really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 2
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
43,357 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 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #23

Mar 202014


  • miles


In March 2013 I took my Ford Focus in to replace motor mounts, returned in April for the same awful vibration while heater was on and while idling. The mechanic checked and found that one of the motor mounts was faulty and he replaced. I am taking my Focus back for the third time because it is still vibrating while in idle while the ac is on. The first few times after he replaced the faulty motor mount it did the same thing and the mechanic told me that it'll just run like that and that he ran a diagnostic and the transmission, all mounts look good. And my sometimes my steering is off at 35 miles per hour. I only use my Focus for in town I don't use to travel out of city or state. I am not a mechanic but I am disabled and I need my car running good. I don't want to lose it. Thank you.

- Lincoln, NE, USA

problem #22

Nov 272011

Focus 4-cyl

  • 110,000 miles
This vehicle with 110K miles turns out the valve seat of cylinder #4 broke off inside the engine and irreparably damaged the piston, cylinder and cylinder head of which the only way to fix this is with a replacement engine. This option is more than what the car is valued. On further research of both my mechanic and I as we searched the web, it appears that this happens more frequently than it should. It seems that Ford should put a recall to fix these valve seats before anymore people will have to unnecessarily spend thousands to repair the engine or lose thousands of dollars on a undrivable junk car, such as myself. Could you please investigate this matter further and let me know if this is indeed an inherent problem that needs to be corrected. [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Prospect, KY, USA

problem #21

Mar 092011


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. While driving approximately 40 mph, the engine stalled without prior warning. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where they informed the contact that the timing belt fractured and resulted in complete engine failure. The technician stated that the engine would need to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 120,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Columbia, MO, USA

problem #20

Oct 222010

Focus 4-cyl

  • 143,000 miles


Safety hazard-- upper motor mount on 2003 Ford Focus malfunctions/ disintegrates within three months of installation; whether by garage, dealer, or owner. In seventeen months, I have had to replace the mount (when caught) four times and found it again needs replacement. The oem parts say guaranteed but it constantly cost to remove, repackage, ship, and then replace.

- Vallejo, CA, USA

problem #19

May 232010


  • 114,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated the vehicle was parked with the engine running when the engine began abnormally jumping. A local mechanic was contacted who advised that the timing belt was fractured. The vehicle was towed to a local repair facility where the contact was awaiting repairs. The manufacturer did not provide any assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileages were 114,000.

- Dupont, PA, USA

problem #18

Aug 112009


  • 89,000 miles
Coolant leak and engine overheating. Fortunately noticed it before the engine seized. Stopped vehicle and topped up with fluid to just make it back to home. Diagnosis indicated that none of the hoses were defective. Performed an internet search for the problem. Many people have documented this problem on the internet - its a leak form the thermostat housing. Defective part !

- Homestead, FL, USA

problem #17

May 042009


  • 59,528 miles


2003 Ford Focus, early morning squeaking, mid day, vibrating, late afternoon, car starts to shake excessively and as I drive into my driveway a really loud banging noise comes from the front of the car, so loud it scared me, I turned the car off and open the hood of the car and notice that the metal mounts that hold the engine broke in half and a piece was still on the motor. My engine was hanging from the left side, you could see it from the bottom of the vehicle. My insurance company comes out to check the damages and said in his 22 years of viewing vehicles for claims he's never seen anything like this. My mileage is 59,528, I'm still paying for this car, until 2012. This should not have happened to a six year old car with this little mileage. I called Ford to check if there was a recall on this situation. I was told no. I went on the internet to search for complaints regarding 2003 Ford Focus, found many complaints of many things wrong with this vehicle and several regarding the vibrating of the front of the vehicle relating to motor mount problems. I had the vehicle towed to a repair shop and was told that this incident created a problem with the axel as well. This is going to cost me a lot of money. Waiting for an estimate of repairs on 5/9/09.

- Glassboro , NJ, USA

problem #16

Oct 312003


  • 10 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that the vehicle was difficult to start in the mornings and it would idle extremely roughly. She took the vehicle to the dealer, but they could not duplicate the failure and remedy the issue. In addition, the motor mounts had to be replaced and the air conditioner would not blow cold air. The contact is in the process of determining the cause of the failures. The failure mileage was 10 and current mileage was 85,000.

- Florissant, MO, USA

problem #15

Mar 282005


  • 59,497 miles
After placing the down payment of $1500 and completing the paperwork. Not even a week later the car began to stall on the freeway and eventually stopped on me in the middle of rush hour traffic. The car was able to restart and I drove it to freeway Ford here in houston, tx. Each time they couldn't find what the problem was. I hadn't enjoyed the car over a month because the car was given me problems when I had it and it stayed at the dealership. I spoke to the service manager and the dealership assistant manager and neither had an answer.

- Houston, TX, USA

problem #14

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 #13

Apr 122008

Focus 4-cyl

  • 89,000 miles


Vehicle caught on fire on April 12th, 2008. 2-3 hs after being parked on the street the vehicle was on fire. The cause has not been determined yet, but according to the fire investigation unit the fire apparently started near the console area.

- Issaquah, WA, USA

problem #12

Jan 072006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 71,000 miles
Piston in transmission deteriorated causing shift solenoid and value body to go bad at 71,000 miles, front drivers seat belt will not unbuckle, rear seat belts will periodically not buckle, now blowing massive amounts of smoke, rims are seized when trying to change tires, no matter if it was just taken off 5 minutes previously to takeoff; ignition seized and ending up having to rebuild steering column.

- Garden City, MI, USA

problem #11

Jan 022006


  • miles
2003 Ford Focus ignition key would not turn. Vehicle also shows sign of stalling. ** answer required***

- Baldwin, NY, USA

problem #10

Jun 212005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
I was sitting in driver's side of 2003 Ford focue, car was turned on and parked. Car shut off by itself and I then smelled smoke. I opened hood and there was a fire on rear-side of engine - no sign of any oil spillage..

- Dalton, GA, USA

problem #9

Nov 032004


  • 13,000 miles
While driving, the engine stalled intermittently. The consumer managed to restart the vehicle.

- Peoria, IL, USA

problem #8

Oct 142003


  • Automatic transmission
  • 500 miles
Vehicle idles roughly. Engine skips, and the front end shakes.

- Cameron Park, CA, USA

problem #7

Mar 162004

Focus 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 10,000 miles
While driving at 60 mph the consumer heard a loud grinding sound coming from beneath the vehicle. The dealer examined the vehicle and replaced the wheel bracket and bearing on the right front side of the vehicle. Now the problem is occurring again on the exact same side of the vehicle. Also when the vehicle is at a stop sign the engine will rev up severely, even when the consumer's foot is on the brakes.

- Olympia, WA, USA

problem #6

Jun 152004


  • miles
Consumer noticed that after shifting vehicle into reverse and without warning, the engine stalled. Dealership wasn't able to duplicate problem.

- Paradise, CA, USA

problem #5

Jun 152004


  • miles
Consumer noticed after depressing the gas pedal to merge on to freeway vehicle started hesitating and shifted into full throttle.

- Paradise, CA, USA

problem #4

Nov 152003

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1 miles
. the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. On October 31 of 2003, I purchased Ford Focus SE, brand new.. for five month I own this vehicle, I was in the shop for all kind different problems 9 times. It was: Constant very strong vibration while driving at any speed, constant grounding noise comes from engine site and transformed to an ultrasound noise at hire speed, the squealing has intensified and sounds horrible! transmission locked up while I drove on the highway at 70 mph, had to use tow track.( dealer sad they cannot duplicate the problem),but transmission still locks and jerking constantly, squeal noise from breaks, (dealer replaced front pads and resurface drum, but refused to repair rear breaks and noise and pulsation is still there., dealer found defective rims, defective tires, throttle problems, brakes problems. Problems with my car intensified. I got my cruse control accelerated by it self in the middle of a highway, transmission locks up and jerking intermittently, brakes squealing and pulsate the Ford dealer sales and service people said that I should not return for service and waist any bodyS time, he said that what I hear and fill in my Ford Focus is normal. Ford warranty is not worth a paper it is written on. So, Ford wonT fix my car and I cannot do it other wise. As a result of strong vibration and squealing noise I am loosing balance, have severe headache, all body eking, I have pain in booth of my arms, and I have difficulty to walk and my right leg become num. I have to use walking cane and knee and ankle support. I scared to even drive it anymore. I am pleading to you, to help.me to get a full refund from Ford Motor Company for its defective product, plus a compensation for all expenses incurred as a result of this ordeal.

- Palm Coast , FL, USA

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