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How Reliable are used Ford Festiva/Aspire?

occupant1occupant1 Posts: 412
These cars are built by Kia Motors in Korea with a Mazda engine for Ford. As confusing as they are, it seems they are all but bulletproof. I know Festivas with 200K plus needing clutches and exhaust and nothing else. I know Aspires already with over 100K still going strong. Of course some Festivas are beat up and burning oil and smoking but they have been abused. You can buy a good Festiva for $1500 or so. You can get a good Aspire 94-95 for about $3000, a 1997 should be close to $5000. A good buy if you can put up with a poor driving position (hurts my calf to use a clutch in these since the pedal is so high off the floor), no power (try going up a hill with 4 people and the AC on...) and nonexistent resale value. If I was a dealer I could buy 1994-1995 Aspires all day for $1000-$1500 apiece. (Metros too). I would choose the Metro 5-speed 3-cylinder for the so much better gas mileage that it gets. It also has the bad ride and the serious lack of power, but it is just as reliable and just as cheap to maintain.


  • I have a '95 Aspire with 108,000 miles. The only real expensive problem was the alternator going out around 60,000 mi. Within the past year, I've had to get the car serviced a few times because of a front wheel bearing failing. Kind of a nuisance, but the dealership covered the labor and some parts, which would have been quite a bit. The engine has been perfectly fine, though of course underpowered. Up here in NW Wisc., the car has acquired a few paint chips/rust spots, but nothing major.
  • Don't get me wrong, I think the car may be on its last legs. I'm trying to find something more powerful, better looking...

    I like the new Focus ZX3, with all the options it gets a little pricy though.
  • marbymarby Posts: 34
    I OWNED A 1989 PUT 230,000 MILES
    153,000 STILL RUNNING
    STRONG.1994 ASPIRE 125,000 STILL
  • tbavistbavis Posts: 7
    We paid $1800 for a '93 Festiva with 87,000 miles. Now 95,000 and no problems (though I stored it last winter while my daughter was in school - she needs it off-campus this year). OK, the usual wearout stuff - spark plugs, tires, brakes, battery. I don't think it's underpowered, at least empty... but I'm used to 4 cyclinder cars, having owned nothing else in 30 years.
  • I posted to the Focus list, but I guess my comments are better suited here! I have a '93 Festiva GL, with under 60K on it. Had to replace speedometer and emergency brake went out on me twice, but other than that, this "Toy Car" has been great! I live in the middle of nowhere and am considering trading up to the Focus, just because the little putt-putt does not do well in the slightest bit of rain, snow, or ice. Wondering if the heavier Focus hatch would be a better bet. Hate to part with the Festiva, though, she's a peach.... TIA, bluedog63
  • I recently gave up my 1989 festiva-l with 186,000 miles. I wish they sold the KIA Pride in the US.
    I bought a used '96 Aspire to replace it. Okay so far but the engine light is on and it is running rough. I'm glad to see others having good luck with theirs.
  • I have a 91 Festiva I've owned since new. Most reliable small car I've had in 30 yrs of driving. I put 4 snows on it for winter and get through anything! Brakes need regular service, and exhausts go quickly on it...
  • Try replacing your tires with 175/70R13's. Those help my Metro be more stable in the rain and snow and slush and whatever. If you have 12" rims, find an Aspire in a boneyard and swap for its 13" rims. You will notice a difference! The only problem is your speedometer will be a little high (i.e. it will say 55 and you will be ging 60-65).
  • curt3curt3 Posts: 101
    I owned both a '93 Festiva and a '95 Aspire and I have nothing but high regard for both cars. Back in January of '99 I purchased their cousin, a 1999 Kia Sephia. The Sephia became a lot of trouble three or four months into owning it. I wish that I could get my Aspire back. I sold the Sephia last week, by the way. The Sephia was a let down after being spoiled by the high quality of the Festiva and Aspire.
  • I miss my little Festiva. It was most reliable and very peppy. It was great on gas. Hardly had to do anything to it. I finally traded it for a '93 Mazda 323, which I also enjoyed. Because of the reliability of the Festiva car I am now the proud owner of a new Focus ZX3. Wow! What a nice car.
  • Well, my '95 Aspire is not in good shape. On Thursday (1/27) on my way to work, a deer decided to cross the highway and collide with my vehicle. It hit in the left-front panel, damaged the mirror, and finally ripped off the rear bumper panel. I'm now left with a turn signal that doesn't work, a door that only opens enough for me to squeeze through, and a styrofoam block for a rear bumper. I can't believe they used styrofoam in the bumper. Estimates have averaged to $2400. Since she's got over 120,700 miles, I don't think it's worth it to repair. It's a shame, because she still runs well...

  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    Scott, my VW Golf bumper was recently ripped off the car by a tow truck. I, too, was amazed to see styrofoam. Since then I've asked around and found that styrofoam is the best material for handling bumper crunch. Who would have thought?

  • I have a 93 GL, and the
    speedometer is
    vibrating like cazy,
    and almost all the
    numbers on the odometer have rubbed off...It's
    driving me CRAZY!!! :-(
    But I'm getting it
    fixed :-) Then next
    year I'm gonna get me
    another KIA. Maybe a Spectra...or a Rio, yeah.....
  • I am looking at a 93 Festiva w/ 64k at Used car dealer. The engine and trans. seem to be in good condition. I think it has been in an accident. Broken glass in the hatch area, both windows stick, wiper arm shaft is loose. He wants $1500, I offered $1000. What do ya think?
  • aahzaahz Posts: 1
    Check to see how bad the damage may be.
    If not too bad, buy the car.. I've had two of them. With the back seat folded up, the cargo space is incredible. I have put a mid size washer in the back and closed the hatch back to boot.
  • The body has been fixed to the point where it looks new. Ijust worry that the minor problems I saw in the car would be a prelude of things to come. Can the problems I descibed in post 20 be fixed?
  • The windows might be sticking because of the COLD WEATHER, thats what both of mine do too.
  • $300 BUCKS for a new speedometer????? I dont think so...Now its leaking oil...sigh.
  • My first Festiva was a 1989 4 speed which I totaled after 101,000 miles with no engine problems whatsoever. I then bought a used 1988 5- speed Festiva with 87,000 miles in 1994 which I currently still own. It now has 175,000 miles on it and no major problems with this vehicle only. My question is this.....has anyone here ever owned a Festiva with an automatic transmission and have you had any trouble with the transmission? I have a 16 year old that just got his permit and was thinking of getting an automatic Festiva. Any thoughts?
  • marbymarby Posts: 34
    Many come in shop with 100,000 miles plus.Make sure that transmission fluid was changed regularly by previous owner..They get about 30 mpg with automatic period
  • marbymarby Posts: 34
    You can get a used speedometer from a junk yard cheap!!! $20.00 or so.
  • hi, i am 16 and just recently purchesed a festiva. it seems to be a dependable car. i am paying 2100 $ for ir. it has a small dent in the passenger door and minor dent on the right above the wheel well. my windows also stick when it is cold. it is a 93 and has only 63k on it. have i been ripped off? everything works good and looks good. it runs good and has been serviced regulary. it has 12' tires. i would preferr 13', but i dont want to hurt the cars transmission. if i go w/ a low profile tire, the tire size will be close. i am happy so far. what can i do to make the car last? any suggestions for my new festiva?
  • I don't think $2100 is overly priced for a 93 Festiva with 63,000 miles. What amazes me is that no matter where I look for used Festivas they always have dings and dents in them. It is very hard to find a used Festy without any dings or dents. Just make sure you change your engine oil every 3-4 thousand miles. My 1988 Festiva has 175,000 miles on it and still running strong.
  • k_caricok_carico Posts: 2
    hey,thanks for responding to my reply. my car is still doing great. everyone who has had one, seems to have been satisfied with it. the festiva really gets dents&dings easily.i have a few, none of which are really noticable from a 15 foot distance. i believe i am going to put some rims on it and tint the windars. do you know the measurements for the tires? how wide can i go? how tall? i wish i had a set that hung to the road a lil better. i love the car. i will get my moneys worth out of it. i change the oil and everything every 28k-30k.please respond back to my msg.
  • donner6donner6 Posts: 1
    My '88 Festiva, was, without a doubt, the best car I ever owned. Never any engine or transmission problems. Burned hardly any oil, even at 113K miles. The original battery lasted eight years!! Consistently got 40-42 mpg, and that was w/ the 4 speed. Only bad points: exhaust (specifically mufflers) doesn't last long, nor do front disc pads. If Hurricane Fran hadn't swamped it, I am certain I would still be driving it. Interesting to read the other posts that say the Kia Sephia isn't as good a car.
  • markh6markh6 Posts: 5
    Hey k carico....I have only ever put on 155R12 tires on my Festiva. I usually buy the Douglas Metric Radials at Walmart and they only run $17.96 per tire. This last set I have on has been the best set of tires that I have ever put on this car. As I said before I have 175,000 on this 1988 Festiva and I know that I can get alot more mileage out of it. Just remember to keep your oil changed every 3-4 thousand miles. I've had no engine trouble. As someone said before the only trouble is with the mufflers wearing out and I have had some trouble with the rear wheel bearings but that is not a very expensive thing to fix. Good luck with your car!
  • spud6spud6 Posts: 5
    Have an 89 GL with 245000 miles with an auto. No trouble ever. Have had it since it had 25000 on it. I would buy one of these cars in a minute. Power is very acceptable.
  • markh6markh6 Posts: 5
    Hey, thanks, spud6. I appreciate the info. I am looking for an automatic Festiva. They are hard to come by here in Pennsylvania. I know I will find one sooner or later. Ford should have never done away with this vehicle here in the states.
  • frietzefrietze Posts: 1
    Has anyone had to have any transmission work done on their Aspire?
    I have a 94 5-speed, and it sounds like the differential is messed up.
    The shop says it will be at least $400 in labor, plus parts to fix it.
    Does anyone know where the drain and fill plugs for the transmission are? The lube place I went to can't find them.
    I've got 125,000 miles on it, with the same fluid probably.

    Has anyone traded one in recently? How much did you get for it? I might just have to bite the bullet and get a new car. This one might no longer be cost effective.

    Thanks for any help and insight!
  • I am currently thinking of purchasing a 1997 Ford Aspire and would like owners input. The price is $5500 and has 35,000 miles. How do they run, maintenance, and is there any comfort? I appreciate your imput.
    Looking in PA
  • markh6markh6 Posts: 5
    basement1, That seems pretty high for a 1997 Aspire. I live in the Harrisburg PA area and the used car ads and catalogs that I look at weekly have prices for Aspires somewhere in the $3500-$4000 range. I've also heard from people that have owned Aspires that they are not as reliable as the Festivas are. At one time I was going to buy an Aspire but I changed my mind after speaking to people that have owned them. This is only my opinion so my advice to you is to test drive the Aspire and see how it feels to you.
  • rawestrawest Posts: 1
    I am currently in the market for a small, dependable car that is good on gas mileage. I test drove a 96 Ford Aspire with 61000 miles on it for $4200. It seemed a bit sluggish going from first to second gear (it was noticeable and the car is automatic) Is this normal for these cars? Also, does anyone know how it compares to a 97 Geo Metro? I'm going to test drive one of those today, it's a 97 with 41000 miles, private seller is asking 5300 firm. I did a little research on modifying the ford's engine to make it a little zippier, has anyone tried this, comments? I have an 86 VW Cabriolet, and to be honest I would love to get a newer VW, but don't have the cash...
    Need Help!!! would appreciate any opinions...
  • judasjudas Posts: 217
    If you're thinking about shelling out 5500 for a used a Aspire, don't. Just step up to the pump and buy a new Echo or Focus.
  • deevcjdeevcj Posts: 9
    Well the first new car I ever bought was my 88 Festive GL (that means it had a five speed and tilt wheel, whooopie!). It was a great car, I recently sold it to my nephew as he just turned 16. I put nearly 100k miles on it and had to replace the muffler once, brakes twice and change the oil. It always started for me on the first turn, the hatch holds a bunch of stuff with the seat folded and the back seat can actually be used by an two adults for a short amount of time. JUST DON'T PULL OUT IN TRAFFIC.
  • In answer to the inquery in #35 concerning the transmission filler plug on the Aspire, since the engine, as I understand it, is the same as in my 1991 Festivas, transmission fluid is added by removing the bolt that holds the gizmo that holds the end of the speedometer cable in the transmission, and then popping out the cable and "end" which is pushed in with an O ring. There is a small "leg" that sticks down into the fluid for a dip stick. Use automatic transmission fluid even though it is a manual transmission.
    Take care popping out the cable. I broke the ear off levering it out and have had to use the original bolt and a large washer to hold down the assembly - which works fine.
    I would imagine there is a regular drain plug to get the fluid out as with any transmission, but I haven't looked for it.
  • venmanvenman Posts: 5
    I own a 1991 festiva and it is the most reliable car i've owned I currently have 80,000 miles on it and all I ever did to it is change oil every
    3000 miles and serviced the transmission at 30,000 and 60,000 miles (which I did myself)
    It is a automatic and I realy like the reliability and low maintenance of this car.I would by one again if this one would ever give up on me.
  • vonr91vonr91 Posts: 2
    My wife purchased a Festiva L Plus in 1990. She traded it in in 1998, after 110,000 miles of trouble free driving for an Accent. It was the most reliable vehicle we've ever owned. After four breakdowns in the 50,000 mile Accent, we wish we would have kept the Festiva.
  • batdanbatdan Posts: 2
    I have a 1989 Festiva with 116k miles; I've had it for 2 years, but now I have some problems. Last trip was particularly painful; first, the engine would stop, then power loss was obvious and eventually it would leak oil through the exhaust;
    right before I had the valve gaskets replaced, and I believe they did a poor job with that.
    The mechanic said that the compression is down to about 50psi on the central cylinders and that I should trade it in. I was thinking of replacing the whole engine.
    Please help with suggestions.
  • minikminik Posts: 1
    I am an international student in LA. I need to buy a car asap and it has to be both cheap and reliable. I go to school in the evenings and I am a female, so I don't want to end up with a broken car on the road. I am planning to buy a 1995 Ford Aspire.. Are they reliable?????
  • mswindexmswindex Posts: 1
    I am considering buying a 1991 Festiva for $1100 with CD player and all, but it has 150k miles on it. Bad idea?
  • kdominczakkdominczak Posts: 174
    How much can I sell 93 Festiva for?
    (automatic,ac,42K miles)
    Runs great,no problems with it.
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    kdominczak, have you had a chance to look at our used car pricing?

    FYI friends, to find used car pricing, choose Used Cars on the homepage, select Ford, select 1993, select Festiva.

    Using this pricing and looking at the want ads in your region can help you evaluate pricing on the car you want to buy or sell.

  • kdominczakkdominczak Posts: 174
    Thanks for the info.
  • jac18jac18 Posts: 2
    karl please give me more inf on your festiva were your located and the price
  • kdominczakkdominczak Posts: 174
    93' festiva is my mothers,
    she's living in Clearwater FL,
    she just wanted to know how much can she get for it?
  • cdyercdyer Posts: 3
    I hope I don't offend any of the members of the Classic Aspire & Festiva Owners Club.

    Basically, they're junk. They're poorly built entry-level cars sold to those who think that getting a "new" car is a great idea and their only alternative.

    Now that they're used, they're very, very cheap. Because they're just not good cars. If you want cheap & reliable transportation that is also comfortable, fun to drive, etc. look into used Civics, Sentras and Protoges.
  • kdominczakkdominczak Posts: 174
    You can compare Festiva to Geo metro.
    But don't you even try to compare it to any other car.The price is wrong!
    Festiva is the best description of the econo-car
    type of vehicle.
    If you travel to work and home from work(13 miles)
    or going shopping( 5 miles).Short distances up to 50 miles and that is it.
    It's very ,very inexpensive to buy (new one use to cost $7K),used one with 50K miles can cost $2K.
    You can fold the back seat and have a huge cargo space to use(surprisingly big),hatchback rules!
    You can get 38 miles per gallon driving in the city with A/C on!
    Insurance is as low as it can be.
    Don't count on it to be a rocket or kind of a car with a living room's sofa in place of the back seat either.
    It is a cheap car that will move you from place to place and will save you from city buses/trains.
    If you are on the tight budget, but you still don't want to be dependent on buses or subways, festiva is the best way to go.
    Also if you live in the big city and you are having problems finding the parking spots, this little car will fit where nothing else will fit.
    Now if you thing that it's a shame to drive something that looks like festiva, because... it's so small and wired looking and when your "friends" will see you in it they will have less respect for you and they will make fun of it, then there is something wrong with you and your friends, nothing is wrong with the car though! It's a car that will make you independent for just a few bucks.
    Sorry for being too offensive with my arguments but I can't stand when someone compares cars that can't be compared from the most important reasons:
    -completely different price range of the cars
    -different types of cars(hatchbacks and sedans)
    just my two cents.
  • debrahilldebrahill Posts: 13
    Festivas are absolutely reliable, and those who have the ego to withstand the 3 squirrels under the hood jokes, will always have the last laugh... especially at the fuel pump.
    My 1990 Festiva L Plus, with only 27,000 miles got nerfed while parked in front of my house. I am so upset. The insurance folks want to total the car for $2200. (Keep in mind we are talking San Francisco Dollars, which do not go as far as other US currency,) I have tried to locate another Festiva with an automatic transmission but with no luck. There are none to be found, even tried 14 different used car searches on the web and could only track one down in Ohio with a standard transmission.
    Can anyone offer up a possible solution? I really do not think the price being offered is fair, since I am unable to replace it with the same vehicle. I know fellow Festiva owners know exactly what I am talking about when it comes to loving our "toy cars". Hey, I enjoyed the fact that the tires were really just Hostess Donuts....
    Any suggestions?
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    Post #55 above is hidden because it contains a link that skews our screen size. To read it, just click on "hidden." Thanks.

This discussion has been closed.