really awful
Crashes / Fires:
9 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 1
Average Mileage:
53,448 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.

2001 Ford Focus steering problems

steering problem

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2001 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 1 of 3)

problem #41

Dec 042015


  • 165,611 miles


The contact owns a 2001 Ford Focus. While driving, the vehicle pulled to the right independently and the contact lost control of the steering wheel. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the lower control arm, ball joint assembly, and axle needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The contact did not know if the vehicle was repaired under NHTSA campaign number: 02V289000 (steering). The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 165,611.

- Reading, PA, USA

problem #40

Apr 242015

Focus 4-cyl

  • 204,500 miles
As I was coming from dr's appt. With daughter and mom a roaring sound started in the rear. It kept getting louder and louder, car's rear would sway to the right side a little. But as I was driving down the street trying to at least get us all home safe. The rear driver side wheel came off and just rolled down the street about a half-A-block. A man came out noticing the tire roll pass him, helped me retrieve it and get it back to my car. Looked at the wheel and car axle I guess that's what you call it, and told me my wheel bearings were gone.

- Memphis, TN, USA

problem #39

Jun 282014

Focus 4-cyl

  • 10,900 miles
Was driving my car at 55 mph at 11:20 pm on way home from work car made jerk lost all power no brakes no steering black smoke coming through vents to inside of car and flames coming from under hood car fully engulfed in flames blew up.

- Wilmington, DE, USA

problem #38

Jul 012012

Focus 4-cyl

  • 163,000 miles


Driving on 4 lane highway, car sputters and stalls as if out of gas. Coasted off road, and after a few minutes car started and ran fine. Car has been doing this every few weeks. Changed coil, plugs, plug wires, oxygen sensor, fuel filter, cat converter and still stalls. This car is dangerous when it stalls in fast traffic. We only drive it now during daylight and short trips because it is not dependable.

- Ford City, PA, USA

problem #37

May 282012


  • 103,000 miles
The key for my Ford Focus will go into the ignition but not turn. I have tried to turn the steering wheel but it still won't get the key to turn in the ignition. After doing some research, I am finding that this is a major and very common complaint with Ford Focus owners and Ford will not issue a recall. The car is not drivable and in order to get it to a repair shop we will have to tow it which will be another expense. If Ford is aware of this problem and will not do anything to recall it, something needs to be done.

- Livermore, CA, USA

problem #36

May 022012

Focus 4-cyl

  • 122,000 miles
My last oil change I was inform the front subframe is badly rusted, to the point the mechanic could push a screw driver through it in spots. He informed me that driving it was a major safety risk, as the frame could fail, causing an accident. He said Ford has not issued a recall. They must be waiting for a higher body count when the front end of the car fails while going down the interstate.

- Sheridan, IN, USA

problem #35

Sep 082010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles


I've had numerous problems with my Ford Focus and despite regular maintenance I've been stranded on the side of a highway countless times.thus far I've replaced the engine twice. Twice I've had to replace the alternator. My throttle does not return to idle and has unexpected moments of acceleration and I've had to replace the engine throttle sensor. Both of my front coil springs have broken and were very close to puncturing my tires. After taking my vehicle to numerous mechanics none of them have been able to diagnose why my car shakes so badly. I have very poor visibility at night with the exterior lighting which is significantly less compared to other vehicles. My fan has had to be replaced since it was malfunctioning and my car was having problems overheating as well. During the course of all of these car malfunctions, I've been in dangerous situations on the side of the highway and in risky neighborhoods at night. This car has proven to be very unreliable and unsafe.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #34

Dec 202010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
The events leading up were intermittently spaced this has been happening since I purchased the vehicle from a private owner in 2004. When I would put the key in the ignition the wheel would not turn and feel locked I would sit for 10-20 minutes and work on it by pushing the key in hard and turning the wheel as hard it would come loose and the ignition would turn. This impacted my life as a nuisance. Recently in Dec of 2010 the occurrences became more frequent two to four times a week constantly being stranded until I could get the ignition and wheel to turn. Happening frequently while at the store, work or somewhere away from home and again causing a great nuisance and frustration as it has made me late for work several times, allowed me to be vulnerable in situations that could have been avoided with proper recall. Then around Dec 20th 2010 the ignition stopped working. I was at work leaving for the day and I sat there for over an hour, not knowing any of this was a normal recurrence with other Ford Focus owners. After working on this myself I had to contact my spouse to come and try and he was unsuccessful as well. I have kept up the maintenance on my Focus and it is in very good condition for the year. Currently it has not been fixed only towed to my home residence. The cost is so high for the ignition replaced I have been given estimates of $500 plus extra for towing. This cost comes after months previous I had replaced the radiator tank at a $400 cost. This car seems to have some of the highest amount of recalls and service bulletins and I do not understand how the main power to the car, the ignition, is not seen as a hazard to the public who purchased these vehicles.

- Raleigh, NC, USA

problem #33

Jun 292010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 71,000 miles
My 2001 Ford Focus ZX3 has always had problems with the steering column locking and the key refusing to turn in the ignition. I have usually been able to get it to release after a few tries. Recently, it's gotten worse. I have had several incidents where I was not able to get the key to turn for a few minutes, leaving me with fears of being stranded. Unfortunately, my luck ran out yesterday. I tried both keys, I tried just letting it sit, I tried tapping the keys lightly with a hammer, as did the tow truck operator. Now I'm out $125 for the tow to the dealership, $500 for a new ignition lock, and $180 for two new keys, because of the wear on the old keys. I am shocked both at the price, and at how frequently this seems to happen. I have been a proud Ford Focus owner for 9 years, but the ongoing problems with this car make me leery about ever buying Ford again.

- Somerville, MA, USA

problem #32

Mar 052010


  • 120,000 miles
Having problems when I put my key in the ignition (2001 Ford Focus). My steering wheel gets locked or something. I would get this problem every so often no I've had it since Friday. It is very frustrating!!!

- Leawood, KS, USA

problem #31

Dec 222009


  • 99,000 miles


No events to indicate failure. Went to vehicle after working to after dark. Put key into ignition and key would not turn. Simply would not turn! several attempts were made over a 20 minute period. I, fortunately, was leaving my place of employment. However, it was still cold outside, dark and not a safe environmental situation. I feel fortunate that I was not stranded.

- Hudson, WI, USA

problem #30

Jul 132009


  • miles
My Ford Focus ignition just stopped working! no problems before, the key would only go in half way, then I got it to go in with a slight tap of a hammer! then the key would not turn over! this is a major problem!! got it towed to the dealership, they said this problem is very common! a common problem that cost me $426.27!

- Blue Springs, MO, USA

problem #29

Jun 232009


  • 89,000 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Ford Focus. While backing out of the driveway at an unknown speed, the contact turned the steering wheel and heard a noise. The steering wheel became inoperative. The vehicle was inspected by a certified mechanic, who stated that the steering shaft failed. The vehicle has not been repaired. The failure and current mileages were 89,000.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #28

Sep 072008


  • 118,000 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Ford Focus. While driving approximately 35 mph on normal road conditions, the engine began to idle excessively high. On a separate occasion, the vehicle stalled without warning and lost power steering. The driver experienced extreme difficulty steering the vehicle and had to use excessive force to turn the steering wheel. The vehicle was able to resume normal operation. The failures occurred intermittently. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer and they wanted to charge the contact for a diagnostic; however, the contact refused due to the cost. The technician refused to repair the vehicle unless the aftermarket parts were replaced by the manufacturer. The parts consisted of the PCV valve and fuel filter. The vehicle has not been repaired. The manufacturer conducted a campaign (03V-482) to address the stalling in the vehicles. The contact experienced the identical failures mentioned in the campaign, but the VIN was excluded. The failure mileage was 118,000 and current mileage was 119,000.

- Akron, OH, USA

problem #27

Apr 242009


  • 113,000 miles
My daughter was driving 2001 Ford Focus SE wagon approximately 45mph when she described steering locked up in turn then she heard tires squealing and vehicle jerked hard left causing her to go off the road, hit a rock wall and flipped the car end over end. The air bags did not deploy. She landed upside down but was able to exit vehicle through broken window. She received cuts and bruises and was taken to emergency room for X-rays where they said she had no serious injuries and was released. On scene investigation by police and tow truck operated suggested ball joint failure or other steering/suspension failure. Car was totaled.

- Greenfield Center, NY, USA

problem #26

Sep 062008


  • 68,000 miles
While in curve driving 50 mph steering locked up, not sure if car cut off but I was unable to straighten out wheel resulting in accident where I hit telephone crushing pelvis, and breaking my left arm.. I spent 37 days in hospital and now have plates and screws in my pelvis and arm. It has been a month since the accident and I am now in a wheel chair for 2 months healing time before I can start therapy to begin walking, and doctors say I will have to have a hip replacement in the next 2 to 5 years. Help me please Ford is responsible for this I am 24 years old..

- Hampton, VA, USA

problem #25

Oct 162002


  • 130,473 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Ford Focus. The contact stated that the vehicle was experiencing numerous failures. The main failures were the electrical system, brake system, bent tie rod, shaking and vibrating, rear window mechanisms, and flooding after it rains. The leak occurs on the passenger side and the water rises 2 to 3 inches. The vehicle has not been diagnosed by the dealer due to the inspection costs. The failure mileage was 130,473.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #24

Aug 242008


  • 93,000 miles
The contact owns a 2001 Ford Focus. While driving approximately 5-10 mph, the steering wheel pulled to the left without warning. As a result, the vehicle sideswiped a parked vehicle. The mirror was damaged. The police was not called to the scene. The vehicle was towed to the contact's residence and has not been repaired. An independent mechanic stated that the steering control arm disengaged, which caused the failure. The failure and current mileages were 93,000.

- Riverside, CA, USA

problem #23

May 182008


  • 74,778 miles
Defective front coil springs fractured, wedged against tire, causing partial loss of steering control. Right side fractured July, 2005, left side fractured may, 2008. Coil spring & related parts replaced both times.

- Mahwah, NJ, USA

problem #22

Nov 092006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,893 miles
I have a 2003 Ford Focus. Now I am having a problem with steering wheel lock-up. My search on the internet has shown that this is apparently a very common problem with the Focus. This problem will occur out of the blue and now I am beginning to think that it isn't just my key. There is a problem with this lock design. Ford needs to recall this.

- Gastonia, NC, USA

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