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 14 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #64

Aug 022012


  • 15,500 miles


I was driving down the highway when the powersteering failed. Fortunately I was able to gain control of the vehicle without crashing. However it happened a second time and I slightly lost control of the car and ended up in the grass on the side of the road.

- Port Matilda, PA, USA

problem #63

Jul 192012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 18,000 miles
2011 Ford Explorer limited exhibiting variable power steering failure code. When fault occurs, power steering is lost on car until car is shut off and restarted. Failure has occurred more that 12 times in last month at speeds up to 35 mph. Dealer cannot recognize fault or recommend fix as the computer resets itself and clears the fault code upon restarting. This is a serious safety concern when traveling with children and has occurred at both stop and at speeds of 35 mph. When occurs, the car has no power steering until owner can pull over to reset.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #62

Jul 312012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 31,081 miles
Steering wheel locks up when vehicles in motion suddenly lost power steering assist and made it harder to steer the vehicle. The dash board indicated "power steering assist fault" and "service advancetrack". this happened three time and after switching off the power and restarting the vehicle corrected the problem.. when steering locked up I almost hit the curb and telephone pole. Scared to drive the car have not made the first payment.

- Corpus Christi, TX, USA

problem #61

Jul 012012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 22,000 miles


Driving at 35mph when a beep and notification popped up in the instrument panel. I received a warning for "power steering assist fault" and had a "service advance trac" warning. I lost power steering to the vehicle, which was very difficult to pull off of the road in traffic. I also lost the terrain management system function. After turning off the ignition and re-starting the engine, the warning went away and I regained power steering. This problem has happened 3 more times before taking it in. The dealership reprogrammed the computer. This sequence happened again after the reprogram, and the replaced my steering angle sensor and reprogrammed again. I had two more failures after this was done and the vehicle is back at the dealership today.

- Sagamore Hills, OH, USA

problem #60

Jun 042012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 15,204 miles
A warning light came on while I was making a right turn. The steering wheel became hard turn, the first time I was able to get the truck to the curb and restart the truck. That seemed to make the light go away and I was able to make turns with ease. The other time the I lost my power steering, I was traveling on the highway on my way home from work traffic was heavy, it was a struggle to get to the breakdown from the left lane. I was able to avoid some close calls that day. I have lost the power steering several other times before, but that incident made me set up the truck for service. I made my call on 7/20/12 for a 7/28/12 service, the Ford service center customer rep. Told me the part is back order and they don't know they will have the part in stock, also they kept the truck and gave a Ford Focus to drive. Not good considering I use my truck for work.

- Roslindale, MA, USA

problem #59

Jul 122012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 10,003 miles
Power steering assist failure warning came on as I lost steering. Brought the car to the dealer where they they reprogrammed epas module which obviously wasnt the problem because 7/27/2012 I was driving on the highway at 55mph and the same thing happened again...I was barely able to steer the car off the road.

- Hawthorne, NY, USA

problem #58

Jul 252012


  • 10,500 miles


Suddenly lost power steering assist and made it harder to steer the vehicle. The dash board indicated "power steering assist fault" and "service advancetrack". this happened twice and after switching off the power and restarting the vehicle corrected the problem.

- Oak Brook, IL, USA

problem #57

Jul 252012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 11,500 miles
Was driving to work and was turning into the parking lot and the instrument panel suddenly showed "power steering default" and then the steering became extremely hard. Vehicle acted as if it had no power steering at all. Made it to a parking spot. Turned off vehicle. Got out checked for leaks, checked to see if power steering was low. (no leaks, fluid level was fine) restarted vehicle, the computer seemed to reset and steering seemed fine. Drove around parking lot steering fine. Has not happened again. Taking vehicle to dealership to have them check. Vehicle has less than 12,000 miles 2011 Ford Explorer limited 4X4, V6 motor.

- Leesburg, VA, USA

problem #56

Jul 252012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 12,273 miles
Power steering failure on 2011 Ford Explorer while traveling in neighborhood. Started the vehicle with remote start to cool vehicle in hot, humid houston, Texas about 3 to 4 minutes before entering it. We drove 1.2 miles to an acquaintance's residence to co-sign a check for non-profit payment. Left vehicle running for +/- 3 minutes in his driveway. Backed out of his driveway and drove 1/2 mile when lost power steering and noticed two messages on the dash. One showed "power steering assist fault" and other "service auto tracking". stopped on the street, shut off engine, and restarted the car. No message. Drove 1/4 and the event recurred as described. Returned home and parked car at our personal residence. Called russell & smith Ford service department at 5:03pm and left message. Suspect it is after hours and will not hear from them until morning of July 26, 2012. The message is not in owner's manual. Searched the internet and noticed NHTSA investigation and chose to contribute and provide contact information.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #55

Jul 242012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 18,000 miles
Vehicle owner was driving to work this morning and when vehicle let out a chime and the message center stated that the electronic power steering assist had failed. Immediately, steering became quite difficult, but the driver was able to maneuver the vehicle safely to the side of the road. Driver shut engine off, waited a minute, and restarted vehicle. Systems appeared to be reset, message center was clear, and driver proceeded to drive to work. Driver was aware of this issue occurring in 2011 Ford Explorer and was fortunately prepared for it to happen.

- Cedar Grove, NJ, USA

problem #54

May 232012


  • 13,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 30 mph, the power steering failed and the steering wheel became extremely difficult to steer. The power steering warning light illuminated and a warning bell sounded during the failure. The contact shut the vehicle off and upon restart, the vehicle operated as normal. The failure had since recurred once. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and they were in the process of repairing the steering system. The contact was informed that they were awaiting the availability of parts. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and the contact was awaiting a response. The failure mileage was 13,000.

- Alpine, CA, USA

problem #53

Jul 232012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 18,500 miles
I was driving with my children on June 5, 2012 when suddenly the steering wheel locked. Shortly there after a yellow alert message appeared saying that a "power steering asst fail" had occurred. I could not do anything with the car and was frantic hoping that we would not be hit by other traffic. As a last resort I totally shut off the car and turned it back on. The car was then drive-able and I immediately took it to the dealership. They serviced the vehicle and noted that the car showed a voltage drop. They determined that there was nothing else they could do as the trouble shooting steps were complete and there was nothing visibly wrong with the vehicle. Now just shy of 6 weeks later I was again driving with my children in the car when the very same "power steering asst fail" alert came on as my steering wheel locked again. I tried to yank on the steering wheel to see if it would budge or if there was anything else I could. Remembering the last scenario I turned the car off and on again. This time, the same message appeared and nothing changed. Desperate I turned the car on and off again and the message went away and I was able to steer the vehicle. It is currently being towed to the dealership. I do not feel safe driving this vehicle and would be fearful to get behind the wheel of it again.

- Virignia Beach, VA, USA

problem #52

Apr 182012


  • 18,000 miles
I was on my way home from work and carpooling with 2 other coworkers. I had exited off the highway going approximately 55 mph. All of the sudden, I received a message, "power steering assist fault", and my steering locked up. Luckily I was on the straight part of the road heading toward a stop sign. Once there, I put the car in park, shut it off, and then restarted it. The error was gone and my steering wheel worked again. I took it in to the Ford dealership and was told that it was a sensor that needed to be replaced. It took a week for the problem to be fixed. On July 19, 2012, just 3 months after the problem was supposedly fixed, I took off from a red light going about 25 mph and again I received the "power steering assist fault" message and my steering locked up again. I had my children with me in the car and thank goodness there was nobody behind me and I was able to slowly pull into a parking lot. I shut off the car and restarted it and the error was gone and I could drive my car again. It is currently at the Ford dealership awaiting to have the problem fixed again. Ready to get rid of this vehicle as it poses a major safety hazard!

- College Station, TX, USA

problem #51

Jul 162012


  • 16,990 miles
I was crossing traffic and the power steering went out. I had to stop to turn the wheel so I could make my turn. I was so lucky there was no traffic coming and I wasn't going any faster because I could have hit a tree.

- Lake Charles, LA, USA

problem #50

Jul 112012


  • 11,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 65 mph, the power steering seized completely. The traction control warning light also illuminated as the engine was turned off for about three minutes. Upon restart, the vehicle functioned as normal. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who inspected the failure and stated that the steering column needed to be replaced. The failure would be repaired under warranty but the parts were on back order. The manufacturer was not notified. The VIN was unknown. The failure mileage was 11,000.

- Old Bridge, NJ, USA

problem #49

Jul 142012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 16,500 miles
"terrain management system fault", and "power steering assist fault" both popped up on left hand screen and my steering wheel locked up. This happened twice while turning into a driveway and once after stopping at a stop sign. Took it into the dealership and they said they could not duplicate the failure. 2 days after getting it back from the dealer it happened 2 more times. Taking it back but I have to wait 2 weeks for a courtesy rental car.

- West Chester, PA, USA

problem #48

Jun 232012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 21,000 miles
I purchased the 2011 Ford Explorer on 6/10/12. On three separate occasions the car was started and power steering would not work but was able to be remedied by turning the ignition off and back on again. An appointment was set up to have car serviced. On two more separate occasions after appointment was made power steering was lost while driving on the highway at speeds ranging 55 to 65. On July 3rd once again while car was being started the power steering wouldn't work and was unable to be remedied by turning off ignition and restarting. The vehicle was towed to a Ford dealer and still awaiting back ordered part that I am told may take a long time.

- Attleboro, MA, USA

problem #47

Jul 142012


  • 17,800 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 65 mph, she noticed that the power steering stopped functioning. The contact was able to safely maneuver to the shoulder. The vehicle was then towed to the dealer for a diagnosis. The dealer stated that they needed to replace the steering axle. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was contacted and offered no asssitance. The failure and current mileages were 17,800. The VIN was unavailable.

- Avon , MA, USA

problem #46

Jul 172012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 10 mph, the power steering failed and the vehicle became very difficult to steer. The contact mentioned that the advance trac and power steering warning lamps illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who diagnosed that the rack and pinion needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 22,000. Updated 8/31/12 the consumer stated the vehicle was repaired after a month. Updated 09/11/2012

- St Charles, MO, USA

problem #45

Jun 162012


  • 13,100 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. While driving approximately 5 mph, there was an unexpected loss in the power steering with an illumination of the all trac system warning indicator. The brake pedal was abruptly engaged to avoid hitting several pedestrians in the parking lot. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer for diagnosis and an unknown part related to the power steering was replaced. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 13,100.

- Goshen, KY, USA

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