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 15 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #44

Jun 292012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 8,600 miles


While slowing my 2011 Ford Explorer at an intersection, the power steering stopped working and the wheel felt locked. An error message showed 'power assist failure'. I was barely able to get the vehicle to the side of the road to turn it off. Once restarted, the error message cleared. This has occurred 4 times in 3 weeks after having the vehicle 1 year. It had approximately 8,600 miles on it when this began to occur.

- Longview, TX, USA

problem #43

Mar 152012


  • 13,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the power steering failed while reversing from a residential driveway. The power steering and traction warning lights illuminated during the failure. The power steering failed seven different times. The vehicle was taken to the dealer four times and the manufacturer was contacted. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 13,000 and the current mileage was 17,000.

- Richmond, KY, USA

problem #42

Jul 122012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 15,700 miles
Turning into parking lot, power steering abruptly ceased, I had to muscle car out of way of another car, narrowly escaping accident.lights lit up, power steering failure, terrain management failure.

- Verona, NJ, USA

problem #41

Jun 102012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 11,400 miles


The vehicle's computer system came up with a warning that said power steering assist fault. Then the traction control light came on. I lost full control of the steering at the time of driving. The steering completely locked up. I turned on my hazards to signal other cars to go around me. At that time, I had to completely shut down the vehicle and restart it twice before it reset the system and allowed me to control the steering again. This was very scary. It happened again, same scenario. I took it into the dealership and they didn't know how to fix it so they tried resetting the system with a complete master reset. Since then, it has happened again. The third time I was actually turning in a turn lane and could not steer straight. Luckily there were not any cars behind me. This is very serious and needs to be addressed. They should not be sending people back out in these cars. I have notified the dealership as well as filed a report with Ford Motor Company.

- Lambertville, MI, USA

problem #40

Jul 152012


  • 6,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 40 mph, the power steering failed and as a result, became very hard to steer. The contact mentioned that the traction warning and the power steering warning lamps were illuminated. The vehicle was towed to the dealer who was not able to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileage was 6,000.

- Byram , MS, USA

problem #39

Jul 082012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 25,407 miles
Traveling at approximately 40 mph when multiple warnings occurred. "terrain management system fault", "power steering assist fault", and "service advance trac" power steering was not working. Upon stopping and restarting vehicle power steering started working again. This happened 2 more times in the next 4 days. Fortunately I was traveling in a straight line each time and was able to stop and restart the vehicle and the power steering started working again. Same thing happened on the fifth day and I was not able to get the power steering working again. Car was taken to the dealership the next day where I was told that this was an ongoing problem and that the necessary parts are in short supply. It would be 6 to 8 weeks before they could get the parts.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #38

Jul 062012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 15,000 miles


Driving on highway at highway speeds when the alerts for failure of the electronic stability control came on. We then realized that the power steering had failed and had difficulty steering the vehicle. Managed to get the vehicle off at an exit. Towed to dealer. Dealer not clear as to what happened and part to repair is on back order from Ford. Internet research demonstrated this is a common problem with 2011 Ford Explorer.

- Akton, OH, USA

problem #37

Jun 292012

Explorer 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,500 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving approximately 60 mph, there was a loss of power steering with the warning indicator illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was maneuvered to the side of the road. The engine was turned off and upon restarting, the vehicle resumed normally. The failure occurred three times. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer, who was unable to duplicate the failure. The manufacturer was not notified of the problem. There was currently an open investigation under NHTSA action number PE12017 (steering:electric power assist system). The approximate failure mileage was 17,500. Updated 7/31/12 on July 12, 2012, the consumer took the vehicle to the dealer, due to the fact the vehicle was driven approximately 10 miles before the vehicle could be turned off and re-started. A code was detected in the PCM. From that code, it was determined the vehicle needed a rack and pinion. The consumer was informed there were no parts available. Updated 08/01/12

- Nokesville, VA, USA

problem #36

Jun 182012


  • 11,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while attempting to make a left turn, the vehicle instead turned right, almost causing the driver to lose control. The contact mentioned that the terrain warning lamp illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who diagnosed that the steering column was defective and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and did not offer any assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was 11,000 and the current mileage was 11,200.

- Bohemia, NY, USA

problem #35

Jul 102012


  • 26,000 miles
As the vehicle was being driven home from work the power steering went out making it very difficult to control the vehicle. A warning light also appeared on the dashboard indicating that the power steering wasn't functioning properly. The vehicle was safely pulled over to the side of the road and the ignition was turned off. After a few moments the vehicle was restarted and the power steering seemed to be functioning properly and that specific warning message disappeared from the dash. However, upon restart, additional dashboard warning lights indicating that there was a problem with the traction control appeared.

- Chesterbrook, PA, USA

problem #34

Jul 102012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 11,390 miles


While parked with the vehicle running, the steering assist fault light came on and the steering locked up. I was not able to turn the wheel. I restarted the engine and it worked fine. I am concerned that this will happen while I am driving.

- Stephenville, TX, USA

problem #33

Jul 092012


  • 37,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 50 mph the power steering failed. The contact was able to control the vehicle by exiting to the shoulder. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who diagnosed the failure and stated that there was a national shortage on the component for the vehicle to be repaired. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure and current mileage was 37,000.

- West Milford, NJ, USA

problem #32

Jun 232012


  • 32,000 miles
When the vehicle was started, the power steering was not functioning. The dash message center showed a power steering assist fault. This had happened a couple of times in the past but turning the vehicle off and then back on solved the problem on prior occasions. This time the power steering continued to fail after multiple times of turning the vehicle off and back on. This malfunction made the vehicle very difficult to steer and maneuver.

- Mars Hill, NC, USA

problem #31

Apr 042012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 9,000 miles
I was starting to back out of a parking lot and the stabilitrac lights came on. The steering got tight and there was little movement to turn the wheel right or left. I pulled a few feet back in the parking stall, turned the car off, and restarted it again. Everything seemed fine for a mile or so and the lights came back on. I could barely turn the wheel. I got a tow to the dealership. They had to order and replace the steering pump. This happened a second time three days ago, on 7/2/12. The dealership had to again replace the steering pump. I have no confidence that this will not happen again. This second time I had my two 7-year-olds in the car and was traveling about 40mph down a major street. The same lights came on and the steering wheel tightened. I could barely turn the wheel. Luckily I was close to home, but still had to make 5 turns. I was turning the steering wheel so hard that I felt like I was going to break it. It took all my arm strength to make the turns. I would turn the signal on and it would blink once and go off also. It is scary when it happens and as mentioned, I have no faith that it won't happen again. And this vehicle is just now a year old.

- Fountain Valley, CA, USA

problem #30

Jun 302012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 13,837 miles
Unfortunately, for such a great truck, the power steering has failed three times on my vehicle which has only just over 14K miles on it. It occurred the first time around the 11K mile point in which the power steering failed for no reason going ~40mph. The dashboard displayed a message stating "power steering assist fault." This is the same message that was displayed on all three occasions. Upon turning the truck off and back on, everything was back to normal. The fault occurred again at 13837 miles (I have a picture) and again just today at around 14100. After the initial fault, I took the truck to the local Ford dealer who advised that there was nothing they could do to assist as the onboard computer does not 'document the issue'. I was advised to monitor the situation and if it happens again to leave the car running and contact the dealership who will then tow the truck to its location. Easier said than done when you are in the middle of a major three lane road in the DC suburbs. It's most convenient to wrestle the truck to the next traffic light and restart which resolves the issue. I am obviously very frustrated with it - I bought the truck in late July 2011 for $48,000 (sticker price). So far I have not had any toddlers in the car during these incidents but it is just a matter of time. Hoping for some guidance and good customer service from Ford.

- North Bethesda, MD, USA

problem #29

May 252012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 24,750 miles
Loss of power steering at slow speeds (multiple times). "power steering assist fault" light on dashboard. Power steering returns after turning off and restarting car.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #28

May 252012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 22,000 miles
I was driving down the interstate, getting ready to exit. I heard a beep, indicating a warning on the instrument panel. A warning appeared stating 'power steering assist disabled.'. the power steering no longer worked. I took my foot off the accelerator and made it over to the side of the road. I turned the car off, waited several minutes, and started car again. Problem resolved.

- Chapin, SC, USA

problem #27

Apr 202012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 24,953 miles
There were actually 4 incidents; the first one I was backing into a parking spot and the power steering quit working. I turned off the engine, started it again and was able to park. The next day I was waiting in traffic & it died, the steering wheel wouldn't work; we then took the car into the dealer & he supposedly fixed it. We told them that a message flashed "power steering assault". each incident, that message appeared. The third time I was driving and the power steering went out, then the car wouldn't start again & had to have it towed into the dealer. They supposedly 'fixed' it again. Then we were on a trip, 600 miles from home on the interstate and the power steering quit working. We pulled over, stopped. It then started again and we finished our trip. Then took it back to the dealer where he did order a new part. We got the car back last week on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, and today is July 1, 2012. They replaced the steering gear assembly.

- Hot Springs Village, AR, USA

problem #26

May 172012


  • miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the power steering randomly failed. In addition, the power steering fault light illuminated on the instrument panel followed by the illumination of the service advance track warning light. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, but the dealer could not determine what was causing the failure. The VIN was not available. The failure mileage was unknown, but the current mileage was 20,000. Updated 08-07-12

- Cannonsburg, PA, USA

problem #25

Jun 222012


  • 15,000 miles
Power steering failed while driving. Traction assist control also failed at the same time. Shutting the engine off and restarting brought the power steering back but not the traction control. The traction control began functioning again after the truck sat for about 8 hours.

- Greenwood, WI, USA

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