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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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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.

Troy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
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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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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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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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.:angry:<?xml:namespace prefix = v ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" /><v:shapetype id=_x0000_t75 stroked="f" filled="f" path="[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@5xe" o:preferrelative="t" o:spt="75" coordsize="21600,21600"> </v:shapetype>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.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com<img src=" /><o:p></o:p>
 

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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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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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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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^^^^ +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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Ask any Ford dealer tech what they think of the Contour and you will get an ear full of 4 letter words.
May be that is why I never see any in my area, literally.
 

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I've never had any electrical problems with my Contour other than replacing the positive battery cable due to insulation flaking off. I assume whoever owned the car before me had all the recalls preformed, and the wiring harness was one of those recalls. Apparently the positive battery cable wasn't part of the wiring recall as just about every Contour I see in the junkyard has a defective battery cable.

Check Your Positive Battery Cable! Brian's Blog
 

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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.
Not to sound arguementative, but these cars that you are referring to less than 5 years old. I don't think you can really say for sure that they are fantastic and reliable. Don't get me wrong, I love Fords but these new ones haven't stood the test of time yet.
 

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Also, just my 2 cents here but, you would prolly be better off with a focus. Relatively the same vehicle just no v6 option. And from what I hear those 2 and a half duratecs were problematic. Again depends where you do your research but everything I see about focuses... focii? says that they are bulletproof.
 

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Well,here goes.I have had 2 Contours...98 SE Sport/2.5 V-6 duratec....awesome car,daily driver and track car no issues until I beat the crap outta the tranny,replaced tranny,drove another 1.5 years, no issues. Actully embarrassed many Contour SVT's with it. Traded in towards a Lincoln Continental,got $2500 for it with 160k on the odometer.

Also had a 99 Contour SE with 2.0 Zetec/VCT motor...no issues,was wifes car, traded that in towards new 03 Sable, got $4000 for it with 75k on odometer.

As with any vehicle,maintenance is key. Just my opinion though, I loved them until I outgrew them.

The engine bay 0f the 98 V-6 looked awesome in my opinion. That V-6 was "stuffed" in there. Looked intimidating.
 

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Highly problematic car for Ford. I used to sell them. I always liked them when they were new - but, lots of electrical, transmission and dash problems. I'd try to find a Taurus, possibly a Focus - probably would be a better experience for you.
 

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And a 2002 or newer focus would be a better choice...
 

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And a 2002 or newer focus would be a better choice...
I second this, nothing against the contour or anything, I've never owned one before. I like the Focus better though, plus there's a bit of aftermarket for it, which is always good. You can even convert them to RWD and swap in a V8.

I forgot to mention that they also come with a stick, that's a real bonus!
 

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Yeah, I like the Contour too, but if anything goes wrong with it you're kinda screwed. Aim for a Focus if you can.
 

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Not to sound arguementative, but these cars that you are referring to less than 5 years old. I don't think you can really say for sure that they are fantastic and reliable. Don't get me wrong, I love Fords but these new ones haven't stood the test of time yet.

You are right. However, I get a feeling that Ford got its stuff together with pretty much all cars based on truly new platforms past year 2005. I think the Ford Fusion's record should be a good indication. Granted, the newer cars use turbo engines more and more, and those are new and haven't had much record of any kind yet.
 
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