I have driven my Contour SE practically every day since I bought it new in 1998. It has the 2.5 L Duratec engine and a five speed manual transmission. This car drives and handles like a quality German machine. The manual transmission also has that German response and feel. I've put 225K miles on the car and it's still going strong. The AC quit a couple of years ago, but I'm too cheap to replace it. Other than that, maintenance has been limited to fluid changes, tires, brakes, shocks, and the front ball joints. Believe it or not, I'm still on the original clutch with no signs of slippage.
I bought my '98 Contour (2.0 Zetec VCT, 5 sp manual) with 26,000 miles on it 8 years ago and now it has just crossed over the 100,000 mile mark. It is reliable, comfortable and economical. I've replaced a few things over the years as expected but this car has spoiled me. Sometimes I think it's time to upgrade but when I read reviews,I go running back to my Contour.
I originally leased this car for two years. I decided to buy the car because I had no problems up until that point. About two months afterwards, my transmission blew. 6 months later it was the engine and so on and so on. I ended up having to bring the car in for a minimum of $500 worth of repairs every 6 months like clockwork. Car had to be towed at least 10 times before I was finally able to get rid of it. Nobody ever really figured out the O2 sensor problem, electric problems,belt problems,etc. It's a shame because the car handled great after the repairs and it was very comfortable. Ford has the worst customer service I have ever experienced, they basically disown you after you leave the lot.
Nothing but problems. Nothing but money on top of money. If you are going to buy this car second-hand you have about a 25% chance of getting one that's good. $3500 in 2 yrs and in need another $1200 more. 2 alternators, rack and pinion, etc. I dumped mine. I wouldn't even sell it to another human being.
This car is AMAZING! We bought it at $1500, great condition, and it only had 52,300 miles on it! I haven’t had any big problems with it. The biggest problem was a flex pipe falling off ($150), common problem. Runs and drives smoothly, has great gas mileage, wonderful cooling & heating system. This car gets me from point A to B and even to C. This is my first car and I love it! Large trunk, comfortable back seat, great sound quality, the fans are a bit loud but at least you know your engine won't overheat. Great first car, great turning, overall nice car. This car is small and can maneuver around large objects, but it still has great leg room.