1992 Ford Fiesta LX 1.3i petrol from UK and Ireland
A DIY mechanic can run one on pennies
New water pump (drive belt still squeaking though, and I suspect the pump was probably still OK).
New rear brake pads.
New rear suspension pivot bushes (used as a bargaining point when the car was bought).
Tappets continually go out of adjustment.
Has been crunched by other people three times. Rear hatch has not shut properly since the second shunt (poor quality repairs by an "approved repairer", a Rover dealer who went bankrupt two months later).
Engine not as smooth as my previous Mk II Fiesta, although 5 gears makes it quieter. Could be a worn camshaft, although it does not appear to be getting worse. Same can be said of slight clutch judder.
Tappets need adjusting frequently.
Ford dealers can get most parts, apart from some trim. Do all the work myself as I have zero faith in garages.
Passengers say the seats and legroom are OK, with enough headroom and boot space. Later Ford seats are better though.
Ride pretty good, considering the basic simplicity of the design, and much better than the Mk II.
Handling and modest performance won't satisfy "keen" drivers, although big tyres give good grip.
Clutch and steering are rather heavy.
Fuel injection is trouble free, but use injector cleaner every month or so. Not likely to be repairable, though, if it does go wrong.
No timing belt to worry about.
Some rust spots.
Not particularly economical.
No breakdowns in 24,000 (mainly motorway) miles over 16 months.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 3rd August, 2001
Since writing this review in August last year I have driven another 16000 miles. A month after writing the review I had the clutch changed and this made it much lighter and easier to use.
The squeaking noise was actually two loose bolts on the exhaust pipe (where the downpipe fits onto the rest of the system). It had not been fitted correctly by the exhaust centre. It fooled me - it sounds similar to a slipping belt. However during the work I found the bearings in the alternator were goosed and I had to buy an exchange one.
The same exhaust centre charged me £25 for adjusting the tracking and the steering wheel was not on straight afterwards. The comedian who did the job maintained that as long as the toe angles were within 2 degrees of each other it would steer OK, regardless of the way they were pointing. Oh dear... I'm adjusting it myself, and going by steering feel, plus a home made aligner to get the angles approximately correct to start with. I'm no handling expert, but the roll which seems to accompany the entry to corners seems to be the main problem with the handling.
I have also fitted two new front lower suspension arms as the bushes on the nearside had perished. These cost £65 each, plus £62 for a torque wrench and socket set to fit them. While I was at the Ford dealer one of their mechanics told me that the spare wheel cradle was loose, and the wheel was in danger of falling out if I tackled one of the bomb craters which Southampton City Council are so fond of digging in our roads. I had just driven the car from the MOT centre and I'm never letting them (the MOT centre) touch the car again.
I have fitted a pair of new CV boots and a new gearbox oil seal to the nearside front suspension. Three weeks ago I removed the cylinder head, decoked the valves and pistons, fitted new valve stem oil seals and cleaned up the rocker gear. I found that one of the rockers had actually seized on the shaft, which might explain why it didn't run as smoothly as the other Fiesta did. The oil holes seemed to be blocked too: after putting the engine back together, and running it for a while, oil started to appear on the tops of the rockers. I have had to adjust the tappets a few times, but it is now running more smoothly than I suspect it had ever done before.
I'm off to a big air display on the other side of the country tomorrow, which shows my faith in my Fiesta is several orders of magnitude greater than my faith in some garages. Just don't expect one to run faultlessly forever...
Thanks Richard. I've only ever seen the back of your car as you overtake me on the way to work most mornings!!