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 6 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #224

Nov 012013


  • 52,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated the steering wheel locked while driving and it became hard to turn. The power steering light illuminated as the failure occurred. The failure was experienced several times. The dealer reset the power train computer; however, the failure was not corrected. The steering wheel continued to lock while driving. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure and current mileage was 52,000.

- Waldorf, MD, USA

problem #223

Jan 232014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
I was driving down the street at 55 mph when the 'power steering assist fault' displayed on the dashboard interior display. The steering wheel immediately locked up & I lost complete control of the vehicle & drifted to the right. I stepped on the brakes to avoid crashing & turned the car off. Once I turned the car back on the fault was no longer there & I drove home. I called the Ford dealership & made an appointment to get the vehicle checked the next day. Later on that same day, my wife & I had an appointment. However, when we started the vehicle up, the same fault was immediately displayed & the steering wheel locked up. I kept turning the car off & trying to restart, but the fault would not go away. I had to get my vehicle towed to the Ford dealership. I did some research online only to discover that I was not the only Ford owner that had this problem. Several others had the same issue. This finding prompted me to look on the Ford website to see if there was any recall but there is none. The Ford dealership quoted me for an 'air bag safety fault', electrical & valve malfunction, after running a diagnostic test on my vehicle. I was deeply concerned because the 'air bag fault' never displayed due to the other fault. The estimated cost was over $3,000. Also, I had to rent a vehicle in the interim. I asked about recalled parts & legal action when I was at the dealership but no one had any information. When I went to pick up my vehicle, the Ford dealership said they would pay for the rental & they made contact with Ford company. The Ford company allegedly emailed the Ford dealership & took $1,000 off the total cost. I have a wife & a baby. This is our only mode of transportation. I fear for the safety of my family in this make of vehicle & I would like for Ford to investigate this electrical issue further & recall its parts. Please help us & all others with this issue.

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #222

Sep 092013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 28,000 miles
Our first indication of steering problems happened around September 2013. A dashboard error "service advancetrac" message kept illuminating. First the dealer replaced a "sensor" that didn't fix it. Then a software update, that didn't work. They then replaced the "rack and pinion", in this car I am told it is an electronic steering motor. That did fix the problem with the error message, however at times the entire dashboard and "infotainment" screen would go blank and reboot. All seemed fine for a few month's until an unexpected event occurred in January 2014. I was driving my 2011 Ford Explorer on Thursday, January 9, 2014 on andersen air force base in guam. It was a bright, sunny day, and weather conditions were ideal. I stopped at the post office and when I turned left to enter a parking space, I noticed the steering was a little jerky. I didn't think much of it until we were leaving, and the steering continued to be choppy. When I left the parking lot, the car did not respond cleanly when I turned the wheel. I mentioned the my daughter that something was wrong, but I wasn't sure what was happening. As I entered a roundabout turn before exiting the air force base, the steering went out completely momentarily. It felt like I was driving on ice! the brakes worked properly, and I was able to slow down and navigate safely out of the turn. I had no problems driving straight, but turning was jerky. I called my husband to let him know what was happening, and I drove slowly home approximately four miles from the base. The car was turned into the dealer who "could not replicate the error". the "service advancetrac" error happened again on 22 Jan, went into the dealership and I was told again that they could not replicate the error.

- Yigo, GU, USA

problem #221

Jan 122014


  • 300,000 miles


I was driving my Explorer when the power steering went out suddenly, making it almost impossible to steer to safety. A message appeared on the dash about the problem, but I was too busy trying to steer to safety to memorize what it said.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #220

Apr 062013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 55,500 miles
This is the 2nd time this happened while raining. The first time, about a year ago and while driving 55 mph, the instrument cluster screen and myfordtouch screens both went black and lost power steering suddenly, but engine was still running. But, all of sudden, then power steering re-energized and made steering wheel jerk causing vehicle to skid momentarily, but I was able to maintain control of vehicle and pull over. The instrument cluster screen then had a message "check charging system." I turned vehicle off and restarted it and vehicle returned to normal. Few days later, took to dealership for routine maintenance and battery and alternator were checked out as being fine. Today, vehicle lost power steering while slowing to a stop to turn into driveway and felt like steering wheel locked up. Had to turn steering wheel with great force to turn into driveway home and the drove about 200ft to carport and power steering never returned and had same check charging system warning message displayed on instrument cluster. Turned vehicle off and power steering returned and no longer had check charging system warning message. Only happens when raining and unable to reproduce for service tech because dealership says they won't test vehicle when it is raining.

- Keithville, LA, USA

problem #219

Jan 012014

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 59,700 miles
After starting the car, a warning occurred for the first time saying power steering needed service "soon". we turned the car off and restarted. The notice did not appear and my entire family continued to our destination. During the course of our ride, we did not receive another warning. Then while attempting to make a turn we veered into the other lane nearly crashing into another car.due to power steering loss. The situation was extremely dangerous.

- New Fairfield, CT, USA

problem #218

Dec 242013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 51,742 miles


Driving in the mountains at night, proceeding up a steep and icy grade, the vehicle gave a warning signal about a power steering problem and immediately the power steering unit failed. The extremely difficult steering capability of this vehicle during this failure, forced us to creep along a major highway to finish the eight miles to the nearest town. After researching this problem, I stumbled onto the NHTSA website and discovered the 2011 Explorer obviously has a safety flaw and a dangerous one at that! my vehicle is in a Ford service department now and the initial diagnosis is " the car received a false electrical signal and shut down the power steering". seriously, a false signal shut off the power steering capabilities"?"!!! they are in the middle of a "10 page checklist/re-booting of the electrical control system of my vehicle and I have absolutely no confidence this will solve a future problem of power steering capability loss, especially since I am on my fourth major computer failure in this vehicle. Fyi Ford engineers; the steering function of a vehicle should not be subject to an electronic signal that can deactivate the ability to control the steering of the vehicle!!

- Anderson, CA, USA

problem #217

Dec 242013


  • 37,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving approximately 30 mph, the power steering failed without warning. The vehicle was not taken to a dealer or independent mechanic for diagnosis or repairs. The manufacturer was made aware of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 37,000.

- Provo, UT, USA

problem #216

Dec 112013


  • 50,000 miles
Driving and all of a sudden the power steering warning light comes on and the vehicle locks up. Very scary situation because I couldn't control the vehicle. I purchased this vehicle brand new"?"

- Waldorf, MD, USA

problem #215

Jun 122013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 32,000 miles
The first time this happen my wife was driving down the road at approximately 35 to 40 mph. I was riding passenger seat. All of the sudden just going down the road. She said she couldn't steer and at that time I heard a beep. This was a message on the dash saying steering assist fault. She had a very hard time steering it around a corner we had come to. She asked if we should pull over but since we were less than a mile from the house. And how I figured we could make it has I have drove a car home when a power steering belt broke before. I told her to continue home. Once home we turned car off. And then restart it. The car was back to normal and warning message went away. At the time we just considered it a fluke. Then it done it again a week later going down the road again. We pulled over and again shut car off and restarted it. It was fine again. Then a few day later it did in a parking lot parking. A month later it finally happened while driving on me. I was driving 45 mph going straight all the sudden the steering wheel got tight and the power steering fault came on like usual. We were on our way to the store and less than a 1/4 mile away. It was very hard to turn the car into the store parking lot. This is harder to steer than a manual steering car. Do to trying to steer a power steering rack and gears on top of big 20" wheels with wide tires. For inexperienced, not a very strong person, or an elderly driver. This could be a dangerous situation on the highway on a corner. And I could see how it could cause an accident. This problem as happen also immediately when care is started. It happens at anytime it seems. You never know when it will happen again.

- Belton, MO, USA

problem #214

Jul 082013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles


We purchased our 2011 Ford Explorer in January of 2011 and have been the exclusive users of the car ever since. Our vehicle has experienced three total losses of power steering ability since July 8, 2013. When an event occurs, the "power steering failure" light comes on and the vehicle immediately becomes difficult to steer. Two of the occurrences have taken place while traveling at high speed on the highway. In one instance, my wife was driving the car with our young son and struggled to control the vehicle after the failure. Ford attempted to address the problem by installing two separate new steering columns into the vehicle, yet the problem persists and seems to have had collateral effects on other electrical and mechanical components of the car. I have advised Ford customer service of the problem but as of 11/20/2013 I have not had any kind of affirmative response.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #213

Nov 062013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 58,161 miles
I was rounding a curve in an intersection when the steering became impossible to steer. I managed to get it off the road and I noticed the traction controls were lit up along with the steering failure warring came on. After restarting the car everything returned to normal.

- Matewan, WV, USA

problem #212

Nov 032013


  • 53,000 miles
I was getting ready to turn into the parking lot.. when 2 sets of lights came on..the system indicators came up.. one indicating the power steering error and another indicating the power steering locked... then the steering wheel became very hard to turn.. making so very hard to turn into a parking space.. someone had to push me into the parking lot out of the way.. later to call Ford dealership doesn't want to assist me with this problem... I drive a 2011 Ford Explorer.. the car is 2 years old. I reviewed other concerns of this matter.. is there a recall...

- Charlotte , NC, USA

problem #211

Oct 012012


  • 50,000 miles
On Oct. 30th the steering locked up while driving on I-95 South going roughly 65 miles per hour. The steering locked and would not allow for the wheels to be turned. We were lucky it happened on a straight piece of the highway. My wife was able to slow the car in time so that the vehicle could be driven onto the side of the road slowly enough that she could keep it on the berm. The car was turned off and when she turned it back on the steering worked fine. This is the second occurrence. The first happened about a year ago.

- Chestnut Hill Cove, MD, USA

problem #210

Oct 242013


  • 50,000 miles
While driving, power steering assist abruptly fails, as does advance trac stability control. The vehicle becomes much harder to control. If the car is in a turn when the steering fails, the steering wheel lurches and tries to re-aim the vehicle straight ahead, disrupting the turn. Dashboard warnings confirm the steering and advance trac failures. Also, the turn signal sustain fails, so using the turn signal requires constant pressure on the signal arm. On average, this problem has recurred every 2000 miles, at any speed. Turning the car off and restarting "fixes" the problem temporarily until the next failure. Two trips to the dealer for examinations have resulted in no answers - both times the results of leaving the car for several days have been shrugged shoulders and "we couldn't duplicate the problem, and there is no trouble code. It worked fine for us." As is nothing ever was wrong with the car, and even if there were something wrong, there is no way to repair it! how the NHTSA and Ford Motor Company can allow these vehicles to roam our highways with no recall, or even a technical service bulletin, knowing there is a chance the drivers may lose control and crash, as some already have, is a crime against vehicle safety and against the very mission statement of the NHTSA. I will be copying this complaint to my elected representative in the United States congress, who in the past has proven to be far more interested in my safety than Ford or the NHTSA.

- Carlsbad, CA, USA

problem #209

May 302013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 35,000 miles
Was driving down the road and with no warning the power steering went out and lights came on the dash. Arrived at destination cut the car off and several hours later started the car and drove it with no problems. 5 months later my wife was driving the vehicle and the same thing occurred. We took it to the Ford dealership they were able to reproduce the problem and said it was the steering rack electric control module. Luckily she had purchased the extended warranty because at this time the car had about 40000 miles and would have cost us 1800 dollars to fix. We got the car from the dealership and about 1 week later I was driving the car 40 mph on a curvy road when again lost power steering and almost ran off the road into ditch I took the car straight to the dealership left the engine running with all the dash board lights lit up and no power steering. After filing a complaint with Ford corporate a regional customer service manager called and they are now telling me that the new part they had replaced a week earlier must have been defected and are waiting on another replacement part. We informed them we no longer want the vehicle we feel it is not safe to drive and wanted to know what options we had and what Ford was willing to do to keep us a satisfied customer. They offered a free extended warranty on the car (which my wife had already purchased) or we could trade it in on a new Ford and by the new vehicle under the Ford X-plan.

- Church Road , VA, USA

problem #208

Aug 302013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 43,175 miles
We purchased our 2011 Explorer in July 20, 2013 with approx 43,000 miles. The first instance (8/30/13) we were leaving a friend's house, turned on the car and had no power steering for the entire ride home. This was a Friday night so we were unable to take the car to the dealership. Power steering came back the next morning when we restarted the vehicle. Sunday (9/1/13) we were driving at approximately 40 mph when we lost power steering again. We pulled over and shut the car off. Once restarted, the power steering worked again. Our local dealership was contacted and could not fit us in for service until 9/9/13. The Ford dealership kept our car for exactly 2 weeks trying to figure out the exact problem. Inevitably, we were told that the steering gear assembly was replaced. All was fine until 10/14/13 when we once again lost power steering and "service power steering" and "terrain management system" warnings were displayed on the dash while driving at approximately 35 mph. The vehicle was taken immediately to the Ford dealership yet again. We were contacted by the service department rep, who spoke with Ford, to determine that the gear that was previously replaced was "defective." We are now awaiting yet again to have our car returned to us. Each time this happens there is no warning and the car is extremely hard to steer. This is not only inconvenient but also a huge safety issue. We drive around two small children and my wife feels unsafe driving the vehicle because this can happen at anytime without warning. As time goes on, it has been brought to our attention that this is a fairly common problem among 2011 Ford Explorer through present models. Unfortunately, it seems that many people have been going through this exact vicious cycle for years now. It seems that Ford cannot seem to pin point the exact problem.

- Berea, OH, USA

problem #207

Oct 082012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 19,000 miles
I was driving to work going about 55mph give or take 5mph when the steering went stiff and made it hard to steer through the turns. It was worse when I had to make slow turns. If I had to avoid an accident quickly I don't think I would be able to avoid it. When I got to work shut the car off turned it back on and I guess it reset because the steering came back. When I T happened again I called the brewster Ford and said to turn the car off and on and that would fix the problem I rough the car to the dealer after if happened a few time but they said they wont be able to find anything since there are no errors when I brought it in it happened a few more times brought it back again the check it said they found nothing and then charged me almost $200 if finally completely went this all happened over a 1yr time period put a call into brewster Ford and corporate still waiting to here from either one that was almost 2weeks ago.

- Brewster, NY, USA

problem #206

Sep 192013


  • 46,505 miles
On Thursday evening Sept 9, 2013 I was driving East on highway 195 in NJ. Out of nowhere the power steering fail signal and terrain warning signal came on and immediately the power steering went out at the exact same time. I was driving 65mph in the left lane with my young daughter in the car. The steering wheel froze and barely budged, could move maybe an inch in each direction. Thank god I was able to slowly get the car to the shoulder safely. This could have potentially been a dangerous and fatal was truly frightening!!! when I called Ford road side assistance they took 15min just to get basic info down to send tow truck, woman was very short with me and seemed like I was bothering her. We hang up, its getting dark, my daughter is scared, then 5 min later she calls me back to tell me there is a problem. She said the local Ford dealer is closed so they can tow to a secure facility overnight but there would be an additional cost. I said a few choice words and cancelled fra. Thankfully I have aaa premium so I had them tow my car to my home overnight then called fra to bring to Ford service dealer the following morning. Ford service rep now tells me I need a new power steering rack which will cost $2,400 and is not covered. I did research online Ford part only cost less than $600!!! many other complaints on here and NHTSA are investigating this continuing power steering fail issue in the 2011 Explorer but until then my car which is less than 2 years old is going to cost me if I want it back. What is being done about this and future accidents that could occur with other innocent drivers?

- Hamilton Square, NJ, USA

problem #205

Sep 092013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 51,900 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated while driving 20 mph, the power steering warning light illuminated as the steering wheel seized. The contact applied the brakes and shut off, then restarted the vehicle as it operated as designed. The vehicle was taken to a dealer for diagnosis and the contact was informed that the electronic steering sensor would need to be replaced. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 51,900....updated 10-24-13 updated 11/1/2013

- Henryetta, OK, USA

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