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 7 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #204

Sep 192013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 55,000 miles


While driving a vehicle stability fault message popped up. This was caused by the electric power steering module failing. Luckily in this case my wife was able to slow the vehicle down and muscle it off the road without accident or injury. When the electric power steering fails the car is extremely difficult to steer. Ford know about this system failure and refuses to recall it.

- Plymouth, MI, USA

problem #203

Sep 162013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 34,975 miles
Driving straight on an interstate I-82 at 70 mph.. bell chime sounded, looked at the instrument panel which displayed yellow "steer assist fault"!!! then I realized I had no power steering. Off I-82 to find a Ford dealer. Dealer check it out and said it worked now. When it quits, pull over, stop, turn off the engine and start it again; the computer resets itself. The dealer, Ford country in prosser, wa has a customer with the same problem, that is how he knew what to tell me. They have had this part on back order for 2 months.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #202

Sep 032013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 41,000 miles
On three occasions the car loss power steering and warning light came on in the dash. The ignition was turned off and then the engine was restarted and the power steering seem to return to normal function. Car has been taken to dealer. Dealer is going to replace the rack and pinion steering assy.

- Belleville, MI, USA

problem #201

Jun 032013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 30,000 miles


Traveling at freeway speed the warning message appeared on the instrument panel before the power steering quit. When I restarted the car it appeared to have corrected the problem. On September 10th, the same warning came on the instrument panel before the power steering quit. I was traveling at 35mph. I restarted the car and it appeared to correct the problem again. When I previously took it into the dealership they said there was nothing wrong and reset the system.

- Kirkland, WA, USA

problem #200

Sep 082013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 41,000 miles
I was with my family on trip driving 80 mph on the freeway when the power steering went out! there was no indication on the instrument cluster that the power steering failed so I was not prepared for this. We did run off the road and onto the shoulder and fished tail out of control. This was frightening for my family. I was ready to pass some slower vehicles when this happen and had to move quick but the power steering was out. We lost control and ended up on the shoulder. I managed to drive the car home not without sweating by struggling with the steering wheel from 3 hours away. Once home, I looked this particular problem on the internet and found that there is a lot of complaints of this same problem. I also found that Ford does not acknowledge this!!!! I called Ford customer support the next day and I was informed that this was the first time they heard of this. Hopefully no one gets hurt for Ford to realize this is a defect in their vehicles! there needs to be a recall on this!

- Saint Michaels, AZ, USA

problem #199

Aug 062013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 38,841 miles
While driving in town, traction control lights came on and vehicle lost all power steering. The steering rack assembly had to be replaced.

- Terre Haute, IN, USA

problem #198

Nov 232011

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 9,000 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.

- St. Louis, MO, USA

problem #197

Aug 222013


  • 20,500 miles
Was in park in a fast food drive through and had the vehicle in park and when I put it in drive and accelerated I immediately got an error power steering assist failure and the power steering was gone and very hard to turn the wheel. Luckily it was a straight drive through. I turned off the engine and restarted and the error cleared and I was able to steer again. This is the second time this has occurred with a similar scenario where the steering failed after switching to drive from park. I am not positive of the date of the first time as I did not write it down and thought it was a one time fluke but it was approximately in Feb, 2013. Hearing about others where this has happened while driving at speed has given me great concerns now.

- Carson City, NV, USA

problem #196

Aug 272013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 39,331 miles
When turning right into my work parking lot yesterday morning I received the power steering assist fault error and service advance trac error with loss of power steering. This is the second time this has happened with the first time in June driving on a highway. The warning message (audible and visual warning) come on at the same time the power steering is lost so there is no warning, it just happens and you have to hopefully be at a safe distance between another vehicle or object so you will not cause an accident. This is a known issue with Ford and they do not consider it a safety problem, however, I do not feel safe driving this vehicle anymore not knowing when it could happen again and if I will be able to steer it safely with another sudden loss of power steering. This part should be recalled.

- Bay City, MI, USA

problem #195

Aug 232013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 41,000 miles
Driving 65 mph on a highway when I suddenly lost the ability to steer my vehicle. I was fortunate enough to be able to maneuver the vehicle onto a shoulder, but this is certainly defect and must be recalled before someone is injured.

- West Babylon , NY, USA

problem #194

Aug 262013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 4,545,413 miles


While driving to work the following warnings came up. 1. power steering fault 2. service advancetrac system car became very difficult to steer, almost resulting in a major car accident as I was approaching a very tight turn on I75. Upon doing some research it appears this issue is way to common, and extremely dangerous.

- Royal Oak, MI, USA

problem #193

Aug 222013


  • 38,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving 60 mph, the steering wheel seized without warning and the steering wheel became hard to turn. The power steering assist light illuminated after the failure occurred. The contact shut off the vehicle for several moments before proceeded to the dealer. The dealer performed a diagnostic and advised that the steering wheel electrical box was defective. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was not available. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure and current mileage was 38,000.

- Coleraine, MN, USA

problem #192

Aug 212013


  • 20,000 miles
I own a 2011 Ford Explorer with approximately 20K miles. "power assist fault warning" code has come on a handful of times for about a year. I never thought to look into it because it happened when I first started the truck and was not driving. After restarting the truck it would go away and wouldn't come back for a couple of months. Unfortunately its happening more and more often. Earlier this week I was making a left hand turn when it happened again, this time right as I was making a turn. I nearly went into a ditch. I immediately took it to the dealership who did not know the cause and can only replace the powersteering rack. I hope this fixes the problem but I just cannot trust that my wife and 6 month old son will be safe in this car anymore. Will be trading in this truck soon. Its a shame because I really like it.

- Chicago, IL, USA

problem #191

Aug 202013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 43,000 miles
I started my car and as I was backing out of my driveway 2 warnings came up: Power steering assist failure and service advance trac. At which point I lost my power steering. I turned the car off and on again and the warnings went away. I drive to work fine but I leave for my lunch break and get the same warnings and no power steering. I turn off and on several times even going back in to work to let it sit a while. Try again later...same power steering. I'm stuck at work till my husband can come and get me. I've noticed that there have been numerous complaints on this same thing happening to other people and I wonder why Ford has not recalled it yet. It really makes me mad that I may have to pay $1200-$1500 to get this fixed (will it even really be fixed?) for a car that is still so new.

- Waco, TX, USA

problem #190

Aug 122013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 20,000 miles
Has happened multiple times, steering stops working and car has to be turned off and back on to correct problem. On a trip with family on curvy road to lake Tahoe it happened and we almost collided with traffic. The other cars manuvered away from us we hit the embankment no damage or injuries but my wife will not drive the car now.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #189

Aug 122013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 59,871 miles
While driving down the highway, there was a notification on the info center that there was an issue with the power steering. At that point I lost power steering in the vehicle and then traction control. This issue has occurred 4 times in the last month and we have already taken it to the dealership and they were unable to find out what the issue was since it is not keeping records in the computer of these issues.

- Wooldridge, MO, USA

problem #188

Jul 302013


  • miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated while driving 65 mph, the power steering failed on the vehicle. The contact stated he had to manually steer the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for repair and the component was reset. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The VIN was unavailable. The failure mileage was about 38,000.

- Hallettsville, TN, USA

problem #187

Aug 092013


  • miles
Why have there been no recalls on the loss of power steering"?" I'm reading all of the same complaints from other 2011 Ford Explorer owners and am shocked!!!!!

- Batavia , OH, USA

problem #186

Jun 072013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 19,000 miles
In the past few months I have had a problem with the steering electric power assist system. The first two happened while parking, the third happen while driving on a local street and the fourth happened on 8/3/13 on I95 on my way to my son philip's 4th birthday party. I was in the left lane when the error message on my dash came up I have been driving for approx 15 minutes on I95 North going at 60 mph. I was in the left lane my steering locked up I was unable to turn, I was so scared I managed to move to right lane with help from my husband where we pulled over. We turned the car off and waited few minutes then turned it on, the message power steering assist failure came up, I pressed ok then the steering went back to normal. On 8/5/13 I brought my Explorer to smith carnins in yonkers to get looked at and as of 8/9/13 they have not returned my vehicle and state that they can reproduce the error and that the computer shows no error codes. I find this to be very upsetting. I have two boys who I drive in my vehicle everyday. I fear for the safety of them and myself. What do I do? please help us.

- Bronx, NY, USA

problem #185

Aug 072013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 32,000 miles
I got a power steering assist failure light, and a terrain management fault light. I had extremely limited steering ability. I drove straight to the dealership and left the car running so they could not say they were unable to duplicate the problem. I was very close to a crash and had difficulty getting out of the high speed lane to pull over.

- Brooklyn, CT, USA

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