WHAT TO LOOK FOR
THE FAB FOUR
Both varieties of four-cylinder petrol engine – Ford’s Kent and Valencia unit - are easy to look after and fairly durable, but look for signs that they’ve been serviced regularly. Watch out particularly for overheating, as a furred up cooling system will eventually lead to head gasket failure. Excessive exhaust smoke usually indicates worn valve guides, and timing chains can end up rattling on high mileage cars.
IS IT BODGED?
Plenty of Fiestas got pranged by their not-so-careful original owners so it’s important to ensure that any accident damage has been repaired properly. Look for panel gaps, particularly at the front end, which don’t meet evenly, and check the paintwork for signs of overspray. It pays to bring a magnet along to look for filler too.
Corrosion has already finished off plenty of Fiesta MkIs – and it can strike just about anywhere on the bodywork. Key places to inspect are the top of the front wings, the sills, the wheelarches and the front valance. Don’t forget to check the boot floor.
While the four-speed manual is a robust unit check for tired synchromesh on a test drive. If the unit is excessively noisy then the chances are the pinion shaft bearings are on the way out. An obstructive change often points to worn gear linkages, but it’s easily remedied by a specialist.
Look for worn rear radius arm bearings at the back and for split driveshaft gaiters at the front. MoT failure.
DOES IT STOP?
The disc/drum brake set-up isn’t likely to have been particularly taxed on the smaller-engined models, but the rear brakes can seize up on Fiestas that haven’t been used very often, so check it pulls away without any reluctance and stops without any juddering or excessive fade.