Notes: The 2002 Ford Focus 2.0L SOHC engine has a defect where the intake valve seat fails. The valve then falls into the cylinder, destroying the engine & most owner relationships with Ford in the process.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
8 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
4 / 1
Average Mileage:
28,206 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.

2002 Ford Focus steering problems

steering problem

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2002 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #26

Sep 072016


  • 134,000 miles


Ok so I've had my Ford Focus for about 3 months now I fell in love with this little thing recently got struts changed in front and ball joints bushings and tires so I knew it would need an alignment so got that done now at speeds from 50-60 mph this car starts fishtailing out of control I dont have alot of money I am not workin at present so I cant afford to take my used car to dealer much less to another auto shop. I travel 50 -70 miles each day to work and I'm scared its gonna fishtail me into a wreck. Mileage 134000 applke valley calif.

- Apple Valley, CA, USA

problem #25

Nov 012012

Focus 4-cyl

  • 30,422 miles
This is our first year driving this Focus in the snow, we bought it in 2011. We had a snow fall on 11/1/2012 and we took the car out for a drive. Any speed above 35 mph and the rear of the car floats (wiggles) back and forth up to a foot. It is completely unstable on snow or ice. I did some research online, and Ford apparently knows the problem, : defective rear upper control arms, since they did a silent recall on these in 2006. NHTSA should investigate this since there are many more Focus out there like ours, and Ford should have to recall and replace the control arms on all of these units from 2000-2004. I have over 35 years of winter driving experience and I have never had a vehicle (even the old rear wheel drive models) behave so dangerously on snow and ice, even with all season tires on it. I contacted Ford Motor Company and they said there is nothing they have to do since the car is out of warranty. Here is an attached article I found on line. October 03, 2006 Ford Motor Company told dealers that they may need to replace the rear upper control arms on Ford Focus models. The models include: 2000 through 2004 Focus sedan, wagon, ZX3 and ZX5 series. Ford will check the rear camber and, if possible, make an adjustment. If an adjustment to the vehicle's rear camber is necessary beyond the negative end of specification, then the dealership will need to source replacement rear upper control arm(s)." This is considered a "silent recall" where upon Ford may not notify owners of this condition..

- Belgrade, MT, USA

problem #24

Jun 132010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 124,000 miles
The ignition on my 2002 Ford Focus will not work and my understanding that this is happening to many people also. This issue will leave you stranded and unable to leave your current destination. In the event of an emergency it is unreliable. I work for a fire and rescue Agency which requires me to make quick response and with this defect I cannot. Imagine if a female is in a domestic issue and need to get away or is out shopping late and need to leave the area she is left vulnerable and alone with no way of leaving. This defect need to be addressed asap. I have researched this issue and found that after replacing the defected part you still will have the same issue because of poor design. Your attention to this matter will be greatly appreciated.

- Blackstone, VA, USA

problem #23

Jun 292009


  • 70,000 miles


Driving and the car started to make noise when the wheels were turned. Checked the power steering fluid and belt, and added more power steering fluid. The problem still continued. The power steering line was rubbing on the frame of the car, and rub open causing a leak in the line. This stopped the power steering from working. We took the line out, with a lot of effort, and time. Then bought a new part for $55 and then had to put it in. Although we have not got the part yet, but it seems as if putting it back in will not be easy.

- Okeechobee, FL, USA

problem #22

Apr 112009


  • 82,333 miles
The key will not turn in the ignition, with the steering wheel locking up. No amount of jiggling can fix it. So car is unable to start. (4 times in a row - final time, not started after hours of trying).

- St. Louis, MO, USA

problem #21

Mar 312009


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Ford Focus. While driving approximately 40 mph on normal road conditions, the steering wheel loosened without warning. The steering began to wander and failed to respond normally. Immediately, the vehicle was pulled over to the side of the road and inspected. The vehicle was driven cautiously to an authorized dealer and they tightened the adjustment screw and re-tightened the lock nuts on the steering wheel column. The manufacturer has been notified of the malfunctions. The VIN was unavailable. The failure and current mileages were 60,000.

- Eastborough, KS, USA

problem #20

Jan 172008


  • 65,000 miles


It was 11 O'clock at night in freezing weather when I had gotten into my car that had been sitting all day.(which I had started with ease 13 hours before) the key would not turn in the ignition. I tried turn the key back and forth for an hour before my boyfriend's mom came to pick me up at 1:00 in the morning. If she wouldn't have been there for me I would have had to walk 10 miles in dangerous cold to get home, because I didn't have any money on me for a cab. I paid $450 to tow the car 4 miles to the closest dealership and replace the ignition cylinder. The part is under a one year warranty. Since December 20, 2008, my ignition cylinder has not been working properly with my key. I insert the key and I have to wiggle the key to turn, insert, and remove it from the ignition. I will be visiting the dealership where I had it replaced last year this week. At least this time it showed signs of malfunction probability. This should be considered a safety issue. If someone is driving the car and it stalls on a railroad track (or any other hazardous location) and cannot restart or move the car because the ignition won't turn. There could be deadly consequences for the driver, passengers, and others close by.

- Addison, IN, USA

problem #19

Aug 122008


  • 44,586 miles
My car has frequent problems with the steering column, ignition locking which became problematic when I stalled in traffic and nearly caused a multi car accident because I could not start the car.

- Minoa, NY, USA

problem #18

May 142004

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,000 miles
The consumer stated while driving at 35 mph the vehicle began to vibrate. The steering wheel was hard to turn and the consumer lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle fish tailed across the road and struck a mail box. At some point during the skid or impact with the mail box, both rear wheels dislodged from the vehicle. Additionally, the bolts holding the rear seat dismembered and the rear seat was ejected from the vehicle. One of the vehicle occupants died as a result of the accident and another was injured. A police report was taken at the scene. The vehicle was deemed a total loss.

- Macon, GA, USA

problem #17

Dec 092004


  • miles
The consumer was pulling inside of the garage to park the vehicle when he noticed the steering wheel would move in a circular motion, but the steering wheel failed to move the tires. The consumer contacted the dealer. The dealer informed the consumer that the warranty had expired. Please fill in additional information.

- Stillwater, OK, USA

problem #16

Mar 172003


  • miles


Problems with 2002 Ford Focus steering and suspension.

- Potomac, MD, USA

problem #15

Jul 122004

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles
I had to make a sharp maneuver to avoid a car changing lanes. My car a 2002 Ford Focus ZX5 went into wild oscillations across 3 lanes. Back and forth. It took 3/4 of a mile to bring the car under control. This has never happened to any cat I ever drove before. It was only luck there was no accident.

- West Islip, NY, USA

problem #14

May 172003


  • miles
2002 Ford Focus displaying steering problems. Approximately nine months after purchase, they began having problems with the steering system. The car has been serviced 4 times and problem the was still not fixed. If the vehicle was not corrected in 30 days the consumer was going to request that the vehicle be repurchased. The rear gate did not open properly.

- Potomac , MD, USA

problem #13

Oct 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
The mileage on my Focus was 47000 km and the cost was $5500. The date was July but I am at work and not sure of exactly what day. My Focus was making a clunking sound similar in nature to traction control kicking in. It was in to be serviced on a Friday and they said they could not repeat the sound. Also at that time it was having regular maintenance tire rotation and oil change. On the following Tuesday driving in the town I live in (luckily the speed limit is only 30 km/hr) I experienced the steering wheel pull to the right and I had hit a parked car. Had I been on the highway me and my 2 children would have been a fatality. The cost qouted to you of $5500 is not including the cost to fix the other vehicle. As well Ford Motor Co. Is taking no responsilbilty whatsoever and I need proof to get my insurance co to find fault to someone other than myself.

- Irricana, UN, USA

problem #12

Oct 152002


  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,002 miles
Problem I'm still having and was reported to dealership is car pulls to left, ( not corrected) back end of car or tires bounce on road and especially when hitting a bump, cannot stay on road in slush or snow, back end is all over road, ( nothing done) tires are completely groved in many spots on the tires, caused by rear end bouncing on road, Firestone won't replace they say it is focas's rear end and it wears out the tires, dealer or Ford won't do anything about rear end or tires, car vibrates badly, rear doors barley open are so stiff, looks like door locks are coroaded nothing was done by dealership even though they said they lubricated, nothing is on the locks to show lubrication of locks.

- Friendship, WI, USA

problem #11

Jan 152003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
I have had the car. For only 4 months. I had problem with it in October it was the car moving when I am driving it moves like a swerving motion and then in December 13, 2002. I took it back in with the same problem of the back sways when hitting bumps and the tire rod was loose. The repair was 1,140 on a new car. I had water coming in the passenger side and they said they fixed the problem. On Dec 31, 2002 it rained and my whole floor is wet. I am very discussed with this car. Because it is a brand new car. And I have the same problem out of it going on two times with the water, two times with the hitting of bumps and the car moving side ways almost into another lane, and one more thing I took the car in to Ford on 12/26/02 to talk to the sales person about my problems I have been dealing with and how very dissatisfied I am the car has been still swaying when I am driving and coming across bumps railroad tracks and on the expressway. They said I would have to put money down for another car, which is so unfair because it is a new car and they should put me in another car if they see the problems. I will never send any one to but a car from them because they should stand behind there promise when they express the importance of customer satiation when they see that the car is a problem

- Jacksonville, FL, USA

problem #10

Dec 152002


  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
This problem just happened yesterday. My daughter was making a turn, and the cvc joint completely fell apart. She lost all steering causing her to hit a curb. We had the car towed to the dealer where we bought it only a month ago. They are refusing to fix the car saying that she was in an accident causing the joint to fall apart. This is not the case. We are not sure what to do, and need help. This is a terrible defect, and if she hadn't have been going slow, she could have been killed. Is there anyone who can help us, as were not sure what steps to take to get the public attention about a possible killer.

- Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #9

Nov 152002


  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
Involved in a crash Friday where car seem to dive to the right and in to a parked car. Driver has a good driving record and was not distracted while driving.

- Pontiac, MI, USA

problem #8

Nov 152002


  • Manual transmission
  • 0 miles
Fuel pump was replaced twice from January to June sterring wheel and car shake while stopping and driving at 50 mph or above brakes have been checked 3 times finally had replaced and rotors, no change in performance

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #7

Nov 152002


  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,000 miles
My 2002 Ford Focus started having problems after 5000 miles. It started with a noise coming from the front left wheel area. From there the steering seemed shakey at times at highway speeds. Once, the car pulled to the left suddenly on the highway. The dealership has changed the transmission, front bearing, and knuckle, on the car in the past two months. The car is still not fixed. The most noticeable problem is the howling grinding noise coming from the front left wheel. It can be heard mostly around 50 to 60 mph. It is still unknown what is wrong with the car.

- Durham, NC, USA

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