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1998 Astro Van won't start

For the past two or three days, my boyfriend’s 1998 Astro Van has been sitting outside of my house, unable to start. It sounds like it’s going to start, and just keeps chugging, no actual ignition. He said it was giving him issues a couple of days before it stopped but it would eventually start back up.

We got an extra gallon or two of gas just in case it was that low (which we didn’t think was the problem in the first place).

He said about a year ago he had the distributor cap and rotor fixed but there’s no reason you should have to replace that every year.

I think it might just be the spark plugs and wires. Am I completely off base? Are we in for financial woes???

Please help me :frowning:

Let’s think cheap (not cheap thoughts, cheap ideas). First, find out if the problem is fuel, by spraying Starting Fluid into the large, black, plastic intake tube. See if the van starts (If it cranks slowly, attach jumper cables during start attempt).
If the Starting Fluid didn’t work, change the spark plugs. If those don’t do the trick, change the distributor rotor, and examine the posts and center button inside the distributor cap.
Communicate results for next-step.

Don’t change the spark plugs until you are sure there is spark. Changing plugs on this vehicle is not an easy task so you don’t want to change them unless you have too.

Start with the basics… is there spark and fuel? Check for these first then post back.

Thank you both for the replies. My boyfriend is currently at work so I don’t have any way of checking any of this at the moment. When we have a chance to check these things, I will respond.

I’m pretty confident that all the spark plugs or wires didn’t go bad at one time. This gets back to the basics. The principle of the internal conbustion engine hasn’t changed in over 100 years. you need fuel, air, and spark. We assume you have air, so next spray some starting fluid in the intake. If it starts and runs for a minute, it’s a fuel problem. Pull the easiest plug to get to and ground it with the wire attached.
Be really careful not to get shocked. Don’t touch the plug wire, or anything else with your bare hands. If you have spark, chances are it’s not a spark problem. Those are the basics and can be used on any internal combustion engine. Now there is a lot more to check once you determine if it’s spark or fuel your short on. Good luck.