Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.


pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
115,192 miles
Total Complaints:
22 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. new cylinder head or engine (10 reports)
  2. replace car! (7 reports)
  3. not sure (4 reports)
  4. replace engine (1 reports)
2003 Ford Focus engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #22

Jul 302015

Focus SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 124,000 miles


Daughter called from parking lot with loud engine noise. I left work, went to check it out and it sounds just like the dropped valve seat. Terrible noise. Paid $6990 in 2010 with 93,000 miles from Dodge Dealer on Savannah Hwy, thought it was a good car. Did not research on this, otherwise I would have not gotten it. I agree with everyone Ford should fix their problem or discount it at least. So......Ford doesn't stand by it's product obviously.

- , Charleston, SC, USA

problem #21

Mar 102015


  • Manual transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Fords are a rip off. This engine should have a recall on it but because its not a safety issue then they wont do it. Ford sucks!!! DO NOT BUY ANY MORE FORDS!!!

- , Wadsworth, IL, USA

problem #20

Oct 102014

Focus LX 2.3L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

Dropped a valve seat and only had 119,000 miles on the car ruining the engine. The worst part is we had it into a Ford shop a couple of times because the engine would rattle and try to shut down. It did start to run correctly and then would do it again a few days later. They couldn't find anything wrong the first time and the second time they thought it was a sensor, not once did they mention the possibility of the valve seat dropping and from what I see I am sure everyone at Ford knows about this problem since it is quite common and now I am being told I need to but a new engine or junk the car. Junk the car it is!!!

I would suggest to anyone looking for a car to stay away from the Focus and if you have one to get rid of it or have the valve seats replaced every 50,000 miles

- , Richland, WA, USA

problem #19

Jun 132014

Focus SE 2.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 142,214 miles


I was at McDonald drive in to get grandson a happy meal. After I ordered and started to move to next window the Focus shut off. It would not crank, only click for starter engaging. The motor would not turn over. It cost me $65.00 to get it towed to shop. The tech said it had dropped a valve seat on, you guest it, no. 4 cylinder. Rebuild won't help, only another engine will work.

I have had fairly little trouble out of it for three years and then boom out of nowhere I am stranded in 90 degree heat at McDonald's drive through. I bought the car with 102k on it and it only had 142k when it went. Did all of the necessary maintenance, etc and then some to prevent this from happening. So yes, Ford needs to issue a recall and reimburse cost on these pitiful little cars that are very cheap to drive but very expensive to repair.

Anybody got any suggestions on how to enforce Ford to make a correct executive decision for once?

Update from Jul 1, 2014: the vehicle in question is a 2003 Ford Focus SE 2.0 SOHC engine with p as 8th digit in the vin.

- , Pavo, GA, USA

problem #18

Mar 022013

Focus SE 2.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 104,000 miles

I bought this car used (88,000 miles) in December 2010. Carfax said the car was clean, and after I owned it I was diligent in changing the oil regularly (every 3000 miles or so, high mileage oil) and took very good care of this car. I drove mostly highway, 50 miles round trip to work every day. A couple times it jerked really hard while going down the road, as if it had experienced a MAJOR miss. However, the engine continued to run smooth afterwards and it only did this twice over the course of several months.

My son drove it to work one night, and called me to say it had died. After reading the posts for the 2002-2003 Focus, it seems that he experienced the same symptoms as everyone else. He was at a stop light and it died. When he eventually got it started, it ran really rough, white smoke appeared from under the hood and then it went to automobile heaven never to be started again. Of course the solution was to replace the engine, but rather than do so, I just junked it.

Since there has been an obvious track record of these model years having a crap engine, does anyone know if there has been a recall or if a class action lawsuit if being pursued?

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #17

Jun 032012

Focus 2.0L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

click to see larger images

engine failure engine failure engine failure engine failure

My boyfriend is an auto Tech and he has had lots of customers come in with this problem, they believe that Ford should have recalled this engine or fixed the problem, i only have 98 thousand miles on this car. Now he looking for a new engine and the same problem might happen again so kind of a waste since it seems to be a common problem in this ford car. I have read several complaints on this Ford Focus car. Please help why should customer have to pay for repairs when they are aware of this problem in this engine.

- , Springfield, MA, USA

problem #16

Jul 012013

Focus LS 2.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,000 miles



- , Hudson, FL, USA

problem #15

Jan 132013

Focus SE Sohc 1.9L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,999 miles

Ok, well what can I say about this complete hunk of JUNK!!! I purchased it in Feb 2012 for $5000 with 117k on it. Exactly one month after purchase, a valve seat dropped into cylinder 2 destroying the engine :( I had a used engine dropped into this car, a 2001 Focus engine SOHC, which I am told is rare for this model as most Focuses have the DOHC which made finding one a problem. Altogether after a two week car rental, engine purchase and labor, we were talking another $4000. So I now have a 5grand car for 9grand. Ok so fast forward now. It is Janurary of 2013, 10,000 miles down the road and guess what? YUP! Same thing happened again. I can not afford to drop another engine into this piece of crap so am going to just have a salvage come pick it up for a piddly few hundred bucks. Ford Focuses are horrible. If you are considering buying one...DON'T! If you already have one...consider getting rid of it ASAP. I will never buy another Ford again as I understand they are aware of this problem and choose to do nothing.

- , Mount Joy, PA, USA

problem #14

Jan 072013

Focus SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

We just bought this car less than 6 months ago for our daughter Paid $3000.00. She drove that morning to a local burger king, went inside, came back out and the engine started shaking and wouldn't start. Had it towed to our local mechanic and just found out today its worth scrap metal! $3500 if we want to replace the engine.

- , Sherman, TX, USA

problem #13

Aug 112012

Focus LX 2.0L 8 valve

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

2003 ford Focus single overhead cam and 8 valves. Valve seat of intake valve #1 cylinder dropped out and destroyed the engine while we were driving 300 miles from home. On Saturday we are driving to visit our daughter in Santa Barbara, Ca. After 4 hours of driving my wife needs to take a leak. We pull off the freeway to a gas station. After she is done , we start the engine and hear all kinds of metallic sounds. The engine feels like it is running on 3 cylinders. I turn off the engine immediately and think for sure the timing belt is the problem. Luckily we had AAA for the long distance tow. After removing the front of the engine and finding the timing belt in good condition we are stumped. When we removed the cylinder head we found the intake valve of #1 cylinder recessed deep within the intake chamber. The valve seat had dropped out and the piston had crunched it into hundreds of pieces. The valve seat pieces were embedded into the head chamber and top of the piston making both parts worthless. Now think, Ford has made cars since the early 1900's. Valves and valve seats are very old technology. I guess Ford just hires dummies for engine designers now a days to save a buck or two. If you own one of these engines, this situation could happen to you at any time, anywhere, stranding you. Make sure your loved ones don't own one of these cars.

- , Santa Cruz, CA, USA

problem #12

Aug 172012

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,020 miles


We bought the care with 123K miles on it. Car was in excellent shape for a 2003. Just a couple weeks ago, we went out to start it and the engine was banging badly. (It had been working fine, oil recently replaced.) We had it towed to a reputable shop, and they said probably the valve seat dropped and the engine was shot. It was about $2300 estimate to replace, and they recommending for me not to replace it, but sell it. So we sold it as is. The buyer does lots of mechanical work himself, so he may take the time to tear it apart and see if he can replace parts (valves, pistons, etc) without replacing the whole engine. I hope it works out well for him.

Car is valued at about $3600, and we sold it for $1100. Bummer. But we're moving on. Thank God He takes care of us.

- , Ames, IA, USA

problem #11

Apr 242012

Focus SE 2.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

I have had my 2003 Ford Focus for only 3 years. I kept it well maintained and in excellent shape. I bought the car when it had 70,000 miles and it only last until 96,000 miles! The day it broke down I drove about 15 miles parked it, and when I got back in and tried starting it, it made a really hard knocking noise! I did some research and found out it was the Valve seat that dropped on cylinder #4! I looked up some engines and all the Sohc engine were over $2000 plus labor that would be like almost 3 grand and the car it self is only worth around $4000! So if ur on the market for a used car this is a warning dont buy the 2000- 2004 Ford Focus with the Sohc engine, this is a major problem that I can see most people are having! If ur gonna get a car stick with Japanese cars! Dont buy American cars they suck!

- , Agoura, CA, USA

problem #10

Nov 272011

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

What can I's pretty crappy. My daughter bought this car one year ago used at a 100k miles and put on only 10k miles with the usual maintenance. Just put new tires on and 3 days later she attempts to turn the engine on and it coughs, shakes and sputters. Could not keep it running and called AAA to have it towed to my trusted mechanic of many years. Ran tests on it and said the valve seats broke in cylinder #4 and ruined the piston and head. He said he did research on this and found multiple problems with this car specifically the 8 valve 4 cylinder engine. He said it would cost more to replace the engine than the car is worth. Hope this warns others about this potential problem of this Ford product and if they had any pride that their commercials talk about, they would recall these vehicles and fix them now!

- , Prospect, KY, USA

problem #9

Aug 122010

Focus SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

I had this car for about 6 years and took GREAT care of it. Never crashed it and always did maintenance on it regularly. However, the car has not been good to me. Just within the first few months of having the car, its radiator failed and had to replace it. The brakes have been replaced and they still squeal so bad that it is embarrassing to brake the car at a stop. I replaced the cooling fan assembly after a few of the blades broke off and recently, the timing belt as well. And finally to add the icing on the cake... the ENGINE FAILS!!! I took it back to the mechanic shop to take a look at the engine and they could not figure out what caused the engine to suddenly fail. I decided to take the car to the local Ford dealership only for them to tell me that these models suffer from a design defect in their engines. Ford decided a few years back to design a valve seat that is not directly attached to the motor so after some wear, these valve seat just fall off and destroy the engine. I talked to everyone at Ford to see if I can at least have the engine fixed with no luck at all. They told me that although they have had numerous amounts of complaints on this matter that they will not do anything about it. They told me the only solution they offer is that I buy a brand new car with them and I told them... ABSOLUTELY NOT! Not only did they rip me off with the cost of the vehicle but they sold me a CRAP car. I am also done with Ford.

- , Miami, FL, USA

problem #8

May 292011

Focus LX 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,000 miles

The number 4 seat/cylinder turned out to be the problem. We are looking at having it repaired, trying to figure out if it will be worth the cost. I'll try to update later.

Update from Aug 20, 2011: Pricey, but we had the car repaired by getting the engine replaced with a rebuilt one.

- , Hoover, AL, USA

problem #7

May 132011

Focus LS 2.0lsohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 165,000 miles

My daughter stopped for gas,when she got back in to leave and went to start the car, she heard a loud noise in the engine compartment and the engine would not start. I towed the car home and at first thought it was the starter. I bought a new one and put it in,but got the same results. I then tried turning it over by hand, but couldn't budge it. I proceeded to take the head off and discovered metal pieces in and around the #1&4 cylinder,plus fragments of the #4 piston in the oil pan. Both #1 pistons were destroyed,plus the head.

- , Maryville, TN, USA

problem #6

Dec 032010

Focus SE 2.0 sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 125,000 miles

2003 2.0 liter SOHC with 125000 miles. bought used in 2007 with 65k miles on it .took excellent care of it. stopped to get gas. car was running just fine before. would not start. eventually ran battery down. finally started but OMG what a bunch of noise from under the hood. towed home ( not cheap for 30 miles). cost me an additional $200 to find out that the engine was toast.mechanic said that something let go in the upper end and f#%*$ed up all 4 cylinders. by looking at all the posts on this site it looks as if I'm not alone. there is definitely a problem that ford will not face up to.I'm done with fords!

- , Zanesville, OH, USA

problem #5

May 042010

Focus SE 2.0spi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,000 miles

click to see larger images

engine failure engine failure

We need a "CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT" with so many complaints! Mine has the same explodo-motor as the rest of you. At 109,000 miles the #4 intake valve seat falls out causing exhaust valve to break off which further caused catastrophic engine failure. Excellent care of the vehicle to this date. These days we should be able to get 250-300k before we "wear out" an engine, not explode it into a blob of molten aluminum lying on the highway!

- , Pahrump, NV, USA

problem #4

May 212010

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

Valve seat dropped on 2003 Ford Focus. Next time I will purchase a Honda.

- , Groveport, OH, USA

problem #3

Jan 252008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

Basically I bought the car with 3,000 with warranty in late 2003 since I bought it I have had to have many MAJOR repairs... it first started with the transmission had to repair that, then I had to do all the recalls, key ignition, door latches, head lights.....then the motor mounts broke, alternator, fuel pump replacement. Then at around 51,000 miles blew an engine rod which put a hole in the oil pan... needs a new engine.. I've spent 2500 in repair already.....the car is only worth 3,000 and they quoted me like 5,000 for a new engine! hahaha NO! so since Jan. of 2008 it sits in my driveway 2 years now. I would suggest NEVER to buy a FORD CAR.. EVER

- , San Diego, CA, USA

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