1996 Ford Contour from North America


Not worth the time, money or energy


Timing belt went at 73,000.

Fuel line repaired.

Fuel pump replaced.

Bad temperature gauge.

Blown fuses left and right.

Replaced the fan.

Antifreeze leak.

Overheated when in 1st/2nd gear when in town driving.

Stalled at stop signs/lights.

None of the windows rolled up the right way or at all.

Windows off track.

Window motors broke.

Door latch broke on passengers side.

Speakers blew.

Trunk hinge broke.

Seat belts in backseat broke.

Hood latch detached often.

Electronic locks stopped working, frequent fuse replacements.

Replaced a large part of the exhaust system.

Idled VERY rough.

Speedometer worked in reverse at times or stuck

MAJOR electrical problems, CONSTANTLY blowing random fuses.

Easier to ask what DIDN'T go wrong.

General Comments:

The car handled well at higher speeds.

The seats were quite uncomfortable, and the car pretty much fell apart, regardless of all the work and money I put into it.

There was always something wrong. Buying this car was the worst idea ever.

Terrible cooling system.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 4th October, 2010

1996 Ford Contour GL 2.0L from North America


I could see this car being fun at one time


Well, there is quite a laundry list of things that have gone "wrong" with the car. The biggest issue has been the transmission. I bought the car with a rebuilt trans, and after 1500 miles, it started to leak trans fluid out of the main seal... but I'm cheap, so I just keep putting in 1/2 a quart every six months.

Leaks/burns oil.

A/C finally cut out on me this year.

Rear passenger shock bottomed out... twice...

Radio area overheats, so I never like to use CD's.

Check engine light comes on and goes off as it pleases.

Has a rough idle, and the last culprit I can think of is the vacuum system. I have replaced every other possible cause...

Had original timing belt on it, and then a belt PULLEY broke, so had to replace both.

Interior fan won't work past speed 2.

Temp. gauge works sometimes, other times, not so much.

Hi speed engine cooling fan won't kick on unless A/C is on, and since A/C no longer works, the fan no longer works.

Rear passenger door won't open, from outside or inside.

Front passenger window broke off its track.

All doors have a tendency to freeze in the winter, to the point where they actually don't work. I counter this by putting vaseline on the door seals... works like a charm.

Trunk only opens from inside.

Transmission oil cooler rusted through. That was fun.

Oil makes its way into the spark plug chambers.

2 speakers have blown out on me.

Twice now, brake fluid has mysteriously vanished, but both incidents were more than a year removed from each other, and I have never done any work on the brakes..

Basically, I climb into this car thinking "What's going to go wrong today?"

General Comments:

Despite all the problems with the car, I have stuck with it, and pretty much vowed to drive it into the ground. I actually have a newer used car sitting in the driveway, and after I put on 1000 or so more miles on this car, I'm donating it.

When I am driving by myself, I find that the little Zetec has enough pickup to get up and go, and I can pass a lot of cars with ease. That being said, any more than 2 people in the car, and gas mileage and performance are shot to hell.

I have the base of the base model, with the only option being A/C and I still find the car comfortable enough to drive for more than an hour at a time. Not to mention, that it's best feature I would have to say, is it's handling... I feel like I'm driving something a lot smaller than what I actually am, and cornering is great. I've taken a turn at 38 mph before, and the car held onto its line (barely).

If I had to pick, I would go with the V6 and I would try to find something newer. I'm sure that at 30k miles, this car is just excellent to drive... but in its old age, it's just something to drive from A to B.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th August, 2010

20th Aug 2010, 13:33

I understand that you defer maintenance, but losing brake fluid and not checking it is a bit risky. My guess is that the wheel cylinders in the rear drums are shot.

Also, in case you gain some love for this vehicle: there are 2 good websites: "Contour Enthusiasts Group" and "Mad Moles" with lots of useful information.