Common Faults with the Ford Cortina MkII
When buying a Ford Cortina MkII, as with any classic car, there are certain areas that you need to check carefully. Having said that, there aren’t too many common faults with Ford Cortina MkII and as a classic car, it isn’t too bad on the whole. It is the bodywork that generally lets it down and earned the nickname of the ‘Dagenham Dustbin’ as it was fairly tinny!
The engine and gearbox are fairly robust and the engine is very easy to work on. In the mid 1980s, I had a 1970 Cortina MkII with around 180,000 on the clock and after tuning the engine I was getting 44 mpg.
On the Cortina MkII that you are thinking of buying, check that the engine starts well and has no low frequency rumbles or knocking that could indicate crankshaft bearing or big end problems. The engine sometimes sounds like the tappets need adjusting but that doesn’t indicate the engine is in a bad state as they can sound fairly ‘tappety’ even when in good condition. Take the car for a drive and if there is an oil pressure gauge, it should read between 30 and 40 psi.
Listen also for noisy valve gear which can indicate worn camshaft, followers and rockers which will necessitate a top end rebuild. Listen also at the fron
t of the engine for the characteristic rattle that indicates timing chain wear. But if you see fumes from the oil filler cap and blue smoke from the exhaust, that probably tells you that either the piston rings or the bores (or both) are worn. It is probably cheaper to source a new engine if that problem surfaces!
Common Faults with the Ford Cortina MkII Gear Box and Transmission
Check how smooth the gear change is, if it crunches, that could indicate problems in the future. If the synchromesh on the second gear is failing, it can be the first sign of big issues ahead. Couple that with the transmission jumping out of top gear and you could have anything from a broken spring in the gear change fork rod or a loose coupling bolt to major wear in the gearbox. Happily, reconditions boxes can be sourced and are only moderately expensive.
The above image is from the wikipedia and was taken by a chap called Adrian Pingstone and released into the public domain June 2003.
The steering is a tad loose and heavy but that is normal. What isn’t normal is cracking or other noises as you turn the wheel. Check the suspension and steering joints for wear. The rear axle is well built and is generally trouble free but check for oil leakage from the pinion seals.
Common Faults with the Ford Cortina MkII bodywork
The bodywork is the Achilles heel and is also the most expensive to sort out. As well as the usual wheel arch, front wing and sill checks, you need to take a look at some other specific areas to ensure the care is actually safe to drive.
The bonnet skin can become detached from the frame so check that carefully if the bonnet leading edge is showing signs of rusting. Inside the engine compartment, look in particular at the area aft of the hinges and under the gutters. If there is rot here it has come from underneath the inner wing. So you will then need to check from inside the cockpit and up under the dashboard as that will also be affected by the water ingress under the inner sill. Whilst examining the engine compartment, check also the headlight mounting plates have not rotted – if they have, the need replacing.
At the other end of the car, check the boot floor pan, especially where it meets the spare wheel well. The inner wings can rot too, that is also seen whilst examining the inside of the boot.
Check the jacking points, chassis rails and outriggers for corrosion, all are prone to rotting. Remove the rear seat and check the floor pan to make sure that the rear suspension mounting is not rotted through.
Check carefully the door pillars – as you open the doors, if there is an excessive movement it could indicate that pillars are rotting. A slight movement is normally caused by a bit of wear on the hinge pins and holes in the hinge supports.
Finally, check the brake pipes for corrosion, the original pipes were steel but will usually have had to be replaced at some point with corrosion resistant tubing. I remember MoTs with my Cortina MKII – if they could find nothing else, there was always the brake pipes to fall back on to fail it …
So there you have it, the common faults with the Ford Cortina MkII. Please do not use this as a definitive buying guide, we strongly recommend that you take along a competent mechanic when buying any classic car.