really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
25,540 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 steering problems

steering problem

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2003 Ford Focus Owner Comments

problem #13

Aug 012011


  • miles


The steering column locks. I have already had it fixed once before and now it has happened again.

- Brighton, TN, USA

problem #12

Aug 012006


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The transmission slipped out of gear while driving 25 mph. The steering column also needs to be replaced since it can be turned 360 degrees. The manufacturer could not identify the cause of the failures. The current mileage was 120,000. The failure mileage was 80,000.

- Charleston, WV, USA

problem #11

Oct 182007


  • 41,203 miles
Steering column lock gets stuck. Vehicle cannot be started.

- Dunlap, IL, USA

problem #10

Jan 042008

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,000 miles


My mother purchased a new 2003 Ford Focus from lofink's Ford in carthage, NY late in 2003 several times over the first three years she had the car, there was a problem with the ignition switch/steering column. She was unable to turn the key to start the vehicle. She repeatedly tried the key/steering wheel and was eventually able to get the key to turn. When she reported this to the dealership within the warranty period, she was told that sometimes this happened, that she should just jiggle the key/etc. She relocated to belton, tx in Jun 07 to be near me, her daughter. On 30 Sep 07 the car had the same issue, except that no amount of jiggling the key/steering column would allow the key to turn. The car was towed to johnson brothers Ford in temple, tx. The dealership diagnostics read as follows: Ignition system diag found ignition switch binding replaced ignition switch, retest sytem ok. The ignition switch would not turn had to drill out ign lock cylinder to remove. This cost: $474.67 which was not covered because the car had 16,505 miles on it at that time and was out of warranty. I pursued this issue with the repairing dealership, the selling dealership, and Ford Motor Company (in writing) to no avail, requesting a good faith reimbursment. Today the switch failed again and the car is now being towed for repair.

- Belton, TX, USA

problem #9

May 012006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The contact stated that the key has a tendency to stick inside the ignition when starting the vehicle. This prevents the ignition from turning. An authorized Ford dealer recommended that she take a hammer and gently tap the key when inserted into the ignition in an attempt to lodge it out. The contact heeded the advice and the remedy worked temporarily. After a few weeks, the failure worsened and currently occurs three times per week. The steering column sticks whenever the vehicle is parked on a flat road surface with the steering wheel turned upright. The contact stated that is was difficult to turn the steering column. Ford stated that nothing could be done. The powertrain was unknown. The failure mileage was 120 and current mileage was 67,000.

- Dunkinsville, TX, USA

problem #8

Dec 192007

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The steering wheel has locked and is impossible to unlock. This happened once before but I was able to free it after some effort. I have not had any luck this time.

- Turkey, NC, USA

problem #7

Jun 202007

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 17,000 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Ford Focus. The steering column failed, which prevented the vehicle from being started. The dealer was not notified of the failure and no repairs were made. The current mileage was 18,000 and failure mileage was 17,000.

- Queens, NY, USA

problem #6

Jun 222007


  • miles
I purchased my 2003 Ford Focus ZX3 just over a year ago and have recently had trouble with the steering wheel locking up. After jerking the wheel around a bit I've always been able to get it to start until today. But today when I went to get in my car and go to work no amount of jerking or twisting would get my key to turn and my car to start. Before calling for a tow I decided to check for info on like and what do I find" that this problem has been going on in the ZX3 since 2000! and nothing is being done about it! so now I'm going to have to drop over $300 on a fix for my car and from what I read I'll probably have to do the same thing again next year. Why is the being allowed to go on" if Ford cares so little about the people that drive their cars that they can't find a long term fix to a well documented problem than you can be sure that this will be the last Ford I purchase.

- Royal Oak, MI, USA

problem #5

Apr 292004

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 700 miles
: the contact stated while attempting to start the vehicle, the starter failed. There were no warning signals for the failure. The vehicle was taken to the dealership who determined the flywheel and the starter had to be replaced. After the first incident, the contact took the vehicle to the dealer thirty times for the following failures: Brakes rotors were replaced four times; battery and alternator had to be replaced; the transmission had to be replaced after the second attempt to repair it. The electrical wiring under the dashboard had to be rewired. The air conditioning was repaired three times with the replacement of defective valves; the rear door latches were repaired according to recall # 05V300000. The dealership had not corrected the noises from the steering column. The manufacturer was contacted and refused to cooperated in finding a suitable resolution. The last problem found by the dealership was the required replacement of the engine heads. The engine heads were attached to the vehicle frame.

- Playa Del Rey, CA, USA

problem #4

Sep 172006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 44,000 miles
The vehicle is a 2003 Ford Focus with less than 45,000 miles, the ignition cylinder locked up without warning and the car refused to start. Additionally, the car would not shift out of neutral, making a tow difficult. This is a well known problem, Ford refuses to acknowledge the risk of drivers being stranded in unsafe places where they could be raped, robbed or murdered. Fortunately, this happened to my wife and I in our apartment complex, however there are reports of other people not being so lucky. Hixson Ford charged us $289.69 to repair the ignition lock cylinder plus we paid $65 to tow the vehicle. Below is a list of websites documenting similar complaints of the Ford Focus ignition locking up and rendering the car inoperable. Some even complain of it happening while driving: consumeraffairs.com/automotive/ford_focus_ignition.html www.fazmiclaw.com/Focus.html www.wjla.com/news/stories/0706/347339.html cbs5.com/investigates/local_story_041015136.html www.petitiononline.com/focusic/petition.html townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.eea50dc forums.treemedia.com/fb/archive/index.php/T-493.html ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/cars/msg062031202524.html?20 www.complaints.com/directory/2004/December/12/7.htm www.complaints.com/directory/2005/July/5/17.htm forums.focaljet.com/problems-service-recalls/416401-please-post-if-your-ignition-has-locked-13.html thank you for any assistance you can provide.

- Alexandria, LA, USA

problem #3

Jun 172006

Focus 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


Steering column locks up on Ford Focus 2003, because of side bar.

- Atlanta, GA, USA

problem #2

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 #1

Oct 112004

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
When sticking key into ignition the key will not turn, the wheels are not locked its the steering wheel locked, , I have taken this vehicle to 3 different dealer ships to report nothing is wrong, first it was igntion an now is the sterring colum, the cars is as of yet to be fixed, this car was purchased in April of 2003, an now the price I am being quoted is ridiculous. This vehicle needs to be recalled from the year 2000-2003, there are forums that customers complain about the same issue on this Ford Focus ZX3, I have contacted Ford Motor Company an have submitted several complaints, I dont feel that I need to pay for something the company failed to correct, I will continue to complain an report until this issue is resolved.......

- Stone Mountain, GA, USA

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