case. Then gas would drip/stream (numerous drips and streams)) under the vehicle creating a basketball size gas spot. Upon service at the dealer I was told the tank vent tube was blocked by cobwebs. Driving for over 50 years, I have never heard of such a thing.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #5

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 #4

May 102014


  • 23,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. When the fuel tank was filled to capacity, the fuel gauge indicated only a half of a tank. The contact stated that the check engine warning indicator illuminated after the fuel tank was full. The vehicle was taken to a dealer, but was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 23,000.

- Woodbourne, NY, USA

problem #3

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 #2

Sep 132013


  • 60,500 miles
Vehicle gas tank was filled. Fuel gauge showed 3/4 full - after a brief drive (less than 20 miles) vehicle was started and fuel gauge showed less than half a tank. Vehicle was put in shop for repair. On 9/17 - it was picked up on 9/20 - truck was filled up again on 9/23 and fuel gauge again showed 3/4 full.

- Katy, TX, USA

problem #1

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

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