Over the last year or so I’ve started to think that it might be time for us to get a new car. We have an 11 year old Ford Contour. We’ve actually never had a brand new car. Our first two cars were “hand me downs” from Chris’ parents, then in 2000 when our Prelude kicked the bucket we decided it was time to buy our first real car.
We couldn’t afford a new car at the time because we were saving to purchase our house, but we really needed a car. We went and visited a friend of ours who worked at a Ford Dealership and that’s how we ended up getting our 1996 Ford Contour.
I can’t remember the exact price we ended up paying for our used ford, but I know we were able to trade in our very old (1984!) used Prelude that barely worked for about $4000 so that was taken off the price of our new used car. I think we ended up with a price of about $9,500 which was well within our budget.
This isn’t the best photo of our car and I can’t take a new one because Chris has the car today, but here’s what our 11 year old car looks like (excuse the fire truck, I took this shot last fall when there was a fire in the neighborhood):
Not bad, eh, for an old car? There’s absolutely no rust on it anywhere. I think that’s almost a miracle since we live in a cold climate and we don’t have a garage to put our car in during the winter months.
Overall we’ve been very happy with our car. When we bought the Ford we’d heard from other people that Ford’s have problems with this and that, but to tell you the truth every major car brand has some type of problem doesn’t it?
In the seven years that we’ve owned our Ford Contour these are the only problems that I can recall:
On a trip to Ottawa, a five hour drive, one of the wheels started to make a funny noise. We had to stop in a small town and take it to a garage to have it looked at. It turned out that the ball bearings in the wheel had frozen. We had them changed and had the tires rotated at the same time and we’ve had no further problems since that time.
A strange side effect of that one problem is that our anti-lock brake light is on all the time. Well, sometimes in the summer it goes out for a while, but once the cold weather hits it’s on again. We have the cars electrical system checked out and also had the anti-lock breaking system checked out and there’s nothing wrong. The anti-locking breaking works perfectly fine. The warning light being on is just a weird problem that doesn’t really mean anything.
A couple of years ago when I was either closing or opening the passenger side window I heard a crack and the window fell down into the door. The window didn’t break but the plastic mechanism that held it up and allowed it to go up and down when the power button was pushed had snapped. Fixing that problem wasn’t cheap. I think it cost over $200 because they had to take the door panel off to get into the window mechanism, plus they had to special order the part. At the time, our mechanic thought that all the windows might end up having the same problem. It’s true that the drivers side window sounds funny sometimes as we close it, but so far the mechanism is working.
The problem with the car that I find most troubling is that in the winter time the rubber liner around the doors and windows sometimes freezes over due to condensation in the car in the winter. This makes it almost impossible to open the door. When we forced it one time without knowing what trouble it would cause the rubber liner ripped off. We stuck it back in place, but it still comes loose from time to time.
Since the rubber around the doors and windows is a little loose now we’ve noticed that rain sometimes gets in the car during very heavy downpours. The rain of course must come down at the right angle to have this happen, so I guess it only happens once a year or so.
To combat the sticky doors during the winter we lightly rub some Vaseline on the rubber and this helps prevent condensation from sealing the doors shut. Most of the time.
We haven’t had any engine trouble to speak of at all. I’m very pleased to be able to say that. We certainly had enough engine troubles with our two other used cars (different brands). My husband Chris is pretty good about taking the car in for regular oil changes and tune ups. He does do some of the maintenance himself such as changing the spark plugs and filters. One of the filters is in a very odd and hard to get at place in the engine so that’s always fun to change, but he gets it done.
I don’t know if we lucked out and happened to get a great used car or if the fact that we maintain the car regularly and don’t drive it daily has contributed to our lack of serious problems with the car. Certainly when we begin looking for another car we’ll consider getting another Ford. I’m still not sure if we’ll get a new or used car this time round. I guess it will depend on the price range for which ever make and model we like best. I’m certainly not opposed to purchasing used cars.
If you live in the UK and happen to be considering getting a Used Ford visit the VCARS website where you’ll be able to browse through several pages of used Ford listings complete with descriptions and photos of each car.