Before beginning any diagnosis and testing procedures, visually inspect the components of the ignition system and engine control systems. Check for the following:
When attempting to search for ignition troubles, also keep in mind that various sensor inputs that the ECM employs to calculate timing may affect engine performance.
Ignition system Precautions
Before proceeding with any type of ignition system testing, be sure to follow these important precautions:
SECONDARY SPARK TEST
The best way to perform this procedure is to use a spark tester (available at most automotive parts stores). Three types of spark testers are commonly available. The Neon Bulb type is connected to the spark plug wire and flashes with each ignition pulse. The Air Gap type must be adjusted to the individual spark plug gap specified for the engine. The last type of spark plug tester looks like a spark plug with a grounding clip on the side, but there is no side electrode for the spark to jump to. The last two types of testers allows the user to not only detect the presence of spark, but also the intensity (orange/yellow is weak, blue is strong).
- Disconnect a spark plug wire at the spark plug end.
- Connect the plug wire to the spark tester and ground the tester to an appropriate location on the engine.
- Crank the engine and check for spark at the tester.
- If spark exists at the tester, the ignition system is functioning properly.
- If spark does not exist at the spark plug wire, perform diagnosis of the ignition system using individual component diagnosis procedures.
Cylinder Drop Test
The cylinder drop test is performed when an engine misfire is evident. This test helps determine which cylinder is not contributing the proper power. The easiest way to perform this test is to remove the plug wires one at a time from the cylinders with the engine running.
- Place the transaxle in P , engage the emergency brake, and start the engine and let it idle.
- Using a spark plug wire removing tool, preferably, the plier type, carefully remove the boot from one of the cylinders.
- The engine will sputter, run worse, and possibly nearly stall. If this happens reinstall the plug wire and move to the next cylinder. If the engine runs no differently, or the difference is minimal, shut the engine off and inspect the spark plug wire, spark plug, and if necessary, perform component diagnostics as covered in this section. Perform the test on all cylinders to verify the which cylinders are suspect.