definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
36,988 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 1 of 5)

problem #98

Feb 092013

Focus 4-cyl

  • 168,000 miles


Ignition switch won't turn. Happened in bad part of town. This is a serious safety issue.

- Vandalia, OH, USA

problem #97

Dec 152012


  • miles
Ignition switch failed to turn. Internet research indicates defective switch. Tapping key with hammer allowed the switch to work properly and continue to work properly as long as the key is not removed. Once the key is removed, the ignition switch again freezes and will not turn.

- Wilmington, OH, USA

problem #96

May 052010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 53,600 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated when he placed his key in the ignition, the ignition switch locked and would not turn over. The dealer was contacted and advised him to bang on the steering column to allow the key to turn the ignition. The vehicle was taken to the dealer and the ignition switch was replaced. The failure mileage was 53,600 and the current mileage was 53,850. Updated 7/20/10 updated 07/23/10

- Canton, MI, USA

problem #95

May 152010


  • 54,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that while attempting to start the vehicle, the ignition switch became stuck and she was unable to start the vehicle for three hours; she also noted that the steering wheel would not move. The steering column had to be taken apart so that the steering wheel would move so the wheels could line up in order for the vehicle to be towed home. The contact had not called the manufacturer at the time of the complaint. The failure mileage was approximately 54,000.

- Clifton Forge, VA, USA

problem #94

Nov 252009


  • 66,450 miles
The ignition switch on my Ford Focus wagon (2003) jammed. Ford charged me $430 to fix it, even though the part is defective and needs to be replaced in many, many vehicles.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #93

Sep 212009


  • 140,000 miles
Ignition switch will not turn.

- Colton, CA, USA

problem #92

Aug 142009


  • miles


The ignition switch on out 2003 Ford Focus continually jams and will not allow the key to turn and start the car. This can be remedied on occasion by hitting the key while in place, but the time it takes to get it unjammed varies. We're afraid this may happen while my wife and child are out somewhere and there is no one to help them, thus leaving them stranded. We've looked online and discovered this is an inherent problem with this model. This happens at least twice in any given day; sometimes it's more often than that. The only real solution we have at the moment is to leave the key in the ignition, but this makes the car prone to being stolen, thus leaving us with no transportation. We tried contacting Ford directly and were told to call back on Monday. As we understand it from our online research, this problem continues even after replacing the ignition switch. As far as we know, there is no recall about this, although a class action suit has been filed in California regarding this issue.

- Conroe, TX, USA

problem #91

Aug 102009


  • 44,899 miles
The ignition switch will not turn on my 2003 Ford Focus. This car only has 45000 miles and has been treated gently. I've read 100's of posts online about this same issue and yet Ford is reluctant to recall this or even offer a discount.

- Lake City, TN, USA

problem #90

Jun 012009


  • 82,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that the ignition switch would lock up on several occasions. The ignition would not turn when the key was inserted, which prevented the vehicle from being started. The manufacturer would not assist or assume liability under warranty since there were no recalls. The failure and current mileages were less than 82,000.

- Northfield, VT, USA

problem #89

Feb 022009


  • 54,000 miles
2003 Ford Focus ZX5. Ignition switch won't turn. Can't start car.

- Kailua Kona, HI, USA

problem #88

Jan 292009


  • miles


The ignition switch on my 2003 Ford Focus has been failing to work properly. Half the time I have to jiggle the steering wheel as I turn the key in order for my start to start. This has been happening off and on for a couple of months now. Then tonight, I got stranded at the supermarket and was stuck for hours waiting for roadside assistance. The dispatcher not only sent out the wrong person to assist me, but the first tow truck that came wasn't properly to tow my car due to the way I was parked so I had to wait for a second tow truck (a third person). Now my car won't start at all, the wheel is completely locked up, and the only way to get it to the mechanic is to call a tow truck again. However, upon doing a google search, I found that I am not the only one with this problem. And frankly, this car is my family's only decent form of transportation, so without it we're pretty much stuck.

- Miami, FL, USA

problem #87

Dec 152008


  • miles
My 2003 Ford Focus key wouldn't not turn. It finally broke off into the ignition switch which left my daughter strained at captain D's. we had to have it towed home. We are having a hard time getting it fix when you're on a low budget.

- Lexington, AL, USA

problem #86

Oct 052008


  • 65,000 miles
On 5 different occasions the key / ignition switch has stuck and not allowed me to start my can. This problem has left me stranded 2 times where I was unable to receive help for more than 8 hours. I contacted a Ford dealership and was told that this was a common problem and that there was no safety recall for this and it would cost $400 to $600 to repair it. I did find a locksmith to repair it for $250 and was told by the tech that he repairs this problem on the Ford Focus 2 to 3 times a week.

- Kernersville, NC, USA

problem #85

Apr 232008

Focus 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 50,000 miles
Place key into the ignition and the key would not turn. There is only 50K on the car.

- Leesburg, VA, USA

problem #84

Mar 102008


  • miles
Ignition switch won't turn in my 2003 Ford Focus. Left me stranded in the parking lot at the airport.

- Cibolo, TX, USA

problem #83

Feb 212008

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 38,000 miles
I got in my car and placed the key in to start yesterday and the key would not turn. The ignition had locked up. After several tries I was able to turn the key, it happened again, however, this morning. I was trying to return home and unable to start my car, I had to wait in my car for an hour until someone could bring me the key (it is currently 22 out). The key still will not turn after several tries. I am currently waiting to get it fixed to see if there is any other way. I have researched online and apparently hundreds of 2003 Ford Focus owners have the exact same problem.

- Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #82

Jan 252008

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,000 miles
Key will not turn in the ignition of my 2003 Ford Focus.

- Crandall, TX, USA

problem #81

Jan 192008

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles
Ignition switch would not turn. Left stranded.

- Palm Coast, FL, USA

problem #80

Dec 272007

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 46,500 miles
The ignition on our 2003 Ford Focus failed. I was out of town visiting relatives in omaha and stopped at the omaha sams club. When I came out of the store to go home, the ignition would not turn. It was frozen so the key could not move it at all. As a result, I was stuck at a store. I called relatives and we arranged for a tow truck to take it to the Ford dealership. The ignition cylinder was replaced and we were billed $339 for the repair. I have never heard of this type of failure on any vehicle yet it is supposedly a common problem with the Ford Focus.

- Decatur, IL, USA

problem #79

Jan 082008

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The entire steering wheel and ignition cylinder locked on my 2003 Ford Focus ztw. Apparently, this is a big problem, requiring replacement of the cylinder. This has left me stranded without a car.

- Milton, VT, USA

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