really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
50,885 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 3 of 14)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #222

Jan 012010

Focus 4-cyl

  • miles


I own a 2003 Ford Focus. We cannot get the key to turn in the ignition and has left me stranded numerous times. I have read this is a problem with many Ford Focus owners. This has been going on for a year on and off. I find this to be offensive that it has not been issued as a recall when I see the numbers of people having this very same problem. Clearly it is a design flaw in the ignition.

- Columbus, OH, USA

problem #221

Mar 042010


  • 65,000 miles
2003 Ford Focus. Went to drive the car got in put the key in the ignition and it won't turn. This is the second time it has happened. 3/4/10, the first time, it "finally", after about 10 minutes turned after putting the key in and out of the ignition. The second time on 3/5/10, it just wouldn't turn. The car is sitting, will have to call a lock smith to get it fixed.

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #220

Mar 012010


  • 70,413 miles
Ignition key will not turn, and vehicle can not be started, removing key and inserting again and again would allow it to start this happened every time. Now it will not turn at all.

- Garden Grove, CA, USA

problem #219

Mar 022010


  • 45,000 miles


2003 Ford Focus ZX5--key won't turn in the ignition, so can't start car. Steering wheel locked up and no amount of cranking, jiggling, etc., would allow me to turn the key in the ignition and start the car. Was an intermittent problem for about two months, then tonight I couldn't get the car started at all; neither could a kind stranger; neither could my husband. Snowing and cold. I had to leave the car in a grocery store parking lot overnight and hope it will be unharmed in the morning. Will probably have to have car towed to a dealership. Could have been worse: Two weeks ago I was 120 miles from home for three days and would have been terribly stranded. I understand that Ford will replace this defective part (ignition switch) with the same switch, which will also be defective, and that I can look forward to getting stranded again when the key will not turn in the ignition switch again. Cost will be between $350 and $400, plus time away from teaching school (not a good idea and frowned upon by administration). The $350-$400 will only buy me another faulty ignition switch. This is potentially a life-threatening situation. Others have been stranded in freezing, snowy weather nowhere near a repair shop, in extreme heat with small children in the car, in unsafe neighborhoods at night (see www.fordproblems.com/Focus/key-wont-turn-in-the-ignition.shtml complaints). Ford should fix this problem at no cost through a recall and installation of a reliable ignition switch.

- Shelby, NC, USA

problem #218

Feb 182010


  • 67,000 miles
2003 Ford Focus ignition. We tried 3 keys and the ignition will not turn. We did a little research and this seems to be a very common problem. Over 116 so for that have submitted such complaints about this vehicle. Recall necessary!!!!!

- Sunderland, MA, USA

problem #217

Feb 172010


  • 75,000 miles
I have a 2003 Ford Focus sedan and the ignition locked up one day and wouldn't start. It wasn't the steering column locking and I had to call aaa thinking I'd need to get towed. The aaa guy actually told me this was a very common Ford problem and that I was lucky I wasn't stranded too far. I was finally able to start the car by hitting the key with a small tool to "unlock" the ignition. I've tried leaving the key in the ignition to prevent the problem happening again, which makes me feel unsafe, but the problem occurs every time I take the key out and made me worried about being stranded or paying towing costs. I finally took the car to the Ford dealer and it is going to cost me almost $500 to get the ignition replaced.

- Bloomfield, NJ, USA

problem #216

Jan 142010


  • 63,000 miles


I'm unable to turn the key in the ignition switch, which left me stranded at work after 5:00pm at night. When this happens, the car becomes inoperable until repairs are made. This did happen to me once before around 09/2009. I had my car towed to a locksmith and they were able to fix it. They told me this was a known issue with my car. I looked this issue up online and there are thousands of people who are having the same issue with the Ford Focus. This issue should be rectified by Ford through a recall. I called Ford customer service and they said all we can do at this point is log your call. Because of this issue I've been stranded twice in the pm. This is a safety issue that should be rectified by Ford.

- Las Vegas, NV, USA

problem #215

Jan 242010


  • 63,000 miles
My daughter has been stranded several times in her 2003 Ford Focus. She cannot turn the key in the ignition. The dealer is going to charge $800 to fix this common problem and we do not have that kind of money. I have researched this online and have found that many people have had this same problem. Please help.

- Peoria, IL, USA

problem #214

Jan 182009


  • 96,000 miles
No events to indicate a potential problem. The failure, occurring now sporadically and w/O warning, results in an inability to turn the ignition leaving us stranded for the unsafe and silly reason of being unable to turn the key. No old parts were available and close to 400 dollars later, the mechanic replaced the ignition. However, only one month after having it replaced, the ignition failed to start again (it is impossible to return the key) and alas, the problem continues.

- Parma, OH, USA

problem #213

Sep 222009


  • 60,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. Whenever the contact attempted to start the vehicle, the contact noticed that the ignition and steering wheel suddenly locked and could not be moved once the key was turned to the lock position. The key also could not be removed from the ignition. The dealer stated that the ignition needed to be replaced. The current and failure mileages were 60000.

- Apple Valley, UT, USA

problem #212

Jan 142010


  • 60,000 miles


My ignition will not turn on my 2003 Ford Focus. This is a known defect (or so I have been told by Ford), yet is not on any recalls. It needs to have the complete ignition replaced -- at my own cost! apparently the parts are poorly made and they fail.

- Elkridge, MD, USA

problem #211

Dec 032009


  • 59,000 miles
Ford Focus 2003 ignition problem. Key will not turn in ignition. Have been told no longer covered under warranty. Ignition must be replaced at a cost of over $450.

- Pickerington, OH, USA

problem #210

Jul 172009


  • 88,000 miles
The ignition lock on my 2003 Ford Focus locks up and the key will not turn in the ignition. It started out as just sticking a little bit but working after turning the steering wheel several times. It ended with it completely locking up. I had to have the car towed to a safe place and a locksmith came out and repaired the pins in the ignition tumbler.

- Ballwin, MO, USA

problem #209

Dec 152009


  • miles
The ignition lock of the Ford Focus completely jammed/locked without warning in a questionable part of town due to substandard manufacturing. I was stranded for over 3 hours.

- Providence , UT, USA

problem #208

Dec 162009


  • miles
My wife has a 2003 Ford Focus. She was in town at an appointment with my daughter. When she got in her car to return home the key wouldn't turn in the ignition. She was stuck. I see numerous complaints online from people with the same issue, even a class action suit in California. My concern is what if it was late and she was stuck, at night, in the middle of no where? I had to have the car towed to the Ford dealership and have it repaired for $450.

- Randolph, MA, USA

problem #207

Dec 162009


  • miles
I own a 2003 Ford Focus ZX5 that has an issue with the key turning in the ignition. At random times and locations when returning to the car, I will find that I am no longer able to turn the key in the ignition. I must work at it (longest has been an hour) to get the key to turn. This creates really big problems when you are stranded with kids at different locations and you never know when it is going to occur. From my research on the internet, many other Ford Focus owners have experienced the same issue and the fix has been to replace ignition switch (something about tumblers not engaging) and the Ford service teams are very aware of the issue and the repairs. What I don't understand is why consumers must pay for a wide reaching manufacturer's defect.

- Hampton, GA, USA

problem #206

Dec 142009


  • 120,000 miles
I had taken my vehicle to the supermarket and when I returned to my vehicle the key would not turn and the steering wheel was locked. I researched this and found that the Ford Focus has a large amount of complaints of this same nature. I have been unable to get the steering column unlocked and will have to have the car towed for repair.

- Newport, NC, USA

problem #205

Dec 072009


  • 70,000 miles
Key in ignition will not turn, can not start car! will have to get it towed to Ford dealer for $300+ repair. Daughter could have been stuck anywhere.

- Schertz, TX, USA

problem #204

Oct 102009


  • miles
2003 Ford Focus ignition will not unlock with the key. I have had multiple problems with this. The first time was approx on the date listed below. After about 30 mins of jimmying the key in the ignition it finally unlocked. It has happened several more times since then and with about the same amount of time messing with it I was able to get it unlocked. Today, though, it locked up again and no matter what I do it will not unlock. Why is there no recall mandated on this issue since it seems to be a severe problem with the 2000-2003 Ford Focus. What if I were in an emergency situation and I could not get my car started? I have heard problems from fellow Focus owners that even after replacing the ignition the same problem continued and all they get is a "sorry" from Ford. This is unacceptable!!!

- Loogootee, IN, USA

problem #203

Dec 012009

Focus 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact attempted to start the vehicle and observed that the key would not turn inside of the ignition and suddenly, the steering wheel locked. A local mechanic stated that the ignition lock needed to be replaced. There were no prior warnings. The current and failure mileages were 55,000. Updated 1/11/09 the ignition lock had to be replaced because the key or the steering wheel would not move. The consumer stated she can feel the ignition starting to give her trouble again. Updated 01/14/10.

- Poulsbo, WA, USA

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