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New to me Aerostar.

phoenix02

New Member
Joined
September 23, 2012
Messages
4
Reaction score
0
City, State
Apple Valley, CA
Year, Model & Trim Level
1995 Aerostar XLT AWD Ext
Hello all! My name is Michael and I just joined the aerostar fraternity after a lifetime of involvement with them. My parents bought a 1989 Aerostar new and we had it as our primary family car until 2000. It was what we drove on our first family outing to the Grand Canyon, multiple drives to Vegas, to Tennessee and back when my dad's job was transfered, then back to california.

Then, in 2005 I started working for a low voltage contractor after college. He had a 1994 Aerostar that was my work truck all around so cal. That was a love- hate relationship- I had a company supplied truck, which was better than driving my daily driver- a beat up '76 Jaguar XJ-12 with a 350- but the AC didn't work and the passenger window didn't roll down. Not too fun driving around in the summer- especially the 8 times I had to go out to needles on a job and it was 120 degrees.

Fast forward to today. I have a family of 4 and am need of a good vehicle to drive cross country. My father-in-law in Kansas has been diagnosed with cancer and I need to get my wife and girls out to see him- he hasn't seen my 3 year old in 2 years and he's never met my 10 month old. My current driver is a 1985 Mercedes 300SD- it's comfortable, good on fuel and fun to drive. It's also our only running car and parts are not normally stocked in small town, usa, if I were to break down on the way there or back. So, I've been looking for a suitable replacement. Cheap. With air conditioning. cheap. hopefully reliable enough to make the drive, cheap, and with enough towing capacity to pick up a trailer with a tool on it I am on need of in Utah on the way back. Oh, and it had to be cheap- this trip popped up on me and I'm on a shoestring budget.

Yesterday a listing came up on CL 100 miles to the south of me. It was for a 1995 Aerostar with 211xxx miles at a reasonable price. I called and found out it's been overheating. I decided it was at a reasonable enough price to go check it out- I figured, if there was exhaust in the oil or radiator, water in the exhaust, oil in the water or water in the oil, I'd walk away. Otherwise, I priced out worst case scenario of replacing the water pump, thermostat, fan, clutch and radiator- the whole cooling system- at around $300.

After getting there, I first noticed the condition of the van. It is white exterior, blue interior, and everything was good- some dings on the body, but the seats are like new. Everything else looks very good for an older vehicle. There was no indication of a blown head gasket, so I picked it up for $600. here's the good and the bad:

Good-
Very clean for a '95
AC works good
drives pretty well
front brake job, tires, new master cylinder, spark plugs, tune up performed within the last 8 months
AWD Extended body (because of the towing/ cargo capacity)
Class 3 hidden hitch installed, with a BIG trans cooler

Bad-
211xxx miles- a little higher than I would like for a vehicle I'm going to drive 3000 miles.

AWD- Extended body ( because of the gas mileage)

For some reason, the heater doesn't activate the blower. If I put the climate control to hot and select floor, mix or defrost and the fan control to high you can feel heat coming out but without much pressure. If I put the control over to high AC but the temp control still at hot, the blower kicks on and the air comes out hard and HOT for about 20 seconds until the AC kicks in and the air turns cold, even if the temp control is set to hot. Any ideas?

Idle is a little erratic. It seems to be + or - around 200 RPM by ear. I'll see what the RPM is when I get a chance if I can borrow a non contact tach. The oil needs to be changed and smells a little like gas- I'm guessing the erratic idle is probably from some blow by with a 200K+ motor. sound right? She runs and drives fine.

There's a clunk in the shift from park to drive. I tried manual shifting from OD to D while at 50 MPH and there was the same clunk. auto shifting is smooth Could this be U joint, or what?

I drove it 100 miles, stopping every 20 miles or so, to check to temp. No problems. The gage is erratic though- The whole drive, it was reading between below N to just over O. It was moving between these extremes while driving on the freeway. I never saw it overheat. Could the sending unt need to be replaced? The other gages were pretty stable. The speedo wavered a very little bit- maybe .25 miles back and forth. I tested it with GPS on the way home and it is reading 2 MPH high. Anyway, any ideas on the temp gage? I want to flush the radiator and check the fan clutch, but other than that I can't think of much else that could be wrong.

On the trip, I plan on going the 40 into OKC, then up to Winfield KS. From there I was going to go to Denver, up through Wyoming and into Utah. On the way back to California from Utah, I'll be towing a uhaul trailer with a 1,000LB tool on it. Going through the Rockies loaded down, I'm worried about overheating- should I replace the radiator with a new one, or an Explorer one? What about an electric fan? Are any of the cheap ones worthwhile?

Any mods that could be done for better MPG? I'd like to squeeze out all I can on a 3000 mile job.

Thanks for bearing with the long read and any help or ideas you may have.

-Michael
 




Jose A.

Well-Known Member
Joined
August 16, 2008
Messages
271
Reaction score
0
City, State
Florida
Year, Model & Trim Level
1997 Aerostar XLT 4.0
try replacing the temp sender located near the thermostat housing, there's a black rubber "L" shaped connector with a single wire plugged into it. Is it a 3.0 or 4.0 engine? It's a cheap part (Autozone) also I would replace the Coolant Temp Sensor too, it's cheap, located near the sender with a square connector on top. Those two might correct other related symptoms if replaced at the same time. Also, I would replace the O2 Sensors just for fun. :))

the speedos always seem to have a 2.5 mph error, check the tire size to make sure it's the factory size. The shifting clunk could be a u-joint, wear and tear most likely, they all do it. 211k is nothing for these vans, they will go over 300k if you change the fluids regularly.

enjoy it!
 




Adam_tinkerer

Active Member
Joined
May 7, 2011
Messages
95
Reaction score
1
City, State
Newton, NC
Year, Model & Trim Level
1992 Aerostar
My 95 has 331,000 miles and still going! I recently went through the cooling system, replacing a leaky heater control valve (what a pain!), and also the heater and radiator hoses.
 




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