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 1 of 17)

problem #324

Jan 182017


  • 75,407 miles


My wife was bringing my kids home from school and had a complete steering failure but was not injured and did not have an accident

- Moatsville, WV, USA

problem #323

Jun 102015


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. When the contact attempted to drive the vehicle, the steering wheel became very difficult to maneuver. The power assist warning indicator illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed, but the technician could not find a failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The VIN was included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V286000 (steering). The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 60,000.

- Sulphur, LA, USA

problem #322

Jan 162017


  • 107,000 miles
The battery charging system comes on while drive at normal speed and the steering becomes very hard and then everything shuts down and if you are lucky you might make it off the side of the road. This is very scary as I live in a rural around where you can't always get over in an appropriate area. In the past I could let it set for a minute and restart it and would be fine. Recently had to have it jump started for it to run again and then seems fine. Just last night/this morning it was so bad that we had to let it sit for several hours before we could get it to jump start it again. I have saw that others have had similar complaints. When I searched my VIN number it says there is no recalls but when I was searching for recalls it mentions the power steering as a recall. The recall was prior to me purchasing this unit. I am frustrated and this is a great safety recall that Ford should fix on all vehicles. The date entering as event happened was the last event but it started back in may of 2016.

- Louisville, IL, USA

problem #321

Nov 062016


  • 146,000 miles


It was a power steering wheel recall but the Ford company could not fix it because of over maillage but my understanding it's a recall and I haven't had my Ford Explorer for about 5 week and I really need it back thank you

- Ligonier, IN, USA

problem #320

Nov 132016


  • 152,000 miles
While driving the 2011 Ford Explorer the automatic steering went out making it impossible to drive and steer. I found that the same situation has happened on multiple 2011 Ford Explorer. It shows on line there is a recall but the dealership says there is not. We are at 152K miles and we would have needed to be at 150K or less for the repair to be covered. Even though online shows a recall for this make and model im told we are not covered. It had to of "happened" while driving and then we notify the dealer. With something as serious as steering gears going out not being covered by a recall makes me sick. It was my minor child driving when this happened. Now I must pay 2K to have this repair done when it is something that has multiple reports of it happening including at least 15 related accidents the dealership has confirmed that my vehicle falls under the parameters but because of 2K over the mileage requirement it is not covered.

- Ellensburg, WA, USA

problem #319

Nov 142016


  • 95,000 miles
My vehicle was in motion on a city street when my power steering quit. The steering just quit. I could not steer my vehicle. It could have easily resulted in an accident. I am so grateful it did not and someone was close by to help me get my vehicle off the road.

- College Station, TX, USA

problem #318

Jul 122016


  • 36,400 miles


My Ford Explorer 2011 omits a foul odor(smells like rotten egg)when you turn on the ac while driving, the steering column feels loose and has a strong wind noise while driving.

- Winchester, CA, USA

problem #317

Oct 102016


  • 55,900 miles
While driving at 35mph, steering froze and "power steering system fault" notification illuminated on the dash. Safely stopped at next driveway. Shut down car. Exited car, called husband. Restarted car and steering was working again. Travelled 2 more miles at 35mph and power steering froze again with same subsequent notification; also advance trac lights illuminated. Man handled steering to drive car home. Now engine starts and runs 7-10 minutes before power steering fault occurs. Scheduled at Ford dealer service department in paducah, ky for repair on Oct 19, 2016.

- Paducah, KY, USA

problem #316

Sep 262016


  • 100,526 miles
Power steering failed requiring extreme effort to pull over off the road. Warning came up "service power steering". vehicle was brought to dealership where they determined the power steering rack needed to be replaced (many many reports on this) on 9/26. Picked up vehicle on 9/29 with a brand new power steering rack and drove it home. Started vehicle on 9/30 and drove 3 miles when the brand new power steering rack failed giving a red warning "service power steering now". again, no power steering and had to man handle the vehicle to dealership. Contacted Ford roadside and they would not tow back to same dealer because there was a closer dealer by 9 miles. Why isn't Ford being required to recall these. This is a major safety issue

- Allenstown, NH, USA

problem #315

Sep 192016


  • miles
The steering has never worked correctly, something just does not feel right with this vehicle. Also - the sync system does not work correctly and the screen randomly reboots and is not working correctly. Lastly the car system does not recognize when keys are in the car, so every time you go to start the car does not work. How this is unsafe - is in cold weather you have your keys in hand and the car will not start, which means you could be left in the cold and the car will not start. This is not safe.

- Cuyahoga Falls, OH, USA

problem #314

Sep 032016


  • 86,000 miles


Sep 3, 2016 3rd incident of power steering going out while driving. First time was one year ago. The steering wheel completely locked while I was making a left turn. I had to use all my strength to "un-jam" it. Took it to the dealership for service and they replaced the steering gear. 6 months ago steering went out again while driving with my husband and 3 children on vacation. Had the car towed to the closest dealer who "found nothing wrong" with the car and sent us on our way without paperwork even documenting our complaint. 3rd time was a week ago while I was driving with my husband and son. My husband, the tow truck driver and the tech at the dealership had difficulty steering. Dealership is replacing the steering gear again. "same fix as last time, but better parts since a year ago" is what I'm told by the dealership. I have no faith in this car and cannot put my family or anyone else on the road at risk. Steering locking up while you are driving is extremely terrifying and Ford is telling me there is nothing they are required to do because it is not under manufacture warranty anymore. Basically, if you buy a Ford you have to be prepared to risk your safety and the safety of others on the road. Their recall fixes don't fix the problem.

- Oak Park, CA, USA

problem #313

Aug 252016


  • 78,100 miles
It start happening yesterday when start my SUV after it start on message console I see power steering assist fault and steering wheel get very hard to turn. Truck have 78K and don't know if Ford dealer will accept that as a recall? I have shut off the car and restart and issues went away. But later on same day when I start the truck it happen again.

- Andover, MA, USA

problem #312

May 292016


  • 89,000 miles
The power steering fails, and it becomes very hard and almost impossible to steer the vehicle.

- Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #311

Nov 172015


  • 118,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. While the vehicle was parked, the steering wheel seized. In addition, the "service power steering" and "service advance track" warning lights illuminated. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was repaired under NHTSA campaign number: 14V286000 (steering); however, the failure recurred while driving 35 mph. The vehicle was towed to multiple dealers where it was diagnosed that the battery needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired and the failure persisted. The manufacturer was notified of the failures. The failure mileage was 118,000.

- Wantage, NJ, USA

problem #310

Apr 192016


  • miles
There are times when I am driving down the road and I want to change lanes, it is hard for me to turn the wheel. There are also times where and slowing to make a turn and it is extremely hard for me to turn the doesn't happen every single time but it happens more than enough.

- Apex, NC, USA

problem #309

Apr 012016


  • 65,000 miles
After having epas replaced (@hall Ford ellizabeth city, nc) under recall 15N01 after complete power steering failure. We began a 700 mi. Road trip home and began to experience spontaneous traction control interaction with our driving input which affected either power distribution to the axels, braking ability, and steering ability. After making it nearly 300 miles the electronic stability control completely went out along with what felt like ABS control seemed like it intervened sporadically. We also recieved a dash prompt that the fuel filler inlet needed checked as well. Upon arrival to a Ford dealer along our route (sheehy Ford, warrenton, va) they pulled the codes listed and appeared to be a litany of codes nearly a page and a half long. They cleared the codes and drove the vehicle. After driving the vehicle around the block the traction control began to act intermittently without loss of traction. They came back and checked for error codes and the "steering position sensor was at fault" they went through re-calibrated the equipment installed and cleared out the codes and drove without any issues. We then continued on our remainder of our trip without any further issues. Upon arrival to our home destination the following day we began to again have traction control intervening with driver input when not needed where it appears to be shifting power from axle to axle or applying braking to aid in traction control. I have also noticed that that rear view camera displays the postion of the driver wheel in relation to the wheel path in reverse but appears intermittant as if there is a not a continuous connection with the sensor. Taking to our local Ford dealer here Monday 4-4-16 to have them thoroughly go through the vehicle but appears to continue to be an issue with the electronic power steering assist. All issues are present when traveling at speed and turning

- Oregon, OH, USA

problem #308

Mar 312016


  • 43,000 miles
My 2011 Ford Explorer started having power steering assist failure in Dec, 2015 at first it would be on first start up, lasting 3-4 seconds with a frozen steering wheel. Gradually it happened more often and lasted longer (5-10 seconds) recently in March 2016 while driving across Florida on vacation, I slowed to enter the driveway of a shopping center, as I made the turn at approximately 15 mph my steering went stiff and I had to use excessive force to turn and avoid a vehicle exiting the parking lot. It was only then I google searched if other Explorer owners had experienced similar failures. That's when I learned that its happening to thousands of other Ford Explorer. Even though a safety recall has been issued to replace the steering gear, you'll find Ford will want to change other parts first, parts not covered on the recall. The steering gear is very expensive ($1,500) first the dealer said its the steering wheel angle sensor and not the steering gear. They told me it would fix the problem and they charged me for the repair......I literally pulled out of Suburban Ford of waterford Michigan and drove 1 mile to a nearby grocery store, after returning to my vehicle on the first start up after this repair my steering was frozen for 7-10 seconds after 4 days loss of usage of my vehicle while at the dealership, no rental car offered, I'll be returning my Explorer to the dealer tomorrow, I'll keep posting updates to this nightmare with Ford Motor Co. Folks, I'm sure you'll all agree, loss of steering is one of the most dangerous defects a vehicle can have, not only to the owner and occupants but to the other innocent drives on the road as well

- White Lake, MI, USA

problem #307

Dec 242015


  • 70,000 miles
While driving at a speed of 55 mph, in a down-pour rain, on a state hwy, on a straightaway, the power steering was lost when the "check charging system" warning light came on (check battery light came on as well). Steering was extremely difficult. Cause at this time is unknown.

- Clermont, GA, USA

problem #306

Nov 242015


  • 42,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. The contact stated that while driving at 3 mph, the steering wheel seized. The "power steering assist failure" was displayed across the message board. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 42,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- La Quinta, CA, USA

problem #305

Nov 182015


  • 77,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Ford Explorer. While driving at approximately 15 mph, the steering wheel seized. The contact mentioned that the failure only occurred while driving low speeds. The failure recurred three times. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The VIN was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 14V286000 (steering). The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 77,000.

- Portland, TN, USA

Read the next 20 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?