23rd Aug 2007, 16:53

Update August 07:

Our Contour has now 79000 miles on the odometer and continues to do well. We only had minor issues with it: the right headlight was a replacement not from Ford (non OEM). One of the adjusters broke. I replaced it with a “Ford” headlight from the junk yard for $25.00.

A couple of mice made home on top of the transmission housing and used the insulation material from the fire wall for bedding. I checked, there is no recall on this ;-).

One tire kept loosing air faster than the others. I replaced the valve core: $0.50.

The horn does not work. A replacement costs about $10.00.

The volume control on the radio mysteriously repaired itself!

The inner fenders (plastic parts) are not fastened correctly and may contribute to noise. It looks like someone did a few short cuts during a repair.

A thing about maintenance schedules: The Haynes Manual and Ford don’t always match. Haynes says the timing belt must be “replaced” every 60000 miles. That’s roughly a $400.00 job. So you might as well replace the water pump ($70.00) while everything is apart. Ford, however, says the belt must be “inspected” for cracks and missing teeth. Our belt checked out fine. Haynes also says that the valve clearance should be adjusted if there is valve chatter, even though the engine has hydraulic self adjusting valve lifters. Go figure!

15th Jul 2009, 10:01

Update: July ’09:

The odometer reads now 89 000 miles and the car worked just fine until recently.

I tried to track down a popping noise from the front end and found the sway bar links were worn out. Replacing them ($ 60, DIY) improved it but it did not go away completely. The mechanic could not find the cause either. I also injected grease into the lower ball joints and tie rod ends. It steers a little smoother now.

The engine made noises at low RPMs and went quieter at higher rotational speed. It was the timing belt. Also, a bolt that serves as an axle for a timing belt pulley broke. Getting this fixed cost us $610 at our favorite independent mechanic. That’s more than I expected, but it is very labor intensive with this engine. Now it runs with less vibration than it ever did.

9th Aug 2010, 14:12

Update, 94000 miles

New battery: $100. 1 or 2 oil changes.

I replaced the license plate light bulbs for $5 and gave the inside of the lenses a really nice cleaning. Then I found one of the reverse lights to be off. I replaced both bulbs and then the other one was off. Upon closer inspection, I found that you have to place the bulb holder in a certain way to ensure contact to ground. The holders are not keyed so you can do it wrong.

A mouse chewed up an ignition wire. $30 for the set.

What’s that smell? I found maple tree seeds in the engine compartment. Some of them were on top of the exhaust header and got roasted. I definitely prefer the 100% Columbian beans!

Long ago I taped up the gap above the tail lights in the trunk’s rain gutter: there is no water in our trunk, and you can’t even see the tape when the lid is down. Caulking should work too.

The brake warning light came on and stayed on. The rear brakes were worn. R&R drums, shoes and wheel cylinders: $355.00. The new drums were warping right away. That is unusual for Wagner products. The shop turned the new drums for free and now they are braking evenly. You can save $100 if you do this job yourself. Make sure the parts store you buy from is able to turn drums. I did this job on a Windstar, and needed the new drums turned as well.

The driver’s door outer latch was getting balky, and there was a rattle coming from the door. I removed the inside door cover, and found a plastic fastener coming loose at the outer door latch. I reattached it, the rattle is gone, and the outer handle works normal again.

This is still a fun car to drive. I think I will take it to an Autocross (Solo-race, Auto-Slalom) one day.

21st Nov 2011, 11:21


At 94000 miles the blower switch shorted out and melted. I bought a climate control panel at a local yard: $16.

I opened the hood to check the oil, and there is no dipstick anymore! Instead there is a plastic cap on the dip stick tube. The shop says that dip sticks break because of a plastic piece at the puller ($26.00, dealer item).

Then I noticed that the PCV hose was deteriorating. I replaced it with hose from the reel for $1.59. The nice thing was that I caught it before developing rough idling and a CEL warning.

One turning signal bulb burnt out, I replaced both rear turning signal bulbs for about $5.00.

One of the center brake light bulbs is out.

Oil, tranny fluid and engine coolant changed at 100,000 miles, $185.

By the way, there is no filter in this tranny, only a mesh to catch larger chunks. Therein could be a reason for the frequently reported tranny failures. You really have to flush the fluid on time!

22nd Jul 2016, 15:41

Nov 19, 2012: 105000 miles.

I had the front rotors and pads replaced because of a shudder when braking for stop signs ($257). I changed oil ($20, DIY) with synthetic blend.

The temperature gauge was unstable and the heater did not deliver enough heat. I replaced the thermostat ($8.00) and added coolant ($13). Noticed loss of coolant after a few weeks and added Bar’s leak–stop, aluminum ($8).

4/1/13: big coolant leak. Air bleed hose at the radiator was busted, shop $50.00.

A worn inner tie rod end is causing the mysterious knocking noise. Not yet fixed.

6/8/13: misfire when idling and when revving the engine: a rotted crank case ventilation hose ($20.00) caused a lean air fuel mixture.

The driver's door latch was difficult to operate. WD40 on the lock mechanism (not the door latch) fixed it perfectly.

9/6/13: I took out the high up brake light and the housing crumbled in my hands. Thirteen years of sunlight and heat was too much for the plastic.

A turn signal bulb went out. I replaced both front turn signal bulbs.

“New” used tires: I found a set of BF Goodrich Traction T/A for the car. When replacing them I cleaned the alloy rims from corrosion and sprayed them with Krylon Clear Acrylic. Hopefully, this measure helps maintaining tire pressure.

No start! It turns out the battery was bad even though it was only 4 years old. I upgraded from O’Reilly’s Sure Start Premium to Sure Start Extreme. I received $60 as a warranty adjustment.

March 19, 2014, 2014, 115000 miles.

Coolant leak at thermostat housing. Surprisingly the leak stopped. We have an estimate of about $400.00 for this potential repair. Maybe there was no leak?

A knock in rear suspension was caused by worn sway bar links. But there is still a knock and it sounds very much like worn struts.

We finally addressed the knock in the front. A year ago it was diagnosed as a failing inner tie rod. However, there was a loose mounting bolt at the steering rack which they tightened. We also had the oil changed. The total came to $200.13.

The rocker panels are rusted through. I talked to a body shop and was informed that there is no good way to repair this. Rocker panels may not even be available and the labor alone will run at least $1000.00. He suggested driving it as is rather than throwing this kind of money at it. Therefore it is not likely that I will address the worn rear struts.

The tires hold air, actually nitrogen, really well. Now I don’t know if the improvement comes from the nitrogen, the removal of corrosion and Krylon coat, or both.

I pulled a high mount brake light of a Geo Metro Sedan. After taking it apart and removing the bulb holders and reflectors, I could place the original Ford reflector array into the housing. There was some slack in the wiring which allowed me to pull the wiring out from the package tray and connect it directly into the original Ford reflector.

The housing can be wedged between the package tray and the rear window. No screws or Velcro are needed. The Geo brake light was $5.00. I purchased new bulbs for the Ford reflectors for about $15.

Feb 1, 2016: CEL is on. P1380 VCT actuator circuit. That’s most likely the VCT solenoid. The part is at least $225 and labor was quoted at least $400. Since no one is interested in driving it hard, we will do nothing about it.

July, 1 2016: Noise from the front right was caused by a dried out wheel bearing. Replacement was quoted at about $300 at one place and $170 at another. The left rear strut is worn out as well. No surprise, the struts are 16 years old.

We bought a 2010 Ford Focus SE and sold the Contour privately for $800, despite all its faults: rusty rocker panels, weakening suspension, VCT solenoid, and bad wheel bearing. The car had 119515 miles on the odometer.

This 2000 Ford Contour was the least expensive car my wife used to commute. She put about 4700 miles per year on it at a cost of $50 per month excluding fuel, insurance, and registration fees.