Cranks but no spark

Tiny
KEVIN DEBELLEFEUILLE
  • MEMBER
  • 1997 FORD PROBE
  • 2.5L
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • MANUAL
  • 125,000 MILES
My car was running fine, and then as I was pulling out of my driveway it started to run really rough, so I turned around and went back home. After turning it off it wouldn't start again. The engine would crank, but it wouldn't turn over. I pulled a spark plug and had a friend turn the key, and saw that there wasn't any spark. I tested for power at the coil and found that there was a full 12v at the coil. I also popped off the oil cap and can see the cam shaft spinning when the engine is cranking so the timing belt is fine.

I'm not quite sure what I should check next. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Kevin
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Saturday, September 7th, 2019 AT 7:30 PM

46 Replies

Tiny
JIS001
  • EXPERT
Hello and welcome to 2CarPros. If you have power to the coil then it appears you will need a new distributor. Here is information on the distributor:

OPERATION
The ignition control module receives the signal from the Power-train Control Module (PCM) to fire the coil. It is part of the distributor and is not serviced separately.

CONFIGURATION
The Ignition Diagnostic Monitor (IDM) is a function of the ignition control module. The ignition control module sends information on system failures to the PCM, which stores the information for diagnostic self test. The IDM signal is also used to drive the tachometer.

DESCRIPTION
The ignition coil steps up the voltage to fire the spark plugs. It is part of the distributor assembly and is not serviced separately.
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Sunday, September 8th, 2019 AT 1:22 AM
Tiny
KEVIN DEBELLEFEUILLE
  • MEMBER
Hi,

Thanks for responding to my question. Are you sure it has to be the distributor? The reason I ask is that I replaced the distributor about 5 months ago, so it's practically brand new. Plus, it's a rather expensive part, so I want to be sure before ordering another one.

Thanks again,
Kevin
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Sunday, September 8th, 2019 AT 8:18 AM
Tiny
JIS001
  • EXPERT
Where did you buy the distributor from? If it has only been 5 months you should still have a warranty? But before you order another one have you scanned the computer for trouble codes? If you have codes post them on here. Here is a guide on code retrieval:

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/checking-a-service-engine-soon-or-check-engine-light-on-or-flashing

Also check your primary and secondary resistance value. Attaching image below.
Primary
Coil TerminalsResistancePos (+) to Neg (-)0.58-0.86 ohms
Secondary
Coil TerminalsResistancePos (+) to High Voltage1.15-18.5 K ohms

Also check to see if the injectors are pulsing?
Here is a guide to check them.

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/how-to-test-a-fuel-injector

Also since you verified power to the connector, check your grounds as well at pins #1 and #5. Check continuity from that pin to body ground. A good wire should measure under 1 ohm.

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Sunday, September 8th, 2019 AT 2:43 PM
Tiny
KEVIN DEBELLEFEUILLE
  • MEMBER
Hi,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

Where did you buy the distributor from?

I ordered it from RockAuto. I checked, and yes it's still under warranty so I can get a replacement at no cost (other than the cost of shipping the defective part back)

Have you scanned the computer for trouble codes?

Yes, I have an OBD2 reader, but it didn't display any fault codes.

Also check your primary and secondary resistance value.
Primary Coil TerminalsResistancePos (+) to Neg (-)0.58-0.86 ohms
Secondary Coil TerminalsResistancePos (+) to High Voltage1.15-18.5 K ohms

I'm not that familiar with using a voltage meter so I've attached a picture of my meter. You'll see that there are 5 different options in the Ohm section and depending on which setting I choose I get a different reading for each. Are you able to tell me which setting I should be on for each of the 2 readings you wanted me to take? Also, the readings don't appear to static. They seem to always be changing. Is this to be expected?

Also check to see if the injectors are pulsing?

I haven't gotten to this yet, but I do know that when I try cranking the engine fuel is getting to the cylinders as the plugs are wet after pulling them.

Also since you verified power to the connector, check your grounds as well at pins #1 and #5. Check continuity from that pin to body ground. A good wire should measure under 1 ohm.

Once again, I'm not 100% certain I've done this right on my meter. I've assumed that the continuity setting on my meter is at the bottom on the right side of center. The reading I got for both pin 1 and 5 was 1200. Does that make any sense to you?

Also, when I confirmed power to the coil I checked for power on the 3 pin connector, not this 6 pin connector. Does that mean I should check for power on pin 6 of the 6 pin connector?

Thanks for all your help so far.

Kevin
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Sunday, September 8th, 2019 AT 8:15 PM
Tiny
JIS001
  • EXPERT
Check pin #2 on the 6 pin connector. Attached image below and marked the scales you need to set it up for your checks. As for the ground readings can you upload a picture to see how you took the measurement?
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Sunday, September 8th, 2019 AT 9:11 PM
Tiny
KEVIN DEBELLEFEUILLE
  • MEMBER
Hi,

I just wanted to let you know that I'm still here. I'm frustrated because I keep getting inconsistent readings from my multimeter. It was the cheapest one (> $20) at the store, so I'm thinking there must be a problem with it, so I've ordered a better one from Amazon. I did some researching on automotive multimeters and this one got great reviews: https://www.amazon.ca/Etekcity-Multimeter-Auto-Ranging-Continuity-Resistance/dp/B00NWGZ4XC

I'll reply back with the results from the tests you've asked for closer to the end of the week after my new multimeter arrives.

Thanks,
Kevin
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Tuesday, September 10th, 2019 AT 6:13 PM
Tiny
JIS001
  • EXPERT
I added a few images on how to measure the ground circuit. First set your ohm scale to 200 and touch both leads together. You should get a pretty similar reading as the first image. The second image I back probed the ground circuit wire and the other lead I grounded it the valve cover as chassis ground and measured 0.8 ohms. The third image I took that same lead from the valve cover and grounded it to the ground terminal on the battery and got the same reading.

If your lead will reach the ground terminal then that would be even better. I hope the images help simplify your testing.
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Tuesday, September 10th, 2019 AT 7:49 PM
Tiny
KEVIN DEBELLEFEUILLE
  • MEMBER
Okay I'm back. With a new multi-meter, which is working much better for me. Below are the results of the tests you asked me to perform:

Primary Coil Terminals ResistancePos (+) to Neg (-)0.58-0.86 ohms

>>>> My reading - 0.993 K ohms

Secondary Coil TerminalsResistancePos (+) to High Voltage1.15-18.5 K ohms

>>>> My reading - 23.5 K ohms

Both of these results are out of spec.

What has me scratching my head a bit on this is that when the problem first happened I asked a mechanic buddy of mine what he thought the issue was and he said that he was 99% sure it was the coil causing the problem. So I ordered a new coil and replaced the existing one, but it didn't fix the issue. But because I still had the original coil I tested it. The results on the original coil were:

Primary Coil Terminals
>>>> My reading - 0.998 K ohms

Secondary Coil Terminals
>>>> My reading - 15.3 K ohms

So on the original coil the Secondary Coil Terminals are in spec, but the Primary Coil Terminals are out of spec, but almost identical to the result I got from the replacement coil. I just don't know what to make of this.

The results for the tests on the 6 pin connector:

Pin 1 continuity test result - 2.7 ohms
Pin 5 continuity test result - 0.0 ohms
Pin 2 voltage test result - 12.21 v

What are your thoughts? Do you think I should send back the distributor and get a warranty replacement?

Thanks
Kevin
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Friday, September 13th, 2019 AT 7:44 PM
Tiny
JIS001
  • EXPERT
Pin #1 seems a bit high and pin #5 you should get some type of reading to it? Can you upload a pic of the readings? Also did you back probe the connector? You may not have gotten a good contact to it to get an accurate reading?

As for the coil it does look out of spec a bit compared to your original coil? So I do not believe it is a coil issue. If the plugs are wet as you stated earlier in your post then double check the ground wires to the distributor. If your second readings are good I am leaning towards a defective distributor. Since you still have warranty I would just order a replacement.
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Friday, September 13th, 2019 AT 8:56 PM
Tiny
KEVIN DEBELLEFEUILLE
  • MEMBER
Hi,

I didn't back probe the connector. I just tried pushing the tester probes in the appropriate connector pin holes. So I retested, this time with back probing.

Pin #1 - 2.9 ohms (as shown in the image)
Pin #5 - 0.4 ohms

What could be causing the Pin #1 reading to be a bit high?

Is there a possibility there could be a problem with the crankshaft position sensor?

I'll go ahead and return my distributor and get a warranty replacement.

Kevin
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Friday, September 13th, 2019 AT 9:55 PM
Tiny
JIS001
  • EXPERT
Hi and welcome back. Pin #5 looks good. As for pin#1 it still looks a bit high? Let me try to get another expert on this so we can locate ground G106 on pin#1 to see if we have some corrosion there.
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Friday, September 13th, 2019 AT 11:02 PM
Tiny
BMDOUBLE
  • EXPERT
The resistance may be a little high, but a dead set way to test this is to load test it. I included a diagram of how to hook it up. You can use an old sealed beam headlight or a horn, window motor, etc. This will verify that the circuit can carry a load without doubt.
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Saturday, September 14th, 2019 AT 7:57 AM
Tiny
KEVIN DEBELLEFEUILLE
  • MEMBER
Hello BMDOUBLE,

Thanks for helping out with my car issues! I appreciate the help.

Now this may be a really stupid question, but I can't help but wonder why you want me to connect the light to pin #6 when it's pin #1 that we are wanting to test?

Thanks,
Kevin
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Saturday, September 14th, 2019 AT 2:07 PM
Tiny
JIS001
  • EXPERT
Hello and welcome back. You can do the test to pin#1.
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Saturday, September 14th, 2019 AT 2:45 PM
Tiny
KEVIN DEBELLEFEUILLE
  • MEMBER
Hi,

So I pulled out one of the headlights and ran your test. Hooking the headlight up to pin #6 didn't do anything, but the light came on fine when connected to pin #1. I also hooked it up to pin #5 which caused the headlight to turn on as well.

I've pulled the distributor and will be sending it back to the manufacturer for a replacement today.

Thanks for all your help so far!
Kevin
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Saturday, September 14th, 2019 AT 2:46 PM
Tiny
JIS001
  • EXPERT
Okay, that is a good sign. Please keep us posted once the replacement part comes in.
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Saturday, September 14th, 2019 AT 2:51 PM
Tiny
BMDOUBLE
  • EXPERT
Awesome! Keep us posted!
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Saturday, September 14th, 2019 AT 5:37 PM
Tiny
KEVIN DEBELLEFEUILLE
  • MEMBER
The new distributor arrived. Unfortunately, after installing it the car still wouldn't start. Ugghh!

Where do you think we should go from here?

Thanks,
Kevin
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Friday, September 20th, 2019 AT 10:59 AM
Tiny
JIS001
  • EXPERT
Do you still have no spark right now?
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Saturday, September 21st, 2019 AT 12:41 AM
Tiny
KEVIN DEBELLEFEUILLE
  • MEMBER
Yes, still no spark. Sorry, I should have mentioned that in my previous response.

What should I check next?
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Saturday, September 21st, 2019 AT 12:55 PM

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