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:
7 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
51,410 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 steering problems

steering problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2011 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2011 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 10 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #144

May 272013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 36,900 miles


Was driving and received an alarm on instrument cluster stating that the power steering unit failed - and lost complete power steering so had to manually steer the car which was difficult - referred to manual and it said to stop car and turn off and should reset problem.. did that and it worked for about 30 minutes then came back on - took to dealer this morning and they said the steering rack failed and had to be replaced.. my car is in shop for two days..

- Plant City, FL, USA

problem #143

Oct 122012


  • miles
On four separate occasions beginning in 2012 I was making a left or right turn when the steering wheel locked up, the power steering light and traction assist light came on the car shut itself off. I was only a going a few miles per hour. On the fifth occasion in May 2013 I was traveling through a secured green light making a left turn, probably going about 25 miles per hour when the power steering and traction assist lights came on. The steering immediately locked up and the car shut itself off, only this time I was in traffic and almost got rear-ended by a car that was following me through the light. It was the scariest thing I have ever experienced as a driver and I am worried about what would have happened if it was raining? I would have surely lost control of the car and hit a pole that was right in front of me. I have taken my 2011 Explorer to Ford three times and all three times they said that they couldn't find anything wrong.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #142

May 272013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 23,493 miles
I was driving my wife's car for the first time in a couple months, I was coming to a red light and the power steering assist failed. I couldn't move the wheel. Two warning system lights came on, power steering assist fault and terrain management fault. I put the car in park and turned the car off to restart. Everything worked after. It's a good thing it happened to me and not her.

- Orland Park , IL, USA

problem #141

May 252013


  • miles


Power steering stopped working while driving.

- Souderton, PA, USA

problem #140

May 122013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 19,000 miles
I was driving down a hill and two warning lights came on and the power steering stopped working. The power steering started working after the car was turned off and back on. The two warning lights that came on were advanced track system and power steering assist.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #139

May 072013


  • 20,150 miles
I was pulling away from a stop sign at a T-intersection, attempting a left-hand turn when the car warning light sounded. At the very same time, the power steering completely failed. I was somehow able to keep the car on the road and came to an abrupt stop just as I completed the turn. I am very thankful I wasn't going faster or had to deal with oncoming traffic when this occurred. Two warning messages also flashed on the info dash while the malfunction occurred: (1) service advance trac and (2) power steering assist fault. Once the car was in park, I turn it off, opened the door and then restarted the engine. At that time, all warning lights and system warnings were gone and the steering functioned normally once more.

- Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #138

Apr 112013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 61,000 miles


While driving vehicle, I heard a ding and two warnings came up on my information panel stating "service advance trac" and "power steering assist fault". I was coming into a curve and immediately after these warnings came on, I lost all power steering and barely avoided a crash. I stopped my vehicle, turned off the car and made a phone call to my husband and then restarted my car and the warnings were gone and my power steering was working. This has happened a total of 8 times over the last two weeks and is getting harder to get the power steering to work after restarting the last few times. I have taken it to my local Ford dealership where they are telling me it is a steering gear and they have ordered the replacement part, but with my extended warranty, it will cost me a $100 deductible. I've since researched and have seen that there are several Explorer with this exact same issue and wanted to lodge my incident as well.

- Elgin, OK, USA

problem #137

Apr 272013


  • miles
I was driving the 2011 Ford Explorer for about 20 minutes and as I got about 2 miles from my destination the power steering assist fault and service advance trac messages both began blinking on the dash. Then the steering wheel tightens and I can tell that its locking. I was able to turn right with a lot of force and get into the parking lot. Then I shut the vehicle off. I called my husband and we both began to google the problem and saw others having the same issue. I waited about an hour and cut the vehicle on and the wheel was unlocked and messages cleared. I was able to drive home with no other issues but I will be at the dealership Monday. We have only had the vehicle about 4 months and haven't had any issues prior to today.

- Apex, NC, USA

problem #136

Apr 032013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 28,500 miles
I was stopped at a light waiting to turn left. The green arrow appeared so I started to make my left hand turn and lost power steering capability. Several "dings" sounded and indicators on my dashboard lit up. I was able to get around the corner with a great deal of force on the wheel and get into a parking lot without incident. After shutting the vehicle off and re-starting, the power steering capability was returned, but the indicator lights were still active. Vehicle was taken on a flat-bed to the dealership and it is still there being assessed.

- Auburn, WA, USA

problem #135

Mar 222013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 13,536 miles
Attempted to start car in parking lot, power steering failure light flashed on and wheel became totally locked. Certainly there was no possibility that I could turn it. Turned car off to call dealership, and after a few minutes I re-started the car. Power steering responded and I drove to dealership, then home. If I had been in moving traffic when the steering failed, a serious accident would have resulted. I now discover that Ford has serious problems over power steering of the 2011 Ford Explorer, but no recall has been ever made.

- Las Cruces, NM, USA

problem #134

Mar 152013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 42,061 miles


The power steering on my 2011 Explorer has locked many times but I was never in a position to have time to snap a picture or remember exactly what the code said when it came up, but I had been telling my dealer that it was occurring often. This past time it did it I was turning right on a road and it locked up so my speed was slow so I could manage to come to a stop and put the vehicle in park and shut it off and back on again to get it to clear. I snapped a picture so I could show them when I dropped the car off. My dealer has told me everytime I complain that they have not had anyone else complain with this problem. They also told me this time when I took it in that they would have to replace the steering gear and that it was covered under the extended warranty but I would have to pay the deductible $100. I do not feel that I should have to pay a deductible for a defective part. I have also had numerous problems with my Ford sync and have returned it several different times for that and they just tell me I will have to bring it in every couple of months for an update(the update takes several hours). I have also had to take it in for a noise at the windshield. It sounds like a popping sound and finally they replaced a piece 2 times and that noise went away. It is also time for new tires. My car has 42,000 miles on it and we noticed that 2 of the tires have cracks in them in several different places. I took it to Ford and they said it was not cracks but cuts. They are clearly cracks. The tires are supposed to be 60,000 mile tires but they are not willing to check into the issue. My ac stopped working, I took it in for that as well and they told me that the ac condenser had a pin size hole on it and it was caused from road debris. That is not covered under the extended warranty and will cost me about $1200 out of pocket.

- Woodstock , GA, USA

problem #133

Feb 052013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 33,000 miles
On Wednesday 2/5/13 I was driving on highway going about a constant speed of 55 mph. All of a sudden I see a warning pop up that says power steering assist fault and my steering wheel locked. Even to make slight curves in the road where extremely difficult. I barely had time to pull over on the side of the road in traffic before getting hit. Also, my turn signals were not functioning. I turned the vehicle off and the warnings went away. However as I started my route to get home the same thing happened again.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #132

Aug 152011


  • 3,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. While driving approximately 10 mph and making a left turn, the steering wheel and braking system seized and would not function. The contact shut the engine off and restarted the vehicle. After restarting the vehicle the steering and braking systems functioned normally. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing. The technician advised that the steering unit would have to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired but the failure persisted. The contact stated that the vehicle exhibited a clunking noise when turning the steering wheel. In addition, there was an investigation under NHTSA action number: PE12017 (steering:electric power assist system) that could have been related to the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 3,000.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #131

Jun 042012

Explorer 6-cyl Diesel

  • 12,000 miles
I own a 2011 Ford Explorer, I have had numerous failures to the electronic power steering assist. First time this happened I was along at about 65 mph and the steering wheel locked up and the warning lights started flashing "traction control" "power steering assist failures". steering wheel becomes very difficult to move and steer car. This has happened 1/2 dozen times, each time I slowly steer the car to a safe stop turn off the car and restart the car and error clears out. This last time it occurred as I was turning left from a left turn lane when suddenly in the M idle of the turn my power steering locked up. Fortunately I was traveling at very low speed, but I was not able to steer car and went onto oncoming lane again I was fortunate not to hit anyone. However, this time the problem did not clear itself and the car is at the local Ford dealer for 8 days now. The service manager says its a gear and Ford does not have it in stock!!!

- Pembroke Pines,, FL, USA

problem #130

Sep 012012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 8,500 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 40 mph, the power steering failed while the contact was attempting a left turn. The contact shut off and restarted the vehicle and the power steering performed as designed. The vehicle was taken to a dealer for diagnosis where the steering gear shift was replaced. The traction control warning light illuminated after the repairs. The vehicle was returned to the dealer and the failure recurred two days later. The contact was then informed that the steering gear shift would need to be replaced a second time. The manufacturer was not notified of the recurring failure. The vehicle was repaired. The failure mileage was 8,500 and the current mileage was 9,500...updated 01/30/13 02/01/2013

- Highland Park, MI, USA

problem #129

Dec 042012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 31,325 miles
The power steering assist function turned off and the vehicle wouldn't steer. The traction control was also disabled at the same time. The occurred first in my driveway and then the next day in a parking lot at a local business. After turning off the car and restarting the issue was cleared from the computer and the steering resumed working. The vehicle was towed to the local Ford dealer for repair after the second incident. They are trying to find out the cause and make the repairs.

- Modesto, CA, USA

problem #128

Sep 232012

Explorer 5-cyl

  • 20,970 miles
Pulling into a parking lot off of a highway power steering froze and was difficult to move. Turned vehicle off and on again but still had same issue and could not turn steering wheel. Turned power off, took key out of ignition and got out of vehicle. Went back in and restarted vehicle and steering seemed to be normal again. Dropped off at dealer the next day. It has been 10 weeks and it still has not been fixed, part on backorder and fearful of what will happen after it is fixed. Dealer and Ford regional customer service manager [xxx] tells me there is national back order on part. If this is the case this must be a big problem. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Newfoundland, NJ, USA

problem #127

Sep 252012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 21,000 miles
On the morning of September 25th, my wife was driving her 2011 Ford Explorer AWD limited to work and the epas power steering shut off. She was luckily close to work and not driving in any curvy terrain, and was able to park the vehicle with great exertion. I came out and switched cars so that I could drive it to the dealer. The epas was working again when I turned on the car. I brought it to the dealer where they saw the fault when they hooked the car to their system. As of today, 11/14/12, Ford still has possession of our vehicle, waiting for replacement parts.

- Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, USA

problem #126

Jun 202012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 17,000 miles
While driving 50 mph, the power steering failed. The steering became extremely difficult. Warning lights appeared. After parking the vehicle, the engine was turned off. After waiting about 20 minutes, the vehicle was turned back on. The warning lights reappeared and the power steering still did not work. Once the car was put into drive, the warning lights turned off and the power steering was restored.

- Fairfax, VA, USA

problem #125

May 022012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 14,100 miles
Driving on a mountain road, warning messages appeared - power steering assist failure and advance trac control fault. The vehicle lost all power steering assist. With much effort (extremely hard to steer!), I pulled the vehicle to the side of the road and shut it off. When I restarted, the power steering returned and after a few seconds the advance trac warning message went off. Took vehicle to Ford dealer (benson Ford easley SC). They found problem codes and performed a software update that Ford told them would correct the problem. One month later, on 6/18/2012, the power steering assist again failed. This time in my driveway. Again the steering assist returned after restarting the car. Took the vehicle again to benson Ford. Trouble codes were found and this time the fix was a new steering gear and rack assembly. Availability of the part was initially a problem but the dealer was able to locate a part two days later. The car has not had a recurrence to date ( 20125 miles) I consider this a serious safety issue as the effort required to steer the car without the assist is extreme and likely beyond the ability of some drivers.

- Seneca, SC, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?