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 1 of 14)

problem #262

Oct 302016

Focus 4-cyl

  • 34,000 miles


The sub frame broke while driving the car. Entire sub frame had to be replaced. Almost caused an accident. Struts had to be replaced. Caliper and rotor had to be replaced. Control arm had to be replaced. Just replaced the ignition switch tumblers after the switch locked up and refused to work. There are no recalls listed for this car. Service manager said that Focus are notorious for these problems. Car has 34,000 miles on it. The brake line running from the front of the car to the rear rusted out causing a lose of brakes. The car is dangerous.

- Breezewood, PA, USA

problem #261

Apr 112011


  • 210,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. When the vehicle was started, the exterior and interior lighting flashed intermittently. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic who stated that all of the ignition cable cords needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired, but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 210,000.

- Dallas, TX, USA

problem #260

Jan 132014

Focus 4-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
Key will not turn in ignition.

- Ann Arbor, MI, USA

problem #259

Apr 052013

Focus 4WD 4-cyl

  • miles


The ignition has gone out on my 2003 Ford Focus. I attempt to turn the key and it seems locked. I attempt to turn the key back and forth and no success. If I hit the key a few times it might turn. This is a safety issues because without being able to turn the key, I have to access to anything power in this vehicle and I could become stranded at anytime without warning. I hear this is a very common problem with these cars. I believe the manufacturer should take responsibility to fix this issue at no cost to the car owners.

- Florence, KY, USA

problem #258

Aug 282013

Focus 4-cyl

  • 125,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that the vehicle failed to start without warning. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the piston valves and the ignition switch needed to be replaced. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure and current mileage was 125,000. Updated 10/29/13

- Berkeley, CA, USA

problem #257

Jan 162013

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that all attempts to start the vehicle failed. The contact also stated that the key was unable to be removed from the ignition and the contact had to use excessive force to retrieve the key. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for inspection. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified and they stated that the vehicle needed to be taken to a dealer. The failure mileage was 43,000..... updated 03-28-13 updated 04/22/2013

- Greensburg, PA, USA

problem #256

Feb 012012


  • 84,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated while driving various speeds, the vehicle suddenly stalled. The failure was experienced several times. The vehicle was restarted and began to function normally. The contact also stated that the trunk latch failed to function correctly and the ignition failed; however the ignition switch was replaced. The vehicle was taken to a private mechanic where the failure could not be replicated. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 84,000 and the current mileage was 93,000. The VIN was not available.

- Windsor , NY, USA

problem #255

Jun 202012


  • 76,000 miles
When I try to start my car, the key won't turn when I put it in the ignition. This happened three times just today. I can wiggle the key back and forth and luckily it's ended up working, but this is not the first time this has happened. I've read online that this is a problem with the Focus. This should be recalled.

- Lorain, OH, USA

problem #254

Jun 112012


  • 104,500 miles
The ignition wouldn't turn, although the key can go in and out of it. Hired a locksmith before I knew the dealership might fix it for free because I needed it fixed quickly.

- Germantown, TN, USA

problem #253

Nov 052011


  • 95,000 miles
Ignition switch locks and cannot turn key to start vehicle. Have to use hand or something to hit the key to start the car. Happens at random and without warning. Get in the car and can't start it. Understand that this is a very common problem but Ford refuses to do anything about it.

- West Columbia, SC, USA

problem #252

Jan 182012


  • 11,824 miles


The ignition cylinder will not turn. A key can be inserted into the ignition, but it can not be set into the "on or acc" position. The car cant be started and is now, in effect, a one ton paper weight. After researching the problem online, it seems to be very common.

- Lakewood, OH, USA

problem #251

Jan 182012

Focus 4-cyl

  • miles
Key won't turn in ignition/ ignition stuck.

- Linden, TX, USA

problem #250

Jan 012012

Focus 4-cyl

  • 25,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that in an attempt to turn the key in order to start the vehicle, it refused to turn. A local mechanic replaced the ignition and reprogrammed the key and door locks. The vehicle was repaired. The dealer was notified, but denied any assistance with repairing the failure. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 25,000 and the approximate current mileage was 25,200. Updated 02/09/12 the consumer stated the key would not turn in the ignition. The old ignition had to be drilled out and replaced. Updated 02/13/12

- Chester, PA, USA

problem #249

Feb 152011

Focus 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
Failure to be able to turn ignition. Had to take it to a dealer and spent $400! inconvenience? yes!

- Rockford, WA, USA

problem #248

Apr 192011

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,759 miles
I purchased a used 2003 Ford Focus SE/4 door/automatic. The ignition key cylinder has been acting up for sometime. On three different occasions the cylinder with the key when turned to the off position will completely come out of the steering column when removing the key. Again, this has happen on at least three occasions and could happen at any time. I have not been to a dealer to repair the problem yet. But that is my next stop. I am wanting Ford to issue a recall and repair this problem. Thousands of other Focus owners have had similar or same problems. This has happened to so many people who have become stranded because of this malfunction. Not to mention, this is an obvious safety issue due to the possibility of injuries in a moving vehicle.

- Pavo, GA, USA

problem #247

Nov 262010


  • 86,331 miles
The key would not turn in the ignition of my 2003 Ford Focus zts, thus, the vehicle would not start. After a call to the local locksmith, I was surprised to hear "this is a common problem for a Ford Focus". when arriving, the locksmith proceeded to explain to me why the stock ignition switch of my car is a defective design, comparing to a new switch they were about to install. Upon further research online, I could not find any information about a recall for the defective item. I did find, however, plenty of complains of Ford owners having the exact same problem. I am surprised such a critical component has not been recalled since it jeopardizes the reliability of the vehicle.

- Manlius, NY, USA

problem #246

Oct 082010


  • 49,580 miles
The key in my 2003 Ford Focus will not turn the ignition. We were stranded in the middle of nowhere. The key is fine..the actual ignition mechanism is locked and will not turn.

- Davenport, IA, USA

problem #245

Oct 072010


  • 80,000 miles
Failure to turn ignition switch with key...takes several attempts (at times for 1/2 an hour) and happens several times a day and getting worse. After a quick search on-line, I noticed that their was a class action lawsuit in California and that many other Focus owners have had similar problems. I will first contact Ford customer service, but based on other Focus owners, I do not expect much and hopefully soon will be contacting a locksmith to replace the switch.

- San Diego, CA, USA

problem #244

Aug 242003


  • 54,000 miles
The ignition has been sticking for a couple months, making it difficult to start the car, more recently it has been a daily occurrence that the ignition would not turn without great difficulty. What this ultimately lead to was getting stranded due to the car being unable to start ( ignition wouldn't even turn). I am now going to have to get the car towed and either re-keyed, or a new ignition put in which will cost a good amount of money.

- Ross, CA, USA

problem #243

Aug 182010


  • miles
My ignition is locked up/steering wheel.

- Cuyahoga Falls, OH, USA

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