really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
5 / 0
Average Mileage:
78,976 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2003 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 4 of 7)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #69

Jan 092011


  • 167,000 miles


Ford Focus 2003 - key won't turn to turn on car - ignition cylinder/tumbler was broken and need to be replaced. I was stranded in a store parking lot. Had to have a tow truck tow my car to dealership.

- Delta, 00, USA

problem #68

Dec 012010


  • 160,000 miles
Key won't turn in ignition. For a couple of weeks, I was able to tap on the end of the key while it was in the ignition lock, and the key would turn. Now, I am unable to get it to turn at all -- even after tapping on it with a hammer.

- Ellicott City, MD, USA

problem #67

Dec 032010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 67,000 miles
I have a 2003 Ford Focus ZX3 at 37000 miles the alternator and battery went bad and had to be replaced at a cost of $700. Now at 67000 miles they have both gone bad again and must be replaced at a new cost of $800. Additionally I had a 2000 Ford Focus and at 55000 miles both the alternator and battery had to be replaced. Also we have a 2006 Ford Focus and at 16000 miles it needed both an alternator and battery. It is worth noting that the car was three years old and out of warranty when the failure occurred, it is a very low mileage car, and is only drive 10 miles a day. We really like the Focus as it is a great value and a fun car to drive but after having to replace 4 alternators in 18 months we are rethinking our love of this little car. I will be filing complaints for my other two foci as well.

- Woodstock, GA, USA

problem #66

Nov 122010


  • 97,500 miles


The ignition was locked solid. The key could be inserted and removed but the ignition would not turn. Replacement seems the only viable solution. It seems to be a design defect as so many cases of the lock-up have been reported.

- Pouch Cove, Nl, Canada, DC, USA

problem #65

Nov 052010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 113,000 miles
I was parked outside my girlfriend's dr's office waiting to pick her up. It was a cold day and she didn't want to take the bus. When I tried to start the car the key would not turn. I attempted repeatedly to turn the key, but it would not budge. This had happened twice before (I had only owned the car a couple months), but the key had turned with some fiddling. This time it wouldn't turn, no matter what I did. I eventually had to have it towed. The mechanic called me today and said the ignition cylinder needs to be replaced and the key has to be reprogrammed. I read several sources online that said this is not necessary that anyone who tells you this is padding their own pocket, but what can I do? I'm not a mechanic and I'm not about to call this guy a liar. I have to bite the bullet and pay for the repairs as he describes them.

- Manchester, NH, USA

problem #64

Sep 152010


  • 62,500 miles
2003 Ford Focus ignition will not turn engine over nor unlock steering.

- Rancho Cucamonga, CA, USA

problem #63

Aug 092010


  • 119,623 miles


2003 Ford Focus ignition lock-up. Every time the key is removed from ignition and then reinserted, it is very hard to get it to unlock to turn and start. We have been stranded in parking lots during 110 degree weather while trying to get the key to turn. We will have to either replace the ignition or call a locksmith. This is an everyday problem now.

- Conway, AR, USA

problem #62

Jul 292010


  • 102,000 miles
I was stranded with my 2003 Ford Focus because they key would not turn in the ignition. I finally was able to get my car towed to a mechanic at 2am and was able to get a ride home. I am very fortunate nothing happened to me - who knows what could have happened that late at night. I had to get the ignition replaced which cost $400. It is ridiculous that this has not been recalled.

- Somerset, MA, USA

problem #61

Nov 282007


  • 70,000 miles
In 2007, two weeks after purchasing a 2003 Ford Focus I was left stranded on a Sunday evening in blizzard like conditions in anchorage Alaska after the ignition on the Focus suddenly stopped working. There was no warning prior to the part failure that there was any problem, the vehicle operated perfectly one moment, then I was unable to even turn the ignition key the second. I ultimately had to have the vehicle towed to a dealership for the part to be replaced with a new but unimproved ignition (that may fail again - again stranding me - perhaps in a less populated area). Additionally, my fiancee has a 2000 Ford Focus whose ignition failed on him tonight - also stranding him. The fact that the ignition fails without notice is dangerous and leaves the operator of the vehicle in an unsafe situation.

- Logan, UT, USA

problem #60

Jun 222010


  • 64,000 miles
After warranty expired, put key in ignition and could not turn car on. This was due to a suddenly failing ignition system. Had to replace entire ignition column and was stranded for three days while we figured out the problem. This is a safety issue considering it is a well known problem and many people have been stranded in bad areas or during bad weather.

- Pflugerville, TX, USA

problem #59

Jun 212010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 103,000 miles


Key fails to turn after driving to work. 03 Ford Focus. Can not start. Will call for repairs and find cost. Ford would not replace or offer solution due to mileage.

- Chillicothe, OH, USA

problem #58

Apr 182010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 58,900 miles
2003 Ford Focus SE ignition key would not turn to unlock steering wheel and start car while car was parked. Ignition cylinder removed & replaced with a better part by locksmith in 25 minutes at a cost of $317. This part should never fail.

- Lauderdale Lakes, FL, USA

problem #57

Apr 122010


  • 75,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that ABS indicator light and brake indicator light illuminated on the instrument panel and illuminated on an intermittent basis. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealership for a diagnostic test where the contact was informed that there was corrosion around the circuit board of the instrument panel. The vehicle had not been repaired at the time of the complaint. The contact felt that the failure was a safety hazard because the circuit gave false warning indications. The current and failure mileages were approximately 75,000.

- Pelham, MA, USA

problem #56

Mar 312010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
The ignition of my 2003 Ford Focus SE, locked up on me and left me stranded in a parking lot.

- Independence, MO, USA

problem #55

Apr 062010


  • 111,942 miles
Ignition locks up and can not turn key to start engine.

- Hernando, FL, USA

problem #54

Mar 152010


  • 117,525 miles
2003 Ford Focus, ZX3, 2.3 liter. The key will not turn in the ignition. This has happened about 6 times, leaving me stranded twice. We are calling a lock smith to re-key the ignition and doors again.

- Elk Grove, CA, USA

problem #53

Mar 072010


  • 44,025 miles
Unable to turn key in the ignition. Had occurred sporadically leading up to the date when it was then unable to be used at all, leaving family stranded. Had to have vehicle towed to dealership to have ignition replaced. Subsequent research revealed this is a common failure problem with this vehicle.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #52

Feb 222010


  • 25,300 miles
I am a woman who was left sitting when my ignition locked up and the key would not turn in my 2003 Ford Focus. I called triple a and had the vehicle towed to the dealer for repairs at a cost of $278 I have since discovered that this is a problem that apparently has not been fixed by Ford and could easily happen again. Of course, this would result in another large amount of out of pocket expense for a neglecting act of Ford. It seems to be a common expensive problem that should have a recall. It's a dangerous thing for anyone to be left sitting without a functioning vehicle, let alone a woman by herself.

- Red Hill, PA, USA

problem #51

Jan 302010


  • 40,000 miles
My 2003 Ford Focus with only 40,000 miles on it would not start. Apparently the ignition has a defect leaving me stranded at work. As a soldier there are many people that rely on me to be at a certain place at a certain time. This is a safety issue and should be recalled. Apparently the defect is widely reported for Ford Focus years 2000 to 2003. It could cost me dearly if I was stranded in weather, a remote location without a cell phone, or if my baby was sick and needed to be rushed to the er.

- Savannah, GA, USA

problem #50

Jan 252010


  • miles
To whom it may concern, recently I was stranded on the road late at night when the ignition switch on my 2003 Ford Focus failed to turn over. I later found out this is an all too common problem with the Ford Focus. As a female stranded alone this could have led dire consequences! now I find that the Ford dealership wants to charge me some$500 to repair the switch..to be put in jeopardy then charged an obscene amount for their design flaw is outrageous. Please help.

- San Pedro, CA, USA

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