Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
83,497 miles
Total Complaints:
249 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (84 reports)
  2. replace the ignition (37 reports)
  3. insert the key and lightly tap the key with a hammer (28 reports)
  4. must go to dealership for high priced repair (28 reports)
  5. call a locksmith (25 reports)
  6. replace ignition lock cylinder (19 reports)
2003 Ford Focus accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 11 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #49

Oct 012007

Focus SE 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles


Well I purchased this car for my wife because our 2000 Chevy Malibu was leaking antifreeze everywhere, but that's beyond the point. I guess that's what I get for buying American. My wife is leaving work at 10 pm at night by herself and guess what she can't get the key to turn. She calls me panicked because she worked in a depressed area at the time I tell the to turn the wheel she can't. I work midnights and was on my way to work when she called so I had to turn around and get her thus making me late for work. Thanks FORD for costing me money and time. The next day I Google the problem an find lots of solutions mainly expensive ones. I tried the rubber mallet wd40 trick and it has worked perfectly ever since. If perfectly = must use mallet to pop key every time wife turns car off. I call the dealer about this they tell me there will never be a recall because it is not a safety issue. F*ck Ford and its' management for producing crappy cars. I will never buy another Ford. As an aside I own a 2002 Ranger XLT with a recalled cruise control switch. I went in to get it repaired and the part is back ordered until April 2008. It's been over 8 months since the recall has been issued. Guess what everyone I'll be driving a Toyota next time or a Honda or anything else not made in America hell I'll even buy a DAMN Hyundai.

- , Bradley, IL, USA

problem #48

Jan 162008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles

What BS!!!! I've owned many cars w/ alot higher mileage and never had any problem with a key not turning in the ignition. I bought it new, only owner, take good care of car. Ford produces a low quality product. I got lucky and had complained about the problem a year ago (2/07) and the dealership cleaned/greased (charged me $20) but it still wasn't great but it worked reasonable well. It completely went out on 1/16/08. I bitched to dealership that i had this problem before and they said extended warranty would cover it but still had to pay a deductible of $50 to replace a defective part w/ a new defective part. I believe the new tumbler works smoother than the old one ever did. When the dealership didn't realize that the extended warranty was going to cover it they were telling me it would require relpacing entire ignition.

- , Columbia, MO, USA

problem #47

Jul 012007

(reported on)


  • Manual transmission
  • 67,000 miles

I have been researching for a solution and find this is a VERY common problem for Ford Focus -- why hasn't Ford recalled this obviously inferior piece of equipment? Anybody have any suggestions on how to pressure Ford into fixing this?

- , Heber, UT, USA

problem #46

Sep 082007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles


This is such bullshit, how many thousands of people have to go through this before they actually take responsibility for the crap they put on the road.

I stopped by the store on my way home from work one day, bought a few things and was extremely ready for home when I left. Got in my car, put the key, and hey, it won't turn. So glad I had my cell phone with me so I could spend the next hour getting pissed off at non helpful men who kept asking if I jiggled the steering wheel. Uh, yes I did jiggle the f*cking steering wheel, thanks so much. My boyfriend was kind enough to come up and try jiggling the steering wheel himself just in case I happened to be a retard. Then I had to wait for a tow truck, which happened to be driven by a guy I wished I hadn't made out with in highschool. Then, I had to empty my bank account to have him haul my POS one mile to the dealership. The charge was something like $180 but I found out later they didn't replace it with a new one, they simply "tweaked" mine. From the sound of it its going to happen again and I can already see the signs. Sometimes when I pull out my key, they car is still on and I have to make sure the switch pops out before it shuts off.

By the way, my cousing owns a 2001 focus and this same thing happened to her a couple of months prior.

- , St. Louis, MO, USA

problem #45

Jan 102008

Focus LS

  • Manual transmission
  • 63,231 miles

My parents drove my car while I was at school and they though they broke the ignition when the key would not budge. They immediately replaced it before I came back from school ( thinking i would never notice it).. They ended up spending over $300.00 replacing the ignition. This is soo funny because they didn't want me to notice the new ignition but in the end i found out anyways and had to thank my parents for buying me a new one because what they don't know is that many people are having major problems with their ignition with their '03 focus and in the end i didn't have to cough up $300.00 from my wallet!!

- , Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #44

Jul 152007

(reported on)

Focus SE 4 cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 40,554 miles

While with my three year old child, we were trying to pick up my husband at work. I turned off the ignition and waited for him... trying to be environmentally friendly you know! Anyway, when he arrived we attempted to turn on the car again... the key would not turn! We tried everything under the sun for an hour! Nothing. We ended up leaving the car and taking a cab home, as we had other engagements that day that we could not miss. We looked up the problem on the internet and someone suggested a fix. We ended up being able to get the car home the next day by "lightly tapping the key with a hammer, while in the ignition" It did not fix the problem and the mechanic still needs to replace the ignition cylinder, but it got my husband home from work the next day!

Why has there not been a recall on this part or at least why have they not stopped using it????? This is obviously quite common!

- , Winnipeg, MB, Canada

problem #43

Jan 042008

Focus ZTW 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


Key problem left my wife stranded at work. AAA sent out a locksmith who said this was a common problem. He tapped the key with the hammer and got it to turn and then was able to fix it at his shop for $45.00 since AAA had paid him already for the service call. He changed out the core and we have the same keys...nice job.

- , Hahira, GA, USA

problem #42

Dec 312007

Focus ZX# 4 cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 40,000 miles

I had gone for last minute shopping for the New Year Eve. When I got back in and tried to turn the ignition key it would not turn. The steering wheel was locked. I called for tow service and the giant flat bed did not have space to get in the space availble. He said he could not help me since my steering was locked and suggested I call another towing company for a "wheel lift" tow. The second towing company showed up but this time the the clever Latino tow truck driver squirted some WD and tapped the ignition key with a hammer and "SURPRISE!!!!" the ignition key turned. I dared not remove it agin and just shut off the engine by a gentel turn until everythin turns off and leave the key in place. I use the spare key to lcok and unlock the door. Just to be sure I dont absentmindedly yank out the key, I taped a big red X next to the wheel shaft on the dashboard. Ford makes sh*tty cars and its dealerships are full of sh*tty morons who have absolute zero concern for the customer. Never buy a Ford product again.

- , Mission Viejo, CA, USA

problem #41

Jun 302007

Focus ZX5

  • Manual transmission
  • 61,000 miles

My ignition froze up the day before I had to go to a music festival. So I rushed my car to the Ford Dealership to see what the damage was. I'm already skeptical about large corporations, especially ones who have had prior involvements with Nazi Germany (Ford). So I was ready to jump all over the ass of the mechanic and get some information as to why I have heard so much about these ignition problems in this particular vehicle. The mechanic actually ended up being a very nice gentleman and he said he was sorry for the problem. He said he had no idea why Ford hasn't recalled these vehicles yet even though people continue to poor in with this same exact problem. Infact he said that they have the part to fix the ignition constantly stocked. To make a long story short I leave without my car to the festival and as I am at the festival I get a phone call from the mechanic. Apparently, the certain type of focus I have didn't have the replacement part so they just went ahead and replaced the entire steering wheel. F'n bullshit. It cost me $720.00 to get my car fixed and since I didn't have that large amount of money at the time the Ford Company was nice enough to help me with a credit card. No payment or interest untill 3 months. But what I didn't read in the fine print is that if I didn't my first months payment on time then they were going to charge me interest from the beginning of the purchase. The interest rate is ridiculous and now I have an extra $100 charge on my new card and I've just started paying on this sh*t. All of us who have experienced these inhumane business practices we should do everything we can to raise hell and demand Ford to recall these vehicles or pay for the repairs needed. Back in the day Corporations were created to benefit the community and the community had the right to end that corporation if there focus wasn't for the benefit of the community and man kind. If we all stood together we could make some noise. What do you say? Don't be afraid to send me your comments. END CORPORATE! RECLAIM DEMOCRACY

- , Weed, CA, USA

problem #40

Dec 182007

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Manual transmission
  • 37,282 miles

The only reason it was cheap is because i know the people at the dealership and they gave me a break i gave sh*t and got it cheaper i got the replacement part for $85 so just so you know how much u can bargain this is canadian funds so......

- , Powell River, BC, Canada

problem #39

Jul 302007

(reported on)


  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles


if we leave the key in the ignition it will turn

- , Hillsdale, NY, USA

problem #38

Dec 042007

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,500 miles

I couldn't start my car because the key wouldn't turn. The problem had occurred a couple times, but I always managed to get it to turn over eventually. Then everything seemed fine for several days. Then one morning I went down to my car and couldn't turn the key, no matter how hard I tried. I called the dealer and they said this was a common problem with the Focus. I asked if there was a recall on it... "no". An now I see from the internet that this really is a major problem. The worst part is that I live less than a mile from the dealer, but I had to pay $80 to have my car towed there. I waited 3 1/2 hours for a tow truck due to the weather (snow storm). My car was parked in my garage... so the tow driver had to drag it out of the garage and up the bed while it was locked (couldn't put it in neutral). I then picked up my car in the morning to discover the steering column cover had been damaged, and the replacement cylinder was sub-par. The key now turns like a toy. Seriously annoyed.

- , S. Burlington, VT, USA

problem #37

Aug 152007

Focus ZX3 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

It started with trouble getting the key out of the ignition and ended with the key not turning at all. This was after a deer had willingly sacrificed himself to our driver side quarter panel. So what to do. The car was already at the shop getting body work fixed but now we had to take it to the wonderful dealership to get the ignition removed. The guy with the knowledge to quickly install this ignition thought it would be a nice thing to let the ignorant assholes get some experience in it since we had been without a car for a week or so. So the guy used various drills and had to drill out the whole ignition. Even to this day we have problems taking the key out and if you turn it just right the accessories will stay on but you will have your key in hand. This results in dead batteries and mad people.

- , Whiteville, NC, USA

problem #36

Nov 242007

Focus ZX5

  • Manual transmission
  • 76,905 miles

The wheel locked up totally and I couldn't turn the key. I saw on this website that people had tried hitting the key with a hammer, so I tried that and after a few tries it worked. I am really hoping this doesn't happen again!

- , Berea, KY, USA

problem #35

Nov 122007


  • Manual transmission
  • 46,603 miles

Apparently this is a relatively COMMON problem. Not so great when you are all ready to go and your key will not turn in the ignition. Luckily this time I was at home, but I have been stranded in parking lots for hours waiting for someone to come and pick me up!

- , Sarsfield, Ontario, Canada

problem #34

Nov 092007

(reported on)

Focus ZX5

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,194 miles

As a 21 year old young woman this focus is only my second car. I felt a little safer choosing the Ford brand trying to support my own economy blah blah blah and thinking they were reliable...THEY'RE NOT!!! Not only does Ford have it's own website for problems it has a P.O. box to handle customer relations!! I am very upset with the quality of this car now that I've been forced to investigate it, and with many cars to buy in the future..I highly doubt there will be a Ford symbol any one!


Sincerely PISSED OFF,

Jessica S.

- , Syracuse, NY, USA

problem #33

Nov 062007

(reported on)

Focus SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 40,000 miles

Ford really needs to do a recall for this ignition problem. I suddenly could not unlock my steering wheel to drive my car. I called a mechanic who suggested I step on the brake while jerking the steering wheel to the left really hard while trying to turn the key. This worked for a few days until the tumblers inside the lock finally got bent. That's when I had to have it towed to an auto repair. Final cost: $550.00 to fix a problem that Ford should be fixing for FREE with a recall. This is ludicrous!!! I NEVER would have bought a Focus if I would have read about all the ignition lock problems here! BUYER BEWARE

- , Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #32

Oct 302007

(reported on)

Focus LX 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

I was pissed, i get in my car,and i put the car in, and i'm thinking the car was not in gear, but i had to call my mother out to come pick me up, and i had to pay for towing, and then turn around ask my brother in law to pay for., it pissed me off even more, because it wasn't covered in warranty!!!!!!!!!!, i bought the vehicle second hand through a used car dealer ship, so i'm sure they didn't know, this time next year, i will never buy another ford vehicle, just because of this problem, i didnt realize that so many people had this same problem, like this, its a good thing my grandson wasnt with me cause if he was, This Black Sista, would have went off, i would have cussed everyone out because of this problem

- , Denton, TX, USA

problem #31

Oct 292007

(reported on)

Focus ZX3

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,000 miles

I had traveled all the way across the state to visit my finance when my ignition quit working. I had never had any problems with the ignition prior to this occasion. I parked my car, came out of a restaurant about 15 minutes later, put the key and the ignition and couldn't get it to turn. I tried everything. The tow truck driver even tried hammering the key into the ignition and nothing worked. I towed the vehicle to the Ford dealership and of course had to wait until Monday (it was Saturday night when it broke) to get the car fixed. I had to borrow my finance's car to get home and now I have to drive back in a few days to pick up my car. After reading how common this problem is with the Focus, I am very concerned that Ford won't step up to the plate and recall the ignition.

- , Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #30

Oct 172007

(reported on)

Focus ES 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,000 miles

I have a 2003 Ford Focus and I start having problems with this car in the beginning of this year, the steering wheel locks up and the ignition does not turn on, I was stuck for 1/2 and hour one day trying to start it which it eventually started, I am sure Ford is aware of it but refuse to fix it, I was quoted a price from the dealer to repair it as $343 plus tax. this is my first and last car from Ford which means Fix Or Repair Daily. I am getting rid of this car, Ford shame on you and your car sucks.

- , Queens, NY, USA

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