Transmission problems are common in this model, often as a result of a failed front pump. The pump loses its ability to create hydraulic pressure, which an automatic transmission needs to function. A sign of front pump failure can be a whine type noise.
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Repairpal verified 2000 Ford Contour problems
The Check Engine Light can illuminate with codes due to the lack of EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) flow caused. This is commonly a result of a clogged passage in the intake manifold. To correct this problem, the EGR valve has to be removed and the passage cleaned thoroughly. Partial restriction of this passage can cause smog test failures for the NOx emissions without causing a drivability symptom.
If the vehicle hesitates or idles roughly after being parked for twenty to thirty minutes, with the engine still warmed to normal operating temperature, you may need to reprogram the PCM (powertrain control module) with new calibration.