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95' Ford Aerostar won't start

Hi , everyone .

My dad and I are having allot of trouble getting our Aerostar to start up . It is getting fuel and spark , and it won’t even run with starter fluid . It was running ruff before this . It is getting an all clear on the OBD codes . We took one spark plug out and it was pretty dirty , could that be our problem? Like I said we are getting spark , when we do a spark test . We are totally out of clues . Thanks.

Make sure the distributor rotor is actually pointing to the #1 cyl when #1 is at TDC on compression stroke. The timing chain may have skipped so you are not getting any compression to go with the spark and fuel.

Some more info might help in making a guess.
Which engine? (The 3.0 uses the TFI distributor. The 4.0 is DIS.)

How many miles on it?

Running ruff before this. How long was it running rough? Running rough enough to just barely wheeze along?

Any overheating involved?

If it won’t do anything with starting fluid and if you are absolutely certain it’s getting a good spark then it could come down to a jumped timing chain or a worn out engine in which the compression has dropped low enough that it simply won’t start; ever.

You should run a compression test but if you don’t have a compression tester remove all of the spark plugs and put a healthy squirt of engine oil in each cylinder.
Reinstall the spark plugs, give it a shot of starting fluid (aerosol carb cleaner is better IMO) and see if it starts and runs for a few seconds then. If it does then you really need to run a compression test because the oil trick means the engine is worn out. The comp. test just verifies it.

It is a 3.0 6cyl , 149,000 miles with a new distributor , new plugs/wires, . It was running okay , but once in awhile it would sputter , mostly upon acceleration from a stop light and going up hills and getting on the freeway , then all of a sudden it just quit with no warning while my dad was going down the freeway , and he pulled to the side and it would not restart , we put more gas in it , but still no start , so we had to tow it home . No overheating .

Before anything else, you really just need to check the compression as ok4450 recommended. Good spark + fuel (even if its just starting fluid) should make it run - unless it has really poor compression. The only other thing that comes to my mind would be a massive vacuum leak - like perhaps a blown out or disconnected brake booster line. I forgot to hook mine back up after doing some work one day & my van wouldn’t start.

Anyway, compression check is next.

Sounds good cigroller, we will do a compression test , thanks for the input. We will let you guys know what happens. I can go down to Autozone , they’ve got a loaner there .

The 3.0 is a bulletproof engine and a 149k miles is nothing unless it’s been beaten into the pavement so I’m leaning towards this not being a compression problem. (It should be checked anyway. Ideally, you’re looking for 180 PSI give or take.)

Some food for thought.
The distributor was replaced. Does this mean the ignition module also? (Little gray box on the side of the distributor. This is a TFI model and they were prone to module problems.)

Erratic ignition switch; the electrical part. Failure of the switch is not unheard of. Many Fords run their blower motors directly through the switch and over time an aged and dragging blower motor can kill the ignition switch.

Fuel pump, although granted it should run momentarily on starting fluid. Does it sputter or cough on the ether?

You have given us a lot of food for thought . I noticed with ALLOT of cranking with ether it will kind of run on it’s own barely , for about 3 seconds , but it doesn’t really sound like it is at full steam , it barely chokes for 3 seconds . I don’t know if that is from the ether or what , but after that it won’t do it again no matter how much cranking or ether you give it , I can only get it to do that rarely .