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 12 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #104

Jun 122012


  • 32,500 miles


The car's power steering went out while driving around 10 mph pulling out of a gas station. The screen said it was a power steering failure. Turned car off and turned back on and it went away, however it happened once more later around 5 mph.

- Fortson, GA, USA

problem #103

Sep 042012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 6,700 miles
I was driving on a major hwy when I lost the ability to properly steer the vehicle at 55 mph, luckily I was able to get to the side of the road with a lot of effort. At the time my 4 year old and 4 month old were in the vehicle and luckily no one was injured. I called my husband in a panic and he came to pick me up. When he got there the power steering fault light was on and the terrain management system would not engage. After turning the vehicle off and on the steering came back but the warning light was still on. He drove the vehicle straight to the dealer and they are in the process of figuring out what is wrong.

- New Castle, DE, USA

problem #102

Aug 292012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 33,651 miles
This vehicle has experienced multiple (20+) power steering failures. It typically occurs while I am driving on the taconic state parkway, a 55 mph road in westchester county, NY. The power steering failure occurs quickly with little time for the driver to react. You simply get a small chime with an indicator on the dash stating "power assist failure' followed by a message stating 'power steering failure'. by the time you read the message, you already know what has happened as you have no power steering the moment the chime is heard. The latest incident occurred as I was turning off the exit ramp for the taconic state parkway onto a local road to go home. Half way through the turn, the power steering failed and I almost drove my car into another car at the intersection. With my strength, I was able to turn the wheel to complete the turn. Otherwise, it would have been a head on collision intop a car stopped in the intersection. Had this been my pregnant wife, it would have been a scary result. This car was brought to the local Ford dealer (pleasantville Ford) several months ago to have this issue addressed. They claimed at the time that it was due to a crossed wire that was fixed. The problem has continued to occur, and they presently have a new rack and pinion steering system on order from Ford to try and address the issue. Based on the latest occurrence, as well as a slew of other electrical issues with the vehicle, I am dropping it at the dealer today as I no longer deem it safe to be driven. I am extremely upset with Ford and their product over this issue.

- Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA

problem #101

Aug 142012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 26,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while stopped, the traction control and power steering warning lights illuminated. The contact turned on vehicle and the power steering assist failed. The contact had to turn the vehicle off and restart in order to resolve failure momentarily however, the failure recurred. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for inspection but the technicians were unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was made not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 26,000. The current mileage was 27,000. Updated 10/17/12 the consumer stated the last time the failure happened, the dealer replaced the power steering unit and reprogrammed the control module. Updated 10/18/12

- Eastlake , OH, USA

problem #100

Sep 042012


  • 15,000 miles
Driving slow speed with 1year old and 3 year old babies power steering failed. Warning light came on. Gladly I was close to home and vehicle was picked up by roadside assistance will see what Ford says tomorrow.

- Staten Island, NY, USA

problem #99

Sep 042012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 36,000 miles
Power steering stopped working. Cannot drive car. Error message "power steering assist fault".

- Alanson, MI, USA

problem #98

Sep 022012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 49,800 miles


As coasting to a stop light from approximately 35 mph down to 5 and maybe even completely stopped, the service advance trac warning light came on and then noticed power steering was nearly lost. I was in the left lane and was able to pull over to a side street, stop and restart the car, and then it drove fine. Taking it into a dealer for evaluation today and have notified a Ford person via online message board.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #97

Aug 292012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
I was making a left hand turn, when the warning message came on letting me know the "power steering assist failed" and then lost all power for steering. I was able to pull over, stop & restart the vehicle and the power steering came back. I immediately took the car to the dealership and the electrical power steering unit will have to be replaced along with the 'rack & pinion' attachments. I tow a boat from time to time and this could have developed into a dangerous situation, as the vehicle was extremely difficult to steer. Fortunately, I was close to a parking lot at the time and I was able to perform the restart.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #96

Jan 112012


  • 15,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving approximately 40 mph, the steering wheel locked and the steering warning indicator illuminated. The contact suddenly crashed into the proceeding vehicle. There were no personal injuries. The vehicle was driven to an authorized dealer where the radiator, front bumper and grill were replaced. The technician was unable to determine the cause of the steering malfunction. The manufacturer was notified of the defect. The approximate failure mileage was 15,000.

- Birmingham, AL, USA

problem #95

Aug 292012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 24,360 miles
While turning right at about 6 - 10 mph the steering failed and vehicle was extremely hard to control. Luckily no damage or injury, would have been very unsafe if happened at higher speed.

- Nicholasville, KY, USA

problem #94

Aug 222012


  • 15,000 miles


"terrain management assist fault" and "power steering assist fault" warning lights pop up and steering locks up while vehicle is in motion. Hard to regain control of steering and have to muscle car over to curb and turn off engine and restart car to get drivable this has happened on two occasions. Vehicle again at Ford dealer. First occasion last week and dealer could not replicate issue, reprogrammed computer and released us. Problem happened again this morning and car taken to dealer.

- Kensington, MD, USA

problem #93

Aug 252012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 27,762 miles
I was traveling approx 60mph when an alert from the dash sounded, the steering wheel vibrated and 2 messages appeared on the onboard messaging system: 1) "power steering assist fault" and 2) "service advance trac". at that time I lost all power steering ability. I am very fortunate that I was driving on a straight stretch of road at the time as I am unsure if I could have kept the vehicle from going off of the road. I pulled over at a gas station and turned the car off. I restarted the car approx 5 min later and it had no warnings and the power steering had been restored. The next day, the exact same thing happened, except I was going approx 10mph turning left into the Ford dealership to let them look at this problem. They informed me today that they needed to order a new "rack" and that the part was "backordered" and had a delivery date of November (today's date is 8/27/12).

- Gainesville, FL, USA

problem #92

Aug 272012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 15,700 miles
After stopping at a stop sign, I began to accelerate through an intersection. Approximately half way through the intersection, the power steering was lost and a chime sounded with a message stating"power assist failure" and then another message of "service advancetrac" were shown in the dashboard display. I was able to continue through the intersection and pull over to the side of the road. I turned the vehicle off and when I restarted it, the power steering was working again. This is the second time it has happened in this vehicle. The first time was in June of 2012, but I wasn't aware of this website to report the problem. I also did not make an appointment at the dealership for it to be looked at as it seemed like a rare event.

- Warren, PA, USA

problem #91

Aug 222012


  • 26,000 miles
Driving along and the power steering has failed three times. Turn car off and restart and it works again. Taking to Ford dealer on August 27 for review. Same as inhtsa action number: PE12017.

- Andover, MN, USA

problem #90

Aug 162012


  • 45,300 miles
The management terrain and power assist warning lights came on. Then I had no power steering. It became very difficult to steer and control car. This has happened at low speed 3 times and at a dead stop 3 times. I have been able to reset by turning the car off and re-starting.

- Highland Park, NJ, USA

problem #89

Aug 242012


  • 12,000 miles
I was driving down a steep and curvy road and the steering locked and the power steering failure light came on along with the all terrain assistance failure light. Luckily no one was behind me and I was able to pull over... I turned the car off and the failure light remained for both the power steering and all terrain. I turned the car off when I arrived at my destination and the fault came back about 10 minutes later when I was driving home. I have an 8 month old child and I am afraid to drive this car. We have had nothing but problems with this vehicle... about a year ago the sync system totally crapped out and the vehicle was sitting at the dealer for about a month. We pay about $700 a month for this on a lease and can't wait to turn it back in.

- Hackettstown, NJ, USA

problem #88

Aug 242012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 20,500 miles
A warning message saying "service autotrac" came on, following quickly by a power steering warning message. At that point, I could no longer steer the vehicle enough to continue driving.

- Midland, TX, USA

problem #87

Aug 072012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 22,450 miles
I was pulling out of my garage and only got about 6 feet out of the garage and I immediately lost power steering - there was a message showing on the dash "power steering module fault". 2 days before this happened there was a very hard shaking in the front end. You could see the front passenger seat shake. The Ford dealer said that was caused by a problem with the drive shaft. And also said that Ford is aware of people having problems with the drive shaft also.

- Boston, MA, USA

problem #86

Aug 152012


  • 27,500 miles
I was slowing down and getting into the left turn lane. The light was green so I started to turn left and the traction light system came on, both lights, and the steering system failure alert came on and I lost all power steering and almost hit a pole. It was a nice day, no rain or moisture. The pavement was dry.

- Sharpsburg, GA, USA

problem #85

Aug 132012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 16,000 miles
Started parked Explorer and went to back up. The power assist steering fault light came on at the same time as the service advance trac light. I was unable to turn the vehicle at all.tried backing up and going forward but the steering wheel would not move. Next I shut the engine off and turned it back on. The failure lights would not clear and the steering was still locked. Called our local Ford dealer and they me try restarting several times. Eventually the process worked and the steering came advised to bring the vehicle in right away.local dealer provided a rental car. Dealer called the next day and said our Explorer was not safe to drive. Dealer ordered replacement steering rack. Projected date for replacement part is November 9. our dealer has been great. I am not sure even when the car is repaired will I trust it.

- Chester, CT, USA

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