1996 Ford Falcon EF Futura Olympic Classic 4.0L from Australia and New Zealand
Owning a semi-reliable car that I can work on has benefited my wallet and mechanical expertise
Radiator cracked, and was replaced in the first year of ownership at a cost of around $450.
Transmission flaring just after the new radiator was installed, due to an incompetent mechanic who didn't secure the transmission lines correctly. Ford dealer identified the issue, and topped up the transmission fluid and sealed the lines for $100.
Courtesy lamp fuse (responsible for items such as the smartlock system and the radio wiring) blew, which prevented me from disengaging smartlock and starting the car one afternoon. A Google search and one of the Ford forums helped to identify this as the culprit; I would have never guessed.
Inhibitor switch failure, resulting in erratic gear switching and engine flaring. Had the transmission serviced and was told by the service centre that if the flaring continued, they would have to rebuild the transmission for around $2000. The flaring continued, but I wasn't buying the mechanic's story, and a bit of research indicated the inhibitor switch on the transmission could be causing the problems. Bought the part and changed it in my driveway - all fixed. The former switch had become entombed in mud over time, which was obviously shorting it out.
The heater had never worked in all my years of ownership. After changing the thermostat to an AU model and flushing the cooling system, the heater came back to life. The old thermostat looked like the wrong one. I'm sure there's a logical explanation to all this; I can't offer it though.
The power windows have been problematic; probably need to lubricate the runners, as they get stuck easily. I've had to replace a couple of switches and window regulators. I plan to replace the switches again soon, but for now they are out of action.
The headlight wiring and sockets had burnt out a couple of times, but after splicing in some heat resistant sockets, they've been working perfectly.
The horn has petered out lately.
The car isn't particularly interesting to drive, but it's gotten the job done for the last five or so years with minimal complications or costly repairs.
I had it converted to LPG soon after I bought it, and it has proven to be very economical considering the size of the vehicle. Even though LPG isn't as cheap as it once was, it's still preferable to petrol, and the loss of performance running on LPG is negligible.
The interior is quite dull and plastics fragile, but these issues don't concern me too much.
The seat fabrics are a bit rough, but they are holding up, and I've even managed to sleep in the car on a few occasions without being too uncomfortable.
If I had my time over, I would have installed a transmission cooler rather than rely on the radiator to cool the transmission fluid. When you're driving up hills in summer with the air conditioning on, you can tell the transmission would rather be elsewhere. It also takes away the risk of the two fluids coming into contact, leading to expensive repairs.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 17th January, 2013