It’s an ST24 killer, and even the best-looking examples aren’t exempt. Rust will murder a Mk2 Mondeo, eating away the structure until only the Ford badges remain.
Okay, it’s not quite that bad, but a rotten ST24 is a scrap ST24, and you’ll be lucky to find any car that doesn’t need welding somewhere. Gone are the days when some Mondeos were inexplicably far better than others – today they’re all at risk; even the youngest examples are almost 20 years old, after all.
You’ll need to undertake a thorough inspection, starting with the most obvious spots: the rear wheelarches, fuel filler flap, rear corners, inner wheelarches (extending to the rear seat belt mounts) and down to the sills. If your potential purchase has an RSAP, feel behind the side skirts, pressing on the sills along their entire length. Beware, because rust here may have spread to the floorpan, which will mean a walletbusting experience: the floors, chassis rails and boot floor can disintegrate due to rainwater leaking into the cabin, and repairs are extensive.
If you see evidence of previous welding, don’t be dissuaded – as long as it’s been done well and received rust treatment afterwards, it should go on for another couple of decades.
Mondeo doors are renowned for rotting, and it pays to check the frames. Window weather strips are particularly prone to corrosion; they cost around £90 but when rusty they tend to scratch the glass, which is inconvenient to replace.
You should also check around the windscreen seals for tinworm, which is particularly tricky to repair because the (bonded) glass would need to be removed, and hatchback rear screens are unavailable.
Yes, almost anything can be repaired, but it’s generally more cost-effective to buy a better example in the first place. So, unless you’re looking for a particular colour or spec, seek out the tidiest ST24 for your budget.
In terms of model choice, the saloon is stiffest, the estate is extremely capacious, and the hatchback makes a nice compromise; it’s also the most plentiful. Don’t be surprised to see a saloon or estate without the RSAP, which was unavailable on early examples and a delete option on late ST24s; pay less for a car without the kit.
Finally, don’t forget the ST24 is a Mk2 Mondeo, with bumpers seemingly made of eggshells; a roll of gaffer tape to bodge them up is an essential item in any Mondeo owner’s toolkit.