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Old 11-03-2011, 11:26 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Taurus is gone... Anyone own/ed a Contour?

So, long story, but I donated my Taurus to a lady in need at my church. I don't have it anymore, and I actually don't have a car to daily drive anymore, just my big SUV. Looking at something simple like this.



I have always liked the Contour, despite everyone pretty much hating it that I've talked to. I want to know of first hand experiences, if any about these though. I am looking at the 98-01 body style, and preferably V6, however, I am a little unsure of the engine bay. Looks horrendous.

I like the fact that they are everywhere to pull parts from at the junkyard, and that they are relatively quick and pretty good looking too. Any issues I should wonder about? I assume just like my Taurus, with proper maintenance and occasional parts here and there, it'll be just as reliable without being so big.

Thanks!
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If you can get the SVT model - it has a 2.5L 195HP (1998 Model only) 200HP (1999 & 2000) duratec V6 and a 5spd manual The Zetec model of contour is pretty much the same thing as a Focus Zetec engine and a lot of parts are interchangeable so if you find a focus Zetec engine in the junkyard you can get parts from that as well. The Zetec Contour has the letters "VCT" on the valve cover and are easily worked on as well.

One thing, the Transmissions (Automatic) are prone to going out in these when they are not taken care of, look at the trans fluid before making a purchase.

Otherwise it's a great car and have fun! I've often thought about getting one of these too.

*Correction: They do have Non-SVT models with the 2.5L V6 (170HP) that are more common but the price difference is so little between those and the SVT I would go for the SVT model.

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Old 11-05-2011, 01:39 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Honestly, I drove an SVT, and I didn't like it at all. I also wasn't a fan of the huge body kit and junk that they seem to have. I much rather get a V6 SE like the one above. Just looks classy enough but will never attract attention.

However, I think a Zetec Contour would definitely make a better car to work on during the weekend
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Old 11-05-2011, 02:57 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I had a '97 Zetec Contour (auto) before I got my Taurus. Great little car that got great fuel economy (30+ mpg). Yes it only had 125 HP, but it only weighed 2750 lbs. I would call it adequate unless you drive aggressively. They handle pretty decently (based on the European Mondeo). Yes, the engine bay will be a little cramped with the V6 but it's fine with the I4. Biggest repair I had to get on it was when all the refrigerant decided to leak out a bad schrader valve. After that the A/C worked GREAT. You would get cold air almost instantly and the car was comfortable in about 1-2 minutes or less. In the winter I would have heat in less than a mile. Best HVAC system I've ever had on a car. It also has nice big windows so you have great visibility all around. The only big negative about that car was that it vibrated pretty badly at a stop light. Bad engine mounts are common on the Zetecs.

If you do buy one, as suggested check the condition of the tranny fluid to make sure it's been changed. Mine was starting to be a little sluggish going into gear when cold (seals), but otherwise the tranny was great. If you look at a 2.0L, make sure the oil cap looks clean because they have camshaft phasers that are intolerant of dirty oil/sludge. These cars also suffered from wire dry rot to some degree, so make sure you check all the electrical items and inspect the harnesses. If you get a 1997 or earlier, make sure the pop-out cup holders aren't broken. I managed to keep mine intact, but most people aren't as careful as I am. The headlights also fog up but that's been covered well here and is easy enough to fix. If you get one, you probably want to change the cabin air filter right away because most people don't know it had one (under passenger cowl). Driving 60 mph you should get lots of air out of the vents on the lowest fan speed with a good filter.
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Old 11-05-2011, 07:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I did owned a Contour. Manual, 4 cylinder. Drove OK, decent acceleration if "pushed" and shifted appropiately. Wife, as passanger, hated the "manual" shifts.
One spark plug was never changed (before me) due to the crammed location.
Transmission fluid was dark - I did replace it, but it always leaked. Added fluid permanently, but eventually, the transmission broke (a pice of differential flew from the side of it, leaving a big gap).
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Old 11-07-2012, 07:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yeah, I know this thread is kind of old.

I've owned a 97 Contour with a Zetec engine since 2006. My first vehicle as I used it to get to & from school, then later college. Got it with ~101,000 miles on it, currently has about 125,050. (Yeah, I don't drive that much). Never had any major issues with it other than all the fluid lines rusting out and my dad killing the transmission after he tried moving the car with the jack. It has been a reliable fuel efficient car. Has some rust on it but doesn't look too bad for it's age. Junkyards have been helpful in maintenance and upgrades.

However, I'm not sure how much longer I am going to have it. All four struts need to be replaced, so by the time I buy new struts and have someone install them; it will cost more then what the car is worth. My dad (currently drives the Contour after I acquired my Taurus and after he junked his Windstar), also wants to trade in the Contour. The Contour is too small for him and he wants another minivan so he can transport our dogs. Still, it's a nice car, and if he trades it in, all I see is the dealer$hip selling the car to the junkyard because (a) it's 15 years old and (b) the cost of replacing the struts vs. the amount the car is worth.
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Old 11-09-2012, 04:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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My dad used to own a 2000 Mercury Mystique with a 170hp V6 and auto transmission. It was a nice car to drive and drivetrain was reliable. If I remember correctly, the car had constant electrical issues and the alternator eventually died or something like that. Personally, I am not sure if I'd want to buy into a car this old. By now it will probably have plenty of mechanical issues. Save money and buy something newer. The latest generation Fords, Fiesta Focus Fusion and Taurus, are all fantastic cars.

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Old 11-09-2012, 05:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I drove a Contour as a vacation rental in California ten years ago or so. For me, there was way too much fenderwell intrusion up front. I couldn't stretch my left leg out far enough unless I put it under the brake pedal and if I pushed the seat back I couldn't touch the gas pedal. My wife wound up driving for the rest of the week.
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Old 11-10-2012, 07:03 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I would stay away from the Contour class and for the same money pick up another Bull, way more dependable car. Lots of electrical horror stories on those cars.
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Old 11-10-2012, 07:12 AM   #10 (permalink)
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^^^^ +1

They are well known for electrical problems. Common for wire insulation on the engine harness to break / crack off, etc leading to hard to find shorts, which, of course, leads to no starts, running horrible, etc. Some years had a recall to replace the entire engine harness for this problem, which was a MAJOR job. Ask any Ford dealer tech what they think of the Contour and you will get an ear full of 4 letter words.
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