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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
12 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
12 / 1
Average Mileage:
65,853 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 seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2003 Ford Focus Owner Comments

problem #19

Feb 112015


  • 72,000 miles


On Feb 11, 2015 I was driving to go to the vet. I had not been down that road in about 6 months. I came upon an area that was a very bad chunk of road...patches over patches and very bumpy. Then all of a sudden my car tilted to the right and there was a loud bang. It took me a couple seconds to realize what had happened. My airbag on the passenger side (side airbag) had deployed. Scared me! I had no idea why it had gone off. But the car seemed to be driving ok still so I continued to the vet about 1-2 miles away. I wondered if a deer had hit the side of my car but when I got to the vet and checked my car, there was no damage to the side of my car. Since then I have read on the internet that others have had their airbags deploy when hitting a pothole. The next day I went back and took pictures of that area and a video.this was by a guardrail with a huge drop off on the side. I am lucky I didn't lose control of my car when the airbag exploded right next to me and possibly go through the guardrail and off of that steep drop off. Things could have been much worse. It was a very frightening situation and thank god, nobody was in that seat. I know exactly where it was on that road because when I looked over I saw a big white circle (didn't know what it was at first...thought my window had broken) and I saw the end of the guard rail where it angles down at the end. I was not speeding, or on the phone. Just driving down a county road and had $1700 worth of damage done to my car. I only have pl/pd on that car so my insurance won't cover it.

- Summitville, IN, USA

problem #18

Nov 032014


  • 155,525 miles
Airbag warning system light flashes on indicating possible failure or defective system but does not remain on. Light goes out about 1 hour or so of driving.

- Hampton, VA, USA

problem #17

Mar 262013

Focus 4-cyl

  • 140,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that while driving 60 mph over a pot hole, the air bags deployed inadvertently. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where the technician diagnosed that the air bag sensor was defective and both the driver's seat and the air bag needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 140,000.

- Mastic , NY, USA

problem #16

Aug 072012

Focus 4-cyl

  • 129,200 miles


While driving on the interstate at approx 70mph, I signaled my left turn signal. As I changed into the left lane, my driver's side airbag deployed for no reason. The driver's side window was open so some seat foam and smoke exited the vehicle and made contact with the vehicle behind me. I pulled over and the other driver stopped to see what happened and checked to see if I was okay. I was able to continue home.

- West Charlton, NY, USA

problem #15

Nov 212011


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owned a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that while driving 20 mph, another vehicle crashed into the passenger side and the contact's vehicle spun around. The air bags did not deploy and the front driver's seat belt did not restrain the contact. The contact sustained bruises, contusions, a tear to her spine, a broken rib, and heart problems as a result of the impact to her chest. In addition, the driver of the second vehicle involved in the crash was injured. A police report of the incident was filed. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure and did not offer any assistance. The vehicle was declared destroyed. The VIN was not available. The failure and current mileages were 80,000.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #14

Sep 052011


  • 58,400 miles
Was traveling at 65mph on the highway when driver side airbag deployed for no reason. There was no impact. Dealership has been contacted. At this time there has been no resolution.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #13

Aug 062006


  • 50,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact noticed that the air bag warning light illuminated and as a result the horn was inoperable. The dealer informed the contact that the clockspring was defective and needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not notified nor was the vehicle repaired. The current mileage was approximately 76,000. The approximate failure mileage was 50,000.

- Soquel, CA, USA

problem #12

Aug 012011


  • 180,000 miles
On 8/1/2011, going 40mph I hit a deer. The whole hood of my car is pushed in, my radiator is pushed in, I cannot open the hood, the deer is dead and both of the airbags failed to deploy. However my airbag deployment light did come on. What a defect. At 10 mph I could possible understand but at 40 mph, I bought the car brand new in 2003 for safety, now even if it were fixed I would be scared to drive it.

- Centralia, WA, USA

problem #11

Dec 232009


  • 147,000 miles
The contact owns 2003 Ford Focus. The vehicle slid on an ice patch, which caused her to loose vehicle control. The vehicle spun around several times and then collided on an embankment. None of the air bags deployed. She received injuries to her neck, feet, and ribs, the passenger received injuries to the spine. The insurance company concluded that the vehicle was completely destroyed. Also the ignition switch had to be replaced at an expense of $450. She also paid $300 to repair the door locks. The transmission needs to be replaced. The sheriff report number was 09004117. The failure and current mileages were 94,000.

- Centerville, WA, USA

problem #10

Mar 012009


  • 172,000 miles
Vehicle involved in serious frontal crash and airbags failed to deploy.

- Morganton, NC, USA

problem #9

Feb 222006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles


I was on my way to Tahoe in February 2006. It was rainy and the roads were a little wet. We hit a puddle and he car spun out hit both front and back ends from spinning out of control and smashed into the side walls. We were traveling about 45-50 mph. The air bag did not go off. From smashing in to the walls the passenger seat completely broke backwards. Almost in a laying down position and the seat belt was completely extended and wouldn't retract. Car was totaled. At the time there were no serious injuries. But 8 months after the accident I started having grand mall seizures.

- Hayward, CA, USA

problem #8

Mar 152005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 30,300 miles
I was in a car accident with my 2003 Ford Focus zts. My airbag did not deploy. The fire dept. And police dept. Both expressed disbelief that the airbag did not deploy. My car sustained extensive damage to the front end. The whole front end has to be replaced including both the frame rails, as well some engine components. I will know more when the repairs start. The vehicle I was involved in the accident with had both of their airbags deploy. If I were not wearing my seatbelt, I would have had serious injuries.

- Limington, ME, USA

problem #7

Feb 092005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 22,869 miles
The vehicle hit a pot hole with the passenger side tire, causing the air bags to deploy on its own. The owner informed the manufacturer that the vehicle was involved in a side impact accident a year prior to this incident, and the air bags did not deploy. Another issue was that the left rear rotor had broken while the vehicle was in motion and the rear sensor assembly/ABS was replaced. The root of this problem stemmed from the left rear wheel bearing which had fallen apart and damaged the rotor and the wheel sensor. The left rear knuckle was replaced along with the left rear rotor.

- Melvindale, MI, USA

problem #6

Dec 172004

Focus 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 5,414 miles
Traveling East-bound on I-10. Forced onto left shoulder by another vehicle. While attempting to move back onto the freeway was hit square on the drivers door by a pickup truck traveling in the same direction. Vehicle rolled 3-4 times before coming to stop. None of the front or side airbags deployed in the 2003 Ford Focus. The car only had 5000 miles on it.

- Spring, TX, USA

problem #5

Feb 122004


  • miles
Consumer stated that while traveling 60 mph vehicle was involved in a head on collision.upon impact, air bags did not deploy. Consumer did not sustain any injuries, but was quite sore.

- Mcdonough, GA, USA

problem #4

Oct 222003

(reported on)


  • 8,500 miles
While traveling at 40 mph a dog ran into the street and consumer's vehicle hit the dog. Upon impact, none of the bags deployed, and consumer sustained chest injuries. In addition, driver's side seat belt failed, it locked the driver in after the impact. However, passenger's side seat belt and rear seat belts functioned properly.

- Del Mar, MD, USA

problem #3

Aug 162003

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I bought my first brand new car, 2003 Ford Focus! since it's a brand new car, I expected it to be flawless. However, I was so disappointed when we found rust on the muffler, then on the metal frame in the dashboard area. We talked to the asst. Mgr (jay parker) on 8/24. I asked for the GM, but he said to call Monday, 8/25 to see if he's in. He was in on Monday, but they had me talk to another person, eddie suzui. He said to bring the car in and ask for him. As soon as we got there, we were told to bring the car to the service area, and robert enriques, the service advisor examined the car, and went through the list of problems about the car. He did say the rust on the muffler is just "surface" rust, but the other rust is "more than surface rust". I asked him why Ford sells cars with rust in it. He just shrugged his shoulders and said nothing. I told him that I didn't want the car anymore, so I asked to see the GM. Robert said he'll get the GM, but a few minutes later, the asst. Mgr came to talk to us. Basically, jay confirmed what robert already told us, and truly emphasized that the car does have serious rust on the frame, and that we're not just imagining it! it is not just surface rust!robert enriques took pictures of the rust and sent them to digital imaging. Robert told me that manufacturer won't take the car back. He also said that the Ford service rep will be here in Hawaii on 9/8, and he'll show the pictures to him then and decision will be made. I finally got to talk to the GM (8/27), and told him all the problems with the car. He said he'll take care of the rust, and all the other things can be taken care of, but they're all minor problems. I don't think they are! not on a brand new car! jay parker told us on Monday, 8/25 that this brand new car does have some serious rush, and if the manufacturer is not going to take back the car, I could go for arbitration. This car could be classified as a "lemon" car. Thanks for your help.

- Waipahu, HI, USA

problem #2

May 152003


  • miles
Representing jesus rosales/ requesting information on recalls in regards to seatbelts, air bags and or saftey restraint system for the for Focus years 1990-2003. The vehicle was traveling about 45 mph at time of the offset frontal crash. The driver's seat broke from its seat bottom attachements to the floor pan causing fatal injuries. Front seat passenger walked away from the crash.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #1

May 292003

Focus 4-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The accident that took place on 5/29/03 involved a 2003 Ford Focus station wagon driven by my son. There was impact where a parked car and a tree was involved, and the airbags did not deploy at all. I thought airbags were a safety feature that should help prevent bodily injuries. I wrot a letter to Ford Motor Company yet I have received no response to this matter. I also spoke to one of their representatives by the name of "mary" who was suppose to be giving the information to the engineering staff that handles these types of problems, "yet no response. When this car was purchased I didn't expect mechanical failure to occur. I'am not pleased at all that Ford motor has not contacted me concerning this matter. The people that were injured in the accident are now suing my insurance company and myself due to the accident and airbags not deploying at the time of the accident. Then when speaking to their representative she stated it was my responsibilty to get the car over to a Ford dealer to have the airbags inspected, "I dont't think so". I will never be able to drive this vehicle due to the nature of airbag mechanical failure. My car is still in the shop and I myself refuse to have it repaired until Ford Motor Company sends someone to inspect this vehicle.

- New Orleans, LA, USA

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