Transmission shifted on into neutral on its own while driving, then shut off and will not start?

Tiny
CARDENAS210
  • MEMBER
  • 1995 FORD AEROSTAR
  • 2.8L
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 300,000 MILES
While driving the van one day, it somehow changed into neutral gear and then after a few seconds the van turned off and wouldn't restart. The starter was changed out on it and a new battery was installed as well. However, now it just cranks but doesn't turn on. A friend of my husband told him it looked as if there was no engagement from the crossmember bar or that it may also be the gear linkage not aligned to shift gears. Can you help with what may be causing the van to crank but not start?
Friday, September 16th, 2022 AT 11:02 AM

3 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • MECHANIC
  • 108,443 POSTS
Hi,

If the starter engages, we know it's in a park or neutral so that isn't preventing it from starting.

If the engine is cranking but not starting, either we lost fuel or spark to the engine. However, that doesn't explain the transmission going to neutral.

Since the battery was replaced, then we likely lost any diagnostic trouble codes when it was disconnected. So, that leads us to start from the beginning.

First, if it is possible, record it cranking and upload it for me to hear. It may help me.

Next, see if the engine starts for a couple of seconds using starting fluid. If it does, then we will know it is a fuel-related issue. If there is no change, then suspect it is an ignition spark issue. So, if the starting fluid doesn't change anything, here is a link that explains how to test for spark.

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/how-to-check-for-ignition-spark

Let me know what you find or if you have other questions. Also, if you can think of anything other that may help or you have noticed not working, let me know that as well.

Take care,

Joe
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Friday, September 16th, 2022 AT 8:55 PM
Tiny
CARDENAS210
  • MEMBER
  • 4 POSTS
Thank you for your assistance. Here is some other information that was given to me: I was told that the crossmember bar housing is missing, and that the bar looked as if it were out of place as if it ran over something that may have knocked it out of place, therefore causing it to change gears. Husbands' friend said something about because the bar is not in place and the housing is missing it's not engaging with the starter or flywheel? Something to that verbiage. I apologize, but I can't record the sound because the vehicle is in a different location from where I am at. I hope with the information I have shared will somehow give you a bit more perspective of our issue and pray that you are able to help us figure out the problem.
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Saturday, September 17th, 2022 AT 1:48 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • MECHANIC
  • 108,443 POSTS
Hi,

There is a cross member, but I don't know what he means by housing. If the cross member is missing, that transmission would be hanging low in the rear and would have likely broken the bell housing where it bolts to the engine. It is a main structural component,

Since the engine is cranking, we need to check for spark and fuel. By any chance, could the engine have stalled before you noticed it went to neutral?

Let me know.

Joe
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Saturday, September 17th, 2022 AT 9:47 PM

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