really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
22,516 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 transmission problems

transmission problem

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2003 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #28

Dec 232009


  • 147,000 miles


The contact owns 2003 Ford Focus. The vehicle slid on an ice patch, which caused her to loose vehicle control. The vehicle spun around several times and then collided on an embankment. None of the air bags deployed. She received injuries to her neck, feet, and ribs, the passenger received injuries to the spine. The insurance company concluded that the vehicle was completely destroyed. Also the ignition switch had to be replaced at an expense of $450. She also paid $300 to repair the door locks. The transmission needs to be replaced. The sheriff report number was 09004117. The failure and current mileages were 94,000.

- Centerville, WA, USA

problem #27

Mar 142008


  • 68,897 miles
The transmission was slipping, hard shifting, and not going into 4th. The car had less than 70 thousand miles. Took it to repair shop and was told that it was a solenoid. Also was told that it was a common occurrence in my type of vehicle. It may or may not fix the problem completely. When I questioned why he said that many of the Focus transmissions have solenoid problems until they need to be replaced. I went online and did some searching and found that there are many people who have had the same problems with the same year and make of my car. When I contacted Ford they said that they did not see these problems very often. When I approached them with the discussion boards that I had read and the comments from my trusted mechanic they had no comment. My car does work now after the solenoid was replaced, but it still slips and shifts hard from 1st to 2nd. I am disappointed that Ford will not admit to a problem with the mechanics of this transmission.

- Roseville, MI, USA

problem #26

Aug 232008


  • 26,452 miles
I purchased my car a year ago. It has 26,452 miles on it. I was on the interstate when a warning light came on. I pulled over, turned the car off and back on again and the light was out. I continued on. A day later the same thing happened. I took it to the garage and they pulled the codes that said the gear ratio was incorrect in 2nd and 3rd. I took it to the dealer and was told the transmission needed to be replaced....after 26,000 miles"?" my powertrain warranty had expired about a month prior. I called Ford. They refused to help me in any way and even went so far as to say my driving had caused the failure. They also flat out lied and told me the warranty was for only 3/36,000 when I have a news release from Ford stating it is for 5/100,000. I did get the transmission replaced at the cost of $3600. Ford still refuses to acknowledge that they obviously made a malfunctioning transmission.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #25

Mar 012008

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,610 miles


When driving on freeway to pass other cars the transmission drops into lower gear the the motor revs up not shifting into another gear stalling and slowing down causing cars behind to almost hit my car. At higher speeds in traffic this can cause a accident.

- Farmersville, CA, USA

problem #24

Jan 012005

Focus 4-cyl

  • 18,000 miles
I have had two complete transmissions rebuilt on this vehicle, the first at around 18,000 miles, the second at around 50,000. It is beginning the same sequence of events, failure to engage in 4th gear (automatic). Dealer will not do anything until complete failure. I understand the 2003 transmission to have relatively frequent failure occurrence based on web and other investigation. Date of first incident below is approximate.

- Walworth, NY, USA

problem #23

Mar 252007

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles
I have a 2003 Ford Focus that I bought brand new and drove off the lot with 60 miles on it. Not long after we purchased the car, it started to act as though the transmission was slipping when changing gears. We have always kept up on the recommended maintenance and no one has ever been able to find a problem with the car. About 3 weeks ago we were driving around the neighborhood, not on a busy street thank goodness, when the car shifted very hard as we slowed down for a stop sign. When we attempted to begin driving again, the car would not shift out of first gear. We promptly took it to a transmission shop where they have been working on it for nearly 3 weeks. They have pulled the transmission out to rebuild it twice and have still not found what is causing the problem. The mechanics have even taken it over to the local Ford dealership and they cannot figure it out. I now have a 4 year old car with 53000 miles on it that does not run. If that had happened while we were driving on the highway we certainly would have been hit by a car behind us. This is not normal wear and tear, there is a serious problem with the transmission or the computer system. If this car ever actually gets fixed, I will certainly not feel safe driving it as the performance of the car is unreliable and there is no telling when it will suddenly quit working again.

- Bourbonnais, IL, USA

problem #22

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 #21

Jul 202006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Several parts failures, including alternator, brakes, muffler, transmission, and ignition lock cylinder

- Arlington, TX, USA

problem #20

Oct 012005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35 miles
I bought a Ford Focus 2003 in 2005. Have had multiple problems with transmission. Acceleration issues. Now shift gear issues. This car only has 48,000 miles. Car will not shift properly. Bangs into gear. Car has had transmission service and is still happening transmission is probably going to have to be replaced.

- Winter Springs, FL, USA

problem #19

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 #18

Jul 182004

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,453 miles


My calipers have failed twice on my 2003 Ford Focus sedan. I bought it new in 2004 as a end of model year and have lots of brake and acceleration issues. My brake light comes on all the time when I am driving. The car won't accelerate and makes a loud revving noise. I have about 27K miles on it and the calipers failed at 10K and the second time at 22K. It was covered under warranty but the Ford mechanics said they didn't know why it has happened. So the reason it fails has never been repaired but they replace the calipers. How they have failed to repair the brake lights from coming on was to replace the parking brake (but didn't fix the problems). The brakes make a squealing metallic noise and I was told that was 'normal' by the mechanics. After bringing it to the dealership over 10 times I was told by the mechanic to bring my problem to Ford co. When I said the car is not safe and that I want it repaired or for them to buy it back they said I was 'doing' something to make the calipers fail. I was also told that they would not cover it under the warranty!

- West Hollywood, CA, USA

problem #17

Jan 082006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
My boyfriend and son took my car to have it washed. When they turned the corner the steering wheel just spun. Causing them to almost crash. I have had several other things happen with the car since I bought it in May 2004 used. I have replaced the back tires 4 times in a year. They all have cupped. Every tire place we have went has said the rear of the car has a defect in it. Also, my seat belts used by my children do not always work properly. Last Jan, the transmission wouldn't shift out of first. Ottawa Ford did fix this issue as a speed control sensor wiring problem. With the steering issue the car is undrivable and I am a single mom with no other transportation or means of income to fix. I need some help with this.

- Baldwin City, KS, USA

problem #16

Nov 202005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles
I only owned the car for about 2 months before the problems started I was told that there was nothing wrong. The transmission wouldn't change gear, they say this is normal. Also, the windshield was never sealed in they told me that it could be fixed. The front wheels click when driven. The brakes went out quick. The back hubs are sealed from rust. And now I can't even get my disabled child to the doctors because the ignition has gone completely out. The locksmith said I was lucky I was parked.

- Trenton, SC, USA

problem #15

May 302005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 59,000 miles
With only 59,000 miles the transmission would not change gears properly. Ford dealer and independent mechanic said the transmission had to be rebuilt. Cost $950 at independent mechanic, $1800 at dealer.

- Starkville, MS, USA

problem #14

Jun 302005

Focus 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,930 miles
Consumer complained about transmission problems. The rear door on the wagon did not close properly and the windshield wipers did not go all the way down when turning them off. Dealer was working on the transmission. Also, dealer will take care of the door and the windshield wipers while vehicle was in the shop for transmission.

- Buford, SC, USA

problem #13

Feb 152004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,000 miles
Vehicle experienced sudden acceleration. While approaching a stop sign driver began to slow down, applied the brakes, and vehicle suddenly surged forward. Driver had both feet on the brakes. Driver has to turn off the engine to get the vehicle to slow down to a stop. The vehicle also jerked went the consumer reached speeds of 55 mph and higher.

- Sherman, TX, USA

problem #12

Sep 282004


  • Automatic transmission
  • 29,488 miles
Consumer complained about a transmission problem. Consumer took the vehicle to the dealer, where they rebuilt the transmission. Currently, vehicle was still having transmission problems. Took the vehicle back to the dealer, who claimed there was nothing wrong with transmission. Consumer was furies.

- Murfreesboro, TN, USA

problem #11

Jul 212004

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The vehicle was parked and not running. Then, the vehicle jumped out of gear without warning and collided into a building. Both front air bags failed to deploy. The vehicle was towed to the dealer for inspection. The mechanic informed the driver that the problem could not be duplicated. Please fill in additional information.

- Princeton, WV, USA

problem #10

May 252004

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,600 miles
Transaxle disengages while driving on highway. Transaxle re-engages below 30 mph.

- Pawling, NY, USA

problem #9

Mar 312004


  • 3,042 miles
While driving engine/battery light illuminated. Then, transmission slipped out of gears. Dealership was notified, but did not resolve the problem.

- Syracuse, NY, USA

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