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 7 of 13)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #129

Jul 052010

Focus ZX5 2.3L

  • Manual transmission
  • 107,000 miles


When the locksmith came out to replace the ignition, he said that this was a common problem with the Ford Focus 2000 - 2004. Hopefully it will be on the recall list soon.

- , San Jose, CA, USA

problem #128

Jun 212010

Focus SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 64,000 miles

If you begin to have trouble getting the key to turn, IMMEDIATELY call a locksmith.

DO NOT call a mechanic or take it to the dealer. Mechanics don't know what they are doing and try to scam you. Dealers pretend they don't see this issue very often and then punch you in the face and steal your wallet.

The problem is the OEM Supplied ignition cylinder made by HUF. Ford has known about this issue forever and refuses to issue a recall. When the dealer replaces the ignition, they usually install the same stupid faulty ignition causing you to revisit this pain in the butt over and over again. They call it repeat business. Mechanics don't have the tools or parts to solve this quickly or correctly, and they try to fool you with silly ad ons like extra keys you don't need and re-programming, telling you it has something to do with your onboard security system. It's BS. Call a locksmith!

When you call, make sure they have the Strattec replacement cylinders without the side bar. The correct replacement cylinder is Strattec part number 707592.

If you try the WD-40 or mallet/hammer techniques, the most it will do is buy you time. This could be as little as one extra trip, and could make your ultimate repair more costly due to damage (you may have to pay extra to drill out the ignition rather than just sliding it out). It's not worth it. If you have any money at all, take this opportunity to get it fixed right away. Even if you don't have problems yet, if you have the dimpled/rough finish key-plate your ignition will fail 100% of the time. It's GOING to happen. Get it fixed now before you wind up stuck somewhere.

More details: If you have a spare key you don't use very often, get the locksmith to key your new cylinder to your spare (to avoid having new keys made) and use it from now on. Keys that have gotten a lot of use are not that great to use in a new lock.

Personal Rant: My mechanic charged me $94 to NOT fix the problem then had me stuck like chuck for three days while he "researched" the issue, then wanted me to pay him another $120 for an actual fix (he planned to use the same ignition that failed in the first place, not a Strattec) and he wanted me to wait a week or more for a part he needed to order. He also told me a bunch of nonsense about having to get new keys and my door key will have to be separate and a complete load of crap about transponders and anti-theft high tech gobbldygook and he could make a special trip (charging me of course) to spray some dry lubricant in the ignition because maybe that would help in the meantime...blah blah blah.

I didn't trust him so I called a locksmith (Cothrons Safe & Lock). They were out within 2 hours and fixed the problem in 45 minutes. They see it VERY often and are prepared to handle it. They charged me $100. So I wasted $94 and a week of my time when I could have just called a locksmith and been done with it. Don't be like me! CALL A LOCKSMITH FIRST! Demand a Strattec! You'll never have this problem again!

Of course I demanded my money back from the mechanic for misrepresenting his capabilities and charging me for NOT fixing my problem. He's only willing to give back $24. What a putz! If I was a dude, I would probably try to kick his ass.

Update from Jul 13, 2011: It's been over a year and my locksmith-installed Strattec is still going strong!

- , Pflugerville, TX, USA

problem #127

Jun 252010

Focus LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles

I just had $512.00 worth of car repair done yesterday, exhaust pipe, oil change, new battery and tail light replacement. So I thought I would take it to the car wash and vacuum out the dog hair, clean the dash and windows. Well when I got eady to leave the car wash, 2 blocks from home luckily, the key would not turn the ignition. I walked home and got my son and we proceeded to take off the steering wheel cover as some guy at Checkers said we could get to a pin to release the locked wheel. Of course this didn't work so I went to get a key made and fortunatley the guy at Ace talked me out of the $70.00 purchase. I then came home and looked on line for info and found all these complaints about the Focus. I heeded the advice to use oil and hit lightly with a hammer on the key. I was relieved when it started and drove home pronto.

I just wanted to express my gratitude to everyone who took the time to tell their story and possible solutions. I still have the ignition to repair and sounds like a locksmith is the best bet, but at least I got the car out of the car wash bay.

Thanks, Lynne G.

- , Lakewood, CO, USA

problem #126

Jun 232010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,000 miles


So here I was having an awful day at work. 95 degrees extremely humid, worked a long day. I go to start my car and the key wouldn't turn. At first, I thought I could fix the problem because I've been having problems with starting the car recently and always seemed to be able to get it to work. This time I was stuck with my windows down, unable to put them up. Of course, the sky opened up and there was a huge downpour soaking the whole interior of my car.

I managed to find a ride home,fortunately, and found this site. None of the lubrication methods seemed to work for me but tapping on the key worked on the 4th or 5th time. Fortunately i wont have to have it towed or avoid the locksmith service fees but the people i managed to talk to are giving me estimates over $300.

I never really liked American cars,but this seals the deal in my book. Ford leaves its customers high and dry. Im gonna gladly go back to Toyota. f off ford

- , Kennett Square, PA, US

problem #125

Jun 012010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 68,000 miles

I called the dealer first and they said they see this often and that it's a $500 repair. Next I called the locksmith. They too were very familiar with the problem and said it will cost me $90-$100 for them to take care of it, parts, labor and all!! They say it is a about a one hour job. I was preparing to do it myself before calling the locksmith

(good info here: http://www.sandiegolockandsafe.com/fordfocus.html#JdCZNh1S7TWa ).

Now I'm having AAA tow it to my local locksmith and let them take care of it.

- , Santa Fe, NM, USA

problem #124

Apr 072010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 54,212 miles

Man, was I mad when my daughter came back in the house and told me the key wouldn't turn. So when I went out, assessed the problem, and I couldn't turn it ether. So came in, got on the computer, and found out how many of you folks were having the same problem. Then I was really mad. When I researched further found out there's no recall, I was pissed. But you know it really doesn't surprise me. Look how toyota has their tit in the ringer, and all of theirs deal with safety. Anyway, I bought my car used from JD Byrider about seven months ago, and I do have some what of a warranty on the car. So I called JD Byrider service and explained my problem. Josh told me to try an clean the ignition switch tumblers with brake cleaner then work the key in and out. I was pulling a lot of debris out with key and debris running out of key hole. (I used "Waul" hair clipper oil, that was my idea.) Because "Brake Clean" makes everything so dry and the key didn't turn as smooth as I thought it should. I put some on the key and inserted the key into the ignition. I was a diesel mechanic for 23 years and I have worked with all kinds of lubricants, grease, silicons & graphite, but I chose the very light "Waul" clipper oil just for a little lubricant without collecting a lot of debris. All I know is it turns as smooth as a babies butt now. But It's only been two day's. Hope it can work for y'all. I hope I've saved a few hundred dollars, and GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF US, we sure can't rely on ford motor company. The auto industry engineers try to get us just out of warranty before something goes wrong. You see, they have fixed something that was not broken. Back in the day I know I removed and sold ignition switches (if they still had keys) out of my uncles junk yard. I did find out I can replace the battery in my i pod myself and pretty cheap too. There are even videos out there that shows how it's done. OK I'm out of here I could go on all night.

- , Galesburg, IL, US

problem #123

May 042010

Focus SVT ZX5

  • Manual transmission
  • 90,720 miles


Line up everyone!!! Yes, I as well had the key lock up in the ignition and was unable to turn it without feeling like a caveman and banging the end of the key a few times while in the car. ABSOLUTELY REDICULOUS!!! Trust me when I say I will be taking this to my local dealership and getting it fixed... ON THEIR DIME!!! I'll go all the way up to the Top if I need to, because this is completely irresponsible and uncalled for in todays service oriented world. I will post back on how it turns out. Wish me the best.

- , Tri-cities, WA, USA

problem #122

Apr 292010

Focus ZX3 2.0L Zetec

  • Manual transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I've had this problem for quite a few months now, and by jiggling the key, most of the time it turns. Today, I went out for lunch and when I came back out to go back to work, my ignition won't turn. I've been jiggling the ignition for almost an hour before I decided to call a locksmith.

The locksmith came and said to me that it's a common problem in focuses. He also said that he recently replaced an ignition of an 08 focus. The locksmith explained to me that on these kinds of lock, there is a "side bar." The side bar goes down when the correct key is placed in the ignition. If it's not the correct key, the side bar will not go down, hence you wouldn't be able to turn the ignition. The side bar is also stronger than whatever you can put inside the ignition. This will prevent anybody from forcing the ignition with a screw driver or whatever. Probably because of poor design, the side bar gets stuck even if you put in the correct key, or that the side bar doesn't go all the way down. Now, the job can take 20 minutes or 3 hours. This depends on how experienced your locksmith is. Although my locksmith is experienced, he made a mistake on where he drilled the hole on the ignition. The reason why he needs to drill is because the key must be turned to at least the acc position before he can remove the whole ignition. He also said that if I had called him when my key was just sticking, (not stuck), the repair will be a lot cheaper.

ALERT: If you bring your car to the dealership, they will put in the same kind of ignition and it is guaranteed that this will happen again! My locksmith installed an ignition without a side bar. This will definitely guarantee that it will not happen again. It cost me an arm and a leg, and half a day's pay.

- , Columbia, MD, US

problem #121

Mar 232010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 74,000 miles

This happened one day after a cross county road trip. Had it happened then, I would have been stuck in a blizzard. I have a bumper to bumper warranty, but most people have complained about it not being covered, so wish me luck.

- , Akron, OH, US

problem #120

Apr 062010

Focus LE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

WTF can't anybody get the job done right. I kinda figured something was up when they told me the key had a chip in it and would cost 70 if lost. About a year into enjoying the gas mileage I was getting; The darn key gets catchy and in 2 days the key won't turn.

The one thing I thought I missed was when it starts to get catchy I could have sprayed it with something, maybe. However, my method of correcting the now worsened problem is calling a locksmith, derived from a general consensus given on this site. So far, hitting it fairly hard trying not to break it, I've hit it and that worked, will attempt the hammer method also. The ol' locksmith is the most logical approach. The whole ordeal was a real Pain ya know.

Update from May 22, 2010: OK since this whole thing started and after some investigation the problem still exist. I decided after reviewing the cost of various methods, I would leave the key in the car until I can afford to replace the ignition lock cylinder. I have mistakinly taken the key out a few time and got away with hitting the key hard which worked. Sooner of later though I have a notion that won't work. Best just replace it I figure...with a new one instead of cleaning or obtaining used. When I finally fix it I want to be assured it is really fixed

- , Rapid City, SD, US

problem #119

Apr 022010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 90,000 miles


My daughter received her 2003 Ford Focus 4-02-2010 two days later she drove around the corner to pickup her bestfriend, went inside the house and when they got ready to leave the steering wheel locked and the key would not turn! Thank god she was just around the corner!

- , North Augusta, SC, USA

problem #118

Jun 302004

Focus SE 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

I have a Focus. And I love my car. The ignition did leave me stranded one time (luckily at home). I had the car towed to the Ford dealership and replaced the ignition. BUT I learned how to avoid the problem: when I park my car I make sure that the front tires are straight!! If the front tires are turned in either direction (such as a tight parking space) it messes up the lock in the ignition that prevents someone stealing your car! Its been 6 years since I replaced the ignition and I have had no more trouble with it. Instead of tapping the key, try turning the steering wheel in the direction the wheels are turned in. This will release the locking machicanism. And next time park with the steering wheel straight or in other words in a neutral position.

- , Flagstaff, AZ, USA

problem #117

Feb 072010

Focus ZTS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,952 miles

I read about this problem after I experienced it myself. I put the key in the ignition and tried to start the engine and nothing happened. After a few short tries, it worked. Last weekend, it got alot worse. My husband called our local mechanic (we no longer take the car to the Ford dealership as they always charge mega $$$$$) and he told him they can replace, but it would be cheaper to go to a locksmith. The mechanic told them the company they use and my husband took the car in to be fixed. $153.00 (Canadian) was all it took to replace the ignition cylinder, and the locksmith told my husband they replace on average 5-6 a month

- , Edmonton, AB, Canada

problem #116

Jan 192010

Focus LX 4

  • Manual transmission
  • 46,000 miles

the key quit turning at 30,000 miles, had a locksmith repair it, but now it's back to the same. I have resorted to using a hammer.

- , Seattle, WA, Uganda

problem #115

Dec 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles

When you put the key in the ignition it would not turn. If you hit it in really hard and then turn it as soon as you hit it it would turn, but you have to get it fixed before it completely breaks on the inside. The dealer wanted to charge me about 700 dollars. The labor was what cost the most, the part itself was a few hundred dollars and they told me only the dealership can do it, just like they told me only the dealership can make spare keys for my 2003 ford focus. I decided to check out other places and I ended up going to a locksmith. As soon as I mentioned what type of car I had he immediately knew what was the problem. He had a box full of ignitions that he has replaced just on ford focuses. He said that even Pepsi, that has a lot full of ford focuses as their 'on the road' cars, he has had to change the ignition at least once on every single one. I asked him how much he charges and all together it came up to be 110.00 and he made me a spare key for 60 dollars. plus tax i paid about 182. He also mentioned that it WILL happen again but it will be a while till it does happen again. So I'm hoping to get a new car before that happens. 182 is a hell of a lot better than over 700 dollars that the dealer was gonna charge me. And the dealer (the actual ford dealership) pretended not to even know what the problem was and that they've never seen it happen.I'm really shocked there isnt a recall on this. I was hoping there was so I didn't have to pay for the repair. But unfortunately there isn't one yet.

- , Hamilton, OH, US

problem #114

Dec 242009

Focus SE

  • Automatic transmission
  • 25,000 miles

I usually do not buy extended warranties, but in this case, it will pay for this repair. Like most other folks on this site, my key refused to turn in the ignition. Fortunately, tapping with a hammer ( I recommend a small piece of wood between the hammer and key) worked. Also fortunate was that this happened outside my house. I feel for those people left stranded by this problem and I'm reporting it here, not because it was such a hassle for me, but because I feel like more complaining might result in other people avoiding this situation. There are over 100 complaints on this site and I'm sure this is a small fraction of the real number. Ford? Are you listening?

- , Kansas City, MO, USA

problem #113

Dec 142009

Focus 2.0L

  • Manual transmission
  • 67,108 miles

I went to start my car and the key wouldnt turn.I went to this forum to see if there were other complaints and to my non surprise there were.I have had a lot of problems with my Focus and if asked would say I will never buy another one.The vehicle caught on fire within 6 months of purchasing it.Then shortly after that the clutch went in it.And no I dont ride the clutch .I have had nothing but manual cars for the past 20 years and had nothing like the problems I have had with this one.I will hit the key with a screwdriver until it doesnt work and then it is gone

- , Lake Echo, Nova Scotia, Canada

problem #112

Dec 112009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,500 miles

So it's a cold and windy December night in Buffalo and I'm trying to leave my fiance's house to run some errands and the wheel is locked and the key won't turn over. I figure no big deal the wheel just needs to be unlocked, I pull and turn the wheel take the key in and out, jiggle the key and no luck! I sat in the car for about 20 minutes trying to get the key to turn trying everything I can think of to get the wheel unlocked. Then I remembered that I saw some recalls for the focus on my car insurers website. I went online and then I found this website, and I read all the complaints about the ignition. I looked at the average mileage and wouldn't you know it my car is only a few thousand away from the average. I decided I would take the other peoples advice and hit the key while its in the ignition with the end of a screwdriver. I hit the key a few times and nothing happened, then again a little harder, and the third time was the charm! The wheel was unlocked and the key turned over. Although it seemed fine I wasn't about to drive anywhere and get stuck with the same problem. So I drove into the parking lot across the street from his house, parked the car turned it off, and took the key out of the ignition. Hoping for the best I put the key back in and again it wouldn't turn over, this time the steering wheel wasn't locked up so it has nothing to do with that. I hit it with the screwdriver again and the key turned over. I pulled the car back in his driveway and there it sits. Luckily I have another vehicle here so I have a way to leave, but this has been a big pain in the butt! Also considering I'm getting married in 3 weeks and we don't really have the extra $300 to get fixed right now. It would be a lot worse if I didn't have another vehicle but it's still a very aggravating situation. This should be a recall!

- , Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #111

Dec 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,000 miles

I can't turn the key in my Ford Focus. The steering wheel even locked up. I had to get my car towed from my home to local mechanic. When I called the mechanic he told me this was a common problem of Ford Focus's. When the tow truck driver arrived he also told me this was a common problem of this make and model. My question, why has nothing been done to prevent this?

My ignition locked up to the point it has to be drilled through to gain access. It is going to cost me more than $500 just for repairs. I am so angry that nothing has been done, such as recall for this problem. I put in a complaint with Ford yesterday. I think the number was 800-392-3673. If enough of us call, future Ford Focus owners will not have to go through what we did.

Jennie D.

- , Poulsbo, WA, US

problem #110

Dec 012009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,000 miles

I did the key trick but now I have to do it everytime i get in the car and put the key in the ignition....that really sux!!!!!!!!!

- , Princeton, KY, USA

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