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 6 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #149

Dec 202010

Focus Sedan 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 65,000 miles


I think it's pretty sorry for Ford not to stand behind their product.All other companys have recalls on defective parts.I think Ford should also.We are an elderly couple and we don't want to be stranded with no way to get home.

- , Whitsett, NC, USA

problem #148

Aug 122009

Focus SE 2.0 sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

just one more f'ing thing wrong with this piece of crap. already had to replace transmission, now engine! F you ford- i'm done with you!

- , Zanesville, OH, US

problem #147

Nov 242010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 84,000 miles

I was out, the day before Thanksgiving when I encountered this problem... FOR THE SECOND TIME IN LESS THAN 3 YEARS!!!!

It was a cold night, around 8pm and pouring rain when my key decided it was no longer going to turn in the ignition. I do a lot of charity events and I had just got done with some last minute shopping for an event I would be involved in at the end of the week. When I got back to my car and put the key in the ignition, it simply wouldn't work. No warning, no hints that something might be going wrong. It worked perfectly on the way there, and then when it was time to leave, it simply didn't work anymore.

After about 30 minutes of wiggling and tapping near the ignition, I finally gave up. This wasn't the first time this had happened to me with this car, so I knew there was no use in trying to fix it myself. I gathered up all of my expensive belongings, put them into my already full shopping bags, and locked up the car to begin WALKING HOME IN THE RAIN! Thank god I had an umbrella in my trunk. Luckily I was only a 15 minute walk from my house, but unfortunately the walk takes me straight through a not so great neighborhood.

This has become such an inconvenience for me over the past week. My Thanksgiving Day travel plans had to be completely altered because of this issue. I was unable to do ANY of my Black Friday shopping, and I've been walking to and from work in the cold for the past week (while waiting for pay day to get here to fix this expensive problem).

To top it all off, when my mother (who owned this car before me) and I contacted the nearest Ford dealer, the representative admitted they were aware of issues that were causing these problems, informed us that Ford had no plans for a recall, and told us we would have to pay full price to have the ignition replaced... AGAIN, even though we had done just that less than 3 or 4 years ago.

I contacted a locksmith instead, like the suggestions I had seen online. After standing in the cold for 5 HOURS while the locksmith worked on my car, he finally was able to tell me that yes, the ignition needed to be replaced, but because of the model, it would need to be taken back to the dealer to have the keys reprogrammed anyways. Well I'm having it towed today, and then I'm making calls to the Ford Customer Service department, followed by a letter/email to the Ford Corporate office. I suggest you do the same if you're having this issue!

I'm 25 years old and was perfectly capable of making it home safely after experiencing this issue... but I would hate to see what would happen if an elderly person, or a single mother with small children, had to go through this. If you ask me, this issue is just as dangerous as a faulty airbag or bad brakes!

- , Dayton, OH, USA

problem #146

Nov 132010

Focus ZTS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles


I was left stranded in freezing weather unable to get my key to turn. It took a locksmith 5 hours and almost $300 to replace the ignition and program a new key. From what the locksmith said and based on numerous complaints online, not only is the ignition failure a common problem with the 2001-2003 Focus, but so is programming new or old keys. I am very disappointed that Ford has not recalled these models knowing this is a common issue due to faulty parts they've installed.

- , Westminstr, CO, USA

problem #145

Nov 132010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 101,000 miles

I can not believe how many people have had this same problem. I am severely disappointed.

- , Stow, OH, US

problem #144

Nov 122010

Focus ZTW 2 Ltr

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,934 miles

Stopped to pick up merchandise outside a store and in a loading zone. When tried to restart - no go. Had to have it towed and have not yet had repaired or gotten the end bill.

Should be fixed by Ford as this is definitely a design defect.

- , Pouch Cove, NL, Canada

problem #143

Nov 052010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


it is now monday and this happened this past friday.

i was outside my girlfriend's physical therapy office waiting for her to get out. it was one of the last nice days of fall, so the windows were down, the radio was on, i was enjoying the weather. it started to get nippy so i put the key in the ignition to roll the windows back up. the key wouldn't budge. i had only owned the car a couple months, and this had happened a couple other times, but the key always turned after fiddling around with it a bit.

this time, no such luck. it was getting colder and i knew my girlfriend would be getting out soon. the whole reason i was there was to be her ride so she didn't have to wait out in the cold for the bus. now it was beginning to look like both of us were going to do some waiting. i put my jacket back on and kept trying to turn the key.

after about ten minutes of this, i called my mom (like a good son) and asked her to google this problem. she did and quickly came to this website, and read that lots of people were having this problem (and that ford was not taking any responsibility for it). no one seemed to have a conclusive answer. for my part, i just kept wiggling the key around, putting it in and out and trying to turn it, tugging on the steering wheel in different directions, making sure my foot was on the brake, anything i could think of. my mom spoke to a mechanic who suggested pushing up on the shifter while trying to turn the key, but that didn't work either.

this went on for quite some time. finally i accepted the fact that i would not be going home in that car. it was friday and close to the end of the business day, and the windows on the car were down. i needed to figure out what the hell i was gonna do.

i eventually got the car towed ($85). the mechanic put the car inside, so the windows being down weren't an issue. he called me today. he said it's the ignition cylinder. he said he talked to "the guy" at ford, who said this is common. he went into a pretty lengthy description of exactly what the issue is, something about contacts not meeting. he said when you wiggle it around it eventually turns because those contacts meet, but doing that also eventually wears them out so it doesn't work at all anymore. i'm not mechanically inclined, but when i go to pick up the car i will try and get a further explanation of the problem and update it here.

either way, replacing the ignition cylinder and having the guy from ford program new keys will cost $255. looking at some of the other complaints and the average cost of this repair, it looks like i'm getting a decent price. still, it's not like i have the money to throw away on something that is not my fault and which ford should be taking care of.

i don't have any particular allegiance to any brand of automobile. i just use them to get from point A to point B and i don't form any kind of romantic attachment to my transportation. on the other hand, my last four cars have been fords, and i've been pretty happy with them. this is the first time i've been so thoroughly disappointed, not just because of this one instance, but overall, with the ford focus. i've had other problems (i'll file those separately), and just in general, the car seems kind of cheaply made and poorly constructed, kind of like a toy or a go-cart.

i don't know if other car brands are any better. it would take a whole lot of time and energy to do the research necessary to know the answer to that, but if i can't get my money back from ford for this repair (and i have no reason to think i will), this whole experience will definitely sour me on ford permanently.

- , Manchester, NH, USA

problem #142

Sep 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles

Its stupid that this problem occurs often and they refuse to do something about it

- , Fairmont, WV, USA

problem #141

Apr 222010

Focus SE Basic 4

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,467 miles

Well . . . got a call from the wife - can't get the key to turn in the Focus. I drive my Chevy pickup over - thinking "she just can't jiggle the steering wheel enough to unlock the steering column." I was wrong. After jiggling everything that could jiggle, adding a few expletives, and driving home in disgust, I looked up '"Key won't turn in Ford Focus." Sure enough, I see where most folks temporarily gave the ignition key slot a shot of WD40, and then gave it a couple of light whacks with a small hammer. Voila! Worked like a charm. Of course, I still have to take the *&^%$#-thing to a locksmith, but at least I didn't have to leave the car in a parking lot overnight, and I was able to dodge a hefty towing charge.

Thanks to all who posted this solution!

- , Harrogate, TN, USA

problem #140

Oct 212010

Focus ZX3

  • 70,000 miles

My turn! Stranded at work after a long day. The key had been giving me issues for a while, but taking it out and putting in back in quickly (that's what she said) seemed to work. However, tonight - no joy. It just won't budge one inch. Totally annoyed and not at all surprised that Ford won't stand behind their error and order a recall. At least I get some comfort in knowing that I will NEVER buy another Ford and will tell everyone I know to do the same.

- , Pasadena, CA, USA

problem #139

Oct 202010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,500 miles


I left work at around 5:30. I got in the car and proceeded to put the key in the ignition and tried to turn the key. It would not turn! I tried everything, jiggling the steering wheel, pressing anything I could and nothing worked. I tried this for an hour. I finally had it towed to dealership to be repaired but it was closed. Now I am waiting to hear what the next step is. I am driving another car now in the meantime. So annoying!

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #138

Sep 182010


  • Manual transmission
  • 154,721 miles

I took the car in for an oil change at the local garage and they came out to ask me if there was a trick to turning the key. Never had a problem before. Walked a half hour to get the spare key from my wife at the work and came back and still couldn't turn the key. It's Saturday and the car is stuck at the shop until Monday for them to see about fixing it (and tying up a shop bay till then). I have to use the wife's car to get work an hour away tomorrow and probably Monday which means she'll have to get a ride or walk.

I'd already decided not to buy a ford again due to the paint flaking off and now that I see how common the key problem is and Ford not standing behind their product definitely not near the top of my list. I guess I'm a lucky one who wasn't stranded out somewhere when this know problem occurred.

- , Alliston, ON, Canada

problem #137

Nov 022009

Focus ZX3 2.3L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,000 miles

I recently had this problem with my 2003 Ford Focus ZX3 2.3L. The key wouldn't turn in the ignition switch. The good thing is that my extended warranty from CARMAX hadn't expired yet and they took care of it. The sad part is that "FORD" has not issued a recall for this defect. All I know is that when I get rid of this car I won't be buying a ford again! I also want to thank all the people that posted their complaints, it really helps.

- , Riverside, CA, USA

problem #136

Aug 102010

Focus SE 1.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles

This is the third time the key got stuck and the second time I had to remove the negative battery cable to shut the car off.

- , Arvada, CO, USA

problem #135

Aug 072010

Focus V6

  • Manual transmission
  • 100,000 miles

From what I've read online and from what the AAA locksmith said, this is a recurrent problem with Ford Focus and specifically 2003 Ford Focus-so why is there nothing done about it by Ford? Why do I have to pay 200-300$ on a mechanical problem that is their fault? I believe Ford should pay for this since they are the ones who built the car wrong!

- , Miami, FL, USA

problem #134

Jul 292010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I left work at 1130pm tired and in need of sleep. I decided to stop for gas so I wouldn't have to wake up extra early before work in the morning. After I filled the tank I went to start my car and the key wouldn't turn. Twenty frustrating minutes later, I surrendered to the idea that I was stranded. I found some emergency numbers for locksmiths but since it was so late they charge a $300 fee just to make a visit. I decided to call AAA to have my car towed to a local mechanic and I got a lift home at 2am. The next day I was driving home with a new ignition and $371 poorer. FML + Ford for not making a recall on this obviously very common and serious issue - who knows what could have happened to me stranded that late at night. I'm just grateful it happened in an area I'm familiar with.

- , Somerset, MA, USA

problem #133

Jul 262010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,567 miles

i think its real terrible when ford knows about the ignition prolem for 2000-2003 focus.but doesn't do anything about it.they don't even offer to fix the problem for free

- , Andover, MN, USA

problem #132

Jul 152010

Focus ES

  • Automatic transmission
  • 113,000 miles

this is the 2nd failure of the ignition since i've owned the car.

- , Parsonsfield, ME, USA

problem #131

Nov 282007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,000 miles

Had purchased the vehicle only two weeks prior to this incident - then stopped at a store on a Sunday evening in the middle of Alaska winter - returned to vehicle and was unable to turn key in ignition, unable to get engine to start... Called the dealership and was told this was a very common problem and that they would need to replace a $350 part after I had the vehicle towed in. In the process, the tow truck or the dealership managed to dent the hood of the vehicle as well. So, this was an expensive fix for a security device that is not necessary on a budget car, and this admittedly common part failure left me stranded in sub freezing temperatures. Ford needs to issue a recall on this part/problem.

- , Logan, UT, USA

problem #130

Jul 072010

Focus FX5

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,360 miles

So I go to start the "coug" and my key won't turn in the ignition! WTF!! I have a mechanic, Gary from Wilkinson Automotive, close by and ran over for his advice - he said Focus can have these problems where the steering wheel locks and then it is to "tight" to engage when trying to start ... he said to reef on the wheel while turning the key in the ignition...did I mention it is 43degrees celsius outside...and NOPE it still wont start...Gary, runs over and tries ... even beats it with a small hammer .. no LUCK!! Let me tell you what I wanted to do with that hammer ... so my road side assistance has run out with FORD and it is their problem but they WONT come to get my car to fix it ... sweet :|

- , Midland, ON, Canada

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