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Discussion Starter #1
I found a 2002 XR with 168,xxx miles, manual transmission. The seller reports rough running when cold and occasionally at low speeds. He reports changing the fuel and air filters with no improvement. He also reports it needs rear struts, a wheel bearing, and an AC leak.

I've browsed the forums but don't see a "common problems" type thread. I'm going to see it today and hoping for some donated Cougar wisdom.

I also have to admit my ignorance of this car. I barely remember but. After a little research, I was surprised to find it's basically the extension of my 1998 Ford Contour.

Thanks in advance; all help appreciated.
 

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It should be almost the same duratec V6 thats in your contour so the problems would be very similarly solved.
 

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Welcome to the bunch, Todd. I hope your purchase works out and that it turns out to be a good example. it's certainly the right engine (if it's a V6) and definitely the right transmission to enjoy this car. I had an A/T V6 and it was a completely different animal than my manual one now.

you're right, this is indeed essentially a re-bodied contour/mystique/mondeo. I am sure folks with more expertise will correct me if I make an omission, but it's ostensibly the same engine, transmission, subframes,suspension, brakes, steering... Yeah. both are the CDW-27 platform. there are minor differences - the 01-02 Cougar use a different alternator and alternator mount, the Diffs I believe were different between early contours and late contours/cougars, and this would be a returnless fuel system instead of your contour's return-style system, to name a few. but I Trust you'll be in familiar territory.

If you were to ask me, I'd suggest to check the same things I did when I bought mine - the integrity of the rear subframe, which you don't need to jack the car up to check; a man fits on his back below the car, coming in from the rear bumper. it gives you a chance to check the floor sections the rear subframe bolts onto, as well. I've found them to be rust-prone areas. fuel tank straps, though not a major problem,are also visible from there; these cars are getting older, and replacements can be hard to find, but that shouldn't be a deal breaker. while you're down there, you should be able to get a good look at the rocker panels, especially just behind the front wheels and in front of the rear ones. they loooove to rust out there too. last rust-prone spot is the floor just below the driver's feet. then of course there's the fender and quarter skins but hey, that's every car in the Rust belt..

you probably won't be able to tell this unless you give the dealer a call with the VIN, you yank the back seat out or the owner tells you it was done, but the fuel pump and housing had a recall in '04, which is good to ensure was done; the old design tended to clog up and give poor performance overall and terrible below 1/4 tank. even if the new design is installed, these cars tend to eat a fuel pump every 5-8 years, it seems. it's not a big job, but you do get your hands wet with a bit of gasoline.

I've saved the best for last : i think the most common issue that I see among newer members of the club, right after 'hey, my car runs rough' is 'hey, my alternator won't charge.' the charging system is a little finicky, though it was more on the 99s and 2000s than it is on the 01s and 02s. the wiring runs behind the engine, there's a main fuse there that's hard to access, and.. for some reason, the alternators just like to go out. I'm not sure why. I've been lucky - I've had this particular car for 2 years now, and it only ever needed it when I bought it. it's been fine since. but it's definitely something you would do well to keep an eye on. the guys here like to get those 'lifetime warranty' ones. the warranty tends to come in handy.

as for the car running rough : they're older cars. if the intake manifold gaskets (and, for that matter, the other gaskets of things that bolt onto the intake) haven't been done, it's probably about time they were.


these are fine drivers, are fantastic highway cruisers, and are very comfortable, modern looking cars that I feel are undervalued on the market. a 3.0 engine out of an Escape, Taurus or other fits relatively well, if you're inclined to modify yours. you get a lot of bang for your buck, as long as you stay on top of maintenance. I certainly hope you'll find this true with yours. I wish you the best of luck and a big hearty welcome to our little corner of the web.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the replies so far, especially yours Joey. Here's my impressions after the test drive.

First, this is a local car and the original owner's dad. The son put about 150k on it and the seller bought it several years ago. The car sat (amazingly) for about 5 years and started right up with a new battery. The erratic running problems are new. The car is bone stock with no accidents.

The seller reports changing the fuel filter twice and the MAF, and I believe the IACV. The car is driveable even on the interstate. But I've never seen a car run so erratically. It will start and idle fine, then begin bucking (violently) trying to stall. Starting off requires RPM above 2k and feathering both the clutch and throttle to avoid stalling. The car does better and even sometimes smooths out between 2-4k. It essentially requires 1 gear lower while driving to keep the revs up, and even then the car's not happy. I acts like it's fuel starved, but it's erratic.

The owner also said the right rear strut was shot and allowed the tire to rub the inner fender. I saw no evidence of that. However, even in light cornering (parking lot), there's a pretty bad scrubbing type sound from the right rear. Perhaps the subframe?

Also, the seller says the plugs are original. Dunno if bad plugs would account for the erratic running.

All suggestions appreciated and thanks in advance.
 
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