Economical (especially the manual diesel models), comfortable, good to drive and great value for money, the third-generation Ford Mondeo remains a favourite with used car buyers.
Gens one and two had been good but this third-gen model probed new heights and, but for its mainstream badge, continues to be a genuine alternative to vastly more expensive, prestige rivals including the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4.
There was a choice of 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol engines but by far the biggest seller, and the version most popular with large fleet operators, was the 2.0 TDCi Duratorq diesel, available in 6-speed manual and Powershift automatic forms.
Edge kicked off the trim range but even this was well equipped with cruise control, air-conditioning, tyre pressure monitoring and multiple airbags, including driver’s knee. It also had Ford’s Easyfuel system which prevents miss-fuelling.
Mid-spec Zetec (alloy wheels, body-coloured door handles, chrome detailing) was the mainstay of the range, though, the remaining trims being upmarket Ghia, Titanium and Titanium X.
The hatchback was the most popular body, closely followed by the cavernous estate. The saloon remains a rare sight, in part because it’s almost indistinguishable from the hatch.
A facelift in 2011 heralded a fresh new nose and tail, and more powerful engines, some featuring Ford’s ECOnetic fuel-saving technologies.
By the time it was replaced by the fourth-generation model in 2015, high-spec versions of the third-gen Mondeo were filled with advanced driver assistance technologies including lane departure warning, adaptive headlights and blind spot alert.
Changes to the MOT test in recent years mean you should check that all warning lights relating to the Mondeo’s safety systems are functioning.
How reliable is a Ford Mondeo?
See below and you’d be forgiven for thinking the Mondeo is a problem-prone vehicle. However, in 2012 it was declared the eighth most reliable three-to five-year-old car in an analysis of Warranty Direct claims records.
The author bought a 50,000-mile 2007-registered 2.0 TDCi Edge 5dr in 2011 and ran it for a further 60,000 miles and four years without incident.
Nevertheless, Haynes’ engineers have identified a number of potential problems that can raise their head, including excessive smoke from the fuel burning heater, a ‘booming’ noise from the front of the car, a leaky transmission and a noise from the front wheels.
Recalls have been few in number although one, affecting the anti-lock braking system, is among the more serious. The brakes may lock up under emergency braking due to valves in the hydraulic control unit being of the wrong specification.
Another equally serious one concerns the possibility of a fire due to fuel leaking from injection system onto the engine. The recall affected diesel engined Mondeos.
For information on official safety recalls, check the DVSA recall website here. Examples include:
- ABS may not function properly (no build year information)
- Hard brake pedal may occur during engine warm-up period (01/11/08 – 12/03/09)
- Fire may occur (no build year information)
- Headlights may switch off without warning (03/05/14 – 22/12/15)
Excessive smoke from the fuel burning heater, which heats up the engine coolant to cut emissions as well as boost cabin warmth, could be caused by air in the fuel system. It can affect most models at all years. Another universal problem is a grinding noise from the front of the vehicle. It’s likely to be a damaged driveshaft centre bearing.
A ‘booming’ noise from the same area at high speeds could be vibrations in the active radiator grille due to a gap in its upper side. The engine not starting on manual cars fitted with keyless entry could be a faulty clutch pedal switch. Another possible cause of the engine failing to turn and start on 2.0-litre diesel cars from 2008-10 is lost exhaust gas temperature sensor settings.
Where fitted, few cars are immune to problems with their diesel particulate filter (DPF). The Mondeo is no exception with typical symptoms including the engine speed increasing, the engine running on, a rise in the oil level or the oil contaminated with fuel.
Power loss, a fluctuating idle speed and activation of the limp-home mode can point to problems with the injectors on cylinders two and three. Diesel Mondeos from 2007-10 can experience an external fuel leak accompanied by a loss of power. Check the fuel injector return line.
Meanwhile, 2.0-litre diesels at all years can suffer a loss of power before defaulting to limp home mode. It’s possibly caused by a short circuit affecting the exhaust aftertreatment glow plug. Diesels from 2007-10 can stall due to a faulty throttle body.
Poor engine performance and high fuel consumption affecting certain 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol models from 2009-14 is likely to be faulty engine control unit software. It just needs updating.
An oil leak from the transmission on certain 1.6 Duratec (07-13), 1.6 Duratorq (11-14) and 2.0 Duratorq (08-10) models is an incorrectly fitted right-hand intermediate driveshaft and a damaged gearbox seal.
Clutch disengagement failure and/or difficult gear engagement on certain 1.6 Duratorq models (11-14) is a faulty clutch cover, which may need renewing.
Failure to engage gears on the 2.2 TDCi (08-10) is likely to be a disengaged gear selector cable. Check the connection.
Steering, wheels and suspension
A grinding noise from the front of the vehicle in first or reverse gear on most models and at most ages could be caused by insufficient grease on the driveshaft. The fix involves cleaning the driveshaft spines thoroughly and resealing with silicone sealant, before applying grease.
Most models at all ages were the subject of a recall to check the anti-lock braking system. The problem is that the ABS hydraulic unit valves do not conform to specification with the result that during heavy braking, the brakes may lock up. The only solution is to renew the ABS hydraulic unit.
Certain 2.0 Duratorq models (07-10) were also recalled for a sticking vacuum pump non-return valve when the engine was warming up. It could manifest itself as a stiff brake pedal accompanied by reduced braking efficiency. The solution was to fit a modified non-return valve to the brake vacuum pump. Check with your Ford dealer if your car was one of those affected.
All models at all years can suffer failure of the remote key caused by a discharged button cell. Renew the button cell, number CR 2032, install a new part with the positive side facing upwards and refit the cases.
All models could experience the headlights and indicators flashing unintentionally and/or headlights switching off, a problem caused by errors in the control software. Update the software for the body control unit and the powertrain control unit.
Problems with the central locking and power windows on some models is possibly caused by a faulty driver’s door control unit. Check the CAN-Bus signal in the wiring using a diagnostic tool.
Seatbelt warning deactivation is another widespread problem. Here’s the fix without a diagnostic tool:
- Apply the parking brake
- Automatic transmission:
- Select 'P'
- Manual transmission:
- Select neutral
- All vehicles:
- Turn the ignition key to position '0'
- Close all the doors
- Turn the ignition key to position '2'
- Note: Do not start the engine
- The warning light should go out after 10 seconds
- Within 1 minute
- Fasten and unfasten the seat belt 9 times
- The seat belt warning light will flash 3 times
- The procedure will be completed
- To activate the seat belt warning:
- Repeat the procedure