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 7 of 14)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #142

Sep 092008


  • 66,000 miles


I own a 2003 Ford Focus and had to spend $360 to have my ignition cylinder replaced as my steering wheel had locked and the key unable to turn and start the car when the car had just worked fine the previous day. Luckily, it was still warm outside and I was not stranded in a remote place in a storm or in winter where harm could befall someone. I couldn't figure out what was wrong or what I needed to do, but I couldn't unlock the steering wheel. I even called the Ford company who stated there was not anything they could do except that it should be taken to a dealer. I called a Ford dealership whose service director did not seem surprised by what was wrong with my steering wheel, even saying that probably the ignition cylinder would need to be replaced and that the part would usually cost $350-400 to repair. He said that he had replaced quite a few for the Focus. Then I went online and found out that many people have had this same problem, over and over again, some having replaced this one part 4-5 times. For some reason this part has never been recalled even though it is a serious engineering flaw with possible serious ramifications in stranding people unexpectedly and without warning. Something should be done and so I am turning to you to make the Ford company own up to their design flaw concerning its car, the Ford Focus concerning its ignition cylinder. When the locksmith came and replaced the cylinder he demonstrated why the part was defective. It has something to do with the tumbler mechanism in the cylinder.

- Rockton, IL, USA

problem #141

Sep 062008


  • 37,000 miles
My teenage daughter drives a Ford Focus ZX3 2003. After owning the car for only a few months, the ignition locked up and would not turn. As a result, she was stranded in a parking lot alone feeling very unsafe. The same thing has happened 3 times to my husbands F250 ignition. The ignitions had to be replaced by a locksmith each time. There was no reason for these ignitions to fail.

- Margate, FL, USA

problem #140

Aug 152008


  • miles
I do not know for sure what caused it, but my ignition on my 03 Ford Focus LX locked up and would not turn over. You could leave the key in and it would always start. But if you took the key out it would lock up and refuse to turn. I have not had it fixed yet and I think it is not fair that I should have to fix it when 9 out of 10 Ford Focus do this. I am taking it to a lock smith to have it fixed next week and I will be selling it and I will never buy a Ford again.

- Miami, OK, USA

problem #139

Aug 162008


  • 72,500 miles


Key won't turn in ignition.

- Worland, WY, USA

problem #138

Aug 042008


  • 64,000 miles
The key will not turn in the ignition.

- Cary, NC, USA

problem #137

Jul 312008


  • miles
Being stranded without my car starting is my issue. Have 2003 Ford Focus ignition key would not turn to turn car on-- stranded 5 times-- one time I was 45 miles from home-- had it towed and repaired cost $90 now it happened again and had to get a ride home from work hate to see what this bill will be if Ford is aware of this problem with 2000 through 2003 vehicles why are they not doing anything to help the consumer out by recalling them.

- Chilton, WI, USA

problem #136

Jul 182003


  • 103,000 miles


I got into my car last night and could not start it, I have a 2003 Ford Focus station wagon SE, the key won't turn in the ignition, I am stranded and cant get to the drug store to get my sons medication. I cant get to the grocery store and am afraid I wont be able to get to work on Monday.

- Waterloo, 00, USA

problem #135

Jul 112008


  • 59,000 miles
I left my car for 5 mins to grab something in my home and when I returned to start my car the ignition wouldn't even budge, now I am going to have to get the ignition replaced.

- Pacific, WA, USA

problem #134

Jul 102008


  • 60,000 miles
I was getting into my car and suddenly the key would go into the ignition but would not turn. I called a locksmith and I soon as they heard that it was a Ford Focus they didn't want to so anything because they stated that this is a dealership problem and they had to help me. They stated that this problem was very common with my type of vehicle and that I should check to see if there was a recall for it since it is a safety issue. When I called the dealership the person on the phone stated that they needed to check the vehicle and just to look at it they would charge me a fee of $87 to tell me that the key doesn't turn. After that they stated that they would give me an estimate as to how much I would have to pay to get it fixed. Nothing has been done yet to correct the problem as I feel that it is completely ridiculous that they will not take responsibility for their faulty parts.

- West Warwick, RI, USA

problem #133

Jul 062008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. After leaving the grocery store, the contact placed the key into the ignition but could not turn the key. She attempted to wiggle the key in the ignition to start the vehicle; however, the vehicle failed to start even after several attempts. The contact's friend owns a Ford Focus and instructed her to tap on the key while it is in the ignition. The contact heeded this advice and, after a few attempts, she was able to start the vehicle. She took the vehicle to the nearest dealer, where it is currently being repaired. The failure and current mileages were 80,000. Updated 10/07/08.

- West Brook, CT, USA

problem #132

Jul 042008


  • 60,000 miles


I own a 2003 Ford Focus ZX5 and I have had repeated key ignition problems. My key tends to not work in the ignition and has forced me into tough situations. The most recent was being stranded on the 4th of July in a city I am not from in a bad part of town after a fire works show. I also have had previous problems with the same matter and when I contacted Ford about it they could offer no solution other than a steep price to fix a problem they caused which I believe to be robbery and unacceptable. I have researched consumer complaint sites and noticed that this has not only happened to me and that there is a class action suit against Ford in California for such a problem. I have now lost my job because of no transportation to work due to Ford mishap.

- Springfield, MO, USA

problem #131

Jun 192008


  • 95,000 miles
2003 Ford Focus car key ignition problems the key will not turn in the ignition and left me stranded. I took it to the dealership to be fixed were they informed me that the ignition has to be rebuilt.

- Detroit, MI, USA

problem #130

May 192008


  • 77,400 miles
2003 Ford Focus ignition locked so the key wouldn't turn. We had to have a locksmith come out to remove the ignition lock pins, which he reported commonly malfunction in this way. This is a commonly reported problem on 2000-2005 year Ford Focus vehicles, but Ford will not issue a recall, even though it can result in drivers being stranded, unable to start their vehicles.

- Placentia, CA, USA

problem #129

Jun 072008


  • 47,800 miles
My 2003 Ford Focus was previously owned by one person, my own Sunday driver grandmother and is currently only driven by myself and my mother. It had only 47,800 miles on it when the key would not turn in the ignition leaving my mother stranded at one place and me stranded across town waiting for a ride. The faulty ignition cylinder locked up randomly potentially making the car a roadside and/or traffic hazard.

- Titusville, FL, USA

problem #128

May 282008


  • 48,500 miles
Key would not turn in the ignition. This has happened several times. After some repeated attempts to start, eventually the key would work. This time, it has refused to budge. Seems to be connected to the steering wheel being turned but that locks up too, so it can't resolve itself. Research on internet such as consumer's report shows this to be a frequent complaint with this model. Defective ignition! the other day it left me stranded with two small children. I would classify that as a safety concern!

- Falls Church, VA, USA

problem #127

May 132008


  • 65,000 miles
Ignition key/cylinder had to be replace. Key would not turn to start car.

- Rocky Mount, NC, USA

problem #126

May 092003

Focus 4-cyl

  • 114,860 miles
I had a crack in the coolant reservoir that I took to get repaired. I drove my car there, turned the car off while waiting for the customer in front of me to pull up. I turned the car back on and pulled it up to where the serviceman was waiting. I turned the car off. I gave them my information. The serviceman then took my car, started it, and drove it into the service bay. They did the work on the car and then without warning the ignition would not turn over. They tried and tried. It wouldn't turn. I had absolutely no warning or anything that there was a problem. I went to the Ford dealer and asked them how this happens, if it happened over time, or what. The guy told me that it could happen at any time and then it would cost $400 to get repaired. Just out of the blue without warning he said that the ignition could go out! I took the car to another mechanic and he only had to repair the ignition switch at virtually half the price using Ford dealer parts! it doesn't make any sense that something as vital as the ignition can just stop at any time!

- Moreno Valley, CA, USA

problem #125

Feb 262008

Focus 4-cyl

  • 47,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact attempted to start the vehicle, but was unsuccessful because the ignition would not turn. After 15 minutes of turning the key in the ignition various ways, the vehicle eventually started. The vehicle has not been diagnosed by the dealer. The purchase date, transmission type, fuel type, and fuel system were unknown. The current mileage was 49,000 and failure mileage was 47,000.

- Middletown, CT, USA

problem #124

Apr 112008

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 5,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. While parked in the backyard, the contact started the vehicle and the rear window blew out. The dealer repaired the window. A few days later, the locks on the passenger side door would not unlock. The dealer repaired that failure as well. Afterwards, the ignition cylinder began to fail. The contact took the vehicle in for repair and had to pay $300. The current and failure mileages were 5,000. Updated 05/21/08 the consumer stated the trunk needed to be repaired as well. Updated. 05/20/08.

- Flushing, NY, USA

problem #123

Apr 102008


  • Manual transmission
  • 48,400 miles
Premature failure of ignition module, could have failed while driving causing serious injury. After talking to dealership and other Ford sources, dealers fix at least a Focus a week with the same issue, this is an extensive issue that needs to be addressed.

- Powell, OH, USA

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