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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 5 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #49

Jan 202010


  • 50,000 miles


Ignition in 2003 Ford Focus fails to work. Know issue with Ford Focus which should be a recall issue due to potential safety factors.

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #48

Nov 202009


  • miles
I went to put my key in the ignition and the key would not turn while in the ignition. This has happened me approximately 3 times. After several attempts to start my car the key finally turns and the car starts. My fear is, that I may get stuck in a bad area when traveling and will be unable to start the car.

- Manchester, NH, USA

problem #47

Dec 212009


  • 85,000 miles
I am an owner of a 2003 Ford Focus that has had ignition problems for the last 1.5 years. The key will not turn in the ignition, leaving me stranded now three times. I have called Ford Motor Company and reported this issue to them asking them for a "good will" repair, and to no avail. I am not the only owner of a Ford Focus to have this problem, and wish that the NHTSA would get involved and seek out Ford Motor Company to force them to fix this problem and require them to reimburse the consumers that have had this repair performed. I would also like to see Ford Motor Company forced to recall the vehicles for this problem, and fix it since this is a safety issue. I have had to leave a key in the ignition thus making it very easy for a thief to steal the vehicle. Thanks for your attention to this matter.

- Merrillville, IN, USA

problem #46

Dec 122009


  • 82,000 miles


I was preparing to run some errands on a Saturday, but when I went out to start my car, the steering wheel was locked and I could not get the key to turn in the ignition. After around 15 minutes of working the steering wheel I was able to get the key to turn so I could start the car. This kept happening all day off and on, until finally the next day I was out at the grocery store with my mother and when we went to go home, the key would not turn no matter how much I moved the steering wheel. After spending an hour and a half trying everything I could to start the car, I finally had to call a tow truck driver who was able to start the car. The next morning the car would not start and I had to have someone help me get it to a mechanic. The mechanic told me that I needed a new key cylinder and new keys (which have to be programmed because the keys are coded) which would cost over $300. Since this just happened out of the blue without any warning and can cause me to be stranded by not being able to start my car, I think that this is a safety issue that needs to be addressed. I tried contacting Ford directly, but was basically told they could do nothing about this. From what I have read on this, it seems to be a fairly common problem with the Focus (I have a 2003 Ford Focus ZX5) and I believe something needs to be done.

- Detroit, MI, USA

problem #45

Dec 032009


  • 960,000 miles
I own a 2003 Ford Focus and the key would not turn in the ignition this happened to me 3 times already why is this not a recall"??" it seems to be a big problem....

- Manchester, NH, USA

problem #44

Dec 072009


  • 80,000 miles
I was going do the interstate in my Ford Focus ZX3 when all of the sudden I lose all power, im in the middle lane surrounded by 18 wheelers and other cars, and they have to swerve to avoid my car because the alternator went out! this car is terrible!

- Durham, NC, USA

problem #43

Aug 012009


  • 50,000 miles


2003 Ford Focus ignition key and tumbler switch. I put the key in the ignition and it won't turn. I have been stranded numerous times. I understand the repairs are $400 +.

- Bellevue, WA, USA

problem #42

Sep 082009


  • 107,000 miles
I have a 2003 Ford Focus. A few months ago the key would not turn in the ignition at times. Usually after a few tries it would finally turn over. This past Tuesday while at a grocery store my luck run out. Now the key will not work at all. The ignition is locked up. I called the dealerships and they said this was a common problem with this car. If it is a common problem then why isn't something being done about it? the tow truck driver and the place I had my car repaired where also familiar with this problem with this car. What do consumer's have to do not be taken advantage of by the Ford company. Does someone have to be stranded out somewhere and killed before Ford admits to a problem. I have always bought Ford but after this I will never purchase another one.

- Lucasville, OH, USA

problem #41

Sep 062009


  • 28,000 miles
I own a 2003 Ford Focus and the key will not start the car until it is gently tapped with a hammer (I learned how to do this by reading all the complaints about this problem on the internet) this is a safety problem for instance a person is alone in an unlit area after working the late shift they cant start their car cause the ignition mechanisms are defective Ford recognizes the problem but for some reason has not been legally required to fix this defect by recalling all affected vehicles another safety issue is the fact that I have to carry a hammer in my car wherever I go the cops could say I am carrying it as a weapon.

- Oxnard, CA, USA

problem #40

Aug 292009


  • 100,000 miles
My 19 year old son a full time college student, was stranded in a parking lot a distance from home because the key would not turn in the ignition. A few times he has had to, jiggle the key to start the car. And now it will not turn at all. The car is still stranded in a parking lot because it happened on the weekend. I am in fear for my sons safety, heading back to college 6 hours from home.

- Lake City, MI, USA

problem #39

Aug 132009


  • 111,984 miles


Been having problems for the last four months with the ignition cylinder sticking. On Aug 13, 2009 I went to start the car and the cylinder was stuck. I have a new cylinder to replace the old one.

- Meridian, ID, USA

problem #38

Aug 072009


  • 40,000 miles
My brake lights and cruise control failed: The result of the wiring harness being constantly abraded in the hinge of the hatchback. All of the wires were exposed, and it caused not only a driving safety hazard, but a fire hazard as well. In the year 2000, this same problem caused a recall of the 2000 Ford focuses, but I have written to Ford and they deny any responsibility for my car. "thank you for contacting the Ford Motor Company customer relationship center regarding the wiring harness concern on your 2003 Ford Focus. Your vehicle is not involved in any recalls or customer satisfaction programs at this time." Is their response. I am having the problem corrected by my mechanic: He will lengthen the wires so that they cannot be caught in the hinge. Ford only will replace the entire harness, which is the same as the one that failed.

- South Burlington, VT, USA

problem #37

Jul 302009


  • 85,000 miles
Car parked at mall later at night. When to try and start car but the key would not turn in the ignition. This failure caused me to have my car towed to the dealership and the ignition switch replaced which cost $427. The ignition switch was faulty but was most likely replaced with the same type of switch which will fail again. I was also left stranded for several hours. Luckily, I was not in a deserted area or the consequences could have been life threatening.

- Brook Park, OH, USA

problem #36

Jul 282009


  • miles
Ford Focus ignition switch froze up in my 2003 Ford Focus. Could not start car, turn wheel or take out of park. Ford company would not pay for their faulting ignition. This is dangerous especially for women who travel alone. They need to recall this part...........

- Lewiston, ID, USA

problem #35

Jun 302009


  • 100,000 miles
Intermittent problem with ignition on 2003 Ford Focus; the wheel locks and the key will not turn. This has been a safety issue because the first time it occurred I was pulled over on the side of the interstate. After persistently wiggling the wheel and key for twenty or so minutes, the ignition enabled the key to turn. Being that the ignition failed while on the interstate and that I was unable to get out of the way in a safe manner is potentially fatal to passengers and drivers of the Ford Focus. The consequences of the Ford Focus faulty ignition have been unpredictable introductions to being stranded and extremely dangerous provocations. The second time my ignition failed, nearly a month afterwards, the ignition failed on the Focus was a safety issue also. The wheel locked and the key would not turn while parked in a parking garage late at night. Direct results of the faulty Ford ignition put drivers and passengers in danger and moreover prevent them from leaving dangerous places. It took well over a half hour in the dangerous failure of my locks also: The third ignition failure also compounding in the security system to putter out. Actions to correct the second incident were from a mechanic to use wd 40 and try using a separate key, but the problem was much more complex and dangerous than anticipated. Using my spare key worked and the ignition no longer locked. These actions suggested by a mechanic remedied the problem, but only temporarily. The third time this has happened was yesterday, and I'm now getting estimates for replacing the ignition and the security system. In lieu of near death, I demand a recall.

- Omaha , NE, USA

problem #34

Apr 202009


  • 66,100 miles
The ignition switch lock keeps failing on my 2003 Ford Focus ZX3. I have had a locksmith fix it twice now. The cost to me so far is over $400.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #33

Jan 062009


  • 43,000 miles
The passenger door handle had to be replaced. When my daughter opened the door something popped and you could no longer open the door - I failed an inspection and received a ticket because the door wasn't working properly. My nephew went to the junkyard to get the part because I couldn't afford to replace it new at the dealership. This happened Oct of 2007. I own a 2003 Ford Focus. My daughter opened the back right side window and something again popped. The window wouldn't go up or down. A dealer said it would have to be replaced - again - that the plastic part that makes it go up and down popped. Again off to the junk yard - $8 bucks what a deal. These things started right after my warranty expired - go figure. Why are plastic parts being put into our vehicles - as a single mom I can not afford to replace all parts for the door handles and windows as they pop. We need to fix this problem.

- Stafford, VA, USA

problem #32

Feb 212009


  • 83,000 miles
Key ignition problem with 2003 Ford Focus. Not very safe when my daughter cant get her key to start her car Ford need to fix this asap.

- Fort Wayne, IN, USA

problem #31

Feb 192009


  • 54,448 miles
Put key in ignition and it wouldn't turn over. Spent 20 minutes trying to get it to turn. Finally did. Two days later, when I was supposed to go to a family funeral out of town, I had the same problem. Afraid that I would have the same problem while traveling out of town, I took it to local car repair place. They couldn't fix it. I was able to work with the ignition again to drive it to the local Ford dealer. There they replaced the ignition cylinder and reprogrammed keys. I was unable to attend family funeral.

- Lovettsville, VA, USA

problem #30

Feb 122009


  • miles
I drove my car to work Thursday morning and everything was working fine with the car and ignition. As I tried to crank my car to go to lunch that day, I noticed that I could insert my key into the ignition but could not turn it to start the car. The steering wheel was locked and would not release since the key would not turn. I had to call aaa for them to send a locksmith out to repair my ignition switch in my car. I have already heard so many people complain about this issue and not even three months ago, my mom who has the exact same make and model car as me, had the same thing happen to her. My brother has the same make and model car as me also and now I am worried he is going to have the same issue occur to him soon too.

- Clayton, NC, USA

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