1997 Ford Contour SE 2.5 V6 from North America


A high performance bargain


I have had to replace the front, right wheel bearing.

The catalytic converter was replaced last year and seems to be out again.

The rack and pinion steering assembly has been replaced.

Several recalls have been done on the car.

I replaced the water pump.

The engine light used to come on a lot, but hasn't in a long time.

The engine temperature seems to rise a bit when I'm in heavy stop and go traffic or idling.

The interior plastic pieces are fragile.

The rear doors constantly need oiling or they make a horrendous screeching sound.

All other issues I would consider normal maintenance.

General Comments:

I am still pleased with the car after 5 years of ownership.

The front seats are very comfortable.

I enjoy the power moon roof.

The 5-speed manual is excellent and makes the car fun to drive.

The car looks great in Toreador red.

It rides smooth on most surfaces.

The sport suspension makes the car handle very well.

I love the thick, leather wrapped steering wheel.

A pleasure to drive on the highway. It easily cruises at speeds of 75 MPH and up.

Gas mileage could be better.

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

Review Date: 13th April, 2004

1997 Ford Contour SE 2.5L from North America




Radiator cap had to be replaced at 75000 miles.

Power antenna motor broke at 65000 miles.

General Comments:

This car is very fast and still gets good gas mileage.

The seats are very comfortable.

The five speed transmission makes this car. The automatic really lags.

The integrity of the interior could be better. I have had some trim come lose, but nothing major.

All in all it is a very good all purpose car and very fun to drive.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th February, 2004

1997 Ford Contour GL Sport 2.5L V6 from North America


Good Performer - Terrible Reliability


Check engine light on (almost continuously) for 5 years. Sometimes goes off for a few days at a time.

O2 sensor failed at 10,000 miles. Replaced under warranty. Check engine came back on a month later after fixing this. Car continued to run fine.

Heater resistor burned out causing plastic burning smell for several months. Fan didn't work in one speed setting. Replaced under recall.

Updated engine calibration at about 10000 miles to avoid "jumpy" acceleration and hard to control engine. This helped a bunch.

Light switch replaced under recall.

Air conditioning stopped cooling due to a leak in a line at 15000 miles. Repaired under warranty.

Power steering will cut out when driving through a puddle of water on right side of car (from driving position). Very dangerous! This was a Ford Technical Service Bulletin item, but not a recall. A plastic shield was put in the wheel well which helped, but did not eliminate the problem. Water splashes on the front end accessory drive belt causing the power steering to not function. This should have been a recall. See your dealer if you have this problem.

Coil on plug inductor failed and lost a cylinder at 33,000 miles. $350 to replace.

Plastic "band" which indicates "PRNDL" selection cracked and broke at 40,000 miles. Car is always in Park regardless of gear since. $200 to replace part alone - not done yet. This one is very annoying and should be a recall item.

Brake pads replaced front and rear at 65000 and 48000 miles respectively. I consider this fine.

Firestone Fire hawk tires replaced at 40,000 miles due to wear. Replaced with Kelly Chargers which I like better for traction.

Plastic air vent grille fell apart on driver side in cabin at 50,000 miles. Not fixed. Can't aim the air on that grille.

Overdrive light occasionally will flash on the dash. This goes away on restart of car.

Car made "hooting" noise from the air intake system which would be followed by unstable engine rpm, untimately resulting in the car dying. This was also a Technical Service Bulletin and was only $100 to fix. New intake tuning resonator tube had to be installed in the air system to fix. Did it myself. See your dealer if you have this problem.

Driver side window motor died around 45000 miles with window in the DOWN position in the middle of winter. $300 to replace assembly.

Latest problem: Car speedometer suddenly went to zero on the highway going 75 mph. Car also downshifted to 3rd gear suddenly. Transmission shifts very harsh and won't go into 4th gear. No speedometer. At a service shop now. Transmission speed sensor and gear bad. I'm hoping this is all for this problem - $300 or $400 to fix if it is. Mechanic told me the only engine code that came up was the speed sensor, making me wonder if this has been the check engine light issue for 5 years now, but only now a major problem.

Major complaint with car: Transmission will stay in 4th gear way too long while trying to slow down. Trans will "decouple" from the engine when slowing down in 4th gear for fuel economy, but stay in 4th gear a long time. The car effectively will not slow down on its own without applying the brakes. It is almost like it is stuck in "cruise". No engine braking, only very slow transmission braking. People think this is due to badly working brakes, but the brakes are fine. It is the power train design which requires strong braking to slow down due to poor system design. Brakes on the contour tend to wear out soon due to this problem. I often drive in the "sport" mode with the button on the stick selector to keep it in 3rd gear when in town to make this a little better.

General Comments:

Other than looking forward to possible fuel pump failures or catalytic convertor failures or water pump failures yet to come for me, I really like the contour. It has a nice ride and good performance. It has depreciated rapidly from new due to all the problems. Ford needs to do much better with quality.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 13th January, 2004

26th Jan 2004, 13:29

Followup to my original post: The transmission speed sensor and gear was the problem with the transmission. It was about $300 to fix. The check engine light has now come back on about two weeks after going off. Car seems to be running fine now and the speedometer works.

I forgot to mention another problem. The other front window motor, this one on the passenger side, has now started to fail. The window squeals going down or up, and I've stopped using this window lest the motor fail in the down position again like it did on the driver side.

I'm going to give Ford a few years before I consider their products again. I'd like to hear from anyone else out there with similar problems or other ones I haven't had with my '97 Contour GL Sport. Thanks.