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.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
40,086 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 miscellaneous problems

miscellaneous problem

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2011 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #30

Dec 292016


  • 75,000 miles


My wife has a 2011 Ford Explorer. It was around christmas when we noticed that gifts in the back storage area were soaking wet. I removed the spare tire and in the spare tire holder was approximately 2 inches of water. I searched water leaks on the internet and was overwhelmed how many people had the same type of problem with there 2011 Explorer. I took it to a dealer and filed a claim with our insurance. Neither would cover the damage. They both said its faulty seam sealer and was our responsibility. This is so ridiculous. Its a 5 year old vehicle.

- Willows, CA, USA

problem #29

Jan 042016


  • miles
Exhaust fumes in cab under hard acceleration

- Prospect, PA, USA

problem #28

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 #27

Jul 122016


  • 36,400 miles


My Ford Explorer 2011 omits a foul odor(smells like rotten egg)when you turn on the ac while driving, the steering column feels loose and has a strong wind noise while driving.

- Winchester, CA, USA

problem #26

Mar 052016


  • 95,000 miles
The cabin fills with very strong exhaust fumes when driving or using air conditioner. It gets worse when going up a hill or on highways.

- Meridian, MS, USA

problem #25

Oct 042016


  • 85,000 miles
Exhaust/burning smell coming through HVAC vents under hard acceleration. Has been a constant problem since owning the vehicle.

- Lilburn, GA, USA

problem #24

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 #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

May 152016


  • 60,000 miles
Exhaust fumes enter the cabin through the ventilation system, upon acceleration and on inclines.

- Jasper, TN, 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

May 012016


  • 70,000 miles


Strong exhaust odors in the occupant compartment, noticeable when the vehicle is operating at full throttle or when the air conditioner is set to recirculate air. Brought in multiple times to Ford dealership, had Ford repair items specified on their tsb. Still noticeable exhaust odor, returned to dealership, dealership verified repairs and stated they could do nothing else. Still noticeable exhaust odor coming into occupant compartment.

- North Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #19

Aug 022016


  • 80,000 miles
Last night I had done my first full throttle application ever. Subsequently I received this strong smell, so strong that I could barely breathe in the cabin. It smelled as if the vehicle was on fire. I slowed way down to make sure there were no flames anywhere. Come to find out through internet research, it was carbon monoxide, given the strength of it I'm presuming a significantly unsafe level.

- Council Bluffs, IA, USA

problem #18

Aug 102011


  • miles
Exhaust fumes in cabin while excelrating in passing gear, strong fumes comes threw the A/C system. This also happens anytime you excelrate. We have had the vechile in the dealership the first week we bougth, a number of time for this promble

- Friendswood, TX, USA

problem #17

May 252015


  • 56,000 miles
Back up camera is failing on this model. Everyone I talk to that has a Ford Explorer 2011, 2012 has had this problem

- Johnstown, CO, USA

problem #16

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 #15

Jul 042016


  • 5,000 miles
Regards from the first year I purchased I have entered the exhaust area of the cabin. From the first year, service, people who attended me in the Ford dealer, told me I could not find a cause or that was part of the design of the unit. I got to take it to 2 different dealers whenever I'm driving and presented me having to climb down or up a hill, it is where the problem arises. I may happen in the express or normal roads. The one last visit for a recall, returned to discuss the problem and now tells me it costs me $ 600 for the repair memo I get how to work with the problem. I have trouble because they spent 36,000 miles. My comment is that from the first year've been reporting the problem and did not have any kind of solution. The smell is now very often and truly bothers to guide and must represent a health problem.

- Arecibo, PR, USA

problem #14

Mar 122012


  • 18,747 miles
Have had vehicle checked numerous times for issues with the gps system. They have reset and run updates, but most of the time I am told there is no problem with it that they can find. While driving the gps system places the car out in a pond, the middle of a field or some where other than where my car is physically located. The problem is so bad that I have purchased a tomtom to replace the useless system that I purchased. First occurrence date and mileage is listed.

- Avondale, PA, USA

problem #13

Feb 032016


  • 45,200 miles
Vehicle failed to generate heat to either the passenger compartment or to defrost of front window. In viewing youtube this appears to be a very common occurrence which Ford will correct only during the vehicles warranty period under tbs 12-1-8. once past the warranty it falls upon vehicle owner to bare the cost for repair.

- Vail, AZ, USA

problem #12

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 #11

Nov 012015


  • 94,000 miles
While driving at 35 mph going straight ahead, the car suddenly shifted into reverse, causing the vehicle to skid to a stop, this locked up the front and rear wheels skidding on the pavement. There was transmission fluid on the ground when it was towed to the dealership. Also the rear view camera came on at the same time so the occupants could see the car behind them, also indicating the car was in reverse. The transmission lever/handle was still in drive. I believe this was some type of electronic malfunction, but no warning lights came on, and on the computerized vehicle check it indicated no malfunctions, temporarily the hill assist light came on but went out shortly before the car was towed. The car could not be shifted into any gear, nor move forward or backwards. The front wheels were locked and skidding as it went onto the tow truck. The rear wheels moved at this point and it is a four wheel drive vehicle.

- Downers Grove, IL, USA

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