Piston Slap: The New Edge Cougar Must Die

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

Jeremy writes:

I traded in my 99 Dodge Dakota for a 2002 New Edge Cougar (2.5V6, automatic) in 2006. At the time it had 35k on it and I was the second owner. It started its life in Ohio, and I bought it in Flint Michigan. A year after I had it, I pulled out of a gas station in heavy traffic and got hit dead on at the front wheel by an Accord. I had it towed to the dealer and repaired completely there. After that repair, a year and a half later I had to do the ball joints and CV shaft on the right side.

It had a tune up (plugs, wires) and front breaks in 2008. In 2009 it got rear breaks and the transmission fluid was drained and re-filled.

I have replaced the o2 sensor about three times now.

I drove the car to Las Vegas in 2007 and I had the oil pan replaced by a dealer as well. I have swapped the battery and done general maintenance on it. In 2009 I drove the car from Vegas to San Francisco where I now live. The front end squeaked horribly bad and I had a replace the front end sway bar bushings to get it to go away.

San Francisco has not been kind to the car. It was hit in the back by the left rear wheel and now has a big dent. Some one nailed it in the front in the Target parking lot so it has a dent in the front right side. Its all street parking and apparently it looks like a target for the neightbors who dont know how to parallel park. If I park in front of my house, there car leans about 20 degrees to the right, and if it rains it leaks. So I park across the street and always keep it level.

It gets regular oil changes, and it had the coolant flushed in 2011.

Once I had trouble opening / closing the moon roof so now I just leave it closed. It does not leak. This car is a daily driver, and it shows. It is up to 130,000 miles.

Now that I live and work in the city, I drive the car about once or twice a week and when we go out of town camping. It runs good, its paid for, and the insurance is dirt cheap. I need to put new tires on it, but overall the car is solid.

It rides rough and its noisy (exhaust loose and clunking) but its still a good car. My question is what is the best thing I do to keep this running. I’d love to do some suspension work and smooth out the ride and handling a bit (I feel EVERY bump) but I am afraid that if I have them start working on it, things will just get worse and it will turn into a money pit. Cheap uncomfortable ride is WAY better than an Expensive ride.

Where is the best bang for my buck? Plugs and wires again? Should I do the timing belt? Flush n Fill the transmission? What is recommended to keep this thing running for as long as possible, or until my neighbor finally destroys it when he trys to parallel park in front of his driveway?

What I am most concerned about is making it worse. The car runs and drives fine now, and its solid. If I have preventative maintenance done, and things start getting worse I will hate my self. Am I just being paranoid here?

Sajeev answers:

Surprisingly enough, you aren’t paranoid. But not for the reasons you might think.

Don’t get me wrong, the New Edge Cougar was a fantastic sports coupe. Everyone knows that, Even Jeremy Clarkson liked it. But since it’s a V6 model well out of the warranty period, you must sell it. I’ve seen three of these (including Mr. Michael Karesh’s V6 Contour) suck up catalyst from the small “pup” cats attached to the exhaust manifolds, which scores the cylinder walls. And that eventually destroys the motor.

If you really, really like this car, find a set of Duratec Contour/Cougar headers…because they don’t have the pup cats, these eliminate the catalyst sucking problem. And they add a ton of hot-rod sound and a good bit more punch throughout the powerband. More to the point: BAD PUP CATS!

Again, Ford wasn’t the only company with this problem. And I feel a little bad for kicking this feline can to another owner who might experience this problem…but I feel obligated to tell you, dear reader, to run like hell.

Best of luck.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Bill mcgee Bill mcgee on Jun 25, 2013

    My wife's sister , a self-described " Cougar queen " , had two of these , IIRC both equipped with a stick . She had owned a number of Cougars before , everything from a 1967 XR7 to a couple of the aero Cougars , even a ghastly tarted up with padded vinyl roof , special " Texas Edition" version . By far , the new-edge version was her favorite . She was terribly disappointed when she went to the dealership hoping to buy a new one that they were no longer being built .

  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Jun 27, 2013

    A friend's wife had one of these, can't remember what year it was, but it was a great car for her, except it had the absolute worst seats I have sat in/on, since my stepfather's early 80's Olds 88. Those were worse, but not much. My friend constantly complained about them killing his back everytime he got stuck driving it, which was whenever his wife went shopping, took the dogs to the vet(Very big dogs), etc. He got stuck driving it at least 3 days a week. I decided to see how bad they were. I couldn't find a position where I could sit more than 10 minutes without my back or neck cramping up too. She refused to get rid of it, so he went and bought an old Camaro, like a '88, to drive on the "Cougar days".

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Funny comparison: https://gab.com/Did_I_Piss_You_Off/posts/112661740945412303
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Some insight. https://gab.com/Did_I_Piss_You_Off/posts/112661740945412303
  • Amwhalbi I know this is apples and oranges, but I'd rather have an Elantra N, a Jetta GLI or a Civic Si than either the Mustang or the Z.
  • Scott Miata for the win.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X On a list of things to spend my time and money on, doing an EV conversion on a used car is about ten millionth.