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 5 of 13)

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problem #169

Jun 022011

Focus SE 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 86,392 miles


purchased 2003 ford focus in December 2010. Dealer told me this was a great car, no problems. Well about a month later started having problems with the ignition. had to bang key to get it to turn. This worked, so was waiting for an open day to take to shop. I was not too concerned since i purchased a very expensive extened warranty and was told everything was covered, if a problem should occur. 4 months went by banging on the key worked until 1 day in june. i was in a hurry coming from work, going to pick up my kids (including 1 baby) from bowling in order to coach my little girls t-ball team. Got all kids in the HOT car, ready to go and to my surprize, the key would not turn. I tried everything, even called a mechanic. This thing was not budging.

long story short, everyone I spoke to concerning my focus said this was a very common thing to happen to this vehicle, i even looked it up on net. No surprize, This was not recalled. Got towed to dealer and guess what, ignition needed replacement and wouldn't you know its not covered under my expensive 0 deductible piece of crap warranty. Bill for this ignition lock, should have been recalled, class action suit warranted, junk-cost me $423.00. i want everyone to know this rip off. please if you have this problem call 1800-392-3673.. i was told that ford is aware of this issue, they just do not have enough people calling in the complaint. So if you are one of us who paid this ungodly bill call the number and save your receipt.. when the recall comes out we will get paid......so i'm told.....

- , Shamokin, PA, USA

problem #168

Jun 302011

Focus ZX3 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Last week I got a call at 1am from my boyfriend, saying he was unable to get my car to started because the key would not turn over. Having had issues with the key being a bit testy , I assumed it was a similar problem and, in his frustration to get the car to start, had accidentally locked the wheel and made the situation worse. Thinking I knew the solution, I jumped on my bike to save the day. However, halfway there he somehow got the thing to start and I never got a chance to see that it was a far bigger issue than I was chalking it up to be.

Fast forward to yesterday (five days later). I parked in a loading zone, luckily after hours, ran to do some errands and when I returned to my car the the key would not start the car. I could take the key in and out and the car beeped whenever I opened the door, so it was nothing like a dead battery. The key would just not turn far enough to actually start the car. Now seeing the key-issue in action, I realized that it was a far bigger problem then I realized five days earlier. Instead of sitting there for an hour -- growing more and more frustrated. I ditched my car and walked to my house to see if there were any quick fixes online.

After reading a number of posts I realized that my problem sounded identical to the ignition problem posted by hundreds of other focus owners. Thanks for the posts! I walked back to my car, forcefully pounded the key while turning it and alas, the car started. I recognized this was a temporary solution and hoped the thing would last until the weekend when I had the time to call a locksmith and take care of it for good. Unfortunately, this morning I tried to start my car and the exact thing happened. I slammed my palm and turned the key, as I did last night, but this time no luck. Instead of continuing to use this method and probably doing untold damage to my the ignition, I threw in the towel and called a locksmith.

He immediately knew what I was talking about and had actually just helped someone with the same problem yesterday. Now I am just waiting, hoping he can solve the issue without it costing me an arm and a leg. Fingers crossed!

I feel fortunate to have had this happen when it did and not when I was on a cross-country road trip or in the middle of nowhere. The online posts I read were extremely helpful and will hopefully save me from spending thousands instead of a few hundred to fix the problem. However, shame on Ford for not addressing this issue and ordering an immediate recall. Why should thousands of people have to pay to replace a product that ford knows is faulty? What if I had been stranded in subzero temperatures in the middle of nowhere? Why would a company want to risk putting someone's life in danger? Shame on ford!

- , Seattle, WA, USA

problem #167

May 122011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

The last couple days, my key has not wanted to turn in the ignition of my '03 Ford Focus. With wiggling the steering wheel and reinserting the key multiple times, I have so far managed to start the car eventually. But it has made me late and I worry that I won't get it started next time. I searched online for suggestions and to my surprise I found out that this problem has happened many times before. FORD KNOWS ALL ABOUT IT AND YET THEY DO NOTHING!!! If customers go to the dealer for repair, they report that it is expensive and the problem often recurs.There should be a recall and it should be replaced for free-- with an ignition that does not have that defect.

- , Chambersburg, PA - Pennsylvania, USA

problem #166

Feb 272011

Focus ZX3

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,578 miles


On a four hour trip to see my family who I only see once a year (my cousin was home from the Army) I needed to fill up my gas tank. I pulled off of Route 70 in Ohio and turned the car off like most people do when they are pumping gas. After pumping gas and sitting back in the driver seat I attempted to turn the car back on. Not only was the key not turning the steering wheel was also locked up. I have 24 hour road side assistance through Geico insurance so I did not waste any time I called them and they got a tow service to come to me. The guy who shows up in his fancy tow truck with a AAA on the front of the tow truck has a broken hand.

So I'm thinking I'm screwed and he isn't even going to try and fix it. Sure enough he sits in the car turns the key a few times and asks me where I want him to tow my car. I said I live 2 hours from here I don't know where I am, you have to fix this!!! So he goes back to his truck calls his boss and brings a hammer back with him this time. At this point I was ready to take the hammer and go to town on my car. He then takes the hammer and pounds the key into the ignition and after about an hour of trying he gets the key to turn! Off I went on the journey 2 hours away from my home. Monday morning comes and same thing happens so I get the hammer and begin to hammer my key into the ignition and what do you know it starts! Now I'm at work for the day and I decided to leave my key in the ignition and thankfully have manual doors so I am able to leave the key in the car and use the spare to unlock the doors.

So how do you fix this problem? Ford suggests that you take your car to a dealer and pay the outrageous amount they charge just for them to put the EXACT SAME switch in the car. Ford has not fixed this problem in 11 YEARS. That's right, there are numerous complaints out there and still no solutions. I officially hate my ford focus for leaving me stuck at a scary truck stop in the middle of no where.

- , Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #165

Mar 172011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 178,000 miles

Car left me standed, had to have car towed. We are going to call Ford customer service tomorrow to see if they can help us with this problem.

- , Bailey, NC, USA

problem #164

Jan 202009

Focus SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

Every time I attempt to start my car, I first have to insert the key and tap it HARD with my hand several times to get the key to turn in the ignition. This is a HUGE pain, especially considering how common this is in this year of Focuses! I am truly shocked that Ford refuses to admit to fouling up and issue a recall to fix this problem. I should not have to pay $500 for an identical faulty ignition as a replacement, and I am very concerned that I will end up stranded somewhere the day the key no longer turns at all.

- , Pleasant Valley, MO, USA

problem #163

Apr 212011

Focus LX 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,800 miles


This is the second time that I unable to turn the key in the ignition and, of course, I cannot get the car started.

- , Linden, NJ, USA

problem #162

Sep 202008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles

Just one of many problems with this Ford. I will never but another one.

I just leave the key in and hope no one steals it.

I bought this car to save money, but its costing me my ass.

- , Dinuba, CA, USA

problem #161

Aug 032010

Focus SE 2.3L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,560 miles

i don't understand why ford wont just recall the focus for having this ignition problem, where the damn key gets stuck and we are always late for work because we have to spend half of our morning trying to get the stupid thing to turn over. i figure that there are so many complaints about it that there would be a law stating they have to do a recall on the car and fix the problem. i am going to look more into this issue and hope more ppl do as well and maybe, just maybe we can all find a solution, since ford doesn't want to take responsibility for the mistake they have made. maybe we can help ford notice the problem a little more by standing out and stepping up. lets see if ford will tell my lawyer that they cant find a solution. thanx for letting me be heard... nick

- , North Attleboro, MA, USA

problem #160

Apr 022011

Focus Sedan 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,600 miles

There should be a recall on the lock in this car,Ford should pay to have it replaced, as many times as necessary.

- , Leominster, MA, USA

problem #159

Mar 192011

Focus SE/SE CM 4S ?

  • Automatic transmission
  • 82,063 miles


This has obviously been a problem for quite some time. Ford should have done a recall.

- , Forsyth, GA, USA

problem #158

May 182008

Focus SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

For 2 1/2 years, I have been using the "hammer" technique I found online to get the key to engage in the ignition cylinder. On 11/30/10, I was picking my son up from school. The key refused to turn, and we were stranded in the cold for 10-15 minutes. After trying several keys and hammering profusely, I was able to get the key to turn. I now have to leave a key in the ignition and be careful not to turn the cylinder all of the way to the off position, preventing me from being able to lock my wheels when the car is parked. If the key is turned all the way to the off position, the cylinder hangs up and I have the same problems as on 11/30 again.

- , Collierville, TN, USA

problem #157

Mar 022011

Focus ZTW

  • Automatic transmission
  • 75,000 miles

Like other posts, the key worked without any warning of a problem until it would not turn. Learned a lot from posts on this site and others. Called a locksmith for a fix. He came. Lube and hammer trick to get the key to turn so that cylinder didn't have to be drilled; then removed as seen on YouTube (search Ford Focus Key). After inspecting the cylinder, he filed down the side bar some. This allowed free turning of the key in the cylinder. But then it got stuck again. He then inspected the wafers, found one that was sticky, and replaced the spring on that one with a stronger one. Didn't work. He then removed the wafer. The key consistently turned. $35 service charge, $220 for labor. Seemed steep to me, but I didn't have to replace the key. I learned a lot. If it breaks again, I'll do the work to replace the cylinder myself perhaps.

- , San Antonio, TX, USA

problem #156

Feb 272011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,500 miles

Could not get my key to turn, thought it just might be locked. I tried everything to unlock it and turn it and nothing worked. Ended up calling triple AAA to get them to figure out a way to unlock it. The man had to pretty much jab my key into the ignition and hit it for it to turn and crank. He said my ignition would need to be replaced. I saw that so many people had this problem. Wonder why Ford has does nothing yet to fix this problem. Not sure how much it would cost to get this fixed but I am pretty upset.

- , Lynchburg, VA, USA

problem #155

Jan 012011

Focus SE 4cy

  • Automatic transmission
  • 51,000 miles

The car was towed to a garage and in the process the tow truck side swiped a tree with the car. The drivers door had to be replaced and body work done,

- , Farmingville, NY, USA

problem #154

Jan 092011


  • Automatic transmission
  • 167,000 miles

Have read countless online complaints regarding the same problem. Called ford customer service.However, Ford still does not have this problem on their recall list or on their list of problems they will cover for customers. This is clearly a defect of this car.

- , Delta, BC, canada

problem #153

Feb 132011

Focus X3 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles

Second time this has happened. Have hammer at the ready in car. This is the largest problem with the Focus. Ford should look into this and supply at least a fix that Dealers can install at little cost.

- , Tampa, FL, USA

problem #152

Feb 082011

Focus SE 2.6L V4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 134,000 miles

The ignition won't let me put a key in to turn the ignition to start it. It was stuck and I tried everything. I called Ford Customer Service. I had a Service Warranty that I never used and they still wouldn't fix it for free.

It's a common problem that occurs with the 2003 Ford Focus.

- , Kent, OH, USA

problem #151

Feb 152008

Focus ZX5 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,000 miles

It is quite irritating having to leave a key in the ignition. If key is turned completely off then key will not turn so we leave a key in ignition at all times. God forbid someone else drive it and forget and turn the key too far then they are screwed. If Ford knows this is a problem then maybe they should to something to fix it.

- , Holden, MO, USA

problem #150

Mar 172010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,206 miles

This was brutal!!!i couldn't start my car at all after the problem started!!! just worsened!! they told me i had to many things on my key ring-i had 3 keys n some little plastic tags.it was not from the weight.thats for sure.bullshit

- , Hamilton, Ontario, canada

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