24th May 2007, 12:35

My Grandmother bought one of these gems, without first consulting me, her mechanic. What was I going to say to her? Oh well... I just rolled up my sleeves and fixed it every-time it broke down. Which was about once a month for 3 years. These cars are the epitome of JUNK! I loath Tempo's and Topaz's! That being said, I can now dismantle one of these with my eye's closed and one hand held behind my back. Oh, and my advice to those people who have these. WHEN you replace a part - keep the receipt, because chances are, you'll be replacing that part again and again, and again... I wish all Tempo and Topaz owners well... I really do...

14th Jan 2008, 16:01

I have two of these vehicles. A 1992 and a 1994. The 1992 has 235,000 miles with nothing more than normal wear items. The 1994 has never had anything replaced except a tie rod end and brake pads/shoes. It still has the original exhaust at 129,000 miles. Have owned both cars since new. For $8,000 and $9,500 respectively I cannot complain.

28th Jan 2008, 15:53

Mine just turned 40000 miles. It was passed on to me after my mom died in 05 when it had 29000. I have done a lot of maintenance on it, since it sat and wasn't used much. It is loud, it is slow, it is not fuel efficient. But it will start every time and after 14 years, the original A/C still freezes you out. Long live the Tempo!!!

29th Jun 2008, 22:28

* Knock on wood * It's honestly not normal. With routine maintenance Honda and Toyota cars of this vintage will go to at least 180k miles with 1 or 2 problems. Not the dozens that this guy has.

For instance my 1993 Acura Legend had a mild ignition problem that is fairly common. But other than routine maintenance that's been it.

Though in the Tempos defense, the previous owner of the car when this guy acquired it might not have done the proper routine maintenance. Like if you don't change the fuel filters that could definitely cause the fuel pump to fail. And if you never flush the coolant that could cause the water pump to fail.

That is where the Japanese excel IMO. They over design their parts. Like you can get away with not changing a fuel filter for 150k miles and it won't run optimally but it won't die either.

Whereas in an American car if you do that many major parts will fail. If you went 150k miles on one fuel filter you're looking at major engine troubles.

That's why without detailed service records I would never buy a used car, especially an American used car.

31st Jul 2008, 23:43

All cars are fundamentally the same.

The Ford Tempo is capable of going about 100,000 miles before major service of items such as steering, struts, bushings, etc., and if you are lucky these items may not need replacing for a lot longer (up to 200,000 miles). This depends on how you drive the car, or how it was driven before you got it.

If you drive a car hard, these will go in 50,000 miles.

If you race the car, these items my last one day.

I have had Tempos last 200,000 miles or longer without major service. But, I drive like an old man. (Pretty soon I will be an old man).

As for Ford quality, one of my Dad's friends has a shop that serviced police cars. Since the drivers were hard on suspension, they started trying all kinds of shocks to see which would last longest. They tried all major brands over several years, including Monroe, AC Delco, Ford Motorcraft, Gabriel, Koni, etc...

The ones that lasted the longest by far were were Ford. Everyone at the shop was greatly surprised.

What is cheap about the Tempo is the cost of parts and repairs. A Porsche engine rebuild, even on an older car, is $10-15,000. The engine on the Tempo will never break, and there is no silly belt to change every 60,000 miles.

I currently have a 1993 Tempo. The harmonic balancer went, and I am replacing all four struts at 100,000 miles. The car gets 28 miles per gallon, and is cheap to run. My Toyota Land Cruiser Diesel (supposedly superior) needed a new head at only 60,000 miles, and gets slightly worse mileage than the Tempo. The head cost $5000 to do. The Tempo struts are going to set me back $260 (I am doing this job myself).

The Tempo is a very nice little car. It is an economy car, and for what it is, lots of people like it. Buy it cheap, but be careful who you get it from, as no beater will ever be right.

25th Jul 2009, 16:57

We bought our Tempo used in 1999, a '94 with about 89,000 miles on it. It was shiny and decent for our family transport. We could not afford a costlier Toyota or Subaru, which would have been my first choice and so it was a compromise.

The work we did on this in the past 10 years was started by replacing the gas tank, then the right rear strut which was rusted through, a heater/radiator hose that went behind the manifold, the radiator, the heater core (did that myself, no one else would look at it, I found out why, that was six years ago), harmonic balance, turn signal combo light switch, and now the transmission seems to have quit at 169,000 miles.

I never thought it was a very good car, but it has been great because it has never completely let us down, and the cost of repairs so far has always been less than a car payment. Also the conditioner works great, so I think it was a best choice for our needs and has served us well. It mileage has gotten better over the years though it has never had the best of care; long times between oil changes and never the premium oil just the cheapest (no Pennzoil).

Has never failed to start, a good car for us, but now it's an ugly old hoopdie for sure!

8th Aug 2009, 01:59

I have had two Ford Tempos; a 1988, and a 1994. I received excellent use out of both cars.

The 1988 model had a few more issues. However, with regular oil changes, and regular maintenance it ran for 375,thousand miles.

The 1994 model is less problematic, and is still running. I changed out the transmission, and the engine at 362,thousand miles. The car is still running with over 415,thousand miles on it. I gave both cars regular maintenance, and oil changes.

Don't get me wrong, Ford had some problem cars, but the Tempo was not as rule one of them. Don't forget these cars were economy class, not luxury cars, and for the low low price of 11-12 thousand dollars (new), they were in my opinion extremely reliable transportation.

17th Nov 2009, 20:14

My 1993 Mercury Topaz is one excellent car. It now has 407000 km, virtually trouble free. My wife had a 1992 Accura Integra which was almost as reliable as my Topaz. In fact, I had to laugh when she cleverly described my Topaz as a 'Rock Star' when she compared it to her slowly 'passing' Integra.

The problems listed by the original blogger are likely isolated issues and self inflicked from poor routine maintenance. -Folks, it does not matter what you own and drive, every car needs good maintenance. I don't believe that my Topaz is the only 'great' one on the road. -Even the A/C is still 100%. Even the paint is still good. Having it 'Rust Checked' every other year was a great help.

I'm not expecting another 16 years from it, but I know I bought the right car when I did back in 1993.

The only problems that I had with my Topaz were the climate control dash switch cluster and the TFI ignition module on the distributor. At $10 and $25 respectively from the auto wreckers, these parts are still going strong years later.

Possibly the best, most reliable car available for the money at the time, and very low operating cost.

Ford got this one right. -Way to go!

Mark S.

2nd Sep 2015, 03:26

Totally right. I drive this as my first car, and it breaks down every few minutes, and buzzes and croaks.