I bought my Contour in July of 2001, it was a year old at the time. It was okay for the first few years, but just okay. Then, before I even finished paying it off, I had to have the transmission rebuilt. Then, in December of 2011, it went out AGAIN. The thing had 91,000 miles on it. It shouldn't need a new transmission every 45,000 miles, if you ask me.
Honestly, there was really nothing I liked about this car except for the engine power, the "get up and go". The steering was bad, the stability was bad, it was just a bad car.
They discontinued this car for a reason. Caveat emptor.
I bought this car new, it lasted 11 years. Fuel pump failed in weeks2. Second month, a small piece of debris smack the oil pan cracking the oil pan. (both common problems reported for this car at the time in user forums) year 1, the dash board pilled up in the summer heat. (another common issue) Year 6, the electric motors for the sun roof, left front door, right front door died and had to be replaced. Year 8, the padding in the seats became stiff. Dash board pilled again. year 11, 51,000 miles engine died 3,500 dollars repair.
Responsive steering, great acceleration, great visibility.
If your planning on buying this car, find out if the oil pan has been replaced. If it has, it's probable a good idea to avoid the car. If it hasn't, you may want to consider replacing the oil pan to protect the engine.
Keep spare bulbs for the tail lights, they go often enough to need multiple spares on hand.
The break light switches can slip out of the break. This happened to me 7 or 8 times over 11 years.
It's easy enough to put the switch back in, but you may want to consider taping the switch into place.
I bought my SE Sport new in 2000. Performance-wise, it was a fun car: great handling, a reasonably powerful engine, excellent brakes and steering, good 5-spd. I could drive this car fast and whip it around corners with ease. For $15K, it was probably the best handling four door around at the time. However, the car had way too many quality problems: brake hoses cutting themselves, the A/C failing multiple times, strange sounds from the engine, the dashboard warping. I got tired of it-- basically every year I knew something was going to go wrong. This car had a lot of promise but Ford cut too many corners for me to recommend it.
Great handling. Fun car to drive. Good breaks, steering, gearbox, etc.
Lousy build quality, plain jane dash, cheap stereo.
This vehicle has incredible performance for the price. It's fast and handles great and is comfortable inside. Most fun car I've had since an 86 Mustang SVO. Drove it on a 2000 mile trip and it got 28 MPG as well. I'm surprised there is not more of an enthusisasts aftermarket for these.
No huge problems with it. Looks like it will hit 200K in great shape! Worst was the cat converter needed replaced at 80K. New breaks at 90K. The car now has 120K and is fine (still 31mpg). Good deal if you figure under 2K for 8 years. I missed the dash recall and mine warped, but I glued it back down with industrial cement. Also I've been in two accidents with it (lost the front bumper, then the rear). The other cars in both accidents were totaled. Mine had very minimal "face" damage. The car seems pretty bombproof to me.
The V6 is fabulous, for the cost. It's fun to drive, corners fairly well, sticks to the road. For a first car, and a mostly commuting car it's wonderful. I've put minimal maintenance into it (oil changes) and it's been fine. The heater/AC in mine is awesome. Cute little spoiler.
The interior design is lackluster. The dashboard needs redone. The trunk could use some water-proofing. I think I've replaced like six oxygen sensors. The radio system and speaker quality just plain stinks. My check engine light comes on a lot.