We bought this car even though it had a few faults. It was cheap! The previous owner did not take care with this vehicle. There must have been a small fender bender on the right front and maybe it was broken into as well. We are fixing or getting fixed the things that bother us so we can enjoy the benefits of the repairs in the coming years.
Front rotors and pads replaced.
Right front wheel bearing replaced.
Rear drum brakes cleaned.
4 wheel alignment.
Tires balanced. (All of the above came to $500)
The headlights were completely out of whack. It was so easy to adjust them using the built in levels.
The hood was misaligned and needed adjusting. This was a game of trial and error. The window surrounds are bent out of shape. I was able to get them to the point were the windows close completely and don't make undue wind noises.
The power window switch at the right rear did not work. ($2.50 at local junk yard)
The transmission shifts kind of sudden from 1st to 2nd. We added Lucas Transmission Fix to improve shifting. It helped a little. ($8)
The suspension squeaks. The Contour Enthusiast Group website explains how to fix it: remove the sway bar bushings and apply waterproof grease to them, reassemble. It worked. What a relief!
The volume control on the Stereo Cassette does not work. I will likely replace the unit with one from the junk yard ($45).
There is a lot of engine noise under hard acceleration. I wonder if some plastic parts under the left fender are vibrating? I test drove other Contours to see if they are this loud, but they are not. Please write a comment if you can point me to a possible cause.
This car is fun to drive. The variable cam timing (VCT) gives this 2 L engine a remarkable range of usable RPMs, but it comes with noise, roughness and vibrations. I reduced the noise level by adding insulation under the hood. (NAPA, insulation mat and fasteners, about $50. It is alright when cruising along. However, if this were our main vehicle we would have chosen the 6 cylinder engine because it is much quieter.
The car has exceptional cornering ability. The springs are stiff, but not harsh. The brakes perform well even though the pedal feel is a bit soft. Maybe that will improve as the new pads and rotors get worked in.
It is easy on the fuel as well. I have to take more data, but it seems to yield more than 20 mpg in the city and about 30 mpg on the highway.
The headlights deliver excellent illumination.
The seats are well shaped and hold you in place when cornering hard. They have enough adjust-ability to accommodate tall or small people. The Contour has enough space in the back for our two boys (13, 11 years of age) and it could take us long distance should gas prices preclude us from using the mini van.
We also like the fact that the Contour has a cabin air filter. Gesundheit! It keeps allergens out of our noses and helps to keep the dash cleaner.
Overall, we are happy with our Contour as a low cost means of automotive transportation. We are also encouraged about its longevity because there are four more Contours in the extended family with 110000 miles and more and still running strong. Only one of them has a problem: it overheats, but then it served for 170000 miles already.