Common Problems with the Ford Cortina Mk1

Here are some faults and other common problems with the Ford Cortina Mk1 that you should look for if you are a buyer.

It has to be said that mechanically, the Ford Cortina Mk1 had few major problems. It is important that you do look carefully for the following potential faults.


As usual, you should listen for bearing noise and look for excessive smoke. If the oil warning light stays on for a while after the engine has been started, there could be trouble ahead. Some of the ford engines can suffer from timing chain rattle and that would need the chain and all sprockets replacing to cure it. If you have the crossflow engine, older examples can suffer from cracked cam followers which need the engine removing in order to put it right. On high mileage (or duff low mileage) engines, wet oil round the edges of the rocker cover can indicate worn piston rings or a blocked breather tube, obviously the latter common problem with the Ford Cortina Mk1 is muche cheaper and easier to fix. I remember my Old Man regularly cleaning the breather tube on the Mk2 Cortina that we had.

If you are buying a Lotus Cortina, a common problem can be the clutch and the synchromesh between 2nd and 3rd gears.

Bodywise, the Cortinas all suffered from the common faults of wing, sill and door corrosion plus they were susceptible to rusting around the headlights too. But no more so than other cars of the era. Other areas to check in particular are the mountings for the front suspension and anti-roll bar, bulkhead and A-pillar area, wheel well, chassis at the back and the jacking points. Make sure that any repairs to the bodywork in crucial areas like the A-pillar and suspension mounts have been done properly. Corroded, missing and damaged exterior trim can be expensive to replace. If the interior smells a bit mouldy or fusty, check carefully for floor pan corrosion and holes.

Inside, the trim is pretty much bound to be a little shabby and a common problem with the seats is broken stitching, but that isn’t too serious.


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