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 13 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #84

Aug 062012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 21,900 miles


On three separate occasions within the past two weeks the power steering has failed. The most recent event occurred while my wife was driving at highway speeds. She said the car was uncontrollable and she had to brake to a stop in the travel lane. The problem can be resolved temporarily by shutting off the ignition and power and restarting, but it is obviously a recurring issue.

- Concord, MA, USA

problem #83

Jul 232012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 15,000 miles
I was making a right turn onto a service drive to go on the expressway. As I was completing the turn I lost the power steering & the car started to decelerate. I got 2 messages on the dashboard, the only one I paid attention to was "service advance track", I think the 2nd message was about a loss of power steering. If it was, it was because of the advance track breaking. I was able to pull over to the side of the road & stop the car. Shutting the car off & restarting did nothing to clear the problem. When I looked up advance track in the owner's manual it explicitly said if the advance track broke the car would decelerate & power steering would be lost & the car would need to be towed, it should not be driven if this happened. I then called the dealer & was told I would need to have the car towed in. When I called the next day I was told the part had been ordered & should be in on wed & then it would be installed. When I called on wed I was told the part was on a 2 week national backorder; which meant the part would not be in until Aug 9. it is now Aug 20 & the part has still not been received, I have no idea when the dealer expects delivery. The dealer has been very good about it & I am driving a rental car, paid for by Ford, until the repair is complete. Earlier in the year I had another problem with the throttle boot needing to be replaced & I wonder now if the 2 problems are related.

- Canton, MI, USA

problem #82

Jul 282012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 12,100 miles
While traveling down a highway at approximately 70 mph the power steering went out on our Ford Explorer. Obviously this was not a good situation. We almost caused an accident. We pulled to the side of the road. Shut the car off. Eventually restarted the vehicle and continued on our travels. When we returned home from vacation we contacted Ford and they now have our Explorer in their shop and we have been driving a rental car for 2 weeks. Several weeks prior to this when I started the vehicle to back it out of the garage the power steering had failed and the warning light was on. I shut the vehicle off and restarted it and the power seemed to work fine. I had no other issues with it until the 7/28/12 incident described above.

- Ephrata, PA, USA

problem #81

Aug 102012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 8,952 miles


Vehicle was traveling on an interstate when three warnings came up, all referring back to the power steering. The vehicle became extremely difficult to turn. We were able to move the vehicle off to the side of the road. Vehicle was turned off and seem to reset. We then drove the vehicle to the dealership where it still sits.

- Warrensburg, NY, USA

problem #80

Aug 102012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 13,000 miles
Power steering failed in my 2011 Ford Explorer while on the highway. Was able to pull to the side safely but was a very dangerous situation with my 2 young boys in the car.

- Weatogue, CT, USA

problem #79

Aug 112012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 42,834 miles
Power steering failure when driving at speeds of 10-15 miles per hour. The power steering locked up without warning and then the power steering fault light came on. I was able to pull over to the side of the road with but with great difficulty. I shut the vehicle off and immediately turned the vehicle back on and the power steering did not return. I shut the vehicle off a second time and let it sit for 60 seconds and the second time the power steering returned. Two days later when driving in a parking lot the power steering went out again, I shut the vehicle off and restarted it after 60 seconds and the power steering came back on.

- Ruther Glen, VA, USA

problem #78

Aug 102012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,472 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 5 mph the power steering assist failed message came on the instrument panel, immediately after it became extremely difficult to make any turns or maneuver the steering wheel. The contact mentioned that after powering off and restarting, the vehicle was performing as normal. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and the manufacturer was made aware of the failure who filed a report and did not offer any further assistance. The vehicle was repaired. The failure mileage was 28,472 and the current mileage was 29,600. Updated 09/21/12 the consumer the ABS and traction control failures and related messages appeared on the instrument panel's message center. The dealer found a diagnostic code for the speed sensors. The vehicle was repaired. Updated 09/27/2012

- Fort Worth , TX, USA

problem #77

Aug 102012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 23,700 miles
Driving my Explorer at a speed of 45 mph a warning light came on and said the power steering had failed. Which it had. Also received warnings my traction control had failed. Stop vehicle and turned off and restarted. The problem reset it self. This occurred twice within 5 days.

- Elizabethtown, KY, USA

problem #76

Aug 092012


  • 30,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 35 mph, the power steering failed with the illumination of the warning light. The steering wheel then seized and the contact was barely able to maneuver the vehicle. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for inspection or repairs. The manufacturer was notified and they stated that there was nothing that could be done and to take the vehicle to the dealer for inspection. The failure mileage was 30,000.

- Orwigsburg, PA, USA

problem #75

Jun 282012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 21,250 miles
This has happened twice now about 3 weeks apart from each other. We are driving under normal conditions and the power steering will fail. An alert on the dash will say power steering failure. Once we turn the car off and restart it the power steering engages again. I took it to the dealer and since the computer didn't submit a code and they couldn't reproduce the problem they sent me home with it. This is extremely unsafe, if we happen to be turning when it all the sudden goes out we would have ended up going off the road or in to oncoming traffic. These cars are mainly owned by families with kids since it has three rows of seats, can something be done before it results in more serious consequences?

- Salem, OR, USA

problem #74

Aug 032011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles


On several occasions after starting the vehicle, the steering will not function, its stiff as a brick, wheel can not be turned. Shutting off the vehicle and restarting corrected the problem. One occasion, while pulling out of a parking lot, the steering became very stiff and the wheel would not turn. It was momentary and corrected itself.

- Anaheim, CA, USA

problem #73

Aug 062012


  • 22,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the power steering failed while driving 40 mph. The contact shut off and restarted vehicle however, the train management mode was non-functional and all of the gear box lights on failed. The vehicle was taken to a dealer who advised that the steering rack failed. The manufacturer was made aware of failure. The current and failure mileage was 22,000.

- Harwich, MA, USA

problem #72

Aug 092012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 22,490 miles
I was slowing to stop for a stop light and a light appeared on the dash that the advance traction failed. Seconds later, a light came on saying the power steering failed, I tried to turn the wheel and it was very difficult to turn.

- Lowell, IN, USA

problem #71

Aug 082012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 16,000 miles
I was driving my Ford Explorer and I got a warning alarm that the power steering failed. It was very difficult to steer the vehicle. I reported it to the dealer and when they looked at the car, the power steering was working but they are going to fix it.

- North Mankato, MN, USA

problem #70

Aug 082012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 34,700 miles
Started car and proceded to back out of driveway. Power steering was not working. A warning showed on dash screen "power steering assist" off failure. Stopped car / restarted and the power steering returned. Drove 5- 10 miles, no other failure.

- Mandeville, LA, USA

problem #69

May 012012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 29,000 miles
The steering failed while driving the vehicle on 4 occasions in my brand new XLT. The first three times it happened I returned it to the dealer to check it out and fix the problem. Each time (three total) the Ford dealer service department returned it to me and told me it was fixed. While driving the vehicle in normal driving conditions the steering would suddenly stop working, warning chimes and lights on the dashboard "service advance trac", "power steering assist fault", "terrain management system fault" and traction control failure and traction control off lights glowing while in motion. Almost crashed the vehicle each time it happened. The vehicle would also slow down even though my gas pedal position never changed. When it happened the 4th time, I almost was in a fatal accident with a tractor trailer and realized Ford Motor Corporation is not interested in fixing this problem or addressing this life safety issue all late model Explorer owners are faced with. Ford claimed they know nothing but same issue all over internet. They claimed the fix was they replaced an angle sensor in the steering column, another time it was the computer needed to be refreshed and another said there was no record in the onboard computer, nothing to fix. As I am not an expert, it seems like the computer is faulty because the sync and navigation never worked properly. Was there a crash" was there an injury or fatality" I believe if it has not happened yet, it will. The head of customer service operations manager told me I had two options "call the better business bureau", or "call an attorney". I will be doing both. I will never buy another Ford because of their inability and unwillingness to help me in this. Ford customer service from the dealer level through the toll free corporate hotline was absolutely horrifying. Search online for others unreported here.

- Burlington, MA, USA

problem #68

Jul 042012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 15,500 miles
On July 4, 2012, was driving on the highway getting ready to exit in about 100 yards, as I was decreasing speed I heard and felt a light bang, the car seemed to surge like it was the transmission and brakes were pulsating, and had no power steering. Car pulled severely to the right almost hitting the guard rail, could not steer. Jammed on breaks, fortunately in the slow lane, and pulled over. Power steering light and hill descent control fault came on, shut the car off and turned it back on power steering then worked but the traction control light on center console did not work until the next day when I took it to the dealer. Dealer kept car for 2 days, returned it to me with no found no fault. On Sunday, July 22, 2012, the same thing happened at 30 mph, felt the car jump forward then the power steering assist light and hill descent light came on as well as another light (I took pics of the error messages). This time when I pulled over and restarted it, it did not work, let the car sit for 15 minutes still did not work, called the towline and no answer, so drove the car 3 miles to home with no power steering or traction control. Next day called dealer called dealer, and they said they could not take me in for another week, also stated they never heard of these issues, so I googled and found this website where other people are having the same problems. The traction control has happened numerous times (at least 10) and the power steering twice within 18 days.

- Riverdale, NJ, USA

problem #67

Jul 312012


  • 37,470 miles
On July 31,2012 I went to drive the Explorer and the power steering warning came on. It reset itself. On August 2,2012 I took it to my Ford dealer but the system was working. Later that day the system failed again with two additional codes. Ford agreed to have the car towed to the dealership. Today I was informed that it will cost me half of a $1500 repair bill.

- Milford, PA, USA

problem #66

Jun 062012


  • 19,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact was driving 35 mph when the power steering assist became inoperable. The power steering assist independently reset once the vehicle was turned off then restarted. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who was unable to diagnose a failure. The contact was advised to bring the vehicle back to the dealer should the problem recur. The failure recurred twice but the vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 19,000.

- Camp Lejeune, NC, USA

problem #65

Aug 022012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 18,650 miles
Traveling at 55 mph and received an alarm and warning message of a power steering fault. Vehicle became very hard to steer but I was able to get off of the highway. Restarted vehicle with all messages clear and vehicle drove ok. Vehicle was taken to dealer. Awaiting outcome.

- Covington, VA, USA

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