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.

8.4

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$306.00
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 8 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #109

Dec 202005

Focus ZX3 2.0L Zetec

  • Manual transmission
  • 25,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Apparently a pretty common problem. Had some problems for about a week where the key wouldn't turn unless I banged on it. One day it just wouldn't turn at all. Ended up having it towed to the dealership to be repaired. All covered under warranty, but still, a problem like this should never make it outside of the factory.

- , Lancaster, PA, USA

problem #108

Nov 222009

Focus

  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

Running to video store to return movies. Returned movies get in car and key wont turn .. Locked up tight..Had ignition for about a hour . He takes a hammer and lightly taps ignition. Puts key in and my car starts right up..

What a pain..

- , Holton, MI, USA

problem #107

Nov 172009

Focus ZX3 2.3L Duratec

  • Manual transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I can't believe there are so many complaints about Focus's ignition problems. There is still no recall on it. I was one of the fortunate group because this problem happened at my friend's house. We could get the ignition key turn by tapping the top of the key with

a screw driver (a lubber-handle). But, as other people say, the same problem happens if I remove the key from the lock cylinder. I have to give $300 or more to the dealer soon.

- , Alamo, CA, USA

problem #106

Oct 282009

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 92,500 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Upon leaving work on a cold night and 40 minutes away from home I put my key into the ignition and it wouldn't turn. I was with one other person from work, but since I just started this job I barely knew her or the area I was in. After she and I read my entire car manual, wiggled the steering wheel/gearshift, relocked and unlocked the car....still NOTHING! Since I just had my car towed last week for another issue, I was reluctant to tow it again but ended up having to anyway. (I tried the"hitting the key hard while in the ignition that was suggested on here-didn't work for me!) Two hours later, my car is being put onto the tow truck and the tower states that this is the most common ford focus problem he sees. So thank god my roommate was able to come get me as we follwed the tow truck to teh "mechanic" suggested by my roadside assistance which apparently is now a "Dunkin Donuts" and no longer exists. Thankfully the tower worked for a mechanic also and we followed him through some shady streets in Philly in order to get there. Four hours later, I finally got home with my roommate. Now, I had to call out of work and don't know how I will get back to retrieve my car. THIS SHOULD BE A RECALL!!!!! I used to love my focus, but after I paid it off, EVERYTHING went wrong!!

- , Sparta, NJ, USA

problem #105

Oct 222009

Focus

  • Automatic transmission
  • 140,000 miles

I was trying to go to class when this happened. I had a twenty-two page report due in one class and an exam in another. I missed one class, borrowed a friend's car, and had to leave early from the other one to return the car. My parents... who live two hours away (and thought I just wasn't trying hard enough to unlock the steering wheel).... came up, found no solution.

Thankfully I stumbled across this website and will try the screwdriver-hit-trick when I get back up in Indianapolis.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #104

Sep 262009

Focus ZX5

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles

It's unimaginable and hard to explain even to a small child, but we have TWO Ford Focii. BOTH cars have had key ignition switch failures. My wife's 2002 ZTW had the ignition switch replaced last year when the key wouldn't turn. Today my 2003 ZX5 did the exact same thing, fortunately right in my garage. All of you who got stranded in the middle of nowhere, I feel your pain!

I got great information on this web site and "fixed" it myself! I tapped the key with a screwdriver handle and got the switch to turn on the first try. My solution? Customize my Focus! Leave the friggin' key in the ignition switch permanently, disable the obnoxious warning chime, and save $400 in repairs.

Ok, I took off the glove box door, reached up to the upper right and pulled out a plastic box that has wires plugged into it. I carefully opened the cover and found the enunciator. That's the thing that chimes obnoxiously when you open the door when your key is in the ignition. It is a cylindrical component about the size of a quarter that is part of the circuit board. (open your car door and let it ring... it's so loud you wont have any trouble locating it).

I carefully used a pair of slip jointed pliers and crushed the plastic body of the device and removed the silvery disc inside that makes all the noise... it almost fell out on its own. Be careful not to touch any of the solder joints on the circuit board with your pliers.

Next, I put everything back together. Now I can open the door with the key in the ignition without the obnoxious chime going off. I will use the keychain transmitter to lock and unlock the car, thus severely reducing the chances of locking my keys in the car since the transmitter is separate from the key!!

See, you can improve and customize the functionality of this crap Ford Focus all by yourself. By not standing behind their product and taking care of their customers and by refusing to fix this idiotic problem, Ford is really HELPING us to become more self sufficient Americans! You just have to look at the bright side of things... maybe from behind the wheel of a Honda or Toyota.

- , Gahanna, OH, USA

problem #103

Sep 202009

Focus ZX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

SO MY WIFE WENT TO HER FRINDS THE OTHER DAY FOR HER FIRST DAUGHTERS 1ST BIRTHDAY AND CHRISTINING.SHE STAYS THE NIGHT , SO YESTERDAY WHILE IM AT WORK SHE CALL ME AND SAYS HONEY MY CAR WON'T START. IM ASKED WHAT, THEN SHE SAID THE KEY WONT TURN IN AT ALL. SO I GO OVER AFTER WORK AND SURE ENOUGH TH KEY WONT TURN. SO BECAUSE OF THIS THE BABY WAS LATE FOR HER CHRISTINING AND NOW WE ARE DOWN TO ONE CAR FOR A WHILE NOT TO MENTION I WORK 60MILES AWAY FROM WHERE SHE WAS AT. AND SHE ONLYGOT TO WORK BECAUSE I WAS OFF WORK TODAY.

FORD FIX THIS PROBLEM ITS NOT FAIR WE HAVE TO COME OUTTA POCKET TO FIX AN ISSUE THAT YOU ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THIS COULD BE A REAL SAFTEY HAZARD. SO UNLESS YOU WANT TO END UP LIKE GM BUT UNDER DIFFERENT CAUSE WE AS A PEOPLE ARE TIRED OF THIS AND WE ARE READY TO ACT ON IN. FORD AMERICAS CAR.HUM YOU BETTER TAKE CARE OF YOUR PEOPLE FORD CAUSE THESE IMPORTS ARE STARTING TO LOOK VERRY NICE IF THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH

- , Prior Lake, MN, USA

problem #102

Sep 012009

Focus ZX3 Ztec

  • Automatic transmission
  • 49,000 miles

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Contacted Ford about re-occuring alternator / battery problems after JUST having those items repaired 1 week ago and now we have the key problem! The Ford response that is important to note was that they said to save ALL receipts for repairs because if a recall is eventually issued, we should be reimbursed by Ford. Can't add much more except to say "Ditto" to all the other postings! Thanks to those who posted the "remedy" about the tap with the hammer and WD-40 etc. Hopefully that will allow us to get to a locksmith in the morning. Had a '64 Ford Van with less problems than this - won't buy a Ford again unless they make this right.

- , la Vergne, TN, USA

problem #101

Jul 132009

Focus SE 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I hit 70,000 miles and the key wouldn't turn. Horrible, hot day, jacked-up everyone's schedule, a sick friend couldn't even get to the Dr., had to get an ambulance, what a mess!

We have to form a lawsuit. This is a safety issue. How does a group of bonehead-sucker, patriot Americans go about doing that? Those drones at the Ford dealership are worthless hacks, supporting a bunch of overpaid boobs at the plant that turn out money sieves for the rest of us to maintain until we bleed dry.

Stranded, I called two dealerships and the best answer was, 'Gosh, I dunno what you should do..., gotta look at it first'. Clowns! AAA shows up and says, 'Oh, thaaaat problem...'. Taps the key with a screwdriver handle and the key turns. It appears the tumblers fail to drop into place. He said 'leave the key in the ignition (hope someone steals it) and that should buy you some time, but get it fixed because pretty soon it freezes up forever'. Loons want $650.00 to repair, that's of course 'before they loooook at it...'.

- , Santa Ana, CA, USA

problem #100

Jul 112009

Focus ZX3 Vtech

  • Manual transmission
  • 71,000 miles

Luckily we got the car towed to a dealership just before they closed at 5:00 PM on a Saturday, as we were out of state and no service would occur until Monday. The Ford mechanic knew about this problem and hit the key with a screwdriver and viola, the car was running. I didn't turn it off until we were in our driveway and then I didn't take the key out or turn it past the first off position. I drove it to my local Ford service station on Monday and they will have to replace the tumbler for over $550. This is shameful on Ford's part, clearly a manufacturing defect, a recall should be in the works.

- , Madison, CT, USA

problem #99

Dec 152006

Focus

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I was driving home from college in the middle of nowhere Indiana for Winter Break and stopped to use the restroom at a sketchy gas station. Well as soon as I get back in my car it won't turn. I try and try for 15 minutes. Give my dad a call and start telling him the situation and he tries to give me some tips on how to get the key to turn. With me being a girl he assumed I must have my steering wheel locked and that's why it's not turning. I tell him that's not it and continue to try to turn it, he's about a two hour drive away so he decides to head my way to help. Two hours later he's in the middle of nowhere with me and begins to try and see if he can fix the problem himself, finally we give a locksmith a call, although it's too late for him to come out, we tell him the situation and he knows exactly what the problem was.

The locksmith tells us to buy some car lube and put it on the key and tap on the key with a hammer, finally it turns. The locksmith explained something about a plastic(I think) pin that will get bent on the inside and how it's happened on lots of Ford Focuses and basically it needs to be replaced.

So after spending 5 hours at a sketchy gas station late into the night on a cold winter night I finally head home. The next morning I take it to the Ford Dealership and they pretend they never heard of this before, I get the tumbler replaced and pay the bill to get the whole thing over with.

Worst part about it is that they expect me to believe they've never had this problem yet a locksmith in the middle of nowhere Indiana knew about this problem immediately after telling him it's a Ford Focus over the phone.

- , Hammond, IN, USA

problem #98

Jun 212009

Focus

  • Manual transmission
  • 108,000 miles

I recently had a similar problem with my focus and had to have my ignition switch replaced, but I wanted to share how I fixed it. First if your ignition switch won't turn then you need to put the key in and hit it hard with a hammer or mallet. After that, the key should turn to start the car, but once you take the key out, you will have to hit it again to get it started. If you leave the key in the ignition, you can start it all the time. When it comes time to replace the part, remove the covers so that you can see the switch. There is a small round hole that you can see through the steering wheel. Turn the key slowly to the run position and a button will pop out from the hole. Press the button in and the ignition switch will come out. All you have to do is slide in the new one. The only problem is that the dealer will need your key to program your new part too. I just kept one key in the ignition and used my spare to have the dealer program my new one. Overall, it was a big hassle when it happened, but this is a cheaper solution to fixing it and very easy to do on your own.

- , Vermilion, OH, USA

problem #97

Jun 252009

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Manual transmission
  • 171,000 miles

i just went and bought a new lock cylinder for 90.00$ which is easy to replace and got my key coded at ford for 20.00$ still ford should do a recall on this problem cause it seems to be happening to everyone!!!

- , Jean-cote, AB, Canada

problem #96

May 272009

Focus ZX5

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,500 miles

I was trying to make it home late one night, and my key wouldn't turn. I had this problem for the week before, but I was able to fix it before by locking and unlocking the car with my remote. But Wednesday night it wasn't going to work. Now it is at the shop and they stopped working on it because they couldn't get the wheel to unlock. Now I have read that this is a common problem and am regretting still making payments on the car. My mechanic told me 180 to replace the tumbler on the lock. I might just have the whole ignition replaced, just for good measure. Maybe I will get a little more time out of it.

- , Norman, OK, USA

problem #95

May 202009

Focus SE 3.2L

  • Manual transmission
  • 104,000 miles

My husband was conducting some business at the high school prior to picking me up for work. When he left school the key would not turn in the ignition. He called my son to bring a second set of keys which didn't work either. Had to borrow a friend's car and have my son pick me up from work, My husband called the dealer who suggested we have the Focus towed in and they would make a new cylinder that would fit our existing keys. Cost approx. $250.00. School superintendent and a colleague who both drive a Focus said they had had similar problems but not as severe. Judging from other complaints posted, why no recall?

- , Sheffield Lake, OH, USA

problem #94

May 202009

Focus ZTS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,000 miles

I encountered this problem while trying to get to work one morning! I tried everything & ended up calling a dealer. I was informed at that time that this problem was not uncommon for the 2003 Ford Focus. I checked around at several dealers & the bill for the repair of this problem would run from $300-$380 in addition to a towing bill. I opted to call a locksmith for an estimate as well. He too, was aware of the ongoing ignition problems & felt there should have been a recall on this part. I had him change out the ignition where the car was located to avoid the towing fee for $335 & tax etc... total bill $359.45. My question is, if Ford is aware of ignition problems (design), why haven't they recalled this part????

- , Wheatland, IA, USA

problem #93

Apr 032009

Focus SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

This actually started a few weeks ago, but it got to the point where my wife was stuck at an underground car park with my kids. So, I had to go locate them and make attempt after attempt to turn the key. After about an hour, it finally turned. Once we got home, we Googled the problem and found this website, and I couldn't believe the problem.

I took the car to a local (German) Ford dealer, and they told me that all they could do was clean out the cylinder and regrease it since they don't carry US specs parts. This worked for about a day, and it cost approx $150.00.

I had taken it to another local car center before, and the mechanic stated that it's an ongoing problem with Fords. I still haven't replaced the entire key cylinder, but was wondering if anyone knows if this is a recall?

I am very reluctant to buy any Fords.

- , Stuttgart, Baden, Germany

problem #92

Apr 122009

Focus

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I was taking my wife and kids to the lake for fishing and picnicking. Two kids in the back seat. After filling up at a gas station and getting ice, beer and soft drinks etc I found that the key would not turn in the igintion. I had had the problem before and I was able to fix it by tapping on the end of the key with my knuckle and that would get it to turn. But not this time. After an hour of trying to get that key to turn while sitting at that gas pump in the heat I finally gave up and called a taxi to take us home. Taxi was $20. I drove my Chevy truck back to the focus with the spare key. It didn't work either. I Had the car towed to home. $60. What a pain. Other than the key problems it has been a good car but I will trade that car in ASAP. The drivers door wont lock either.

- , Killeen, TX, USA

problem #91

Nov 032008

Focus 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,000 miles

Their we were at the gas station, my family and i, just finished getting gas, went to start the car and the key would not turn, 3 people came over to help out and still it would not turn, i had to have the car towed away, later, we employed a locksmith to come and tear the column apart to see if he could fix the lock, after 1 hour of his work and a lot of wd-40 he got it to turn, now if it locks again i just move the steering column up and down and in and out HARD, that sometimes works, other times i turn the key over to the other side and that works.

- , Del Rio, TX, USA

problem #90

Mar 252009

Focus ES 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,000 miles

I have had a problem with the key not turning or getting stuck inside the ignition. Most of time it would work after about a few minutes of trying. Tonight while getting ready to go home from work, the key wouldn't turn. After about 1 hour of trying I gave up and called my brother to pick me up. I give up on this car.

- , Santa Maria, CA, USA

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