This car has been a nothing but trouble. Every problem requires a trip to the mechanic because the car is designed so you can't fix anything without special tools and disassembly of the entire engine. The water pump is a constant problem having to be replaced twice as well as the timing belt. Engine is continually running hot because of poorly designed coolant system. Doors creak terribly when opened. The car has terrible fuel mileage compared to its small engine and pathetic amount of power. The only plus to this car is the availability of used parts. You can find several of these cars at almost any junk yard. That is where mine is headed shortly.
If you're reading this, you're probably wondering about a '96 Contour as a used car prospect. There were some early recalls and warranty problems, but I've done decent maintenance and ended up with a reliable, fun-to-drive, economical car. The timing belt broke at 90K (no harm done; I should have replaced it sooner), but routine maintenance has been fine, brakes long-lasting, transmission no trouble. I'll be selling it reluctantly, 'cause I think it has many more miles on it!
Great handling, reliability, comfortable for long hauls, even the 4-cyl--which loves to rev---has been a fine freeway cruiser.
Car is out of production, so this doesn't really matter. Evidently Ford could hardly manufacture this for less than the Taurus, but could never ask nearly as much for it. Too bad--though I'm happy to know the Mondeo platform survives, and has been updated, in Europe. Will Ford ever import these?
Garbage. Car shakes all the time, speakers are broken, all the windows don't roll up or down Oil pan leaks, shocks and struts are shot, and overheated all the time. Put $2000 in to it for tune up, transmission, and water pump and timing belt. Never buy this car whatever you do.
I bought A 96 Ford Contour with less than 100000 miles on it. Drove it one day transmission went out. Had it replaced and then less than 6 months later same thing. I had to replace the water pump, timing belt, serpintine belt, battery, and battery wire on this in 6 months and not to mention after replacing the cable. The car caught fire! Never buy anything stamped found on road dead again!
It has great gas mileage when it runs right
They have already scraped the car. The best improvement that anyone looking to buy one can do is don't. Look at something else. If you have one sell it quickly!
Bought this Contour in late 1997 with 18,000 miles, and had it ever since-2L four and 5 speed manual makes it a fun- to-drive econo car. Replaced battery and alternator at 43000 m and valve cover gasket and spark plugs at 85000 m. Mine gets great mileage and never has left me stranded. These cars might fall apart if they are flogged hard, with light construction and 2750 lb curb weight. But mine is still fun to drive and has cost me next to nothing to own.
Dependable, quiet for econo car, good driver seat comfort, nice clutch and throttle, great A/C for 90,000 miles, good handling, great mileage on regular unleaded.
Plastic dome light fell apart from sunlight on the roof, 14 inch standard wheel/tire combo is too thin for tight maneuvers, front tires will wash out, cup holder is pretty sad.