Fords have always been the car of choice for budget conscious British. The ultimate good value option in the range has to be the Ka. Whether you're buying a new car or a used example, you get reliability, economy and the knowledge that there are more Ford car dealers than any others in the UK to help if you run into difficulties.
A little history of Ford's little Ka
The Ka represented Ford of Europe's first foray into the world of the compact city car. In 1996, when it was launched, it almost stood alone among European manufacturers within this sector. Rover were still persevering with the 100 series , but this was based on the 15 year old Metro design and sales were dire. Vauxhall had nothing to offer and the Germans were similarly bereft of competition. The only makers with a foot in the market were the French and Japanese. However, the Ka rapidly became the pack leader. Only one engine was offered, a 1.3 litre Endura-E with 59bhp. Two models (effectively trim levels) were available to tempt buyers. The Ka was ultra-basic with steel wheels, skinny tyres, a simple radio cassette and a driver's airbag. The Ka2 offered larger tyres, an uprated stereo and central locking. As time progressed, so did the range and in 1999, the Ka3 gave the buyer air-con, electric windows, alloys and metallic paint. By this time, all Kas had power steering but this wouldn't turn out to be the bonus it appeared. 2003 hailed the 1600cc Duratec engine choice as fitted to the SportKa and StreetKa variants.
What are the Ka's failings?
In terms of overall ethos and direction, the Ka design can be considered an unqualified success. It performs it' role within the Ford family perfectly. Its reliability, however, isn't quite so free from blemish.
The major issue with the Ka are the steering racks. This applies to both the power-assisted and
non-assisted versions and can be very expensive to correct. Even if you can do the work yourself, reconditioned racks don't come cheap. Given that there are reports of failures within 30,000 miles, it pays to look for documented evidence of a rack change in the history file. Early 13 engines can consume cam followers at an unbelievable rate resulting in top end rattle. Replacing them will cost you but improved parts are now available to alleviate them problem. Rust is, in the main, not an issue but look for sings of corrosion in the driver's door sill. This can be catastrophic and will fail an MOT. The trouble is that it's fairly easy to bodge the repair. So. you need to tap this area hard and listen for changes in tone along its length.