1998 Ford Contour SE 2.5 V6 from North America
A good-handling sedan with a cheap interior
At 18,600 miles, the cover on the interior dome light broke off.
At 21,000 miles, the plastic surrounding the steering wheel opening in the dashboard broke off.
At 22,000 miles, the gas tank refused to accept any more gasoline. This was repaired under warranty.
At 22,000 miles (and immediately following the "repair" of the car's gas tank, mentioned above), the gas tank overflow shutoff valve failed. This was also repaired (though not under warranty; the dealer admitted having done a poor initial repair, so this second repair was free of charge).
At approximately 24,000 miles the car developed a creaking sound in the driver's side rear suspension. Replacement of the driver's side rear strut assembly failed to correct the problem.
The car received numerous recall notices. Most of them were minor (one warned me of supposedly illegible instructions on the sticker describing how to aim the car's headlights) but a few (for example, the one warning me that my rear brakes might be subject to corrosion which could lead to loss of control during braking) were rather worrisome.
The car, an SE Sport model with a 5-speed manual transmission, was entertaining to drive in that it was fairly quick and handled remarkably well. In fact, I would say that the car's handling prowess was its strongest feature: I always had the impression that the car's superb road-holding was making me a better driver. Furthermore, the driver's seat was comfortable even for 8-10 hour stretches, and outward visibility was good.
Factors in my decision to trade the car in after owning it for 3 years include:
The overuse (and seemingly exclusive use) of poor quality plastics throughout the cabin;
The poor readability of the instruments at night (their green lighting was very, very weak);
The poor sound system (although the car had a factory-installed CD player, at highway speeds the stereo system wasn't up to the task of drowning out the omnipresent wind and tire noise in the cabin);
The numerous recalls I mentioned earlier;
And finally, the incompetence of the mechanics (and the often inhospitable attitudes of the service managers) at the Ford dealerships servicing my car. In fact, my Ford service department experiences were so unsatisfying that I doubt I will ever again purchase a Ford vehicle.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 18th January, 2004
20th Jan 2004, 03:01
I have a Mondeo MK2 ('97) and is extremely quiet at high speeds. Contour has an aerodynamic shape too. Is a bit strange your comment about the wind noise. Anyone another opinion ?
14th Feb 2004, 21:13
I have a 2000 Ford Contour SE, I drive it daily. I have not experienced any wind or tire noise, not out of the normal range anyway. The only thing that has went wrong with my car so far has been the fault of the previous owner, who sold me the car with a bent key and caused me to have to put a new ignition in. Maybe you should rotate the tires? What kind of tires you put on the car can make a big difference.
22nd May 2004, 20:37
I bought my daughter a 98 Contour SE with the 2.5 liter v-6 about 6 months ago. I doubt if she has been able to put three thousand miles on it because of all the down-time. First the heater blower went out and had to be replaced. Next the wiring harness fried. Ford replaced the wiring harness under a recall, however, they did not replace the ABS system that fried when the wiring harness went out. Fixing that was $3,500. Both Ford dealers in the town I live in gave me the run-around on replacing the ABS system, they claim it is unrelated to the wiring harness. When the wiring harness went out as my daughter was starting the car so did the radio, clock, heater blower (again), dash lights, and ABS system. All unrelated to each other, according to Ford. It just happened to be coincidental that they all went out at the same instant. Today I replaced the water pump because the plastic impeller shattered. When the water pump went out it overheated and steam cleaned the alternator. Now the alternator is making a loud noise and will have to be replaced.