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how can i test my distributor?

Discussion in 'Engine Tech / Drivetrain' started by unr8ed06, Dec 9, 2009.



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  1. unr8ed06

    unr8ed06 New Member Registered VIP 5+ Year Member

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    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.
     
  2. Ej8Kid

    Ej8Kid Too Much Traction Registered VIP 5+ Year Member

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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.
     
  3. XpL0d3r

    XpL0d3r What Civic? Staff Member Registered VIP Registered OG 5+ Year Member

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    check the plugs and wires too. start with the cheapest and work your way up.
     
  4. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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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.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Sammo115

    Sammo115 It be me, Sammo Registered VIP Registered OG 5+ Year Member 10+ Year Member

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    And RonJ does it again! I shall try this. Hope this works for the OP.
     
  6. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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    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.
     
  7. unr8ed06

    unr8ed06 New Member Registered VIP 5+ Year Member

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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.
     
  8. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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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.
     
  9. Sammo115

    Sammo115 It be me, Sammo Registered VIP Registered OG 5+ Year Member 10+ Year Member

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    98 Sir. Would it still make a difference?
     
  10. unr8ed06

    unr8ed06 New Member Registered VIP 5+ Year Member

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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.
     
  11. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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    No need to check distributor fuse 9 for a 98 Civic.
     
  12. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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    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.
     
  13. unr8ed06

    unr8ed06 New Member Registered VIP 5+ Year Member

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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.
     
  14. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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    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.
     
  15. unr8ed06

    unr8ed06 New Member Registered VIP 5+ Year Member

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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?
     
  16. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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    So right now, when the engine won't start, the fuel pump primes, but there are no CEL codes and no spark, right? If so pull the ICM out of the distributor and take it to an auto parts store for testing.

    Note that sometimes the coil will test fine but is actually bad. Nonetheless, first have the ICM tested before considering this possibility.
     
  17. unr8ed06

    unr8ed06 New Member Registered VIP 5+ Year Member

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    what is the icm and where's it located?
     
  18. unr8ed06

    unr8ed06 New Member Registered VIP 5+ Year Member

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    while looking i noticed this prong that had nothing on it.
    [​IMG]
    it's the one the screwdriver is on. i noticed there wasn't anything attatched. is this supposed to be like this?
     
  19. RonJ

    RonJ Banned

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    You are touching the ICM in your picture. I believe the free prong on the ICM is for the tach signal. As 99-00 Civics get their tach signal from the ECU rather than the ICM, the prong is free on those models.



    [​IMG]
     
  20. unr8ed06

    unr8ed06 New Member Registered VIP 5+ Year Member

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    i took the coil and icm to the parts store and they couldn't test the coil but, they did test the icm and it was bad so tomorrow i guess i'll go to the junk yard and find another one. RonJ thanks again.
     


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