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

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2011 Ford Explorer:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2011 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 9 of 17)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #164

Jul 092013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 22,347 miles


While entering a roadway our Explorer suddenly lost power steering at this time the vehicle showed a power steering assist fault also a service advance trac code followed by a loss of terrain management notice also at this time the turn signals would not operate. Had vehicle towed to our dealership. They returned the vehicle to me after reprogramming ABS module per tsb12-08-09. The same thing happened again Sunday july14 called dealership they will call me back with their findings.

- Sussex, WI, USA

problem #163

Jul 122013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 5,000 miles
My power steering failed. The dashboard lite up and said something about power steering trac in red. Couldn't read it as I was to busy trying to control car in a busy intersection. I turned car off and when I restarted it, all was fine. I called my Ford dealer and was told they had never heard of such a thing. I have an appointment to bring car to, service on Wednesday to repair navigation system for the third time and now they will have to check this problem as well.

- Melville, NY, USA

problem #162

Jul 132013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 35,300 miles
While driving East on route 422 from royersford to king of prussia at 55 mph audible warning alarm went off with two lights on dash. Lost power steering control. Too unsafe to pull off on shoulder in dark, struggled with steering for about 2 miles to next off ramp. Restarted vehicle on off ramp and power steering returned. I will call dealer tomorrow as warranty is nearly up. Car manual explains this exact situation as if its a common occurrence. Just reboot your car (if you survived the crash!) I have never had a power steering failure in 25 years. If this happens to frail person in a turn, they will not pull out of turn and will hit the closest object in the path of their turn.

- Oreland, PA, USA

problem #161

Jul 122013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 34,733 miles


Loss of power steering while driving. Total loss of control would have happened if I would have been in a turn or corner.

- Hodgenville, KY, USA

problem #160

Jul 132013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 24,000 miles
Power steering failure while going down sam rayburn tollway in mckinney tx. Steering assist cut out and warning lights appeared on dash. Wife had to try and pull to side of road. There was a slight bend and she was able to drive fairly straight onto the shoulder. Fortunately there weren't any other cars around her. Similar incident happened the day before going under 10 mph on a side street/driveway. Shutting car down and restarting it fixed the issue but it has happened twice now. Trying to contact dealer about the problem (left message).

- Mckinney , TX, USA

problem #159

Jul 052013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 21,100 miles
Steering wheel locked up while taking a curb at a slow rate of speed. Could not control vehicle, and had to come to a complete stop, put vehicle in park and turn it off.a warning came on the screen about steering failure, and after turning car back on, it worked fine. Dealership service tech was rude and uncooperative on the phone, told me to bring it in a couple of days. My car I still under warranty, and the service tech told me I would be charged for a rental. Ridiculous.

- Smyrna , TN, USA

problem #158

Jun 252013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 45,872 miles


The power steering on our 2011 Ford Explorer has failed while we were driving, causing unsafe conditions, forcing us to pull over. It did not self-correct when restarting. There were 2 message lights: Service advance trac and power steering assist. We took the vehicle into the dealership and were given a repair price tag exceeding $2,000 and told they would need to replace the steering gear. We then contacted the Ford customer service Agency and were told that there was no recall in place and that we were over the 36,000 mile general warranty. Also, that the powertrain warranty of 60,000 miles would not cover the power steering.

- Cedarburg, WI, USA

problem #157

Jun 092013


  • 34,000 miles
On June 9 2013. I was driving onto a highway on-ramp and suddenly the steering became very difficult. The alarm sounded and the warning display indicate a power steering system failure as well as traction control system failure and terrain management system failure. I was on my way to the airport to catch a flight, so I proceeded approximately 2 miles to the airport and parked. It was very difficult to steer, especially at slow speeds. I turned the car off and waited a while to restart, but the problem was still present. Upon returning from my trip (June 12), the power steering fault had cleared, but terrain mgmt and traction control were still present (apparently the functions were disabled at that point). The next day, I drove to work and power steering went out again. Took the car to my dealer that morning june13. They have been able to see the codes, but not re-create the problem, so they say that they cannot repair it. I am not willing to drive the car with my family in it because this is clearly a safety issue.I told them to keep it to try to re-create the issue. Its been nearly 2 weeks and still no answers. The dealer says they have not been informed of anything from Ford related to this issue. I called Ford customer service directly on 6/19, but still have not gotten any answers nor direction as of 6/25.

- Washington, IL, USA

problem #156

Jun 222013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 35,500 miles
While drive down highway at about 60 mph, audible warning alarm went off with two lights on dash. Lost power steering control. Service advance trac warning. Was barely able to pull over but after shutting vehicle down and restarting power steering was back. I will take it to dealer tomorrow as warranty is nearly up and scared to drive it anymore especially with children in the vehicle.

- Bay City, MI, USA

problem #155

Jun 202013


  • 51,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving approximately 60 mph, the steering wheel seized and the service advance trac and power steering assist fault warning lights illuminated. The vehicle was moved to the shoulder. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted. The approximate failure mileage was 51,000.

- Blaine, WA, USA

problem #154

Mar 012013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 23,000 miles


Vehicle has had problems from month 3 of purchase. Cooling fans blew, sunroof rattles, but the worst was a few months ago when backing out of parking space and heard a pop. The steering wheel bolt had broke. Took to dealership and they had it for 2 days to fix it. Contacted Ford Motor Corporate and never received call or email back from them. Then I noticed the steering wheel never seemed straight. It always turned to the left. It went back in the shop on 06/12/2013 to be fixed. They stated it needed a front end alignment but fact is it was never fixed correctly as they never saw this problem before. Then on 06/15/2013 drivng vehicle and all of a sudden steering wheel locked up and all the lights started flashing. Could not steer the vehicle. I managed to get it pulled over after being in a total panic as I was 1/2 mile from a major highway and would have been driving at a faster speed. My daughter was with me and she was completely in panic as she drives the vehicle and says what if it happened when she is driving it. She will not drive it anymore as she is scared to death. Car is at dealership at the present time. We will see what the "reasoning" is this time.

- Dallas, PA, USA

problem #153

Jun 112013


  • 56,880 miles
While driving at freeway speed I received audible alarms and dashboard warning lights to service advance trac and terrain management. At that time the steering become very difficult. The car was manuverable though quite difficult so I proceeded 10 miles to my destination at reduced speed. After restarting the vehicle immediately the problem did not go away. The vehicle was left overnight and upon restarting the problem had gone away. It was taken to the Ford dealer and the electronic power steering assembly was replaced at a cost of $2,000.

- San Francisco , CA, USA

problem #152

May 272013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving approximately 35 mph, the steering became difficult to maneuver. The advanced track and power steering assist failure warning lights illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for diagnosis however, the technician was unable to diagnose the failure. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 40,000.

- Mccalla, AL, USA

problem #151

Jun 072013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated while traveling highway speeds the steering failed and it was very difficult to turn the steering wheel in order to drive onto the emergency lane. When the failure occurred, the vehicle began to perform as if the tires were also failing; however, the traction and steering lights illuminated on the instrument panel. The vehicle was taken to the dealer who stated the electronic power assist had failed. The failure and current mileage was 41,000.

- Pekin , IL, USA

problem #150

Jun 042013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 33,000 miles
I was driving approximately 55 mph when out of nowhere two light warnings flashed. One said advanced trac system auto (or something like that). My steering wheel then locked and I got scared and pulled over. I could not move my steering wheel to drive properly so I called roadside assistance, and waited over 2 hours for a tow. I didn't feel comfortable driving it with two small children in truck. It got towed to dealership, and they just called and said it was the steering wheel control module. Thankfully it is still covered under warranty but is a huge inconvenience. Not to mention, my warranty is ending in only 3000 more miles. Guess I need to extend it just in case something like this happens again.

- Demotte, IN, USA

problem #149

May 282013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 43,550 miles
I was driving in a parking lot and the power steering went out. A light came on, and the system made a sound to let me know there was a message. It let me know that I had a problem with my power steering. I was turning into an isle, and had to put my body into turning the SUV. I pulled into a wide open parking space, turned the car off and back on. The issue resolved itself. Two days later I was on my way to work doing about 30mph and the same message came on and the power went out. I had to find a place to pull over and turn the car off and on. I made an appointment to get my car in the next available time, which was four days later. That evening I was taking a car load of little boys to a baseball game. The steering went out on a curvy country road with no shoulder. I had a few choice thoughts about my Ford Explorer failing my family!! I have since been to my local Ford dealer that charged me $1,800 to replace my steering gear part, labor, alignment and taxes. My car is not under warranty, and Ford is somehow able to see this defect in thousands of cars and punish it's customers for choosing to support Ford. I didn't want to purchase a car that had been produced by a company that used bail-out money, but next time I will!

- Hudson, WI, USA

problem #148

Jun 012013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 39,800 miles
On engine start up, the dash screen read "power steering assist fault" and the car would not turn using the steering wheel manually. I checked the internet for similar problems and found many complaints regarding this same issue. There was the suggestion to turn off and restart the car which did seem to fix the problem, but then the dash reads another warning "terrain management fault." I called the dealer to have it checked out this week, but I no longer trust this car, which we use to Transport our toddler grandchildren and we will not use it again until we get satisfaction. I saw that several other complaints noted a re-occurrence of the same problem, major part replacement of the steering mechanisms and delays in repairs. That says to me that this is a safety issue and should demand a recall.

- Brunswick, OH, USA

problem #147

May 152012

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 18,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving approximately 30 mph, the steering became difficult to maneuver because the power steering assist had independently deactivated. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for diagnosis. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The contact was not aware of the diagnosis of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 18,000.

- Rogers, AR, USA

problem #146

May 292013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 25,000 miles
I was driving about 65 mph when my power steering failure light as well as vehicle traction light came in. The steering wheel became extremely tight. I was able to slow down and pull off the highway because it was late at night and no vehicles were around. I turned the car off and back on and it fixes the problem. It was extremely scary going that speed to have the power steering light come on.

- El Paso, TX, USA

problem #145

May 032013

Explorer 6-cyl

  • 36,180 miles
While driving my 2011 Ford Explorer the power steering suddenly went out. The vehicle gave me a warning, but only after the steering failed. The vehicle became almost impossible to steer. My only option was to try and get out of the flow of traffic in order to stop the car. Turning the car off, then back on appears to reset the issue. The first time it happened I was pulling out onto a road. Because the change was so unexpected the car couldn't be turned in time to merge into traffic. I had to turn off my car, then turn it back on while blocking two lanes of frontage road because it became next to impossible to control the car without power steering. Two incidents. The first occurred as I was pulling out of a driveway onto a frontage road (05/03/13). The second was driving down a residential neighborhood going about ~25mph (05/27/13). I can't imagine what would happen if I were going 50, 60, 65 on an interstate when this happened. I can't reasonably expect my family to travel in a car this unpredictable and unsafe. I'm not sure what the best remedy might be, but others need to be warned before purchasing this car.

- Dallas, TX, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?