really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
87,116 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.

2003 Ford Focus brakes problems

brakes problem

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2003 Ford Focus Owner Comments

problem #18

Mar 042012

Focus 4-cyl

  • 1,205,000 miles


Manufacturing defect places the plastic inner fender against the front left brake line. The plastic inner fender is allowed to rub a hole in the front left brake line. The front left brake line leaked due to wear caused by the plastic inner fender. Loss of brakes due to a hole in the front left brake line.

- Clawson, MI, USA

problem #17

Mar 032012

Focus 4-cyl

  • 118,365 miles
Leaking brake line. The leak was caused by the front left plastic inner fender rubbing against the brake line. I have digital pictures available.

- Clawson, MI, USA

problem #16

Oct 272009


  • 68,000 miles
Brake lockup under ABS. When the vehicle is engaged in a braking event sufficient to activate the ABS system, all four brakes lockup and do not release until the vehicle has come to a complete stop. This has happened under winter conditions (snow/ice), in the rain and in the dry. The incident in the rain occurred when attempting to take an exit ramp off of an interstate. The car briefly hydroplaned enough for the ABS to activate, and then went out of control with the tires locked up. The car slid off of the exit ramp and into the grass, where it finally came to rest. Luckily no one was hurt. The incidents in the dry took place during an auto-cross on a closed course and were sufficient to severely flat-spot the tires. This happens every time ABS is engaged under hard braking. Occasionally, it is possible to down-shift and "drive through" the brakes without coming to a complete stop. There is no dash light or anything to indicate a problem. The rear-wheel tone rings have been replaced and the front-wheel tone rings have been cleaned. All four sensors have been cleaned and electrical connections checked for looseness.

- Milford, MI, USA

problem #15

Jan 042010


  • 48,000 miles


After a two-week vacation, I was going to drive my 2003 Ford Focus to work. As I was backing out of the garage, I noticed that the brakes were extremely soft. The repair shop that diagnosed and repaired the problem told me that I had a total failure of the master cylinder which controls both the clutch and brakes. They also said that this is the second incident that they were aware of. Repair included a new master cylinder and replacement brake fluid. I do not know if it was coincidence or not, but they also discovered that my rear wheel cylinders had also "exploded." Repair required cylinder and disc replacement. Old parts have been retained.

- Centennial, CO, USA

problem #14

Mar 052009


  • miles
Rotors and brake pads wear down faster than I can afford to fix them. Rotors only last 1-2 months then before warping then I ride them out for another month (no money to keep replacing) this has been an ongoing problem for 2 years. I have receipts and mechanics proof. Its crazy. I have also verified same problem on other car complaint web sites with people and Ford Focus' - brakes pads and rotors should not wear out monthly. I cant afford the repairs but I cant afford to have my brakes go out completely and risk the harm to myself and others on the road. Please help

- Deford, MI, USA

problem #13

Jul 012006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Owner of a Ford Focus/2003. Ignition switch locked up and had to get my car towed ($45) as well as pay for repairs ($183). Called Ford headquarters and talked with a representative about being reimbursed. I also mentioned the problem I was having with my gauges. Upon starting car, gauges are all out of wack, swinging back and forth and landing on zero. After being on the road for about 15 or 20 minutes they will positioned at the right place. The representative seem to only care to hear about one of the problem (ignition switch) and not the other one. I was put on hold for a while and when rep return she told me to call company that was repairing my Focus and they will help me in this matter. I called the company and the guy that eagerly took my money stated that he will do a claim for me and he stated that I will get some of my money but not all of it back. In checking the recalls I see ignition switch lockup is one of them. I only have had my car for a little over a year. My windshield is cracked and insurance says I must pay $250 before they fix it, when turning on air conditioner, driving seem difficult (hard to pull), liftgate water leaks, and upon purchasing my car, brakes were squeaking; I mentioned this to the dealer and he told me not to worry about it that the brakes were new and had to be broken in. Well they are still squeaking after a year in a half. I need all of these things fixed on my car, right now I am a month behind in car payments (good record on making my payments), had to use the money to get the ignition switch repaired.

- Wadesboro, NC, USA

problem #12

Mar 232006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 63,645 miles


: the contact stated after driving for 30 to 45 minutes the rear passenger side hub is hot to the touch. The rear brakes are making a squealing noise. The vehicle was taken to an independent repair shop where both rear brakes and wheel bearings were replaced. However this did not correct the problem. The dealer and manufacturer have been alerted.

- West Point, GA, USA

problem #11

Nov 282005


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
In April I had my 30,000 mile maintenance check-up. At the end of November my speedometer failed and I took my car to the dealership. I was told I needed my brake pads replaced, which I agreed to. They also replaced my rotors. When I questioned the dealership with regard to the rotor wear, which I could not understand since I had the car inspected 3,000 miles earlier and the brakes were fine, I was told that this kind of wear is normal on this vehicle, and to expect to have to replace my pads and rotors every 15,000 miles. This problem is a safety hazard and needs to be resolved. In addition, I found out today that there are two tsb's (16685/17278) addressing this issue.

- Charleston, SC, USA

problem #10

Nov 202005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles
I only owned the car for about 2 months before the problems started I was told that there was nothing wrong. The transmission wouldn't change gear, they say this is normal. Also, the windshield was never sealed in they told me that it could be fixed. The front wheels click when driven. The brakes went out quick. The back hubs are sealed from rust. And now I can't even get my disabled child to the doctors because the ignition has gone completely out. The locksmith said I was lucky I was parked.

- Trenton, SC, USA

problem #9

May 242004


  • miles
I currently have a 2003 Ford Focus, which in general has been a pretty good car to me, if you take away the worries I've had about stopping! the brakes have squeaked since about 6 months after I got the vehicle (brand new) and when I took it in they said the pads and the rotors were gone. Not surprised since I had grinding and squeaking, but yet amazed that the car was so new with so little miles and the brakes are already having an issue. When the car was finished, it didn't squeak or grind for a couple of days - but then went right back to grinding and squeaking. I talked to another girl with an 03 Focus with the same issues. Why can't all of us with the 2003 Ford Focus get together and complain together" I am still worried everytime I drive it that one day it won't stop or something. This should not be an issue, for I pay for this vehicle every month and it should be serviced correctly. I also encounter many Ford engineers in dearborn Michigan that say they have heard many reports such as this. Can I ask why nothing has been done about it? they say that the newer models have better break systems... how does that help the 2003 model owners?????" something should be done about this.

- Flat Rock, MI, USA

problem #8

Mar 012005


  • miles


Request reimbursement for brakes and fuel filter replacement on 2003 Ford Focus. The consumer traded the vehicle.

- Lake Winola, PA, USA

problem #7

Dec 012004

Focus 4-cyl

  • miles
Three transmission failures and replacements. The engine, starter/ignition and 1 gear shift all replacements and other various problems. Four cd player replacements, the brakes failed, and 1 alarm failure. The engine was also replaced.

- Meridian, ID, USA

problem #6

Jul 122004

Focus 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,000 miles
Te consumer is experiencing a problem with extended stopping distance when applying the brakes in a sudden stop. Intermittently the pedal would feel soft when this occurred. The vehicle has been to the dealer on several occasions and they were unable to locate a problem.

- Belmont, CA, USA

problem #5

Sep 072004

Focus 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,980 miles
The temperature had become colder and the accelerator would not depress without force. The problem would occur whenever the vehicle sat overnight or for several hours. The consumer would depress the accelerator until it would move downwards. The vehicle would lunge forward. It would take 4-5 depressions until the accelerator would move downward. Other problems were the brakes squealing and the vehicle suffered from not starting at times, either the panel lights would engage or the starter would grind.

- Hillsdale, NJ, USA

problem #4

Aug 192004

Focus 6-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While applying the brakes, the pedal went to the floor. The driver heard a loud squeaking noise coming from the front. The mechanic informed the consumer that the brake pads and rotor needed to be replaced. The consumer told the mechanic that this problem has occurred more than once and the problem still has not been resolved. Please fill in additional information.

- Union City, CA, USA

problem #3

Mar 072004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 100 miles
On Saturday morning I bought the car - a brand new 2003 Ford Focus SE wagon. On Sunday morning, I was traveling about 50mph when I applied the brake due to the traffic conditions of the moment. Instantly, the back end of the car swerved to the right in a jack-knife manner. The car spun around and threw itself onto the shoulder of the road. The front end wound up pointed in the direction of the oncoming traffic. Fortunately the car landed in a sandy spot with no damage to the vehicle or to me. It was as if I had hit black ice, except that driving conditions that day were perfect - 50 degrees, sunny and dry with good road surface. In my opinion, this incident may be the result of poor design: That is the rear end of the Focus SE wagon is too light to hold the road when the brakes are applied at highway speeds, or the brakes failed, causing the car to spin. In any event, this was a near death experience for me. I think that this car is a death trap for me and a hazard for everyone else near it on the road.

- Boston, MA, USA

problem #2

Nov 072003

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
When brakes get wet, they make a whistling sound; this problem occurred before when turning; the rotors have been cut and the brake pads replaced; the car has less than 4,000 miles on it.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #1

Aug 262003


  • miles
While driving brakes failed, causing vehicle to crash.

- Rochester, NY, USA

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