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About JustTodd

  • Birthday 06/21/1966

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  • Gender
  • Location
    South Carolina
  • Interests
    Cars, movies, craft beer

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  • Vehicle owned
    98 Contour GL V6, 02 Cougar XR

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  1. JustTodd

    New Wheels

    Hope the install went well. I dunno the specs on the SVT wheels (other than 16") but I'd strongly recommend going with the same offset. These suspensions are very tightly tuned for specific specs and may not be happy with a drastic change in offset or diameter. Love to hear what you went with and the results.
  2. Let me add to this, if nothing else to show how well and tightly designed the suspension is: use the recommended air pressure. Always. Too high or low and the car isn't happy. In fact, this is the most picky suspension I've personally driven. With 15's, 31 front, 34 rear. Period. Your 'Tour will thank you.
  3. I read up on the Zetec, too little too late. Only US models were non-interference. To save the MPG (1-2%), models in other markets were interference designs.
  4. After buying my GL about 3 years ago, complete with 14" OEM steelies, one of the first things that impressed me was the handling and driving dynamics. Reading up on the car, I wasn't alone in praising the suspension. The only problem I noted was the front-to-rear oscillation when coming to a full stop, indicative of bad struts. Although the car had low mileage (60k), given it's age I wasn't surprised and thought little else of it. That is until I bought a parts car, another 98 GL with the I4. I bought it mainly for the 15" alloys, some parts, and maybe to make a dollar on eBay. The first thing I did was swap wheels and immediately saw the much wider offset with the alloys. I don't know the spec but perhaps 10mm? With a performance driving background, I was really eager to see (feel) how the car reacted. Even with a cheap set of Walmart Chinese (Douglas) tires, two of which badly needed replacing, the change was immediately noticeable. The car didn't just feel better, it felt like a different car. Improved feel and feedback and the suspension seemed to "wake up." I'm not sure if the increased offset or diameter were responsible. With a pretty nicely tuned suspension, I suspect both. I'm guessing the suspension was designed using 15" wheels with this offset. Other specs will work, just not as well. Another unexpected benefit was the front-to-rear oscillation was now gone completely. The alloys allow the suspension to "settle" where apparently the 14's did not. So, if you can find either OEM alloys to replace your steelies, or aftermarket wheels with OEM specs, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the results. If you go aftermarket, I'd suggest finding lighter wheels to soften the semi-heavy steering and free up a few ponies.
  5. Looks pretty dead but I'll give it a shot. I'm in Easley with a Contour GL and Cougar XR. I see the occasional 'Tour buzzing around here. Several actually.
  6. Mine started doing that right after I bought it. Took it to 3 different shops and got 3 different diagnoses. The good news was the tranny was fine. Your problem is likely the neutral safety switch located on top of the tranny but a PITA to get to. When it starts going bad, it can send random signals to the PCM causing the kickdown, etc.
  7. Just another intro note. Bought my '98 Contour 3 years ago for cheap transportation after very light research. Being a car guy, I was impressed with the interior/exterior lines (not counting the clunky shifter), the driving dynamics, and the V6. This was a 2 owner local car with only 60k miles with 14" steelies. I quickly bought a parts car and swapped the 15" alloys and later the rear spoiler. BTW the alloys made a HUGE difference in the car's handling performance. Seriously. Besides being obviously larger, they also have a wider offset. I think the 14's were too narrow and kept the suspension in a state of bind. I've chased a few electrical gremlins with it, namely diagnosing the bad neutral safety switch and o2 sensor wiring issues. With now 117k miles, I'm in process of replacing end links and chassis bushings and still need to rewire an o2 sensor connector. I've also flushed the tranny and replaced the fluid with Redline, before I figured out the neutral safety switch problem. A good idea either way. In March, totally by chance, I found an 02 Cougar XR for sale locally. It had several un-diagnosed issues and was also a 2 owner car. Due to the unknown issues and a motivated seller, I bought it for a really good price. If you enjoy your Contour but haven't driven a Cougar, you really should. Mercury definitely hit a grand slam and improved an already great suspension. I'll close my lengthy intro by simply saying this: BOTH of these cars should've been successful here. The Contour wasn't perfect but it was light years better than the Tempo. I think it's one of the most domestically under appreciated cars in my lifetime. The Mondeo's success in Europe somewhat counters the failure here. Personally, I think this car's story speaks (negative) volumes about we as Americans. As for the Cougar, I'm also disappointed it was discontinued. Mercury took a long shot and it almost worked. Had sales been better, the Cougar "S" would've been interesting and possibly helped level the playing field with Japan and Europe. Since the Cougar gained weight, I think a few SVT intake parts would've compensated and nicely complimented the amazing suspension. Still, I'm happy to own, and perhaps have saved, the last Cougar XR. I'll confess my ignorance (which pisses me off) on the parts car I bought. It was also a '98 GL. The only difference was the alloys and the I4 engine. The seller felt the timing belt slipped and the car wasn't running. I'd priced OEM alloys and got the car for less than a set of wheels, which is why I really wanted it. Plus, in addition to parts for my car, I sold a few parts on eBay. The seller thought the engine was an "interference" engine and, being an idiot, I never checked, assuming it was. I moved early last year about 40 miles away and left the car at the place I was renting. I'd completely lost interest in the car, and thinking it was an interference engine, didn't see it as cost effective to repair. So, I left it there. The landlord called a few times asking me to move it, but also not having transferred the title, I didn't see it worth it to have towed here simply to scrap. Being bored one evening, browsing the NECO forum, I fished around in the Zetec section. And realized my ignorance. Bah. A few days later, I drove by my old place on a Sunday afternoon, hoping the car was still there. Replacing the timing belt looked to be a huge PITA, but doable. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the car was gone. A call the next day confirmed the landlord had it moved over a year ago. With no transferred title, I have no claim to it. Besides, I'm sure it's been scrapped. Anyway, sorry to be so long and glad to be here. I may look for another Contour to save. I'd really like to find a Zetec with a manual as I'm curious how the saved weight/weight distribution impact the handling.
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