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 16 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #24

Jun 072012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 15,020 miles


I was in the middle of a left hand turn when the power steering went out at approx 10-15 mph - the fault code appeared & alarm sounded-I had to "muscle" the steering wheel to complete my turn while nearly going over the curb into a business. My first reaction was that the engine had stalled but when the fault showed again & alarm sounded this time it was showing that the terrain management system had failed. As it was a 2-3 mile straight road to my Ford dealer & I drove there. After arriving at the dealer I shut off the engine, reported what happened. The service advisor started the vehicle & the power steering had reset. They put the vehicle on the diagnostic unit & it showed a steering gear & steering gear module/communication sensor(?) needed replacement. It was ordered & installed on 6/18/12 & has not failed sense then. I mentioned an injury - it was to my right shoulder as I have a total shoulder implant. I hurt it "muscling" the steering wheel to straightening the vehicle out.

- Carleton, MI, USA

problem #23

Jun 242012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 8,969 miles
Started vehicle and received terrain management warning, power steering fault and traction control fault. Vehicle electronic power steering not working and terrain management system also disabled. Will have to drive to dealership without power steering. Shut off vehicle multiple times and restarted. Same warnings and result.

- Martinsburg, WV, USA

problem #22

Jun 072012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 19,200 miles
Warning light for terrain management come on. Then power steering fault light came on. In a split second I realized I had no control over the vehicle. I hit the brakes and came to a stop taking all my strength to turn the wheel as hard as I could to get safely off the highway. Very dangerous situation if I would have been on a curve or interstate.

- Grottoes, VA, USA

problem #21

Jun 232012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 18,900 miles


I was slowing down to make a right turn into a strip mall and the wheel didnt turn at all until I put both hands on the wheel and fought the wheel with both arms to turn. A message on my lcd screen said power steering failure. I had to turn the truck off and back on and the steering was fine, I thought. About 20 miles later the truck did the same failure again. I turned the truck off and back on. It just had a cooling fan tsb performed at Ford yesterday, dealer says that has nothing to do with this, but this Explorer is one big computer so im not too sure since they told me a re-program was done for the fans. Please investigate this as this is will cause a huge accident at some point for some Explorer owner. I am taking this back to the dealer Monday for a loaner.

- West Milford, NJ, USA

problem #20

Jun 172012


  • 25,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 35 mph the power steering warning light illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who ran a diagnostic test and could not duplicate the failure. The dealer repaired the steering rack. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 25,000.

- Olrando, FL, USA

problem #19

Jun 072012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 7,800 miles
Please be advised that the afore noted vehicle, on June 7th, 2012 on or about 5pm was involved in a single vehicle accident on route 63 at mt Washington, St. Croix. She was travelling southward on route 63 crossing the small bridge entering a sharp right hand turn in the road. She experienced a sudden, instantaneous, loss of response in the steering and braking of the vehicle. As a consequence, in the few seconds following, the vehicle left the roadway and struck a wooden utility pole.

- Kingshill, VI, USA

problem #18

Jun 162012


  • 17,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 35 mph, the power steering malfunctioned and the power steering warning lamp illuminated on the instrument panel. The steering wheel then became very difficult to maneuver and the driver experienced difficulty controlling the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, who was unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 17,000.

- Litchfield Park , AZ, USA

problem #17

Jun 082012


  • 43,878 miles
While driving my vehicle it lost power steering assist system showed "power steering assist failure" as well as "service traction control". this was the scariest feeling I have ever had. This has happen to my husband several times.. I immediately called my local Ford dealership spoke with service advisor. I was told to turn my vehicle off and restart it. I advised my service advisor that I had taken my vehicle in for service on April 30, 2012 (40197 miles) and I mention this same problem for repair. What is it going to take for Ford to realize that this is a serious, serious problem. I am afraid for my family to be in this car, we travel alot and I am refusing to drive it. I was afraid of purchasing an american car but loved the new Ford Explorer look and body. However, I don't think I'll ever purchase another Ford vehicle and I will trade this car asap........

- Snellville, GA, USA

problem #16

May 142012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 13,000 miles
While in operation vehicle lost power steering assist. Steering became extremely difficult. Warning message "power steering assist failure" followed by "service traction control " light are displayed. Shutting off vehicle and restart temporarily cleared the failure. Failed more than once.

- West Lafayette, IN, USA

problem #15

May 312011


  • 8,500 miles
My wife was attempting to turn left in heavy traffic when there seemed to be a disconnect between the steering wheel and front wheels. She could turn the steering wheel but the car would not respond. She was able to stop without hitting anyone. She got the "power assist failure" message. After shutting the car off and restarting, the problem seemed to be resolved. The dealership found a "power steering control module" failure and has replaced the steering gear. The service manager advised us that since we had a new one, we should have no more problems. I reminded him that the previous one was new when we bought the car.

- Cary, NC, USA

problem #14

May 242012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 22,186 miles


While coming back to work from lunch, my wife was turning left into parking lot when the power steering assist fault light came on and steering became very stiff and hard to turn. Local Ford dealership picked up the car and kept for a week but could not duplicate the problem, so Ford would not let them fix the problem. Got the car back on Friday June 1, 2012 and drove the car as usual. Monday, June 4, 2012 on the way back to work from lunch, driving 40 mph, the power steering assist fault light came on and steering again became very stiff and hard to turn. Is it going to take a tragic accident from this apparent problem before Ford does anything. I am asking the NHTSA to please begin an investigation into this problem before my family or another family is seriously injured from this problem.

- Searcy, AR, USA

problem #13

May 222012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 22,000 miles
While traveling downtown columbia at approximately 15 mph, my service tracking default light comes on and then power steering default light comes on, my steering wheel completely locks up, luckily, I was not making a turn at the time I would have nailed another car or a person, I immediately turned off the car and restarted it, power steering began to work but the service tracking default light came back on. I am very worried to put my two children in this car now, dealership is having me bring in the vehicle tomorrow and I am seriously considering buying an extended warranty on this car, I have had Explorer in the past and never had a problem, but I don't know that I will buy another one after the issues with this car. This is a very serious issue, Ford needs to get off their butts and get this fixed, someone could seriously get hurt. Serious law suit waiting to happen.

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #12

Apr 182012

Explorer 4WD 6-cyl

  • 15,108 miles
It happened again, six days after my vehicle's first steering problem. When I started my 2011 Explorer on the morning of 4/18/12, the "power steering assist failure" light came on and my power steering was gone. As instructed by my Ford dealer, I left the vehicle on and called them. They immediately sent a flatbed tow truck, which towed my vehicle, while still running, to the Ford dealership. They checked for problems and made repairs, and I quote, "install new eps gear removed subframe and install new epas gear programmed as built datae and cleared dtcs performed 2 wheel alignment test drive operation good." In layman terms, they replaced the power steering from the steering column to the front wheels and did a 2 wheel alignment. It took only 1 full day since the parts were ordered overnight. I hope that has solved the power steering problem. I am extremely pleased with the concern and service my local Ford dealer provided.

- Rapid City, SD, USA

problem #11

Apr 132012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 24,200 miles
2011 Ford Explorer was parked. Started car and power steering failure light came on alarms sounding and steering wheel was locked, yet car would back up...straight. Prior to this incident when car was stopped at a light it seemed to have a transmission slip or jump. After waiting for an hour for tow truck the Explorer started fine and steering seemed to work. Too nervous to drive. Car was towed to Ford dealer.

- Raleigh , NC, USA

problem #10

Apr 102012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 15,014 miles
While slowing for a stop light, I felt a clunk in the steering column and then my 2011 Explorer lost power steering. I slowed and turned (with all my strength) to stop on a side street. The "power assist failure" light was on as well as the little traction control cars on the lower right of the display screen. The lights on the 4-wheel drive center-console did not work either. A message also appeared to service advancetrac immediately. I turned the car off and called for assistance. Then started it up to drive to the local Ford dealer. Of course, then the vehicle reset everything and the power steering was restored. The Ford dealer could not detect any error messages during their computer check-up. They said if it happens again, don't turn the car off so they can run a check-up on it while the power steering is not working. So now I am praying every time I drive it.

- Rapid City, SD, USA

problem #9

Jan 092012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 9,500 miles
Ford Explorer 2011 has lost power steering and stability control at various speeds under various conditions 3 or 4 times over the past several months, including on the highway at 65 miles per hour. Steering is restored after shutting the car off and restarting. Stability controls may take several minutes to restore themselves or may need to have the car turned on and off several times to restore.

- Chagrin Falls, OH, USA

problem #8

Mar 232012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 8,781 miles
As we were slowing for a stop sign on a curve, the steering wheel literally jerked out of my husband's hands, straightening the wheels. A warning bell went off and the dash displayed "power assist failure." It was impossible to move the wheel. After turning off the engine and restarting, steering returned to normal. The dealer had a previous Explorer with the same problem which was corrected by replacing the power steering control module. There are several other identical incidents recorded on this site and other internet forums, all eventually repaired in the same manner. Ford, however, will not approve warranty repair because they cannot duplicate the failure at the dealership or retrieve an error code, saying they "can't fix something if they don't know what the problem really is." They want us to drive a car with a serious and frightening safety issue until it fails completely or causes an accident for which they will deny responsibility since "there is nothing for them to repair." Ford's regional customer service manager also refused to document the complaint or denial in writing.

- Studio City, CA, USA

problem #7

Mar 122012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 5,210 miles
2nd time it happens first time while driving at 40 mph or above the steering light came on and the SUV was unable to steer, pull over and turn car and re started and gain steering took car to the dealer reset the light and was told it was ok. At 5000 miles it happen again but this time it happens while trying to get off the highway light came on and steering wheel got hard. This time unable to drive it tow home. Talk to Ford and was told to take it to the dealer and we look in to it but, I think is not normal for a car not to have a safety back up plan when this fail. And very unsafe know it could happen any time with no warning. Even if Ford claim it will fix it.what will prevent from this happening at a very odd time and it may cause lots of injury. They said it does not have enough complaint for them to look in to this. But I said 1 complaint with multiple occurrence should be enough for the to at least pay attention or look in to a safety plan in case it does fail.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #6

Feb 212012


  • 14,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that the power steering failed while driving approximately 5 mph. The power steering light illuminated while the failure occurred. The steering became hard to turn to the left or right and once the vehicle was shut off and restarted, the steering return to normal function. The failure was experienced several times. The vehicle was taken to the dealer to have a diagnostic performed but the vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 14,000 and the current mileage was 14,100.

- Aptos, CA, USA

problem #5

Nov 272011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 3,000 miles
"power steering assist fault" has come on 7-10 times to date as of 1-26-2012. After turning off the ignition and re-starting the engine, the warning went away and I regained power steering. I am getting a warning service traction control. Once I restart the car 4-5 times the warning light goes away. I am so afraid of driving this vehicle. So far it's happened going minimal speeds 10-45 mph. What does one do if this happens going 70 on an interstate.

- Chalmette, LA, USA

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