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No start after thermostat replacement

So moments after I commented to my passenger that my car was so old it was one of those ride it into the ground in flames scenarios, it overheated and refused to start. I think she heard me… We limped it home, changed the leaking water pump and gave it another go. Heater hose connectors blew on the next ride, overheated again, replaced those. They were so rotted out that they snapped off in the tensioner pulley so we replaced that too. Still overheated. Obviously the thermostat was bad so let’s replace that sucker and now I’m certain it’ll stop overheating because I’m pretty sure I’m out of bits to fix but the damn thing won’t start for me to find out. I’m not mechanically savvy and honestly i didn’t know half of the words in this paragraph when the whole thing started but I’m learning. There were some vacuum hoses that snapped off in the thermo replacement (seen in the picture) but I (think) i fixed those too… So i don’t know what I’m missing and apparently I’m the only one on the entire internet with this specific problem so I’m open to descriptive suggestions that preferably include pictures. When i took the thermostat out it was literally pitch black and the housing was full of what can only be described as ash and bone dry. The old girl turns and turns and clicks and clicks but just won’t start. I walked to auto zone 4 times today and their laughter as i wandered in repeatedly with random car parts saying “what is this and what does it do?” will haunt my dreams for years to come. The picture is to see if anyone notices anything that should be attached that isn’t.

Well I see a vacuum hose that should be connected to the purge solenoid and three spark plug wires not hooked up. You’re not trying to start the engine without the plug wires, are you?

Exclude those things. I fixed the vacuum hose it was dry rotted and snapped, thought that might have been the issue but apparently wasn’t and yes plugged those little dudes back in. Properly, before you ask.

Googling the name of the purge solenoid with only the description what is this thing that broke was no easy task…

During the summer months I see cars towed in each week with failed water pumps or leaking radiators the were driven too long while overheating. The result is warped cylinder heads and no compression, a used engine is usually the least expensive remedy.

Perform a compression test, at least on the from 3 cylinders.

Reply from Nevada_545 has pretty much said it all. Driving an overheated vehicle other than to pull it off the road immediately, shut it off and keep it off has ruined the engine beyond reasonable out of pocket expense to fix the problem.

The condition of the engine doesn’t sound good from what you say about the coolant or lack there of. If you haven’t already checked for spark to the plugs then you need to do that. If you have spark then spray a small amount of starter fluid into the air intake and see if that makes the engine at least a little bit. If that works then you may have a fuel delivery issue or injector power problem. Check the error codes for clues to the problem.

So there’s spark and starter fluid just made it pop and smoke. A neighbor who was a diesel mechanic for heavy equipment suggested it could have something to do with the security system but i haven’t been able to find a definitive way of testing that theory. How do you do a compression test? My father in law is coming up today to give it one more go before i break down and tow it to a shop.

Check compression on all cylinders. Symptoms indicate bad head gasket. That allows pressure from pistons to escape into coolant system. Overheating can cause gasket failure and/or head warpage. Otherwise. Spark (at right time), fuel, air, and compression car will run.

Since the starter fluid worked to some degree, the results make me wonder about the ignition timing since it is popping. The timing belt may have slipped, if it has one.

I’m learning as i go here via Google, YouTube, and moderately mechanically inclined friends and neighbors. How do i check compression? I’m doing my research but insider tips and tricks are always helpful.

Start with a healthy fully charged battery. Blow dirt out of each spark plug pocket. Remove all spark plugs and note the difference between each one. Know which cylinder each came from. Put a light film of oil on rubber seal of compression tester. Screw compression tester in spark plug opening less than hand tight. Crank engine for 5 to 7 seconds. Repeat on all cylinders. Compression should be all the same on all cylinders within about 15 lbs. Should all be well over 100 lbs