ok i have a 99 ranger 202,000 miles 4cyl 2.5 i just replaced plugs wires and one of of two coil sets. i beleive the firing is on point. when i attempt to start it now the starter runs but dosent turn the engine. if you keep trying it eventually grinds with something and never starts.
The starter isn’t engaging. Change the starter.
sounds right but how did this all happen. the plugs wires and coils thats it.
Another possibility is a damaged flywheel ring gear. Turning the engine over a little with a socket and breaker bar on the harmonic balancer bolt will give you an answer on that. Keep in mind that things can happen by coincidence. Just because this problem surfaced after a repair doesn’t mean the repair caused the problem. However, there is one possibility I want to suggest on this case.
You said that you THINK the firing order is correct. If it is not, given the age and mileage of the vehicle, trying to start it with crossed plug wires could have stripped the teeth on the timing belt. This would cause the bottom end of the motor to freewheel with no compression, which could sound like the starter not engaging to some people. Yank the top timing cover and see if the camshaft pulley is turning. If this is the case, you are in luck. The 2.5 is not an interference engine and has what may be the easiest timing belt replacement in the automotive world.
To see if the crankshaft is turning, remove a spark plug, stick a straw in the hole, turn the ignition key to start. If the crankshaft and pistons are moving, but not the camshaft and valves, the straw will go up and down with the piston movement. If it does, there may be a stripped timing belt.