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  Main relay   Ignition      

Having Ignition troubles? You've come to the right place for no-start solutions.



Related helpful links

Honda FAQ

Rover Ignition

Mark's Site

 Ignition system - Coil and Igniter DO IT YOURSELF 

How it works
How to spot bad ignition circuit - In 1 minute
You ride along in your Acura or Honda when suddenly your car cuts out. As you lose momentum your car rolls a few feet to a stop . Friends and strangers help push your car along. You've just experience what most likely is an ignition fault. A simple block diagram shows you why your car may have stopped. The battery takes it's path from the ignition switch to the computer, igniter and coil.
(point mouse over picture)

Fed by sensors the ECU tells the Igniter when to switch the coil OFF.

The first step is to check for the rocker arm movement thru the oil filler. The next step is to check for sparks. Remove one end of the plug wire. Insert a spark plug into the wire. Lay the plug solid end to a suitable ground. E.g. exposed bolt, nut, etc.

Warning: Coil shock may be hazardous due to abrupt body movement causing injury. A practical step is to isolate you from ground - Do not lean on metal body panels, plastic bumpers okay. DO NOT ATTEMPT on a distributerless ignition system or DIS - with lethal voltages up to 70KV.

Next step is to check for spark at the coil. Run a ground lead (connected securely to negative body ground) to the output port (secondary) of the coil and allow a small gap between the ground wire and the output port.

<------Apply ground wire very close to the secondary port.

My problem sounds like a main relay. Check for fuel. Listen to the low whine of the fuel pump in the rear seats and take notice of the unusual activity of the Check Engine Light (CEL).


Could it be something else. Open the oil cap to see if the rocker arms are moving. This should've been done earlier. If the rocker arms are not moving, you will need to deal with the timing belt first. Could it be the ignition key? Normally you should have 12V on at least one of the coil's terminal if your ignition key switch, fuse or other connections are working properly.


Quick lesson: An igniter receives square wave signals ( in mA) sent from the ECU, determines the rate of the signal and compares it to a reference (the dwell time) which tells it how long to charge the coil. When the signal goes to ground the igniter cuts off power to the coil to produce spark. In other words, it's an integrated time management circuit combined with a transistor. On previous generation the reluctor gives the signal to the igniter.

To spot a bad igniter :

1. The tachometer quits abruptly or jerks around before stalling.
2. No spark at the coil.
3. No on/off voltage at the coil's (+, - ) terminals when cranking.


The distributor rotor spins inside the distributor delivering spark to each plug wire in a timely manner. Should it fail there will be no spark at the plugs, however, you will see spark at the coil. Check for spark. To spot a bad rotor :

1. The distributor is hot to the touch.
2. No spark at the plug wires.
3. Spark is found at the coil.
4. A cricket noise is heard from the distributor before stalling.

Distributor Rotors

To spot a bad ignition switch :

1. Car stalls then restarts, then stalls after driving.
2. Car runs fine when key slightly held at start position.
3. No battery voltage at the coil + positive terminal.
4. There is an on/off voltage at the coil's (+, - ) terminals when cranking.

Ignition Switch

To spot a possible bad coil :

1. The distributor was disturbed before it died.
2. No spark at the plug wires.
3. No spark at the coil's output (secondary.) And a running the test below confirms it.



Making test jigs would require:

1. Two alligator clips.
2. LED, 1-W Bulb.
500 to 999-Ohm 1/4W resistor.
4. Two wire leads.

 test light 



Simple Test:

1. You have a three-four pin connector at the coil.

2. Connect one end of the BULB jig (test light) to the battery (+) terminal..

Probe the tip of the other end to any wire, preferably the one marked ( - ) on the coil. If it's not marked then consult a diagram for your car.

4. Crank the motor. A blinking light = bad coil. No blinking = most likely, a bad igniter.


To spot which component is bad probe pins 3 with the top LED jig and pin 2 with the bottom test light: Warning: DO NOT BE CONFUSED. Probing pin three with the test light (bottom jig) may destroy the component in circuit. The igniter may be designed for 100 mA max or input voltages of -0.3 to + 0.3. The LED jig or modern DMM (digital multimeter) has a lhigh impedance. Have a LED jig or DMM ready for all circuit tests before investigating further. Always turn off ignition when not running any tests.

Step 1. Clip the negative (anode) end of the LED probe to the battery positive terminal.
Step 2. Clip the LED probe to pin 4. Crank the engine (assuming no spark.)
Step 3. Do you see blinking? No- ECU is bad, check for ECU codes. Yes-Coil/igniter may be bad go to step 4.
Step 4. Connect the test light tip to - negative terminal of the coil, it may be labeled (-). DO NOT PROBE IGNITER UNIT unless you have a steady hand and sure. Crank. If no blinking check for continuity between pin 2 and coil (-). If no continuity stop here and solve this problem otherwise go to step 5.
Step 5. Do you see blinking? No - Go to step 5.1 Yes - Go to step 5.2

Step 5.1 Check for battery voltage at igniter's (+) terminal pin 3. If there is voltage igniter is bad, replace it. Step 5.2 Check for battery voltage at coil's (+) terminal. If there is voltage coil is bad, replace it.
  Check coil for spark.




Step 1. Turn ignition OFF.

Step 2. Before disconnecting the ignition wires from the distributor cap mark the location of the wire to the cap. E.g. 1,2,3,4. Disconnect the ignition wires.

Step 3. Remove the bolts. Before sliding out the distributor from the head have a marking material (razor blade) ready to mark the distributor camshaft end. Remove the distributor. Mark the camshaft end to indicate its position required for installation.

Step 4. Remove the distributor cap.

Step 5. Unscrew the rotor's fastener , if applicable, and remove it. If it does not come off, with two flathead screw driver pry it gently not damaging the sensors below it with a cloth.
CAUTION: Any shock could destroy the coil. Do not hammer or tap excessively.

Step 6. Remove the coil connections and then coil, if applicable, careful not to disturb it. Remove the igniter's connector carefully and remove igniter.


Step 1. Installation is the reverse of the procedure except taking note below.

Step 4. Apply conducting grease and electrical connection grease before installation.

<----apply conduct grease on back, connections  

Step 5. A bad bearing is noticeable by a course and loose or wobbly spin. Apply a small coat of lubricant into the bottom bearing of the distributor shaft to lengthen the life of the bearing, avoiding the sensors. A good bearing will spin without any loose or dry feeling and should be left alone.

Step 6. Install new or good condition distributor shaft o-ring, coating fresh oil on them. Install new or good condition distributor cap o-ring, observing the condition of the distributor cap terminal and scrape off any anomalies.

Coat fresh oil on small o-ring only---->


The basic function of an igniter is to permit build–up of current in the primary of a spark coil, and then to interrupt the flow at the proper firing time. The resulting flyback action in the ignition coil induces the required high secondary voltage needed for the spark.

The primary currents needs to be controlled to avoid damaging the coil. A transistor controls the primary current by completing the path to ground. The computer uses a combination of internal control circuits and external triggering devices such as the variable reluctance sensors to control the spark timing. The IC inside the igniter controls the timing and sequencing of this transistor.

The igniter's internal control circuit is responsible for supplying the primary current to the coil's primary windings and also controlling the dwell time.
If the available system supply voltage (approx. 14V) was applied to the primary windings, a maximum current flow would be possible. A coil can be fully charged in a minimum amount of time. 


data files for igniter pss sum 4x igniterps3gif.sp save target as


CAUTION: Always ground the high-voltage port on the coil when doing electrical tests and cranking. The igniter or coil may destroy itself by finding another short path to ground. Shorting the high voltage port out won't harm the coil.

Wire Designations:

Terminals colors below are for 90-93 Accords

A. Blue for most Hondas/Acuras.
B. Blu2, Blu1 is for tach with in series resistor.
C. Blk/Yel.
D. Yellow green (Do not test with a test lamp.)


Terminals colors below are for 86-89 Accords if applicable. 

A. Blue.
B. Lt/Grn but, at coil end Blk/Wht.
Disconnect the connectors from the distributor.


 Beta   upadated 11/2/2004

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