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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 6 of 14)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #161

Feb 142009


  • miles


2003 Ford Focus ZX3 ignition randomly fails. Insert the key into the ignition and it will not turn. You cannot start your car for an indeterminable amount of time. Major flaw in Ford ignitions with no remedy from Ford.

- Wilmington, DE, USA

problem #160

Dec 042008


  • 85,193 miles
My 2003 Ford Focus SE has the issue where the ignition locks. It takes several attempts before I can get the key to turn. Twice now I have had to get it towed because of this problem.

- Kenosha, WI, USA

problem #159

Dec 152008


  • 55,000 miles
The key in the ignition will not turn in my 2003 Ford Focus. It gets jammed all the time now. Previous attempts of moving the steering wheel back & forth worked for awhile, but even that does not work now. The only way to start it is to tap on the key when it is in the ignition with a mallet or hammer. This usually works after a few tries. Now I have to consider leaving the key in the ignition in order to start it easier or carry a hammer in the car. Nothing else has been done about the problem yet. According to local Ford dealer it'll cost $250-275 to repair. Local (cheaper) mechanics can't repair it since they need to get a code from Ford to program the part so the new ignition cylinder will recognize the key. From searching on the internet, apparently this is a common problem with the Ford Focus. Basically a bad design and/or inferior materials used in the ignition cylinder. I have never had this type of problem with any other vehicles I've owned especially ones that are only 5 yrs old. I am surprised that there hasn't been a recall on this part yet. It seems to me that this is a serious safety issue. What do I do in the event I need to evacuate because of a natural disaster or terrorist? I won't be able to get away since I can't start my car ! and tapping on the key with a hammer will work for only so long. And of course Ford will just replace with the same cheap defective ignition cylinder that the car originally came with any way. So I'll problem have the same problem in a couple years again.

- Wheeling, WV, USA

problem #158

Dec 292008


  • 40,000 miles


I am having ignition issues. My key will not turn. It is on a regular basis that this happens. I have not taken it in for repair yet. I called for an estimate.

- Okemos, MI, USA

problem #157

Nov 012008


  • miles
The key will not turn in the ignition. The ignition barrel is completely stuck, impeding any use of any vehicle functions. Has occurred daily or every other day for a few weeks. A few minutes of jostling may allow it to work. A few times it has been stuck for hours until finally working. This may strand some travelers in winter conditions, like myself. Very stressful and potentially dangerous situation.

- Rexburg, ID, USA

problem #156

Dec 162008


  • 126,009 miles
Key won't turn in ignition! you can place the key and the spare key, in the ignition and it will not turn. Looked up online and found website that stated this is a very common problem. Our key has to stay in the ignition because you can not take it out. Very disappointed this is a safety not recall ! my wife and children can be stranded in freezing weather ! also very expensive to fix.

- Auburn, KS, USA

problem #155

Dec 132008


  • miles


My car refuses to start. You cannot turn the ignition switch to get it to come on. After searching the internet I saw dozens of complains from people having the same problem. I simply cannot afford to make the repairs and since my car is out of warranty my dealership will not help me. Ford customer service hung up on me twice. The only fix is to leave the key in the ignition. I managed to use a hammer to hammer it in.

- Deerfield Beach , FL, USA

problem #154

Nov 272008


  • 138,630 miles
My ignition has locked up on my 2003 Ford Focus, I am currently in the process of getting it fixed. It started about 3 weeks ago and slowly has gotten worse. My car has not started in a week. I cannot get to work on my own.

- Riverside, IA, USA

problem #153

Dec 082008


  • 71,000 miles
So far, I have only had the problem occur once and am still working to get it repaired. Nothing really happened to warrant the problem happening. It seemed to just happen randomly. In my 2003 Ford Focus, the ignition switch locked. So far, I have heard hundreds of cases of this problem occurring with this particular car, all for focuses ranging from year 2000 to 2003, and the only thing that seems to fix it is to actually have maintenance done. Speaking with Ford customer service, they did acknowledge that it was a common problem, but would not issue a recall simply because they did not believe it was a safety hazard. I expect to have to pay a large amount of money to repair this problem, even though Ford realizes its an error on their part and that a defect with their car is what is causing this problem. I think it is absolutely unacceptable for a company to knowingly keep something defective on the market, even with so many complaints.

- Kennesaw, GA, USA

problem #152

Dec 062008


  • 73,000 miles
The ignition locked up in the car. The ignition key wouldn't turn or do anything. This is a huge safety concern. I have a 12 week old baby and live in North Dakota. I had my boyfriend's 11 year old daughter with as well. Me, an infant, and a child stuck with a car that won't start in weather that is below freezing with the windchill. This is a huge safety concern.

- Minot, ND, USA

problem #151

Nov 222008


  • 65,200 miles


The ignition switch on my 2003 Ford Focus SE is stuck. The vehicle is now rendered unusable since it cannot be started. I consider this to be a safety related item because the vehicle is now stranded and will require the services of a locksmith or have to be towed to the nearest dealership to be repaired. I have read online where this appears to be a common problem with the Ford Focus manufactured in 2000 through 2003.

- Buffalo Grove, IL, USA

problem #150

Sep 102008


  • 82,000 miles
Approximately 2 months ago I began to notice a difficulty in turning the key when placed in the ignition. The problem began small, a little jiggle of the key and the ignition cylinder would turn and the car would start. The problem grew to the point in which I would have to forcibly knock the key in with the palm of my hand otherwise the key would not turn at all. I tried all kinds of ways to get the car to start, but hitting the key into the ignition cylinder seemed to be the only way to make it work. Finally approximately 3 days ago I was leaving work, placed the key in the car, which not to my amazement did not turn in the cylinder. So as I had grown accustom to I gave the key a smack, but it would not turn. I sat in my car for close to an hour trying to giggle, shack, smack, jimmy, and play with the key any way I could think of but I could not get my car to start. Now when you work midnights and you get off work when everyone else is going to work, finding a ride is not the easiest of things. After some extensive research I found that this is a highly common problem in Ford Focus'.

- Pacifica, CA, USA

problem #149

Nov 012008


  • 50,000 miles
The ignition wouldn't turn with the key. Very often it would turn with difficulty after some wiggling of the steering wheel. After a while it was nearly impossible once the key was removed. Eventually we got the key to work and now we leave the key in and lock the doors with the remote. It used to happen as my wife would leave work in the dark which was very dangerous in some areas. I had to get an aftermarket replacement and repair it myself. I am a fully qualified mechanic though.

- Billings, MT, USA

problem #148

Nov 012008


  • 68,785 miles
Ford Focus 2003 - ignition failure, key will not turn my key will not turn in my ignition. This should be recalled. There are thousands of us (Ford customers) who have this problem. I do not understand how this is not a "safety" precaution. Please recall. Americans are not encouraged to buy american-made cars; sadly but true.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #147

Oct 282007


  • 68,000 miles
My key will not turn. There for I can't start my car. I have two small children and I have been stuck places numerous times. I fear for my safety. At any time I could be stuck anywhere! the only thing I can do is carry a hammer with me, so that I can tap the key in the ignition and get the key to turn so I can start my car. I feel it is not safe to carry a hammer around but have no other choice to start my car.

- St Louis, MO, USA

problem #146

Oct 102008


  • 35,000 miles
Second time having problem with ignition on 2003 Ford Focus. The key won't turn and have been left stranded on the highway and missed days of work to get the replacement ignition switch. This is a problem that Ford needs to acknowledge and recall. Thousands of Ford Focus owners have had the same problem. Not only is it costly and is a repair that is Ford' responsibility to fix due to faulty ignitions but also a safety hazard.

- San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #145

Oct 072008


  • 64,850 miles
Ignition locked leaving me stranded. Finally got the car started only to find it locked up again the next time I tried to start it.

- Corinth, TX, USA

problem #144

Sep 262008


  • 87,000 miles
Ignition would not turn. The first time it occurred was back in July 2008. If I played with the steering wheel it would finally turn the key. The ignition had to be replaced. Ford has had this problem with the Focus since 2001.

- Detroit, GA, USA

problem #143

Sep 172008


  • 56,013 miles
Ignition lock cylinder on Ford Focus is defective. The mechanism locks and is unable to turn. This yields the vehicle inoperable, posing a significant safety risk if the owner needs to use the vehicle in an emergency or the vehicle stalls on the highway. This is an issue known by Ford, as evidenced by the mechanics at landmark Ford, tigard, Oregon stating that it is a common problem and Ford has quietly updated the cylinder. In addition, there are numerous internet forums with this same complaint. All owners of Focus vehicles will have this failure, it is just a matter of time. The repair is $300+. a recall should be required of Ford to address the issue.

- Sherwood, OR, USA

problem #142

Sep 092008


  • 66,000 miles
I own a 2003 Ford Focus and had to spend $360 to have my ignition cylinder replaced as my steering wheel had locked and the key unable to turn and start the car when the car had just worked fine the previous day. Luckily, it was still warm outside and I was not stranded in a remote place in a storm or in winter where harm could befall someone. I couldn't figure out what was wrong or what I needed to do, but I couldn't unlock the steering wheel. I even called the Ford company who stated there was not anything they could do except that it should be taken to a dealer. I called a Ford dealership whose service director did not seem surprised by what was wrong with my steering wheel, even saying that probably the ignition cylinder would need to be replaced and that the part would usually cost $350-400 to repair. He said that he had replaced quite a few for the Focus. Then I went online and found out that many people have had this same problem, over and over again, some having replaced this one part 4-5 times. For some reason this part has never been recalled even though it is a serious engineering flaw with possible serious ramifications in stranding people unexpectedly and without warning. Something should be done and so I am turning to you to make the Ford company own up to their design flaw concerning its car, the Ford Focus concerning its ignition cylinder. When the locksmith came and replaced the cylinder he demonstrated why the part was defective. It has something to do with the tumbler mechanism in the cylinder.

- Rockton, IL, USA

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