really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
50,949 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 12 of 14)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #41

Mar 172006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


I have an 03 Focus with just over 40K mileage, and not even 3 years old yet, just out of warranty. This morning I tried to start the car and the key cylinder tumbler was mechanically frozen and the car would not start. I had the car towed to the dealership, paying $55.50. The dealership told me they would have to drill out the key cylinder and replace the whole unit since the tumblers froze. The dealership also mentioned they were aware of the same problem in other focuses. I believe I should not have to pay a dime and that this is purely a mechanical/warranty/recall issue. I do not know what I will have to pay for this, since the car is still in the shop, but they said I would bear a partial burden.

- Battle Creek, MI, USA

problem #40

Mar 152006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles
Ignition locking up. Key will not turn or steering unlock. This is second time I have had to replace it. Its a 2003 Ford Focus sedan. It has over 60K miles so no warranty. The entire ignition has to be replaced. The car has to be towed in. The side bar in the ignition fails locking it up. It will leave you stranded with no warning.

- Dahlonega, GA, USA

problem #39

Mar 012006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,675 miles
My 2003 Ford Focus with 38,700 miles on it recently needed to have the ignition cylinder replaced as it was corroded. I do not drive me car "hard" and follow the maintenance guide exactly. I looked online to see if other Focus owners have similar problems and found dozens of unofficial complaints by other owners that their ignitions needed to be replaced when their cars had very low mileage as well. On top of this, my sister, who owns the same year and model Focus as I do, also had to have her ignition replaced last year. I think Ford and other Focus owners should be aware of this problem and take steps to correct it. It can be very dangerous to not be able to start one's car, as happened to me. I was only lucky that I was not stranded in an unsafe area at the time.

- Manteno, IL, USA

problem #38

Feb 072006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 49,076 miles


I own a 2003 Ford Focus ZX3 (std) with 49000 miles. The week of ~2/1/06 to 2/8/06 I began noticing that the key in the ignition was getting stuck and would require some jiggling before the key would turn in the ignition. This happened about 5-10 ten times throughout the week. On 2/8/06 I went out to my parked car and the key would not turn. I tried putting the car in/out of gear, turning the steering wheel sharply, reinserting the key, etc... the car was towed to an auto repair shop. The repair work included drilling out the broken ignition cylinder and replacing the ignition cylinder with a new one. The cost to me was $370. The tow truck operator and mechanic indicated to me that this is a common problem with the Ford Focus and that they have both towed and repaired quite a few of focuses for this problem.

- Sebastopol, CA, USA

problem #37

Feb 252006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,212 miles
: the contact stated when attempting to start to the engine, the ignition locked. The vehicle could not be started and a lock smith was called. The lock smith removed the old ignition and replaced it with a new one and the vehicle starts normally.

- Greenville, SC, USA

problem #36

Feb 222006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,000 miles
My wife's Ford Focus has its ignition stuck. A few months back it got stuck but I was able to get it unstuck and start the car. Since then the ignition hasn't seemed right. It is always a hassle getting the key to turn. My wife was trying to leave work one day and the key wouldn't turn. I went to help and the key never did turn. I now have to replace the tumblers inside the ignition. It seems that there are a lot of people with this same problem and even after replacing the ignition once it only last a year until they have to replace it again. It costs about $300 to replace. We ended up having to tow her car to my house where I then had to spend the money to fix it. I don't think I should have to do this if everyone is having this same problem.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #35

Feb 162006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 14,000 miles


: the contact stated the ignition locked up and the vehicle was taken to the dealership. The ignition tumbler was replaced. The ignition locked up again, and the dealership determined the key needed to be replaced because they would not work with the new ignition tumbler. Also, the windshield has been replaced three times. The windshield cracked when hit by an object on the highway and overnight, with the source unknown.

- Charleston, WV, USA

problem #34

Feb 012006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles
1) I have a 2003 Ford Focus with an ignition lock problem. The key will not turn. I understand that there are many complaints on this issue and definitely feel it is a safety concern. 2) stuck out in the cold in unsafe neighborhoods. 3) must replace the cylinder at a cost of approximately $300

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #33

Jan 082006

Focus 4-cyl

  • 36,233 miles
The cylinder lock in my 2003 Ford Focus has failed me twice, and I have to have it replaced again. There is a lot of complaints and there a Ford servicemen that have told me this is a big problem with this car.

- Surprise, AZ, USA

problem #32

Jan 022006


  • miles
2003 Ford Focus ignition key would not turn. Vehicle also shows sign of stalling. ** answer required***

- Baldwin, NY, USA

problem #31

Dec 192005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles


One day may car just didn't start, the ignition cylinder has been replaced- the car has under 49000- and it has already had several problems! the master cylinder( for the brakes), the ignition cylinder, and several pieces have already had to be replaced on my 2003 Ford Focus!!! please recall this car! the parts put in the Ford Focus 2003 during the manufacturing are obviously defective!!!! at the consumers expense they must replace these parts and deal with all the consequences. The Ford company should take responsibility for their mistakes! details on problems: 1- my car shuttered started smoking from the hood a bit- and smelled as if something had burned underneath the hood. ( the ignition light came on ) at almost 30000 miles. Took it into the deal- they replaced a coil- name unknown. 2- this took several trips into the Ford service dept- because it kept happening- before they would actually replace the coil!!! 3- the master cylinder ( brake system) malfunctioned within 30000 miles as well!!! and had to be replaced. 4- the ignition cylinder- with 49000 miles on the car- now has been replaced- no thanks to Ford!!! 5- the trunk has never closed properly. I slam it once to close, then I pull up on it to check it's actually locked, it hasn't- maybe on the third time after slamming it shut- it will actually catch and close. These parts are all defective, and it's unjust to the consumers!!!!!

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #30

Dec 282005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles
Yesterday I was unable to start my car. I put in the key but it would not turn. There was no warning, no clicking, no difficulties starting my car in the past. After several hours we finally got the car started and took it into the shop. They told me that it was the tumbler and the cost of the repair would be $226. Not only did the dealership charge for the damaged part and labor but also to run the diagnostic test in order to find out what was wrong. It cost $79 just to have the diagnostic test. I was also informed that this is a common problem in this car. Our car only has 38,000 miles on it! my husband called Ford customer service number in order to find out what Ford was doing to rectify the situation. He was informed that at this time all they could offer was a 12 month warranty on the new part but would not pay for the repair. I have had time do some research and find that there are many complaints of a similar nature. There where quite a few that had to replace this part more than once and in a few cases twice in one year. I consider this a safety issue. This situation could leave individuals stranded. There is no warning! I consider myself lucky because I had just returned from a trip over the mountains for the holidays. I could have been stranded anywhere that I may have turned off my car. It would have cost me to have my car towed to a town with a Ford dealership, let alone the cost of lodging and the expense of missing time off work.

- Bellingham, WA, USA

problem #29

Dec 262005


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Starting approx. 7 month's after I purchased my brand new 2003 Ford Focus from jack byrne Ford in mecanicville, NY I started to have problems with my car starting (feburary of 2004). I would place the key in the ignition and attempt to start the car. Upon turning the key in the ignition - nothing would happen. The radio would turn on and so would the heat blowers and I would also get some dinging. But, the car failed to start. I have since brought the car to the dealership approx. 4 - 5 times. Each time I had gone through an episode of the car not starting and then when it finally started I brought it to the dealership. The unfortunate part is I should have had it towed to the dealership so they can see first hand - how the ignition doesn't turn over. This has happened to me about 2 dozen times. Each time Ford would return the car to me and it would run for a couple weeks problem free. Then sure enough it would start again. Anyhow, this past weekend I was at a friends house with my two children - ages 6 and 3 month's. the car would not start. Thank god I was at someone's house and I wasn't stuck out in my car in December in the cold with my children!! I appreciate that Ford was kind enough to look at my vehicle and attempt to make a correction - but after researching this problem I feel like more should be done about this. I mean I bought a new car so I wouldn't have to deal with things like this. I would hate to feel like I wouldn't ever want to own a Ford again. I think they need to rectify this situation and correct this problem. I would write a more aggressive letter - but at the moment the car is starting - so I am not feeling hostile!! please assist.

- Stillwater, NY, USA

problem #28

Nov 162005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 39,000 miles
Ignition switch will not turn. Obviously this is a very common problem and I am very surprised that Ford would let this go on so long.

- Clarksburg, WV, USA

problem #27

Oct 292005


  • miles
The ignition on my 2003 Ford Focus has failed twice. Once over a year ago, and again now. The ignition will not turn when I insert the key.

- Bainbridge Island, WA, USA

problem #26

Oct 072005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 48,112 miles
I have a 2003 Ford Focus ZX3, it has just a little over 48,000 miles. One morning (out of blue), the key lock would not turn over. Luckily, I was home. As a result, I had it towed into a Ford dealership. Was charged an arm and a leg by the towing company (Ford dealer recommended) and to make things worse, found out that my extended warranty did cover a (key/ignition cylinder) replacement compartment, would of been covered if it were the switch/electrical components of the switch. In the end, I had to pay over $500 for a part that apparently is geared or expected to fail on newer focuses (according to tow co., Ford maintenance staff, and the random internet searches). I called Ford directly, and at this point they do not have a recall because the government hasn't determined it to be a safety problem (they acknowledge a problem also). I guess if I were stuck up in the snow packed sandia mountains and my toes froze off, hey maybe they would consider it a problem. Please, can you check into this, I hate to see other unsuspecting buyers, drivers, get hit with this unnecessary burden and out-of-pocket expense. Any assistance you can provide, will be greatly appreciated.

- Albuqurque, NM, USA

problem #25

Oct 072005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 40,000 miles
I have a 2003 Ford Focus, and just recently my ignition went out. The key will not turn and the steering wheel is locked. I know various people who own a Focus and have had the very same problem. It barely started to stick the day before it finally went out. I currently am looking into my options on how to fix the problem. I am having a very hard time getting to work and getting around in general. It is very hard especially with two children. Luckily it didn't lock up on me while I was driving.

- Santa Fe, NM, USA

problem #24

Oct 122005


  • Manual transmission
  • 56,000 miles
The ignition of our 2003 Ford Focus will not allow the key to turn. There was no warning that there was a problem until it was time to leave for work and the key would go into the lock, the bell would sound, but the lock would not turn. According to the dealer this is a common problem with the Ford Focus, and they suggest you either get the car towed to their shop, or, if you can, drive it to their shop to have it fixed. The price to fix the problem is approximately $350 and is only guaranteed for one year. The car is two and a half years old.

- Renton, WA, USA

problem #23

Oct 092005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 4,000 miles
I have a 2003 Ford Focus with 44,000 miles on it. The ignition locks too frequently and has cost me not only money, but job related time and costs. I was told that it was not covered under warranty let alone as a recall. Don't you need the ignition to ignite to use the car?

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #22

Sep 252005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,500 miles
Ford Focus needed ignition tumblers replaced because the old ones locked up about 4 hours from home. Luckily I read that almost everyone with a Focus has had the same exact problems; however, Ford has not done anything to remedy the situation. I had a lock smith fix the problems whom aaa referred me to. I will never ever buy a Ford again and am trying very hard to become part of a class action suit against Ford for ignoring this problem. I also tell everyone I meet not to buy a Focus or any other type of Ford because of their poor quality.

- Minneapolis, MN, USA

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