1999 Honda Civic



September, 18, 2010 AT 8:37 PM

Electrical problem
1999 Honda Civic 4 cyl Two Wheel Drive Automatic 225000 miles

History is that electrical system, lights, engine etc pulsed. The harness that rubs on the manifold bracket was repaired but still have pulse. Have had grounding issues, car wouldn't start grounds corroded at body/frame, cleaned up and additional grounds added. Car started and ran fine but still have pulse. Recently while driving car instantly went to half power, sluggish then died. Wouldn't start seemed to " skip" when turning i.E. Did not sound like it does normally when starting as if no spark. Diagnosis revealed that distributor was not generating spark. Replaced distributor with reman, did not replace rotor or cap, both appeared to be in ok shape and based on way car died it seemed to be something that developed immediately i.E. Not a rotor or cap wear type issue. Car ran fine up to that instant. After putting new distributor in, the car turned over normally - sounded normal - but would not start. Shortly later went back to skip type turnover, checked for spark from spark plug cables - no spark. Fear that something is killing the dist. Could short in the h/a to the distributor kill distributor? Car has been in two different shops multiple times and no one can diagnose the pulse problem. The distributor problem was correct but I don't think it is the only issue.


25 Answers



September, 18, 2010 AT 10:31 PM

Hi suncars,

Thank you for the donation.

Pulsing of the electrical system could be due to the alternator, PCM or ignition switch.

Was the charging rate tested? If charging rate seems out of specs, check the harmonic balancer if equipped. Note if the crank pully is moving in a wavy pattern and check alternator belt tension.

Distributor can only be damaged if the fault is internal. Did you test if power is present at the distributor with ignition switch turned ON? If yes, test if power is available while cranking.

A faulty ignition switch can result in power supply disruption to the distributor while cranking. There was a safety recall on the igniton switch and it can cause intermittent stalling and non starting.

Did you test if the rotor is turning while cranking? Hope it is not a bad timing belt.

Does the Check Engine Lamp comes on and goes off after 2 seconds when ignition switch is turned on?



September, 18, 2010 AT 11:23 PM

The alternator has been tested and reportedly ok.

Where should I check for power at the dist? At h/a, plug at unit?

I checked the timing belt and it is intact.

The engine light does come on for 2 seconds when switch is turned on.

Thanks for the help



September, 18, 2010 AT 11:49 PM

At the distributor there is a Black/Yellow wire. That is the power supply from the ignition switch. Unplug the connector, attach a test lamp to it and turn ignition ON. If test lamp turns on, power is available. Turn the ignition to crank and note if the test lamp goes off. It should stay on indicating nothing wrong with the power supply.

Do not rule out a faulty replacement reman distributor.



September, 19, 2010 AT 1:44 PM

Can you tell me what voltage to expect?



September, 19, 2010 AT 1:47 PM

It should be battery voltage.



September, 19, 2010 AT 1:56 PM

Ive got 11.5 V both with switch on and when cranking - unless intermittent.

I can believe that I got a bad reman dist. But its strange that even when the turnover sounded normal i.E. When dist. Was first put in the car wouldn't start and then the turnover sounded bad again i.E. Bad dist.

Can the cap or rotor work intermittently or instantly die?



September, 19, 2010 AT 2:12 PM

Other interesting facts: backup lights and power mirrors don't work? - Have checked fuses.



September, 20, 2010 AT 1:10 PM

To test if sparks are intermittent and eliminate the possibility of the rotor or cap, remove the distributor cap. Attach a spark plug cable to the ignition coil output while grounding the other end with a spark plug or spark plug tester and crank engine. If sparks are available and consistent, the rotor or cap is bad if it is not getting to the spark plugs.

If sparks are available and not starting, check the firing order. Sometimes reman distributors are installed incorectly and the rotor is facing 180 degrees out of time. Swapping the position of spark plug wires between 1 with 4 and 2 with 3 should allow you to start.

Did you check the reverse bulbs? With ignition switch turned on, does the R indicator light comes on? If yes, remove the reverse light bulb and test for battery voltage at the socket.

Power mirror shares the same fuse as rear defoger relay. Pull out the mirror switch and test the Black/Blue wire for battery voltage with ignition switch turned on. If power is available, you have either : 1. Faulty switch.
2. Faulty power mirrors.
3. Bad ground circuit.



September, 20, 2010 AT 4:53 PM

Second dist. Still no start
with spark cable connected to the coil contact and spring, spark plug in cable, spark plug body grounded - no spark.

Reading about 10 V DC to ground at coil contact while cranking - V ok - seems low?

Tested continuity on all of the pins on the engine dist. H/a i.E. From car all open i.E. High resistance except black and low resistance on black/yellow. Voltage drops from 12 to 10.5 on black and yellow when cranking. Are these numbers ok?

Could there be a problem with something at the other end of the h/a wires such as a control module, computer etc. That wasn't allowing dist. To spark or short circuit?

Have new rotor but don't think thats the prob.

Tested each cable and spark plug - no spark while cranking.

Bulbs ok - had misplaced one of fuses while checking. Found fuse map on-line and checked everything.



September, 21, 2010 AT 9:31 AM

The voltages are correct and should not be the problem.

If you had done any repairs, check the ground circuit connection for the PCM. It is located at right side of engine, on thermostat housing.

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