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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
5 / 0
Average Mileage:
78,976 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 3 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #89

Apr 222012


  • 69,000 miles


The ignition cylinder will not turn it is locked and the car will not start. Key get stuck in the cylinder. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Kenmore, WA, USA

problem #88

Mar 182012


  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that the ignition locked and prevented her from inserting the key to start the vehicle. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer and the manufacturer was made aware of the failure, who did not offer any assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 85,000.

- Watervliet, NY, USA

problem #87

Feb 132012

Focus 4-cyl

  • 90,209 miles
Leaving work at the end of the day I went to start my vehicle and the key would not turn in the ignition. It was very cold and after adjusting the steering wheel several time for about 5 minutes I was able to start the car. I have since had difficulty turning the key in the ignition of my vehicle everyday. The last incident was while at the gas station, which took almost 15 minutes to get the vehicle started again. I have researched the issue online and found that many other people have also had this issue, with no recall placed on the vehicle as it is not an immediate risk to safety. Although I have now found my self uncomfortably attempting to start my car in less that safe environments on more than one occasion.

- Clarksville, TN, USA

problem #86

Feb 102012

Focus 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles


I was on my way to work when I stopped to get gas, I got back in my car and the ignition would not turn to star the engine. I was stuck at a gas station in the winter and no one was able to help me. After twenty minutes of trying different things to get it to start it worked. The next day I got in my car and the same thing happened, except this time nothing I did would start it. I ended up paying $112 for a locksmith to replace the ignition in my car. I have read on several forums that this is a common problem with this year of Ford Focus and there has yet to be a recall. This could be a dangerous situation if someone has children and is stranded and unable to move their vehicle to a safe location.

- Fairport, NY, USA

problem #85

Feb 072012

Focus 4-cyl

  • miles
Key will not turn in ignition after multiple attempts by more then one person. Called Ford dealership and they said the problem is really common and to tap the key with a hammer and it will turn and that I need to go in and have the ignition replaced for $500!!! tried their hammering suggestion and the lock still won't turn! because of this I have missed a whole day of school.

- Rancho Cordova, CA, USA

problem #84

Jan 162012

Focus 4-cyl

  • miles
Key froze solid in the ignition. Steering wheel would not turn nor the key. Left stranded and had to call a locksmith to physically drill out the factory installed ignition and replace it with a strattec replacement part # 707592. Locksmith reiterated what I read on the internet with this being a known problem with the Ford Focus.

- Auburn, AL, USA

problem #83

Oct 152011


  • 102,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus SE. The contact stated that the key could not be turned while in the ignition and the vehicle could not be started. The vehicle was taken to a private mechanic and the manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 102,000 and the current mileage was 102,542.

- Kingsland, GA, USA

problem #82

Dec 222011


  • 134,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that the key could be inserted into the ignition would could not be turned to start the vehicle. Neither the dealer nor the manufacturer was notified of the failure, nor was the vehicle diagnosed or repaired. The current and the failure mileages were 134,000.

- Myland, MI, USA

problem #81

Oct 282011


  • 107,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that the vehicle refused to start. The vehicle was towed to an authorized dealer where the ignition cylinder was replaced. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure, but offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 107,000.

- Revere, MA, USA

problem #80

Sep 082011


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that the ignition was locked and the key would not turn to start the engine. The dealer was not contacted. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 120,000.

- Sargo, ND, USA

problem #79

Jun 172011


  • miles


My key will not turn over and my wheel is locked up. The problems started and I would just turn the wheel and sooner or later it would turn over. Now im stranded in my driveway with the wheel locked up and no turning the key over. Missed work and money. I searched the internet on this and the was over 300 diff people with this problem. I bought this car (Ford) to save gas and money. I think this should be recalled if this many people are having this problem. I don't know why it hasn't yet.

- Fairborn, OH, USA

problem #78

Jun 032011

Focus 4-cyl

  • 108,200 miles
Late night 35 miles from home. Key would not turn in the ignition. Had to get a ride home. Returned the next day and had a locksmith replace the ignition lock with a strattec ignition lock.

- Little Neck, NY, USA

problem #77

May 312011


  • 98,441 miles
Key won't turn in ignition. Luckily, my car was parked at home when this happened but could leave you stranded if away from home. I now have to leave my key in the ignition until I get the problem fixed.

- Circleville, OH, USA

problem #76

May 292011


  • 120,000 miles
Key wont turn in ignition windows down in a bad neighborhood.

- Corona, CA, USA

problem #75

Sep 072009

Focus 4-cyl

  • 84,643 miles
Ignition key cannot be extracted from vehicle and we couldn't turn the engine off for a period then, couldn't restart it afterwards.

- Columbia, MD, USA

problem #74

May 192011


  • 100,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated while attempting to start the vehicle, the ignition failed and locked abnormally. The manufacturer was contacted they advised there were no recalls for the failure and would provide no further assistance. The vehicle was towed to the dealer to be diagnosed. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileage was 100,000.

- Carsonville, MI, USA

problem #73

Apr 142011


  • 97,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that the ignition was locked and would not allow her to turn the key inside the ignition for several minutes. After various attempts, the contact was able to turn the key in the ignition. The contact stated the failure recurred various times intermittently. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for repairs or diagnostics. The approximate failure mileage was 97,000.

- Olivate, MI, USA

problem #72

Dec 242010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 56,000 miles
Key would not turn the ignition, stalled the car and then could not turn the car back on in the middle of rush hour traffic, on christmas eve none the less.

- Magnolia, DE, USA

problem #71

Mar 012011

Focus 4-cyl

  • 96,000 miles
2003 Ford Focus key not able to turn ignition issue that has been reported previously. Vehicle stranded until ignition lock assembly removed and replaced.

- Moravia, NY, USA

problem #70

Feb 152003


  • 60,000 miles
For the past few months my car ignition has been getting stuck, making it very difficult to start my car. This past weekend my key would not turn at all stranding my family away from home while trying to visit my grandmother in the hospital. Luckily we were not her means to get to the hospital as it seems that I have purchased an unreliable car. As I have done my research on this problem, I have discovered that it seems almost all Ford Focus owners are encountering this problem. I have even read that this is not a safety concern hence the lack of recall! I like billions of americans rely on my car in good times and bad. I hope to god that I do not have a Ford Focus if anything desperate should become of me and I need safety because apparently they don't like to even start!

- Berwyn Heights, MD, USA

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