Mondeo Known Problems

These are the problems that I see repeatedly on Mondeo's, or I have seen mentioned on many web sites. This is NOT an official list and Ford would probably deny most of these if asked


The dreaded Starter Motor death whine
Brake disks warping
Skull & Crossbones  Cooling system failures  Skull & Crossbones
Duratec noises ("moosing")
Cutting out when cold (especially when damp)
Door noises when opening/closing
Heater vent breakage
Burning smells
The pull to one side
HT Lead breakdown
Wrong oil problems
Catalytic converter breakdown
Noise on Pull away
Draft from Door
Cat Converter Failure damages Braking
Rubber T Piece Failure
Coil Springs Snapping

The dreaded Starter Motor death whine

This was common on the mark 1 Mondeo's and most garages will know about it. Basically the Starter Motors have a habit of dying prematurely. As they are dying they make a characteristic whining noise prior to their demise. If you hear the said whine when using the starter expect a repair bill soon. Cost for normal starter fitted is around 80, I went for a heavy duty one for 130. Fitting it yourself is fun as its behind the engine and access is from below and poor.

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Brake disks warping

Its a Ford and so it will warp brake disks if they get too hot. All Fords have always done this since the age of dinosaurs. Fitting after market Disks (Tarox, Red Dot, EBC etc) will not only stop this but improve your braking too. In many Cases the warping seems to be linked with uneven tightening of the wheel nuts. This is a very common occurence if your wheels nuts were tightened using an air hammer. If a garage has touched your wheels always loosen and tighten by hand ALL the nuts (they should be at 85 lbs torque if you have a torque wrench). As the wheels hold on the disks it seems that even a slight unevenness can trigger the warping.

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Cooling system failures

In a recent Web Survey some 58% of Mark 1 Zetec and Duratec owners reported problems in this area.

Skull & CrossbonesWARNING! this problem is causing the demise of many engines if not attended toSkull & Crossbones

Both Zetec and Duratec models seem to have problems with 3 elements of their cooling systems. It is very common to hear of Thermostat, Water Pump and Temperature Sender unit failures. In fact the failure of the first two of these resulted in the demise of my first engine. At the slightest sign of the engine not running as hot as before, check these elements out and replace at 50k intervals regardless. Duratec engines seem more prone to eating Water Pumps and US Contours seem to suffer from this more as its hotter over there.

Mondeo Temperature gauges should read quite high. I have seen anything from the needle averaging between the R and the A in the "NORMAL" lettering. If you gauge does not rise this far then expect one of the above components to be at fault.

Failure to heed this normally results in a top end re-build. I have seen as little as a head gasket leak through to a total seizure and block failure.

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Duratec noises ("moosing")

Seems many Duratec engines (early series) can make a thrumming/roaring noise that Ford call Moosing. Us Brits of course don't know what a moose sounds like anyway. It's due to a particular resonance in the air intake plenums and Ford have a fix, that involves new plenum parts and a lot of re-building. Try tightening and moving your air induction boxes first or better still fit a K&N air filter or similar

Cutting out when cold (especially when damp)

I see many people with bad cold running problems, and It seems to be down to 3 things that are easily checkable, The first of which has affected me in the past

  1. Contamination of Air Mass Sensor. If this picks up any contamination then the temperature and cooling of the hot wire sensor will be affected and the mixture adjusted wrongly. I managed to get a small feather stuck to mine!!!!!, clean with a soft paint brush and be careful.
  2. Air Mass Sensor electrical connectors. These corrode and loosen very easily and can give all sorts of weird problems. Ford do a retrofit gold connecter kit for this. I clean mine regularly with WD40 and make sure all the contacts are tight. The clamps that go over the pins have  habit of coming loose. I believe that is caused by vibration from the Ford Plenum. When I removed this for fitting a K&N the loosening seems to have stopped (I think the shorter plenum stub is better supported and vibrates less now)
  3. Air Idle Speed Control Valve. This causes more than its fair share of problems and is a maze of small passages just waiting to get choked up. Either replace it (around 50 last time I asked) or first see if you can give the thing a good clean out (Petrol works).

See also my section on Idle Issues

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Door noises when opening/closing

The Mondeo's suffer from a poor design on the arm that stops the door opening too far and holds it in place. The mechanism wipes the tip and bottom of the thin double arm and removes the grease, so it sticks and scrapes as you open the doors (Back doors are worse). Nothing seems to stay on and WD40 and Oils don't work at all. HMP Lithium grease seems to work for a while and Motorcycle/bicycle spray on chain lube seems to work best. One to do every time you wash the car.

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Heater vent breakage

Very common on early mark 1 Mondeo's. The plastic vents in the dashboard are a bad design and far too thin and flimsy. This results in certain blades breaking and not turning with the rest. They can not be replaced individually, you require a whole new dashboard. I had 3 dashboard s fitted under warranty. The design seems to have improved as my 4th dash only has one broken blade after 7 years.

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Burning smells

Very common and I've seen magazine articles about it. If you get electrical/insulation type burning smells occasionally especially with the fan on setting 1 or 2 then we have an answer. In the passenger foot well, to the drivers side of the fuse box is the fans ballast resister where the fan speed is controlled by dumping the excess electricity. The connections to this are very suspect and overheat, melting the plastic if bad. Mine was discoloured brown. Apparently Ford have a replacement Resister and connecter (needs soldering) that fixes this. I just soldered all the connections directly.

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The pull to one side

This was made farmhouse by the Watchdog program really laying into it and the inability of Ford service technicians to fix it. There are two causes

  1. One of the suspension bushes is soft/knackered allowing the suspension to set differently on either side. This is probably more common on older Mondy's. Or the subframe is not aligned. The A frame bushes often go at about 60K intervals
  2. Tracking. Very simple to cure. Fords own tracking suggestions are Wrong!. My car used to pull to the left strongly on braking and went back to the Ford garage 3 times for this. They tried everything and couldn't cure it. About a week later I went to get some new front tyres at the small local tyre place, and got talking to the owner who also had a Mondy. He said, "pulling to the left, easy to fix" and proceeded to set my tracking at 0 degrees, voila, no more pull. Zero is within the Ford adjustment range as well. What it looks like is happening is that most garages are setting the tyres to Toe In as per the Ford desired setting. When the driver gets in the car and weights the right wheel more than the left (the standard suspension being too soft) this results in the drivers wheel applying more force to the left than the less weighted passenger side wheel and hence the pull. I've played with the tracking a lot since and 0 degrees also seems to give the best feel, grip and handling

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HT Lead breakdown

My 2.0L Zetec eats cheap HT leads. The ford leads are expensive and live for about a year. Halford ones about 3 months. Do yourself a favour and get a set of Splitfire leads or similar Racing spec ones. Cost about 70 (same as a Ford set). I change mine at 30k intervals anyway and no Splitfire sets have broken down ever. The symptoms vary, but mine would normally be a misfire under load or at idle. Really obvious to the driver, but in all cases NOT picked up on the EEC IV fault logger. I believe now that this is due to a fault on my coil or similar as my rev limiter occasionally picks up spurious firing signals which could be responsible. I recently tried another set of Bosch leads. After 3000 miles the interference on the radio was unbelievable.

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Wrong oil problems

There seems to be a lot of debate as to what oil you should be using. Haynes and most lists seem to say 10W/40 (and I've always run Mobile 1 10W/40 with no problems). But some Ford lists say 5W/30 and some people report starting problems and bad cold running until they swap to this. This Oil will be less thick at cold temperatures and may lubricate faster on cold starts. Either these folks live in very cold places or they have other engine faults, such as low oil pressure. By the way my engine runs at a maximum oil pressure of 80psi and a min on idle of 35psi when warm (oil temp of 90 C)

See the Service reference guide for a definitive list of what Ford recommend

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Catalytic converter breakdown

Now Mondy's are getting on a bit I am beginning to see several reports of internal breakdown of the Catalytic Converter components, which in some cases is restricting exhaust flow. I noticed that from 70K miles onwards that I was beginning to seem my emissions creep up very slowly at each MOT, a sure sign the cat was getting on a bit. At 90K the Cats housing split and upon removal its was obvious that a lot of the insides had broken down. When getting a new Cat do not go for cheaper models ( I made this mistake and the first failed an emissions test 4 months afterwards (No catalyst inside at all, manufacturers problem, and the second was so misshapen that it failed to seal on the manifold pipe) I bought a genuine Ford replacement and this works well and has low back pressure (200). All Mondeo's are required by law to be below 0.03 ppm CO2 and cannot not pass an MOT without one. By the way I can't pass the emissions test without the Cat fitted (Broquet and Ecotek products plus good state of tune) but fitting the CAT makes only a 2HP difference on power output  (thanks to Powerflow) so it stays on.

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Noise on Pull away

This is a very common problem and you hear it on a lot of the mark 1 Mondy's. When you pull away you get a clanking/rasping noise. Commonly everyone thinks its the engine mounts that have gone allowing the engine to rotate on pull away and to stress something (the exhaust header gasket). And a lot of garages will get you to change your mounts.

Indeed there is a problem with the early mounts falling to bits after about 70k miles. It is easy to see if this is the case. If you lay under the front of the car and reach up you can easily access the front mount. Feel to see if any of the rubber struts inside the ring have broken. The mount consists of a circular ring with a star shaped arrangement of supporting rubber struts. I padded mine by cable tying in some extra rubber bungs (Boots wine making section) this helped but did not cure the problem entirely. In fact Ford has redesigned the engine mounts now so they are a lot tougher.

After I had replaced all 3 mounts and the noise was still there (if was much worse in fact) I checked and discovered it was actually the gasket between the catalytic converter header pipe and the engine header down pipe. Ford use a circular bowl type arrangement with a gasket in it that allows the engine to swivel without stressing the Cat. This gasket is about 20 to replace and can be done easily by just slipping the exhaust mounting rubber nearest the car off, undoing the two spring loaded bolts and pushing the cat pipe down. Put a bag over the cat tube while you remove the old gasket to keep it all clean. The gasket kit includes new springs and nuts and 2 new rubber exhaust mounts

This is the view from laying under the car looking up and forwards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two arrowed springs are the items that set the pressure. The bolts are only partially threaded so once the bolts synch down tightening them further achieves nothing. I padded mine with washers to achieve a harder seal to cope with the Molemobile's harder cornering forces

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Draft from doors

Do you often think a door is not shut even when it is, or notice a draft from the door especially with the sun roof open. Then this could be your problem.

Basically the whole door is sealed from the outside world by the sheet of plastic that is glued inside and this glue can easily come unstuck. In fact if you've ever had the door trims off for any reason then there is a good chance this has happened. The door is designed to let water etc run down inside it and the plastic keeps it out of the car

Easy to fix, take of the door trim, remove the plastic and re-glue it with some mastic from B&Q. Better still while you are there replace the plastic with something thicker and add some sound proofing to the inside of the door. End of problem and a quieter car

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Catalytic Converter Structural Failure damaging Braking

Bad news this one. I have heard of many cases where the Catalytic converter fails structurally and allows gas to escape (Its happened to me at 70k miles) this allows a stream of very very hot gas to leak. Normally this would be taken care of by the heat shield under the car, but if the leak is at the front end then the gas can escape up and forwards into the engine compartment.

Guess what sits across the bay at this point just above the Cat, Yes you've guessed it, the vacuum servo line for your braking. Poor Martin Caxton has been telling me about his brake failure where a cat leak did exactly this. What is very worrying is that when he lost vacuum he had NO braking at all. Luckily for Martin he was at a slow spot in his journey and the only damage done was to his underwear, he said that the next place he would have used his brakes would have been the Dartford River Crossing Tolls!!!!!

So here is a heads up of a potentially very serious failure mode for your car. 2 things you can do. One is to keep an eye on your cat to make sure it isn't leaking (Don't go by noise, when mine failed it made no extra noise). The second one is to get a length of 10mm Armoured hose, pull the one way valve off of the vacuum unit and slide the hose down to the engine, trim to length and pop the valve back in. Voila a doubly reinforced and armoured vacuum servo hose that should survive if the worst happens, looks good too.

Of course Ford don't wont to know about Martins failure as I suspect this could easily become a recall

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Rubber T Piece Failure

Got a poor idle or are stalling at the lights, then have a quick feel underneath the coil. There is a rubber T piece hidden here than joins the EGR and pulse air systems to the engine block. Its subject to heat and movement and often splits. Its 4 quid for a new one and just pulls off and pushes on. Include it in your service checks. My local Ford place says its there second best selling Mondeo bit after the Suspension A frames.

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Coil Springs Snapping

Beginning to gets lots or reports from 93/94 Mark 1's of Coil springs snapping. Seems to be a trend. Symptoms obviously will be a large bang when it goes, but a lot of folks are reporting broken springs with little or no symptoms, just found at MOT time. If you've and older car, once a year (or if at all suspicious), jack each corner up and have a good look at the spring with a torch. Good excuse to fit a suspension kit anyway

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Mad Moles Mondeo Madness, Mad Mole 2001. You may see the Molemobile fly past in the Sutton area (Surrey).
Contact me on madmole@btinternet.com

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