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how can i test my distributor?

Engine Tech / Drivetrain


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Old 12-08-2009, 09:44 PM   #1
unr8ed06
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Default how can i test my distributor?

my car cut out on the interstate yesterday and at first i thought it was my battery. after getting it home and trying to start it again and hooking the battery up to a charger it started but went dead. i pulled a plug wire from my distributor and held it cllose while a friend tried to start the car to see if the distributor was getting fire to it and i didn't see any spark. i'm thinking maybe the distributor is bad. my car has approx 120k on it and to my knowledge it's never been changed. is there anyway to test the distributor? i know auto stores can test the alternators and batterys but, can they test the distributor. i just wanna make sure that's the problem before i go and buy parts i don't need. i'm really not too sure what else it could be. if you've got any input please share. thanks.
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:30 PM   #2
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Check the fuse, I wasted 40 bucks on a tow and got a new dizzy, Lifetime Warranty. Turns out it was a fuse, why didn't I check it earlier? Because someone stole my fuse box cover when my car was in a shop.
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Old 12-09-2009, 12:10 AM   #3
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check the plugs and wires too. start with the cheapest and work your way up.
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Old 12-09-2009, 12:18 AM   #4
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When you turn the key to ON(II), can you hear the fuel pump prime for 2 seconds?

Use this method to check for spark at the plugs.

If you lack spark, definitely first check 15A fuse 9 in the dash fuse box.

Next check for CEL codes. Click here.

If fuse 9 is fine and there are no CEL codes, pull the coil and ICM out of the distributor. Test resistance of the coil and take the ICM for testing at an auto parts store.

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Old 12-09-2009, 10:32 AM   #5
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And RonJ does it again! I shall try this. Hope this works for the OP.
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Old 12-09-2009, 10:40 AM   #6
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...I shall try this.
The only difference for your car from 99-00 Civics is that 15A fuse 9 does not protect your distributor circuit. So there's no need for you to check that fuse.
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:06 AM   #7
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yea i can hear the fuel pump prime and the 15a fuse is good. since the car has been home i've had it hooked to a battery charger thinking maybe the battery went dead. well last nite i tried starting it and it started fine once. me and a neighbor were checking it out and tried starting it but it wouldnt and then it did for a brief second then went dead again. this morning it has started fine on each attempt. i've gotta run a few errands but when i get home i'll check any codes then check the coil and icm. i'm just not too sure what else it could be. its weird that it starts sometimes then wont other times.
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:19 AM   #8
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If the engine will start sometimes, then fuse 9 must be fine as you said.

Important note: Listening for priming of the fuel pump and checking for spark must be done when the engine will not start. Otherwise, you learn nothing. In addition, your method for checking spark is not very effective, so try the method I posted.
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonJ View Post
The only difference for your car from 99-00 Civics is that 15A fuse 9 does not protect your distributor circuit. So there's no need for you to check that fuse.
98 Sir. Would it still make a difference?
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:07 PM   #10
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i took the dist cap off but, didn't really know where to go from there. i know i've gotta get the rotor off and pull the cover off to check the ignition coil but, i'm not sure how to get that rotor off and i didnt wanna break it. car wont start now that the cap is back on.

also checked the cel and i'm getting 7 blinks. there is no code 70 so i'm guessing its 7 which is tps sensor.
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CMRdevelopment View Post
98 Sir. Would it still make a difference?
No need to check distributor fuse 9 for a 98 Civic.
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unr8ed06 View Post
i took the dist cap off but, didn't really know where to go from there. i know i've gotta get the rotor off and pull the cover off to check the ignition coil but, i'm not sure how to get that rotor off and i didnt wanna break it.

also checked the cel and i'm getting 7 blinks. there is no code 70 so i'm guessing its 7 which is tps sensor.
Does your car currently run? If so, are there any performance problems right now?

Regarding code 7. Start by clearing the code from the ECU and then running the car to see whether the same code repeats. Remove the 7.5A Back Up fuse under the hood for a few minutes to clear the code.

To remove the rotor, you need to do quick flicks of the ignition switch to position the rotor screw where it is accessible.
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:27 PM   #13
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the car ran fine before. it just suddenly shut down on the interestate the other day. didn't have a cel or anything. i put the dist cap back on and the car wont start again. i'll start pulling the rotor off now. i've got an ohmmeter. just didnt wanna break anything.
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:58 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unr8ed06 View Post
the car ran fine before. it just suddenly shut down on the interestate the other day. didn't have a cel or anything. i put the dist cap back on and the car wont start again. i'll start pulling the rotor off now. i've got an ohmmeter. just didnt wanna break anything.
Okay, so right now the engine won't start. A bad TPS would not generally prevent the engine from starting. Therefore, you need to go back to the basics. Do nothing else until you get answers to these items:

-Listen for the fuel pump priming
-Check for spark by the method I posted
-Clear the code and see whether it returns after cranking the engine.
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Old 12-09-2009, 03:07 PM   #15
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i can hear the fuel pump but, i didn't have spark during the test. i cleared the codes and am not coming up with anything now.

earlier when i put the dist cap and rotor back on it fired up fine. i turned the car off and tried starting it again and it wouldn't. that's when i started doing all your test. the ignition coil is reading the correct outputs as well. do i just need a new distributor?
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