pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
83,497 miles
Total Complaints:
249 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (84 reports)
  2. replace the ignition (37 reports)
  3. insert the key and lightly tap the key with a hammer (28 reports)
  4. must go to dealership for high priced repair (28 reports)
  5. call a locksmith (25 reports)
  6. replace ignition lock cylinder (19 reports)
2003 Ford Focus accessories - interior problems

accessories - interior problem

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2003 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 4 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #189

Feb 142012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,084 miles


One morning, ON MY WAY TO WORK, I got in my car tried to start it, and the key would not turn. This is the first time this has ever happened. I freaked out called my dad he told me to wiggle the steering wheel, turn the key, hit the key in the ignition a little etc etc. After about ten minutes it turned. I thought it was just a fluke, but it happened again today ON MY WAY TO WORK!!! I was pissed. I sat there for 30 minutes trying to do anything possible to get it to turn, and nothing worked! I had read on this forum that people called a locksmith so I did. They said it would cost around $250. I said no thanks I will call elsewhere. I ended up calling AAA and they sent roadside assistance, who did nothing but tell me to tow it to a Ford dealer and have them fix it. Yeah so I can spend $500 dollars for the same part that failed, no thanks! I called AAA back and told them to send me a locksmith. One came an hour later, I had to call work and tell them I couldn't come! Pop-A-Lock who replaced the ignition was very nice and professional, unlike FORD, and it only cost me $112 with the AAA discount. The people from Pop-A-Lock told me that they have replaced FOUR ford focus ignitions in the past TWO days. That has to tell you something----ummmm recall???? In the process of calling around I called Ford to check for a recall, there is none, but she said I could file a complaint, I did. She also asked me how many miles my car had on it, I said I could tell her if I could turn my car on!!!! Idiot!

DO NOT take it to a Ford dealer unless it is under warranty! A locksmith can fix it for you and you do not have to deal with towing it etc!

- , Fairport, NY, USA

problem #188

Oct 202007

Focus 5 Door 2.3L I-4

  • Manual transmission
  • 55,187 miles

When I called AAA for tow and told them the ignition key will not turn the phone operator already knew it was FORD Focus !!! Apparently a very very common problem, and not covered even by the extended warraty (ESP).

- , Sandy Valley, NV, USA

problem #187

Jan 282012

Focus ZX5

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

This happened multiple times before January 28, but jiggling the key no longer worked as of this date so I finally thought to research on the internet. Thanks to posts on this site, we contacted a locksmith for this problem. We were able to do the temporary fix of wd40, hitting the key with a hammer and then leaving the key in the ignition (with a dark towel draped over the steering column to hide this from being easily seen and to remind us not to remove the key) until we could drive it to a locksmith. The locksmith changed the cylinder that is the problem with one that does not have a side bar on it (he said it was not a Strattec) and the cost, thank goodness, was only $77 and now should not recur. Hope this helps someone else.

- , Le Roy, IL, USA

problem #186

Jan 262012


  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


We put the key into the ignition and it won't do anything.

- , Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #185

Jan 232012

Focus LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

All I have to say is Ford can you please recall this,you can"t see there's an issue here!Damn key won't turn in the ignition. It was 6;30a.m had to be at work for 7a.m tired for 40 min. nothing. Called a cab,cab driver wouldn't come down my road,was too icy,had to walk to the highway,in the rain to get to work late. Thankfully I work for a company that really does the best product and at the end of the day feel like Ive done the best job that I can to please our customers! Customer Service really means a lot! Tammy Lavigueur

- , Alexandria, ON, canada

problem #184

Feb 152011

Focus ES 3.1lV6

  • Manual transmission
  • 55,000 miles

At first it was just once in a while but then quit being able to turn on altogether. Great Car but what's with this? More than just a few people have had this problem with the 2003 model!

- , Rockford, WA, USA

problem #183

Mar 082011

Focus SE 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles


We are senior citizens and this on off (now currently off...can't start car) can be a serious safety problem. The dealership sold me the car this way, but we didn't know enough to insist on them fixing it til after the 30 warranty was up. We can't afford to pay what they charge to fix it. Can anyone suggest some help for us. The dealer was Steve Baldo Ford in N. Falls, NY. My email is pauleklein@hotmail.com Thanks in advance if you can help us.

- , Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #182

Aug 012011

Focus ZX3 2.0L Zetec

  • Manual transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I bought my 03 ZX3 used with 110k on the odometer, I love this car, fuel economy is great. Suddenly key will not turn in ignition, wiggled it around and it turned. Lubricated ignition and it worked fine for about a month or so. Now here we are in Nov. of 2011 and it happens again, have to hit the key each time i want to start it. What a pain in the ass!

- , Monroe, MI, USA

problem #181

Jul 312011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Real freaking pain in the ass. Sunday night, picking up dinner, no warning, SUCKS!

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #180

Jun 202011

Focus ZX3

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles

i went to see my dad in chandler, az. i live in e phoenix about 20 mi away. when i got in my car, the switch would not work. it's over 100 in the valley and i kept trying with no luck. went online to "just answer". they offered a tip about hitting the key with force and it worked to get my car started, $18 for one sentence of help, as i'm learning now this is a common ordeal. what happens if you are out in the middle of nowhere and temps in the 100's?

- , Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #179

Jun 142011

Focus SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 61,000 miles


so i bought this 03 focus in 07, and it seemed great, once i hit 48,000 miles the car started falling apart first the power steering pump, then the break system, then the alternator, now its the ignition. i have to have it drilled out, replaced and my keys reprogrammed. at this point i have shelled out 2 grand to fix the damn thing. i have decided the next time the car has an issue i'm gutting and junking it and getting a new car. this is bull crap. i have never ever had this many issues out of ANY vehicle i've owned.

this is the third ford i've owned and the other 2 were good. i know every car has issues, especially used cars but seriously im doing A LOT of research on the next car i decide on because this is bull crap. i've barely had the car 4 years and have already put more work into it than what it's worth. upon research via the internet i found that this is a "common" problem w/the focus. not only that but ford won't do a recall because not enough complaints have come in. well let me tell you this, after i'm done here i'm going to find a way to get a hold of ford and let them know exactly how much i think their car sucks!! oh and watch out for the rims, they suck as well.

- , Alamogordo, NM, USA

problem #178

Jun 032011

Focus ZTW 2.3L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

At an awards dinner in Staten Island (NYC) 35 miles from my house in Queens (NYC). Got a ride home and then found out about the Ford Focus ignition problem that Ford ignores. And they wonder why their cars don't sell! Had to go back to Staten Island the next day and have a locksmith put in a Strattec ignition lock for $225. For mor info see:


- , Little Neck, NY, USA

problem #177

Jun 042011

Focus SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,186 miles

apparently this is a common problem, whacking it with a hammer proves to be the best solution, sprayed the ignition with wd40 but this did not work, also sprayed a bit of inside the column thru a small opening I found, hope that works, seems to be dependent on where the steering wheel is positioned, best solution seems to be to carry a hammer with you so you can hit the key, releasing the locking pin (careful not to break the key in the ignition although this may actually provide a temporary fix)

- , Keswick, Ontario, canada

problem #176

May 292011

Focus ZX5

  • Automatic transmission
  • 122,000 miles

I had to replace the ignition cylinder and tumbler for $220. Why isn't ford taking responsibility and why did this problem not show up on consumer reports when I searched for cars?

- , Corona, CA, USA

problem #175

May 312011

Focus SE 2.0L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,441 miles

Noticed the key wouldn't turn a few times and then it wouldn't turn at all. Just lucky I had gotten home and the car was parked in the garage. Called ford service and the guy told me they have had problems with this model and I would have to bring it in and they would drill out the old ignition and install a new one. Didn't qoute me a price yet but I seen on the internet that it would run $400 to $500. I explained to him that I couldn't bring it in because the key won't turn and I can't start it. He advised me I might try putting the key into the ignition and smack it with a rubber mallot and that might make it turn. I did that and it did turn. I pulled the key out again and reinserted it and it wouldn't turn again. Had to hit it again.

I did some reading up on this on the internet and this is a known problem by ford but they refuse to recall. I consider this a safety problem and can leave you stranded without notice. This should really be worthy of a recall. I am getting ready to drive to Mertle Beach this Saturday and I guess I'll just leave the key in the ignition until I figure out what to do about it. If I take it to Ford for repair and pay the big price to fix it they will just install another faulty one that will also go bad in the future.

- , Circleville, OH, USA

problem #174

Oct 112011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

Key locking in ignition for about a week. Juggle it and wd40 it and it moves. Now won't move at all.

- , New Britain, CT, USA

problem #173

Sep 072011

Focus SE 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles

I went to start my car tonight and the ignition is locked up! The key goes in but the ignition won't turn at all. After reading all of the complaints on here I can't believe that Ford would turn their heads at the problem.

Need some numbers to call and make a complaint?

National Highway Traffic Safety 888-327-4236

There have been safety complaints filed with them already. There's no reason why we as consumers that are counting on this "brand" of car to be reliable should be subjected to being stranded. I didn't spend the last 4 years paying for a car I can't even drive. They should be held responsible for not taking action and fixing this. Clearly I'm not the only one who it's happened to.

- , Fargo, ND, USA

problem #172

Oct 082011

Focus 4D SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

Got stuck in a Meier parking lot at 2 AM. Had to get the car towed and cost to fix approximately $500. Tried hitting the key, turning the wheel, etc., but nothing worked and I didn't want to risk getting stuck again. Since the key wouldn't turn, they said they have to drill out the cylinder and the cost, because of labor, would be $500.

- , Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #171

Jun 192011

Focus LX 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,506 miles

i TRIED to start my car at 1:30am after coming from a bar and the key just wouldn't move. Thank God I had a friend there with me, or I would have been stranded alone. I'm hoping that the car with start tomorrow morning. I had to leave it for the night where it was.

- , Studio City, CA, USA

problem #170

Sep 072011

Focus ZTS 2.0L

  • Manual transmission
  • 111,000 miles

Key would not turn in the ignition on my 2003 Ford Focus. Found hundreds of complaints on the internet about this. Ford says there is no recall in progress. They said in order for a recall to happen, the hundreds that complain about it need to call them. If enough people call to complain, they will send out a recall. Please, if you are finding this post because you searched for the same problem, call Ford and let them know. If they recall the problem, those of us that have already paid to have it fixed will get their money back.

- , Buffalo Grove, IL, USA

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