I have a 88 Ford econoline van 6 cylinder that suddenly wouldn't fire. The
van is in Seattle, WA and I have since relocated to Iowa. I am flying back
out to Seattle in about 10 days and am going to try whatever I can to get
started. The history of this problem is that it just went through about 5
times where I couldn't get it to fire after several attempts each time
turning the engine over and over and then, would just fire right up. I
assumed it was an electrical short. Didn't get too concerned cause it
started after a few tries. Now, it just won't fire off after multiple
attempts on different days. I called a mechanic locally and he came out
with a laptop and searched his info for possible problems. Here's what he
did and said....
He said that a switch had been removed from an empty cavity located near the
floor by the driver's left foot area. It did seem to me that maybe
something had possibly been in this area but I wasn't sure. He then grabbed
a probe with alligator clips and went to the battery area and had me sit in
the drivers seat so I could turn the engine over at his requests. He pulled
a cap off of something in the battery area and began putting the probe in
different sockets of the cap. After 3 attempts and no success he finally
hit the probe in the right spot and it fired but didn't fully start because
he pulled the probe out of the cap before it started. He slammed the hood
down and said I would have to take it to the shop for about $450 to fix it.
Can anyone help me try something just to get it started so I can get it back
on the road. Other than this, I haven't had many problems at all. Thanks!
Be more specific with your symptom and we might be able to help. When you say "won't fire", do you mean it doesn't start or you don't have spark?
Since it's a van, step one is to remove the dog house.
Pull the coil wire off the distributor cap and see if you have spark there. If you do it probably isn't ignition related because you said he probed around by the battery and got it to start; go to the fuel system test below. If you don't have spark, turn the key to run and see if there is power at the coil. With the key on but the engine not running you should have battery voltage at both coil terminals. If you have power at both coil terminals with the key in the run position, check for power while cranking. There should be power on the + side of the coil, you may or may not get power on the - side. If you don't get power while cranking the ignition switch is probably the problem. Run a jumper wire from B+ to the + side of the coil and see if it fixes it. If it does you should be able to get rolling with a jumper wire. If you still have power on the + side of the coil while cranking you need to check the - side with a tach. If the tach moves while cranking the coil is getting a signal to fire, but isn't firing. Install known good coil and retest.
At the rear of the fuel rail there is a Shrader valve. Cycle the key a few times then push in the valve. If fuel shoots out, you probably have enough fuel pressure. If it doesn't, you have a fuel problem. If you have fuel pressure you need to see if the injectors are firing. The easiest way to do this is to unplug an injector and backprobe its wiring with a test light. The test light should flash while cranking. If it doesn't, the injectors either aren't getting any power or they aren't getting the signal to fire. With the key turned to run you should have power on one of the wires. If you don't, you have a computer or wiring problem. With the test light connected between the + battery terminal and the nonpowered injector wire you should get a flash while cranking. If you don't, you have a computer or wiring problem. If you don't have fuel pressure, turn the key to run and listen for the fuel pump. Try them both if it's got dual tanks. If you don't hear anything, have someone crank the engine while you smack the gas tank with a rubber hammer. If the engine starts the fuel pump is bad. If it doesn't start the fuel pump might still be bad. Check to make sure you have both power and ground to the fuel pump. If not, you have a wiring/relay/switch problem. If you do, the fuel pump either needs replaced or there is a bad connection in the pump module.