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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
29,651 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #24

Mar 202010


  • 81,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated when starting the vehicle and attempting to reverse, the vehicle would not respond and would intermittently stall. The vehicle would sporadically start and would operate as normal until the failure would recur. The contact replaced the battery but to no avail. The dealer was not contacted nor was the vehicle taken to the dealer for diagnostic testing or repairs. The failure mileage was 81,000 and the current mileage was 82,007.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #23

Nov 062008


  • 51,000 miles
I was seating in a tacobell drivethru, when all of the sudden my engine had a catastrophic engine failure.

- Antelope, CA, USA

problem #22

Nov 272008


  • 60,000 miles
No events led to this ignition will not turn - happens each time I attempt to start the car - at times it will turn with enough jiggling - has left me stranded with no ride taking it to dealership for replacement, but this is a known Ford Focus problem.

- Seatac, WA, USA

problem #21

Jun 302008


  • 73,000 miles


I currently drive a 2003 Ford Focus hatchback 2.3L. After the engine is turned off the ignition and steering wheel lock completely. When attempting to turn on the vehicle, my car key will not turn and the wheel remains locked, in turn the vehicle becomes completely unusable. I call to Ford road side assistant prompted me to quickly move the steering wheel left and right while turning the ignition forwards and backwards. I had been able to turn on the car up to 5 times using this system although once at the mechanic the car will no longer turn on, the mechanic must now drill a hole inside the steering wheel causing property damage. This started on my vehicle on Sunday June 29th. This is a major safety concern as a car that does not allow the motorist to turn on the ignition can lead to possible crashes if the car becomes stalled in a highway etc.

- San Leandro, CA, USA

problem #20

Aug 012007

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that she heard a noise coming from the dashboard and the steering wheel would shake while the vehicle idled. The vehicle was inspected on four occasions by four different mechanics and they stated that the motor mounts caused the failure. As of January 3, 2008, the mechanic had not repaired the vehicle. The failure mileage was 50,000 and current mileage was 54,000.

- St Petersburg , FL, USA

problem #19

Apr 172007

Focus 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 34,760 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus ZX3. While driving 5 mph on 04/17/2007 a rainy day the driver hit a puddle and water was trapped inside the sport intake system which caused the engine to fail. The owners 60 day warranty has not expired. However, the dealer stated he would have to pay $6,000 to repair the engine. The current and failure mileage were 34760.

- Jewett City, CT, USA

problem #18

Feb 252007

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 149,000 miles


- the contact owns a 2001 Ford Focus. While driving a 65 mph the vehicle lost power. The contact was able to safely pull the vehicle over. The vehicle would not restart for an hour. The vehicle had lost power four times. There was a warning light, but the contact was not able to remember which one. The failure mileage was 159,000. The contact had not taken the vehicle to dealer to be diagnosed.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #17

Jun 012006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 56,000 miles
: the contact stated while stopped at a red light both frontal airbags deployed without warning causing the vehicle to rear end the vehicle in front. A police report was filed at the scene and seat belts were in use; no injuries were sustained. The vehicle was towed to an independent repair shop. The mechanic was unable to duplicate the problem. The dealership was alerted. On a separate occasion, the hatch back failed to close, vehicle failed to start, the interior lighting failed and the motor made a knocking sound. This occurred intermittently. The manufacturer was alerted.

- Trenton, MO, USA

problem #16

Apr 222006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 17,500 miles
Engine compartment fire started behind battery and burned down the car.

- Smithfield, UT, USA

problem #15

Oct 142005


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
For the past 3 months I have had a problem with the engine of my 2003 Ford Focus zts stalling and sometimes cutting off completely. This happens under normal driving conditions and happens infrequently. It is very dangerous because the car can shut off while attempting to pull out across traffic or while in fast-moving traffic lanes. I have taken the car to my local Ford dealer where they have experienced the problem first-hand but been unable to fix it. It has been there a total of 4 times, and this one with be the fifth. Every time they have seemed to isolate the problem but it always seems to resurface within 48 hours. So far, the dealer has replaced: Oxygen sensor, fuel pump, fuel modulator, and a transmission sensor. Jiffy lube has also replaced the fuel filter. Although none of these parts have been covered by my extended warranty, the dealer has been kind enough to compensate me for approximately the last three repairs from them. The car is still not fixed and I plan to take it back today. I am very frustrated because this is a car with 40,000 miles on it and rated very good by consumer reports. I have also checked several online forums and people are having the same problems but no one seems to know how to fix it. I feel like I have purchased a "lemon", but the nc law does not apply since I bought it in Virginia. The Virginia lemon law does not help either because it applies if the vehicle was serviced at the dealer it was originally purchased. I also feel like this vehicle should be part of a recall but Ford has failed to acknowledge the problem (there was a recall on 2001 models for the same issue). Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

- Fayetteville, NC, USA

problem #14

Oct 092005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,492 miles


The car hesitates while at speeds above 40 mph. Appears to shut down and restart. The car has been back to dealer on several occasions and not repaired.

- Glenwood, WV, USA

problem #13

Sep 162005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles
The consumer had problems with the vehicle since purchase. The vehicle caught on fire on September 16, 2005. The motor was off, and it burst into flames. The fire department came and they said it look like it started from the wiring harness. The vehicle stalled before it caught on fire. Was having the same problem two weeks before, and took it to dealer. They replaced some ignition items. Also, was having latches, brakes, and engine problems.

- Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #12

Dec 012004

Focus 4-cyl

  • miles
Three transmission failures and replacements. The engine, starter/ignition and 1 gear shift all replacements and other various problems. Four cd player replacements, the brakes failed, and 1 alarm failure. The engine was also replaced.

- Meridian, ID, USA

problem #11

Feb 192003

Focus 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
Car intermittently stalls while driving. So far, all incidents have been at a low rate of speed and while brake was being used. Have brought to dealership service twice for this problem (has been in for repairs 4 times since purchase in November 2003). The first time, technician was able to duplicate problem. Battery, battery cables, alternator and control module were all replaced. Engine stalled twice in one day a few weeks after this repair. Second service visit, technician was not able to duplicate problem, so car was returned to me. Now I'm just waiting and wondering what is going to happen to me the next time the car stalls, since I lose 90% of my power steering and brakes when it happens. I feel like a should put a giant sign on the back of my car, warning drivers to keep their distance as this car can suddenly stall at any time.

- Plano, TX, USA

problem #10

Nov 172003

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 400 miles
2003 Ford Focus ZX3 pzev engine stalls intermittently without warning while driving. All the instruments on the dash (speedometer, odometer, tachometer, oil pressure, etc.) become inoperative. Must bring the car to a stop, put it in park, and turn the key to the off position before car can be restarted. Problem began with less than 500 miles on the car. In the three months I've owned the car it has stalled at least 20 times. Have had it to two different Ford service centers a combined total of five times and no one has been able to diagnose or repair the vehicle. The car is still at the dealership while they wait for a special Ford technician to come and try and determine what is wrong.

- Clovis, CA, USA

problem #9

Nov 202003

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 200 miles
Engine cuts out while driving for no apparent reasons and with no warning.

- Clovis, CA, USA

problem #8

Aug 042003

Focus 4-cyl

  • miles
Problems with water in vehicle's engine. Consumer drove over a puddle and vehicle was splashed on by another vehicle in the opposite lane. Approx. 50 feet from a traffic light, the vehicle cut off and failed to restart. The vehicle was towed to the dealership where the vehicle was purchased. The next morning someone from the service dept. Stated the engine was flooded and needed to be replaced at $5000. This wasn't covered by the warranty. The dealer wouldn't offer a rental vehicle so the consumer felt he had no choice but to have the work done. An independent court certified auto expert stated in his opinion there was a design defect. The vehicle was incapable of being driven through puddles due to low air intake. The consumer requested reimbursement.

- East Norwich, NY, USA

problem #7

Sep 242003

(reported on)


  • 1,100 miles
While traveling at highway speed vehicle shut down. Vehicle was towed to Ford.

- Lancaster, PA, USA

problem #6

Sep 152003

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,000 miles
While driving at 35 mph and with no warning vehicle caught on fire, heavy black smoke and flames came from under the hood. The dealer was notified. No warning light illuminated to indicate there was any kind of problem.

- Vassalboro, ME, USA

problem #5

Aug 152003

Focus 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 70,080 miles
My 2000 Ford Focus with 70080 miles suffered engine failue while at highway speed. The engine will not remain running unless the accellerator pedal is held off of idle. The engine will not crank and stay at idle without operator intervention. The unit has been removed from service pending repair. There is a rumbling sound from the right front of the vehicle and the steering wheel shakes (+-0.5" at 3 hertz) when at 55mph and above.

- Coats, NC, USA

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