1996 Ford Contour 4 cylinder from North America


The contour is reliable and has a modern look for such an inexpensive car.


The car ran fine until the end of ownership. The transmission needed to be replaced, but what do you excpect from a 4 cylinder vehicle at 120000?

General Comments:

The contour is a reliable and cheap car to own. I would recommend a 6-cylinder vehicle in the future at such high mileage.

Also, the rear seating is small. There is not a lot of room for a larger family.

The contour is also appealing as far as the look of the vehicle.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 11th May, 2004

1996 Ford Contour GL 4 cylinder from North America


Why do all of these weird and unusual things break?


Oh, where shall I start? Reading through the other reviews makes me chuckle as I fondly (?) recall all of the same frustrations that other contributors have experienced with this vehicle.

-The alignment has *always* been wrong, no matter how much money I pay to try and fix it. Tires wear prematurely and the vehicle shakes above 60MPH.

-The check engine light no longer scares me. I know that it is meaningless.

-The fuel door never ever worked, even after trying the ridiculous remedies listed in the Ford technical service bulletins.

-The engine running temperature has continued to creep upward inexplicably. Visits to the repair shop and thermostat replacements have done nothing. Is the engine going to melt down soon or what?

-The rear doors make a truly horrific squeaking sound... really embarrassing in front of the neighbors. I replaced the hinges once, but the problem re-emerged after a couple more years. I'm not laying out more money for yet another set of new hinges.

-The left front speaker wiring shorts out. A good kick to the quarter panel usually fixes this.

-The windows fog amazingly easily and develop a mysterious "film" on the interior surface that can only be removed with Windex.

-The car is constantly stalling in damp weather within the first five minutes of driving. I worry that my girlfriend is going to get in to the car one rainy morning, try to turn left out of our street, and the car is going to stall out in front of oncoming traffic... I seriously worry about this... I have already lectured her about not using the defroster or air-conditioner while she is trying to make this left turn...

-The front coil spring broke (!) Now, folks, this is just downright bizarre. How is it possible for a giant metal spring to just break? The mechanics were all convinced that I must have run head-long into a curb at 45MPH. I didn't. Trust me. Ford issued a recall. Of course, they only replaced the right coil spring, they won't replace the left one at the same time. So the car lists to the left a little bit now...

-The front wheel bearings made grinding noises and self-destructed after only about 50k miles.

-The drivers side door lock freezes up constantly in cold weather.

-I have re-glued the rear-view mirror onto the windshield two or three times now.

-The heat will only come out of the defrost vents sometimes. This usually happens on really cold days. Fortunately, I know where the little vacuum valve is under the dash, and can climb under there and fix it myself when this happens.

-Headlights developed condensation behind lenses.

-License plate attachment uses dis-similar metals that react with one another and corrode. Can be darn near impossible to remove license plate from vehicle. This is actually a Ford Technical Service Bulletin, too. They'll even send you a little kit to "fix" this problem. (Note: the "kit" employs double-sided tape)

-Muffler gaskets wore out and caused vehicle to fail emissions.

-Changed brakes many times (too many? don't know for sure...)

-In cold weather, first thing in the morning, timing belt makes horrific clattering sound as it bangs against the plastic guard. I guess the belt has stretched. This is also really embarrassing in front of the neighbors...

-All kinds of other "normal" maintenance items have needed attention, too. But I figured I would just list the weird ones above. I mean, every car needs belts replaced and brake pads once a while. But how many cars require the replacement of a giant metal spring?

And finally...last, but not least...

Transmission self-destructed last week...

Good riddance to my Contour!

General Comments:

Here's the funny thing...

I LOVE the way this car drives, LOVE the way it looks, and LOVE the interior design! Love it! I am truly going to be sad next week when I trash this car. Why, oh why, couldn't it have been more reliable? So sad...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 13th April, 2004

14th Apr 2004, 16:15

Dear Sir:

I used to own a 98 Contour LX (strip down). I had a couple of the same problems you have mentioned. The engine running very hot. I would be sitting at a traffic light in the dead of winter. 23ºF outside, and the damn thing would try to overheat. Never could figure out why. The minute you got going again everything was great.

The stalling. Boy let me tell you, that got really old, really fast. The first week I had the car, I was screaming down the highway at 80mph and it craps out. That is not funny when you are in the middle of a turn, the steering wheel locks up because the car is now off, and the turn is ending and you can't get the car going again to fix the wheel. I really annoyed the guy next to me that day. Also stalled in rain, and I noticed it REALLY liked to stall below 1/2 tank of gas. I also worried about my wife driving the car and it stalling on her on the highway like it did to me.

Also, could never run the defroster while idling, car would stall. Could not run A/C above speed 2.

When the fan came on it would suck every bit of energy out of the car. I used to joke and say they should have made the engine fan to power the A/C & defroster. Perhaps we could actually use them...lol.

Glad I went with the manual. At the time I wanted something fun to drive. Later to find out, like I thought when I bought the car, the automatic was very bad.

I ditched that car once I got my 18th (no joke) recall. Drive a Jeep now. Glad I switched. I also wish I had seen this website before I bought my Contour.