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pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
78,916 miles
Total Complaints:
223 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (71 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 (27 reports)
  5. call a locksmith (23 reports)
  6. replace ignition lock cylinder (17 reports)
2003 Ford Focus accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 1 of 12)

problem #223

Dec 142013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 170,000 miles


Key will absolutely not turn in the ignition. While looking for solution to problem. Find out this is common with 2000-2003 Ford Focus. What the ....? And Ford won't recall....

- , Clio, MI, USA

problem #222

Oct 262012

Focus ZTS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,694 miles

I had around 108,500 km on my 2003 Focus when my key started getting stuck trying to turn it in the ignition. It sometimes took me a good 20 minutes to get it to turn and start the car. Eventually though it would not turn at all. Left me stranded in a parking lot.

I also want to note that a family member had a 2002 Focus and had the same issue about a year after it happened to me. For the ignition repair, I paid $414, they paid $573. Should have taken it to a locksmith instead. Emailed Ford and got nowhere. How is there not a recall on this when it is clearly a very widespread and serious problem? I have since replaced this car with a non-Ford. Good riddance.

- , Vancouver, BC, canada

problem #221

Nov 112013

Focus ZTS V4

  • Manual transmission
  • 91,500 miles

Ignition will not turn when the key is put in. I understand now that this is a problem pretty common for Ford Focuses. Fortunately it happened at work, so for 3 days now, my car has been sitting in the parking lot. Good thing this didn't happen at a gas station or a car wash. My husband went online and tried to find some information on how to fix this. Tomorrow he is calling a lock smith to see if maybe they can figure it out. He figures they will have the correct tools to deal with this. We are not happy about this at all. I read that there is a class action lawsuit being filed. I will look into this further. Shame on you Ford!! I was thinking about getting a new car here as soon as my house was paid off. I might be looking at Chevy's or Dodges now.

- , Rock Springs, WY, USA

problem #220

Apr 022012

Focus 4D Sedan SE 2.0L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles


car is a LEMON! .............................................................................................................................................................

- , Albuquerque, NM, USA

problem #219

Jul 012012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

It's amazing to me that this problem has been chronic enough to be reported time and time again by owners of these vehicles BUT Ford has YET to consider a recall. I am not happy with this company and the multiple issues encountered with their vehicles. I think it's time to purchase from a different company!

- , Independence, MO, USA

problem #218

Jun 012011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 115,000 miles

I've been living with this problem for over a year because the Ford dealership quoted around $700 to replace the starter. I've been tapping the key about 6 times with the bottom of my cup holder to get the key to turn. Usually, this works after a few times, along with wiggling the steering wheel.

Today, none of the usual tricks worked and I ended up leaving my car in the driveway and borrowing someone elses' car to get to work.

I want to know what to do for cheep - the car has 186,000 miles on it, but runs great. It's not a pretty car - had it valued at around $700. How can I DIY this problem? Or will Ford recall? Today I am out $$$ because I couldn't get to work.

- , Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #217

Mar 292012

Focus SL

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


Ford refused to help in any way. Rude customer service rep.

- , Wilmington, MA, USA

problem #216

Apr 282012

Focus ZX3 2.1L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 83,000 miles

This car is probably one of the worse purchases I've ever made. In the almost 3 years I've had this vehicle, it's been in the shop for substancial work. I just had the window regulator replaced, a coil and thermostat housing. Two days ago I was shopping with my young daughter and as I tried to start my car, the key wouldn't turn in the ignition. Several bystanders tried everything we could think of but I ended up having to have it towed to a nearby Ford dealership. A 4 mile tow cost me $100. I still haven't heard if this is covered by my warranty. It amazes me after reading all of these complaints that Ford has not issued a recall. Quality is job one? What a load of crap. Since I have had a license, I've always had a Ford. Leaving me stranded an hour away from my home for 6 hours in rainy 40 degree weather with my child while I tried to find a ride home makes me rethink why I should stay a loyal Ford buyer.

- , Canton, Ohio, USA

problem #215

Oct 032012

Focus LX

  • Manual transmission
  • 69,900 miles

Tried to go to work one morning and the key would not turn in the ignition. I got frustrated and hit the key. It then turned and everything worked fine for a while. I looked online to see what was going on, and after finding a couple of sites that showed NUMEROUS complaints for the same problem, I tried some of the "fixes". I tried lubricant and kept having to hit the key every time I wanted to start the car. These worked for a couple of days until this morning when even those "solutions" ceased to work. I almost missed work because of the problem. Thank goodness I wasn't camping in the middle of nowhere when this happened. I called Ford and all they would say is that they didn't have any information about this being a problem for the Focus. I called their bluff, and they were still unbending in offering any type of assistance in fixing the car. How can there be so many complaints and the company not know??? I'm definitely getting this fixed by a locksmith so that Ford (or their associated dealership mechanics) doesn't get any money off of this repair!

- , Meridian, ID, USA

problem #214

Jun 112013

Focus ZX3

  • Automatic transmission
  • 66,800 miles

We parked on a quiet residential street for dinner with relatives. Wanted to drive back home but couldn't start the car. Luckily we had driven two cars, so we went to retrieve another key from home but that didn't work either. Next day I called AAA for a tow back home, and was hit with a small additional charge after the 5th mile. Tried all remedies on web short of spraying WD-40 and drilling out the cylinder. Ford dealer wanted $150 just to look at the problem then another few hundred dollars to fix, and who knows how long that would take.

No problems to date with this student car, except for a non-functioning cigarette lighter socket and a flimsy side view mirror screwed in place after a brush with a brick wall.

Ford Motor Co. -- This issue really should be a safety recall. I can imagine horrible consequences if my kid stalled the car on a busy road or highway and a forced restart is impossible.

Update from Jul 2, 2013: Local auto shops wanted too much just to look at the problem. So I ordered a $25 Strattec replacement ignition cylinder (IC) from Amazon and called a locksmith to install it for me. They came out to my house, made a regular non-PATS key, then used Vise-Grips to turn it in the ignition while they beat on the end of the key with a hammer.

- , Lafayette, CA, USA

problem #213

Jan 072013

Focus SE 2.0L 14 Spi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,650 miles


Great Car except for this ignition snafu. Ford GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND DO A RECALL!!!

- , Parma, Ohio, USA

problem #212

Jan 092013

Focus SE 2.0L 14 Spi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,660 miles

Finally we called a locksmith and he said even before I finished talking he could fix it. - FORD WILL NOT for that price or even RECALL.

- , Parma, Ohio, USA

problem #211

Dec 052012

Focus SE 2.0L 14 Spi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,600 miles

What's the point of a car if you CANNOT start it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FORD Knows about this and Does Not Offer A Quick Complete Solution.

Too Bad - because the car is otherwise a great car.

- , Parma, Ohio, USA

problem #210

Nov 092012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

My Daughter's 2003 focus ignition gets stuck, not allowing the key to turn to start the car. she got stranded after work, but luckily the key finally decided to turn. I had a local repair shop look at it and said it's a consistent problem with the 2000-2003 Ford Focus and should be replaced. He oiled it and it seems to be working ok for now. Dealer wants $350 to replace the warranty is just one year or 12k miles!!! NEVER BUY A FORD AGAIN!

- , Plantsville, CT, USA

problem #209

Nov 212012

Focus SVT

  • Manual transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Arguably the most common Focus problem is that the key won't turn in the ignition. This is a real pain in the ass... It should be a recall but instead the Ford company would rather their buyers shell out hundreds of dollars so that they can "fix" the problem when really it will just happen again. Why does this problem persist? Because Ford replaces the broken part with the same part, only newer, to begin with. I don't understand why Ford does this except the desire to rip off their customers and make money. I haven't had a working car in weeks because of this. I refuse to pay the Ford Company for something they should fix because of their faulty manufacturing.

- , McLean, Virginia, USA

problem #208

Dec 062012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 32,366 miles

My mother's 2003 Ford Focus with 32, 366 miles on it (seriously...she basically goes to CVS, Publix, and church) wouldn't allow the key to turn in the ignition. We tried everything and were both really upset. She was about to call the garage to have it towed to the garage when I told her to wait and did a Google search to see if this was a common problem. Thanks to all of you who mentioned tapping the end of the key with a hammer. That worked and will save us at least the tow. As others have mentioned, I will be writing to Ford. The more who complain the more of a possibility of them doing a recall or a reimbursement. In the meantime, after we get it fixed I will update with price to fix.

- , New Smyrna Beach, FL, USA

problem #207

Nov 232012

Focus ZX5 3.2L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,000 miles

Put the key in the ignition and it won't turn. Wheel is not locked and tires are not touching anything.

According to my friend's dad, who sells cars, this is a pretty standard issue for the Focus. Luckily, I was at a friend's house when this happened but I can only imagine how dangerous this situation could have been had I been alone at night. Yikes!

I'm opting to have a friend put in a new ignition switch and I just purchased the part. They run around $80. The horrible thing about this is that Ford KNOWS that they put an inferior part in the ignition but have chosen to ignore it. Simply ridiculous.

The locksmiths and mechanics I called all quoted the repair at close to $300 which is just ludicrous, given what an easy fix it is once you have the part.

- , Bryan, TX, USA

problem #206

Jul 282012

Focus 89000

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

The ignition key wont turn back on if I remove the key. So for about a half a year, I've been leaving the key in the ignition and turn it off all but the last click. If I turn that last click, it will not turn on again. I will definitely call the suggested phone numbers that the previous person suggested, and file complaints. I have always bought fords or Chevrolet, and this is definitely my last ford. I have had so many problems with this car, and the ignition is the last straw. The air conditioner doesn't work and never really did, replaced fuel pump, repaired auto windows, had to disconnect the radio because it turns on and off repeatedly, even when the car is off, which drains the battery. Had to replace the springs which busted on the highway. Talk about scary. Exhaust clamps had to be welded, and the ignition and fuse relay wires had to replaced.

- , Berea, Ohio, USA

problem #205

Sep 272012

Focus ZX5

  • Automatic transmission
  • 173,000 miles

I can't believe this crap! First it was the springs broke...VERY COMMON WITH A FOCUS, Then it was the overdrive in the transmission VERY COMMON WITH A FOCUS Now the key won't turn AGAIN VERY COMMON!!!

FORD should own up to these problems....THIS WILL BE MY LAST FORD!!!

- , Cumberland, WI, USA

problem #204

Sep 252012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

My steering wheel wouldn't turn when I put the key in the ignition. This has happened many times but it has always been easy to fix. This time I couldn't do it to save my life. I was pissed. Almost called a dealership and had it towed there then I decided to look it up first on the internet and found this place. Just wanted to let you all know that hitting the hammer did the trick for me. I know this isn't going to fix it, but for anyone who is out there stuck and can't get the damn key to turn...tap the end of your key with a hammer to get the steering wheel free and it will work. After reading everyone else's problems it looks as if I will end up going to a locksmith to have it permanently fixed. But thanks to those of you who put the trick with the hammer out there to keep me from almost paying to get it towed to a dealership...I'm sure I saved a ton a money...hope this will help someone else out there save some money also.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

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