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Is a 1998 Ford Contour STD really unrepairable?

On November 26, 2008 at about 10 a.m.,while driving in heavy traffic on a road used for construction, I ran over something which made a loud thump,-- within about 2 minutes, there was a loud knocking sound under the hood when I accelerated,-- the car began to lose power,-- I turned to escape traffic,-- the car died completely, momentum carried it through the intersection, thus avoiding collisions with oncoming traffic.

The car a 1998 Ford Contour STD was towed to Advanced Auto in Scottsdale, AZ where $1137 had been spent two weeks before on November 12, 2008. This amount included 4 new tires, a tune up, spark plugs, oil change, power steering fluid, new gasket cover, idle adjustment. The manager there said he didn’t know what the problem was: the car would not start. Two and a half days later, (@ 18 hours of trying to diagnose the problem, he guessed that the fan belt came loose or broke, damaged wires and shorted out the computer. For an additional $960 he could install a new computer, but could not be certain it would work properly.

I called my insurance company, The Hartford, and filed a non-collision claim on December 3, 2008. They towed the car to their network facility, Power Body Shop in Scottsdale, AZ. The mechanics there could not fix the problem, the car would not start. They installed a crank sensor, it still would not start. They determined it was not an accident claim, but a mechanical one, therefore the insurance would not cover it. They have as of December 5th, requested a Ford troubleshooter to confirm their findings.

The car is apparently unrepairable. My question: is it possible that whatever I ran over that day caused the fan belt to break, damaged wires and shorted out the computer if that is the problem. Was the work done on November 12, 2008 faulty, or did the road hazard cause the damage?

What damage?? Have YOU seen any damage? Was the fan belt missing when you had the car towed in originally? The computer is not located anywhere near the fan belt, there are few if any wires located in this area.

I would have it towed to a Ford Dealer before you give up on it. They have a parts department that can support any needed repairs and diagnostic equipment to quickly isolate the problem…

All cars are repairable, it is just a matter of how much you want to spend. I think at this point you need a second opinion. If the place is thinking of spending $960 of yours on a maybe you need to say thanks but no thanks. It is possible some kind of debris popped up off the road, found its way to the belt got caught up in the pulley and broke it but you need to run, not walk to a source that can give you a definitive answer.

I agree with Waterboy, and I doubt very mudh if you shorted out the computer.

STD means Sexually Transmitted Disease, and I don’t think Ford is dumb enough to hang a moniker like STD on any of their cars (at least I hope not).

Are you sure you car isn’t a Ford Contour SVT? That would make more sense, especially considering the money you’ve spent on this car.

Be that as it may.

After you ran over the object and the car died in traffic, did you open the hood to investigate? Was the serpentine belt (it’s not a fan belt, the fan is electrically driven) missing or damaged? Did you see ANY damage, either under the hood or under the car?

Did the check engine light come on? Did any warning lights come on? You’re not telling us enough.

If the serpentine belt did, in fact, break, and damage wires (what wires?), the damaged wires should be clearly visible, and the damage evident. Is there any visible damage?

This is not guesswork, and these things don’t happen in a vacuum. Are there damaged wires or not? Even if there are damaged wires, and they shorted out, fuses should have blown to protect the computer and other vital components.

Has anyone checked the fuses? Or the fusible links? I don’t think the computer was damaged.

Body shops are not experts in automotive electrical systems, and if there was no body damage (you didn’t say there was), there’s no point in taking the car to a body shop.

You haven’t told us whether the no-start is an ignition problem, a fuel problem, or a mechanical problem. Is the engine getting fuel? Is there spark? Is the compression OK?

Who are the people working on your car? Are these chain store mechanics? Do you have a regular mechanic?

If not, why not?

It will be VERY interesting to hear what the Ford troubleshooter has to say. Please keep us posted.

In the mean time, I suggest you start searching among your local independent automotive specialty service/repair shops. Perhaps you will find one in which they speak “SVT,” and maybe they can help you. C’mon, it’s Scottsdale. Someone in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area understands these cars.

Unless, of course, your Contour really is an STD. In which case, I don’t even want to think about it.

I might question the competency of some of the people involved in the diagnosis.
How does one “guess” at a damaged belt or wires? It’s either torn up or it’s not.

Eighteen hours of diagnosis and no clue? It should not take more than 30 minutes to determine the basic cause of the car not starting. It requires fuel, a spark, and compression; all easily determined.

I assume here that someone has actually looked underneath the car and verified the oil pan does not have a hole in it which allowed all of the oil to blow out or the oil pan was caved in leading to a broken oil pump pickup tube; either of which could lead to a loss of power and a trashed engine?
Also easily determined.

I’m going to guess that you didn’t actually run over anything. The thump you heard was the belt breaking and hitting the inside of the hood or fender. The other possibility is what OK4450 suggests, there is a hole in the oil pan and your engine is toast. I also agree you need a competent mechanic to look at it. It doesn’t sound like any of these guys so far have been. A body shop is not necessarily going to be a good place to diagnose an engine problem, and Advance Auto is a parts store chain that will install batteries and tires, but has no real mechanics.

Maybe the Ford expert will know what he/she is doing.

Thank you very much for your helpful response.
The car belongs to a friend of mine, who I am trying to help.
She has now had it towed to Five Star Ford in Scottsdale -
to have them try to diagnose the problem. To clarify - it is listed on the title as a LSG Ford Contour. I am not sure where the STD classification came from.
It is really nice to get some outside support on this problem.


STD means Sexually Transmitted Disease, and I don’t think Ford is dumb enough to hang a moniker like STD on any of their cars (at least I hope not).

I was thinking maybe it just needed a shot of penicillin.

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I hate to say that a 98 Contour may not be worth driving even if it runs great. It isn’t really fair to say it if the owner has few options due to a limited budget, but if there is money to work with, there’s no point in driving a disposable car. This problem reminds me of the 87 Tempo inertia switch which had to be reset after a good bump in a construction area. Somebody might find a hundred dollar repair that keeps the car on the road; soon, we hope.

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