BUYING A FORD MONDEO - REVIEW AND VIDEO ROAD TEST

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FORD MONDEO (1992-2000) (stills taken from video road test)

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MY VERDICT:

For:  

  • Good ride and handling
  • Easy to find a good driving position
  • 3ys and older are great value for money
  • Good space and equipment levels

Against:   

  • Dull and boring image
  • Heavy depreciation
  • Diesel engines are noisy and slow

I remember getting a brand spanking new Mondeo 1.8LX as a company car when they first came out, and its fair to say that compared with other cars of the time it was nothing short of a revelation. It felt tight, well built, and it even went round corners properly! I was also 22 years old so as you can imagine it had a hard life. 3 yrs and 80,000 rep miles later nothing had fallen off, ripped, rusted, or broken and it didn't let me down once. All this is a testament to how good the Mondeo actually was - and still is, as a used purchase. Okay, i admit that its not the sort of thing that you brag about owning at dinner parties, but Mondeo owners don't generally 'do' dinner parties anyway, so that fine. And yes, every man and his dog has got one, but there is a good reason for that as well. Now i'm thirty-something and have mastered the art of pretending to be middle-class, i (rather shamefully) find myself turning my nose up at the Mondeo - but thats my loss because the simple fact is that they give you more space, practicality, equipment, and driver appeal in one package than most other used family cars out there - and if you pick carefully amongst the 1000's for sale you will get great value for money as well.  

WHICH ONE TO GO FOR:

The best engines to go for are the 1.8 and 2.0 petrol. Avoid the turbo diesel as its both noisy and slow. The 2.5 V6 is smooth and refined but not lightning fast and although its fairly economical you will pay for it in insurance. Both the hatchback and estate are practical and popular. Try to avoid the saloon as its not that popular and therefore will be harder to sell.

RELIABILITY AND COMMON FAULTS:

Although not up to Honda standards it still pretty reliable, and if it does go wrong it usually doesn't cost the earth to fix. There are reports of worn suspension which can cause problems under braking. Stiff gearchange and/or clutch is another common fault (and clutches are expensive to replace). Make sure the cambelt has been changed at the correct intervals on the diesel - if it hasn't, walk away. Finally, there are many Mondeos out there that have covered intergalactic mileage which means they are favourites for 'clocking' - see buyerguide below to spot the tell tale signs..

SAFETY:

Scored 2.5 stars (out of a possible 5) in the Euro NCAP safety tests - only an average result which was not helped by the loss of half a star due to less than adequate side impact protection. The Mondeo didn't do much better on pedestrian safety either (scoring 2 out of 4 stars). The redesigned second generation Mondeo (from 2000 onwards) is a much better bet if safety is a real concern. 

MODEL HISTORY:

Launched in 1992 as a replacement for ageing Sierra. Extensively revised in 1996 with oval grill, better gearchange, and improved dash and interior. Revised again in 1998 - mainly equipment improvements including air-con on all models except 'Aspen' and 'Verona'. Replaced in 2000 by an all new and redesigned Mondeo.

HOW TO AVOID BUYING A LEMON BY USING OUR BUYERGUIDE BELOW......

An old wise man with a strange hat once told me "time spend on reconnaissance is time seldom wasted" - which when translated into buying a used car means "a little preparation can save you a lot of money and frustration". Seriously, if you are spending thousands of pounds its worth following a few simple points to help you avoid being dissapointed with your purchase......so i hope you find this buyerguide useful.

Before seeing the car:

  • If it is a private sale make sure you view the car at the sellers premises - this will help determine if the seller is genuine
  • Always ask the seller to make sure the car is cold when you come to view it - warm engines can hide a multitude of sins

How to check the mechanics:

  • Before the car is warmed up check for a film of oil in the radiator - the presence of oil would signify internal engine leaks or a blown head gasket
  • Make sure the oil on the dipstick is smooth and has no bits in it or milky scum - again this could mean internal engine leaks
  • On starting from cold make sure the engine does not turn over sluggishly - this could mean a worn starter and or starter motor.
  • Check for oil leaks around the engine and on the ground where the car has been stood - any leaks could indicate expensive gasket replacement

Body and interior:

  • Worn drivers seat, pedal rubbers, and a shiney steering wheel all indicate a high mileage car - check these appear consistent with the indicated mileage
  • Evidence of scratches or tampering around the speedometer is a dead giveaway that the car has been 'clocked' and the mileage is not genuine
  • Check that the tyres have 1.8mm legal tread depth and the exhaust is silent when you cover the end with a cloth whilst the car is running - both can be price negotiating points of replacements are needed
  • Check that everything works such as switches, heater, a/c, windows, mirrors, stereo, interior and exterior lights - fixing any of these things can be a real pain
  • On older cars check for rust on the sills and floorpan (prod carefully with a screwdriver) - unless you are friendly with a welder rot can be expensive and messy to fix.
  • Check all body panels are consistent in colour and fit - if they are not it is likely that the car has been in an accident and has been repaired poorly

Road testing the car:

  • With the handbrake firmly on try to set off in 1st gear. The car should stall instantly - if it does not it is likely that the clutch needs replacing
  • After driving for a short while floor the throttle - a could of blue smoke out of the exhaust indicates worn bores or valve guides both of which are expensive to fix
  • The car should accelerate smoothly accross the rev range - flat spots or hesitation may signify fuel injection and /or computer problems which are notoriously hard to diagnose and fix
  • The car should pull away smoothly from a standing start - if it judders this may indicate oil contamination of the clutch plate and a new clutch will be needed
  • take the car to at least 70mph. The car should drive straight and not pull to one side. If there is significant vibration this may indicate any one of a number of hard to diagnose problems. Do not let the seller fob you off with "its just the wheels that need balancing".
  • When the car is stopped with the engine running turn the steering wheel from full lock to full lock - rough operation or hissing indicates the power steering is faulty

Finally, trust your instincts about the car and the seller and do not let your heart rule your head - if you are not happy just walk away!

I hope you found this information useful. For a more comprehensive appraisal of the Ford Mondeo you can download my full video road test. Want to see how easy the seats fold down? how much boot space there is? what the interior is like? how much leg room there is? what its really like to drive and live with in the real world?..... then just click on the link below.

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