The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating claims of power steering problems in some 2011 Ford Explorer SUVs. Simultaneously, the federal regulator is also looking into some Chrysler 200s from the same model year, because of alleged stalling problems.
Fifteen complaints filed
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its website that 15 consumers have complained that the power steering assist randomly failed in their 2011 Ford Explorer SUVs, making steering extremely difficult and increasing the chance of a crash.
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Details not always consistent
Apparently, the details of the incidents were not consistent in every complaint. Some drivers said the problem corrected itself when the vehicle was restarted. Others reported that a warning light illuminated in the driver information center before the power steering quit on them.
One Explorer owner wrote:
“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.”
In that incident, the vehicle was moving slowly enough that a crash was avoided. At this time, no crashes or injuries have been associated with the problem.
Potentially, 83,000 Explorers are affected in the probe. Ford is cooperating fully with regulators. A spokesperson for the company, Marcey Zwiebel, said that concerned owners should contact their local dealerships for details on the continuing investigation.
Fifteen other complaints filed
Meanwhile, the federal regulator is also looking into 15 consumer complaints about some 2011 Chrysler 200s. Only those packing a 3.6-liter V-6 engine are going under the agency’s microscope.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some 200s have allegedly been stalling “without warning during low-speed decelerations, like braking for a stop sign or traffic light.”
Although there have been no crashes or injuries reported because of the problem, one woman described a narrow miss:
“While driving, this car has stalled on five separate occasions, once in front of an 18-wheeler. There was no collision, but it was close.”
Steps toward a recall
If an issue is detected in any of the regulator’s Preliminary Evaluations, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could upgrade the probe to an Engineering Analysis, which is the final step before a recall is issued.