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  #1  
Old 03-26-2009, 08:51 AM
RonJ's Avatar
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1997 Honda Civic
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 9,450
Default Testing for Spark

A common cause for a no-start engine problem is the lack of spark at the spark plugs so, when a thread is made describing such a problem, it is often necessary to describe the proper procedure to test for this issue. Therefore, I decided to make a thread that describes a basic yet effective method to check for spark:

1) Buy a spare spark plug and gap it properly (inexpensive $2-3).

2) Remove the plug wire from one spark plug and insert the spare plug into the end.

3) While firmly grounding the threads of the spare plug against a metallic portion of the valve cover, have a buddy crank the engine.

4) You should see bright white spark (with a faintly bluish tinge) rather than weak orange or deep blue spark at the tip of the plug.

5) Repeat for the remaining three spark plugs.
-----------------------------

Outcomes and more troubleshooting

A) If all plugs have weak orange spark, then check whether the coil in the distributor is bad. Your service manual (see link in my signature) describes resistance measurements to test the coil or, alternatively, have an auto parts store (e.g., AutoZone) test it for you.

B) If all plugs lack spark, then do these steps in order:

-Check whether the CEL remains ON when the key is turned to ON(II). If so, pull the code(s) as detailed at the link in my signature. If a code for one of the distributor sensors (codes 4, 8, or 9) or the igniter/ICM (code 15) is retrieved, then the distributor subassembly or the igniter/ICM, respectively, may need to be replaced. Also check whether the wire (often a Yel/Grn wire) running between the igniter/ICM and the ECU has continuity.

-Check whether the important ground wire on the distributor housing is loose or corroded. If so, clean it thoroughly with steel wool and retighten.

-Check whether battery voltage is reaching the coil and igniter wire (often a Blk/Yel wire) in the distributor when the ignition key is turned to ON(II). If not, there may be a bad wire or a blown fuse in the under-hood fuse/relay box. A bad ignition switch is another possibility.

-Check whether the coil or igniter/ICM in the distributor is bad. Again, there are resistance tests for the coil, but you may have to take the igniter/ICM to an auto parts store (e.g., AutoZone) for testing.

-Check whether the timing belt snapped. This is most easily done by removing the oil filler cap and, while a buddy cranks the engine, by peering into the hole with a flashlight to look for evidence that the camshaft is turning (e.g. movement of the rocker arms). If the belt snapped (=no turning), install a new belt, tension it properly, and then compression test the cylinders. The latter step is essential as major engine damage often occurs when the timing belt snaps.

-In some cases, lack of spark is due to a bad ECU. This is usually only considered if all tests described above yield negative results.

-------------------------------------------------------
If anyone would like to make any comments, corrections, or suggestions for improvement, please make a post in this thread.

Last edited by RonJ; 08-19-2009 at 09:13 AM.
  #2  
Old 06-01-2009, 10:30 PM
RonJ's Avatar
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1997 Honda Civic
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 9,450
Default

civic_driver at Honda-tech suggests removal of the fuel pump fuse before testing for spark in order to avoid flooding the cylinders with gas.

Fuses for the fuel pump:

92-95 Civics -- fuse 24 under the dash

96-00 Civics -- fuse 13 under the dash
  #3  
Old 01-10-2010, 12:32 PM
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2000 Honda Civic
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Arkansucks
Posts: 4,943
A Well Fed Hobo
Default

Glad to see this stickied, but the link to the service manuals isn't in your sig anymore...

Here it is: http://hondatech.info/downloads/Auto/Manuals/Civic/
__________________


Quote:
Originally Posted by RonJ
Don't guess, Troubleshoot.
  #4  
Old 01-10-2010, 01:23 PM
RonJ's Avatar
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1997 Honda Civic
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Houston, Texas
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by WellFedHobo View Post
Glad to see this stickied, but the link to the service manuals isn't in your sig anymore...

Here it is: http://hondatech.info/downloads/Auto/Manuals/Civic/
Thanks for the reminder. I rebuilt my signature.
Old 01-10-2010, 01:23 PM
 
 
 
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1991, 2000, civic, distributor, distributors, diy, fuse, honda, orange, plug, plugs, problems, spark, tester, testing, troubleshooting, wires

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