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

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2011 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 11 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #124

Aug 082012


  • 18,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that after starting the vehicle, the power steering fail warning light illuminated on the instrument panel. The contact restarted the vehicle and it resumed normal funtion. Also, the contact stated that while attempting to make a left turn, the failure recurred. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who diagnosed that the rack assembly needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The remedy failed to repair the failure. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who stated that the contact needed to wait until the part became available. The failure mileage was 18,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Centerville, VA, USA

problem #123

Oct 172012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 16,000 miles
Brakes make a grunting/grinding sound when braking shortly after being stationary. When this phenomenon happens on a downward slope, drive gets the feeling that brake effectiveness is reduced greatly. Owner has brought car to dealer a total of 4 times and was able to replicate noise one time.

- Bryn Mawr, PA, USA

problem #122

Oct 042012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 34,800 miles
Driving on the side street when steering wheel suddenly became very stiff after a very slight steer to the right making it impossible to steer. Warning lights appear on instrument panel. Turned off engine and re-starting enable steering again. Same incident happen again within a week, luckily I am driving on side street and same incident happen again. Never drove car on freeways for fear of losing steering control. Brought car to dealer the following day. Dealer said fix computer malfunction. The following day after dealer said they fix it, same incident happen with my wife driving. This time steering wheel does not move even after stop/re-start of engine. Dealer tow car to their shop.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #121

Aug 212012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 26,830 miles


Driving around a fairly sharp curve of 2-lane country highway with no shoulder and deep ditches at about 60 mph when car suddenly pulled to the right. Felt like I had a flat tire pulling me off the road. Looked at instrument panel and saw lights indicating power steering assist fault and loss of traction control. Very hard to keep vehicle on roadway, but luckily with no one behind me, I let my speed reduce as I assessed the situation. Got vehicle off the road and started reading owner's manual. After shutting the vehicle off for just a few minutes, I restarted it to find the dashboard warnings were cleared. Confirmation from the manual said that steering may reset after a restart. Power steering was restored. A call to the dealership resulted in them telling me it was probably just a fluke incident and to continue on my trip, but to bring it by the next day when back in town. When the dealership checked the computer codes, they would not release the vehicle to me because of its danger to drive. This was almost 2 months ago and they still cannot tell me when the part will be in for my vehicle repair. Ford tells them I am on a list, but can't tell them where on the list. Dealership claims there is no recall, but there is either a very long list waiting for this part or Ford can't figure out what is wrong and why it is failing in order to make them correctly. After waiting 4 months after ordering to finally get my vehicle, you'd think Ford would have gotten it right before letting them go out.

- Evansville, IL, USA

problem #120

Aug 242012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 12,000 miles
(my wife as on her way to our daughter's one month doctor's appointment. She had just began moving from a traffic light when a bunch of lights on the dash came on and the vehicle became very hard to steer (found to be stabili-trac errors and faulty electric power steering). She managed to get the vehicle onto the shoulder without harm. After reading in the owners manual, she found that with this issue, turning the vehicle off and then back on may "clear" the issue. It did take care of the steering issue and she was able to drive again. It happened again on the way home from the doctors. Ford looked at the vehicle and has ordered another steering assembly. The same fault has happened an additional four times since the first day. That is a total of six times. The local dealership has only been able to tell us that the part is on back-order because Ford engineers are working on a revised part to correct the issue. The last time this happened to my wife she had both children in the car and was attempting to merge onto the highway. Thankfully she was able to stay in an extended shoulder after the merge lane ended. Turning the vehicle has corrected the issue every time so far.

- Walkersville, MD, USA

problem #119

Oct 052012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 21,560 miles
While driving a warning light came on stating I lost power steering. I could not steer my car. I was able to pull over. I shut off my car and restarted it and power steering came back.

- Norwood, MA, USA

problem #118

Sep 092012


  • 12,000 miles


Intermittently, while driving, the advanctrak and terrain management system warning light illuminated, and the "service advanctrak" warning appeared. At the same time, the power steering failed to work, and the "power steering fault" warning appeared. The turn signals also stopped working during these episodes. This has happened 5 times since September 9, 2012, all while driving the vehicle, including yesterday. In all cases, I had to take the truck off the road and completely shut down the vehicle - upon restarting, the warnings disappeared and the power steering was restored. I have had the vehicle to the dealer twice now, with no issues found. I have a 3rd appointment with the dealer today.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #117

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 #116

Sep 282012


  • 36,458 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact was driving approximately 2 mph in a parking lot hen an immediate loss of power steering occurred with the illumination of the warning indicator. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer who stated that the electronic steering gear required replacement. The part needed for the repair was on back order and the vehicle was scheduled to be repaired when the part became available. There was an open investigation under NHTSA action number PE12017 (steering:electric power assist system) that could have been related to the failure. The manufacturer was notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 36,458.

- Greer , SC, USA

problem #115

Sep 212012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 24,050 miles
As I was driving through the mall parking lot, power steering failed & several warning lights lit up. I was in process of turning when power assist failed and I almost struck a parked car. I turned the vehicle off and restarted (power assist was then working). I immediately drove to my Ford dealership where it was discovered I needed a new steering rack assembly. To the best of my knowledge, this incident is consistent with NHTSA case PE12-017.

- Madison, AL, USA

problem #114

Jul 202012


  • 6,200 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving at various speeds, the power steering assist would fail and cause the steering wheel to become inoperable. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated that they were aware of the failure but offered no assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and offered no additional assistance. The failure mileage was 6,200 and the current mileage was 6,400.

- State Island , NY, USA

problem #113

Sep 142012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 22,000 miles
I was backing out of my driveway and when I tried to turn the wheel I could not. There was a warning lite on the left of dash that came on showing power assist steering failure. Turned car off then back on and it reset and was now working.

- Waukesha, WI, USA

problem #112

Sep 022012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 20,000 miles
While pulling into a busy intersection (attempting to turn left at a T intersection) the power steering failed. I received errors on the cluster stating that power steering and stabilitrak had failed. I was unable to steer the car into traffic; luckily there was a driveway a few degrees off center from the T and I was able to pull in there.

- South Lyon, MI, USA

problem #111

May 012012


  • 6,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the power steering warning light illuminated while driving and caused the steering to become hard to turn. The engine had to be shut off for a moment to reset the steering to normal function. The failure was experienced several times. The vehicle was taken to the dealer a diagnostic was performed that located the failure at the steering column. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 6,000 and the current mileage was 7,000.

- Thibodaux, LA, USA

problem #110

Sep 072012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 42,734 miles
During a late afternoon drive on the local freeway and under dry weather conditions, I was driving my 2010 Ford Explorer at approx. 70 mph when suddenly the luxury of power steering vanished. Immediately, it was difficult to steer, especially when driving on surface streets at slower speeds and attempts to park. Within moments of the power steering going away, a pop-up window appeared on my dash board instructing me of a power steering problem and inviting me to bring it to the attention of the local Ford dealer. I reached my destination and turned off the car. After several hours, I turned on the car and the power steering was restored. After several weeks, I was again driving the local freeway at 70 mph under dry weather conditions and the same experience occurred. I again reached my destination, turned off the car and attended to my duties. Again, after several hours, I turned on the car and found no pop-up windows on the dash board or power steering difficulties. I have taken it in to the local Ford dealer and was told that it needed a new steering gear, which is presently on order and should be in within the next week.

- Sandy, UT, USA

problem #109

Sep 022012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
I was driving my parents and my toddler daughter back from visting a sibling (approx. 5 hour drive) when we stopped briefly to take a break about 2 1/2 hours away from home. When I started the car up again, I received warnings related to a power steering failure and advance trac failure. The car had no power steering and there appeared to be something wrong with the blinkers as well. On Tuesday, following labor day) I took the vehicle to the dealership where I had purchased it for repair. More than a week later, I was informed that the part was on backorder with Ford until October 1st and that there was a waiting list to get the part and there were almost 1000 people on the wait list ahead of me. I'm greatful that I had an extended warranty, however, even under the warranty they only have to provide a rental car for 10 days. I'm hopeful that the dealership will do the right thing and keep me in a car until sometime in hopefully October or November when they can repair the vehicle. I believe this to be a manufacturing defect which should be covered under the original warranty regardless of mileage. This appears to be happening to a number of people and is both a safety hazard as well as possibly a deceptive trade practice.

- Conroe, TX, USA

problem #108

Sep 112012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 51,000 miles
While driving approximately 40 mph the power steering light came on and the power steering immediately stopped working on my 2011 Ford Explorer. Luckily there was a turn lane to my right I could move into to stop the car and attempt to reset the system. I was lucky. I can only imagine what could happen if this were to happen on a winding mountain road. I took my Explorer to the closest dealer to be looked at. I was told they would have to order the parts and that it would cost $1600 to fix. This vehicle is less than 2 years old. The design of this steering system is potentially fatal no steering system should ever fail without warning!

- Monticello, GA, USA

problem #107

Jul 172012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 6,500 miles
While the car was moving the dash annunciator came on and, in succession, indicated "terrain management system fault", "service advancetrac" and then "power steering assist off". this last one is a serious problem as this car is virtually impossible to steer/turn without power assist. The power steering assist stopped completely without warning. If I were at high speed, at a curve, or had to avoid another car or person, I would have been in big trouble. Some time later the car corrected itself. Then it happened a second time 9/10/2012.

- Nantucket, MA, USA

problem #106

Aug 302012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 11,000 miles
Power steering failed.

- Travelers Rest, SC, USA

problem #105

Sep 072012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 13,004 miles
Started to back out of the garage and the steering wouldn't move. Chime went on and "power steering assist fault" appeared in the display next to the speedometer. Shut the car off waited then restarted the car and things functioned normally. Will call Ford dealer as this could be dangerous, steering was very, very hard to move and I'm a healthy male in the mid 40's. I don't know what my wife would do if this happened at highway speed.

- Westfield, IN, USA

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