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hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
74,117 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.

2003 Ford Focus accessories - exterior problems

accessories - exterior problem

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2003 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 2 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #28

Apr 222010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 133,000 miles


Key won't turn in the ignition of our 2003 Ford Focus just happened today - no prior problem with ignition will most likely call a locksmith.

- Harrogate, TN, USA

problem #27

Apr 202010


  • 55,000 miles
No previous indication of any problem, just went to my 2003 Focus and could not turn the key. Went in the house and got the other key. It would not turn. The ignition column is permanently locked. Ford has known of this failure for 10 years and done nothing"?? why is there no recall for such an ongoing and known defect" I'm surprised I have not heard of deaths related to this as weather conditions, robbery or rape could certainly contribute to this fixable problem. Shame on Ford.

- West Bend, WI, USA

problem #26

Mar 312010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
The ignition of my 2003 Ford Focus SE, locked up on me and left me stranded in a parking lot.

- Independence, MO, USA

problem #25

Mar 152010


  • 75,000 miles


My 2003 Ford Focus has a ignition switch problem all of a sudden the key will not start the car it has left us stranded and has taken us as long as 30 minutes to start car. We have tried several remedies like silicone spray, tapping on key so it will start this problem has effected a host of Focus owners with costly repairs and we will soon have to spend money to repair this obviously flawed design.

- Auburn, ME, USA

problem #24

Dec 052009


  • 69,000 miles
The ignition switch (that is, where the key goes to start the car) would not turn. I was stuck and had to have the car towed. There had been no warning, that is, the key was never hard to turn, I never had to jiggle the steering column, or anything liked that. I just parked the car in front of a store, and five mints later, went out and found out they key would not turn. (I could remove and re-insert the key, it would not turn). Further more, the dealer and aaa, of course, say to try jiggling the steering wheel. All that did was lock the front wheels in a turned position and made it very hard to move the car get it to a position to be towed. Having the wheels lock in a turned position, as is common, could be a hazard too. The aaa guy could not free (turn) the ignition switch it either. I had first cell-phoned called the dealer, they had no suggestions. I see I had the same problem so many other 2003 focuses have reported. The dealer guessed that the cause was that one of the pins in the lock just slipped out of place. The Ford dealer had to replace the ignition switch. It was not cheap. I called Ford Motor Company they would not pay for it, or part of it.

- Milford, CT, USA

problem #23

Mar 042010


  • 65,000 miles
2003 Ford Focus. Went to drive the car got in put the key in the ignition and it won't turn. This is the second time it has happened. 3/4/10, the first time, it "finally", after about 10 minutes turned after putting the key in and out of the ignition. The second time on 3/5/10, it just wouldn't turn. The car is sitting, will have to call a lock smith to get it fixed.

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #22

Mar 012010


  • 70,413 miles


Ignition key will not turn, and vehicle can not be started, removing key and inserting again and again would allow it to start this happened every time. Now it will not turn at all.

- Garden Grove, CA, USA

problem #21

Dec 232009


  • 91,000 miles
I was holiday shopping on the 23rd, just came back to my 2003 Ford Focus svt in the parking lot of the mall and the ignition would not turn. Tried and tried and tried. No luck, I'm stranded, it's snowing out and it's 10:00pm. Why most I rune a friends evening to come and pick me up because of a faulty ignition switch. $130 dollar tow and an estimate from my Ford dealer to fix it for $490. I've already researched this a little and I can't believe there is not a service bulletin on this problem. How many people have to get stranded for this to get fixed? I just paid off the car and it has 91,000 miles on it.

- Montrose, MN, USA

problem #20

Jan 072009


  • 50,000 miles
I have a 2003 Ford Focus ZX5 and the rear hatch latch does not always engage so have to slam it down a few times to get it to latch. I noticed the recall, but I live in Nebraska and the recall does not apply there. I believe this needs to be expanded. Also the door latches are getting harder and harder to open, is there any recall on them. Also I have a problem with the steering column adjustment lever it will not stay, it releases as you are driving causing the steering wheel to bounce up and down. Not safe.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #19

Nov 102009


  • 139,000 miles
I own a 2003 Ford Focus zts that has 140,000 miles. I know my vehicle is out of warranty. The ignition has been giving me problems that scare me from time to time that I may get stranded. You put the key in, go to turn the key to start and the ignition acts locked. You try again and again but still nothing. This has left me trying to turn my ignition for up to 10 minutes so far. This started about 2 months ago, once a week. Now it happens everyday, not every time, but at least 2 out of 5 times I go to start my vehicle it happens. This is definitely getting worse very quickly. This seems to be a common problem with the 2000-2003 Ford Focus models. I have heard that even if I take my vehicle to a Ford dealership to have the ignition replaced which will cost up around $500, that the new ignition will probably do the same thing due to Ford not correcting the problem in the design of the ignition. I will try calling a locksmith due to the cost being less. I just wanted to let you know this is a common problem occurring and should be checked into as a recall matter. I do not have the patience to wait for that to happen nor do I have the confidence that I will be able to continue to get my vehicle started so I will get this problem fixed.

- Medina, OH, USA

problem #18

Sep 252009


  • 75,000 miles


We drove our 2003 Ford Focus to the grocery store. Upon returning to the car, the key would not turn in the ignition and stranded my wife, 4 year old and 6 month old children and myself wondering what we could do.

- Derby, KS, USA

problem #17

Aug 012009


  • 62,000 miles
The key was starting to stick then I could not get the in the ignition switch to start the car so my son that works for Ford said to tap on the key then it should start so I did and it worked it is an on going thing I think that if Ford knows there is a problem they should do a recall on it the car is a 2003 Ford Focus and is not under warranty like the other owners that have complained about the same problem so now I have to pay to get it fixed like all of the other owners it happens almost every day I go to get my car started it is very annoying.

- Sandy, UT, USA

problem #16

Sep 082009


  • miles
I have a 2003 Ford Focus ZX5 hatchback. It only has 80,000 miles on it, but we have had a huge problem that many others have had with this car. The ignition locks up frequently, and the key will not turn. This problem has left me stranded on many an occasion. It has happened to me 5 times. Each of those times, I have managed to get it working again by violently jamming the key and jiggling it in the ignition, or waiting a while before attempting to insert the key again. Today, however, none of these methods worked, and the ignition seems to be permanently stuck. After careful research on the internet, it seems that this is a common problem with Ford Focus 2001-2003. It has left many drivers across the country stranded in inopportune times and locations, as well as cost them hundreds of dollars each time that the wheel locks up. The sheer volume of people with the same problem indicates that this problem is quite common. It seems that the problem arises from substandard engineering on Ford's part. Please look into forcing a recall.

- Cambridge, MA, USA

problem #15

Jul 292009


  • 114,000 miles
2003 Ford Focus door latches broken. Doors flew open while driving vehicle on highway and local streets. Someone could have fallen out or another car could have hit the door when it flew open and have caused a serious crash. Ford had a recall on the 4 and 5 door Focus but not on a 3 door which is mine. One door has been fixed $293 at a dealer and the other door needs to be fixed. I feel Ford should reimburse me and fix the other door free of charge. This can cause a serious accident and Ford knows they have had problems with these door latches. If someone gets killed Ford will probably have a lawsuit against them.

- Middleburg Hts, OH, USA

problem #14

Jul 052009


  • 81,000 miles
I was stranded many miles from a highway because I could not get my ignition key turned, steeringwheel turned or automatic shifter moved. All blocked. Luckily, I was able to get a ride back to where I could use my cellphone. A friend checked the internet on the problem and he found the suggestion to hit the key. Later many taps this actually worked and I was able to drive home.

- Bozeman, MT, USA

problem #13

Jun 282009


  • 59,246 miles
I own a 2003 Ford Focus and back in February 2006 I took the car in for a recall to fix door hinges that become hard to open or actually break. They completed the work. As I was driving the other day my rear passenger door just swung open and the door will no longer latch. I called Ford and they said since they put some grease or something like that on my door back in 2006 (they never put a new latch on the car) that I am out of luck and have to pay the $336 myself to fix the latch that I feel they should have replaced under the recall in the first place. Two of my other three doors are getting hard to open and I feel it is only a matter of time before they completely break also. I have two children and thank god one of them was not in the back seat the day the car door just decided to swing open.

- Arlington, VA, USA

problem #12

May 112009


  • 66,666 miles
I purchased a 2003 Ford Focus for my daughter and she was stranded after driving it to work when she couldn't get the steering wheel unlocked to use her key. The dealership told her it is common in Ford focuses of this year. This has resulted in the shaft needing to be replaced for $500 and there is not guarantee that it won't happen again because of this make/model of car. This is ridiculous since Ford has known about this for years and as far as I know, there has been no recall issued to date. Unacceptable!

- Ft Worth, TX, USA

problem #11

Feb 012009


  • miles
The car has been having issues with the locks for a while now. We can not put the key into the door to unlock it because it wont always work. The handle on the front driver side door has broke once and was replaced. Now the key for the ignition will not turn to start the car. The steering wheel has locked and will not allow the key to turn to start the car.

- Norwich , CT, USA

problem #10

Nov 092008


  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact turned off the ignition and attempted to restart the vehicle, but was unsuccessful. Suddenly, the gear shift locked and became inoperative. The contact exited the vehicle and the driver's side door automatically locked without assistance. The failure occurred without warning. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer and they replaced the ignition cylinder. The failure mileage was 50,000 and current mileage was 52,000.

- Clinton, OH, USA

problem #9

Dec 012008


  • 74,000 miles
No initial indications of the problem until it happened, a sudden onset. One day, I got in my car, tried to start the engine, and the key would not turn. I tried turning the wheel to get the key to turn, and still no ability to turn the key in the lock and start the car. I tried a second key that is not used, just in case it was a worn key, but still no ability to turn the key in the column lock. Finally, after about 15 minutes of trying to jiggle and finagle the key to turn, it did. Since then, I have found that if the key is removed, and the steering wheel it turned until a positive clunk is heard and felt, indicating that the steering wheel lock has engaged, the problem repeats every single time. If I remove the key and make sure to not turn the wheel so that the steering wheel lock is not engaged then I can reliably insert the key and turn it in the ignition lock and start the car. I called Ford to attempt to request a "good will repair" because I have been a good and long term Ford customer (I have owned a Ford pinto, a Ford Focus, a Ford Contour, and a Ford escape before this Ford Focus) but the agent threw up a load of resistance. Now I am told that they will do nothing until I take it to a Ford dealer and pay for an inspection to verify the problem. This "service" to verify what I can reliably reproduce every and any time, is unnecessary and will cost approximately half of what it will cost me to have my local garage effect the change and make the repair. I am just another one of thousands of people who suffer due to this design defect that Ford must know about.

- New Britain, NN, USA

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