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Spark Related No Start Problems

Your car won't start due to a problem in the ignition system - coil, distributor

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This cracked wire can cause a no-start.

A damaged coil wire and your car won't start.

photo by Matt Wright, 2007
With the starter-related causes of your no-start problem out of the way, we continue the search for why your car won't start. If the engine can't get spark, there will be no fire. But don't crawl into the hole just yet. Spark is created by your car's ignition system (ignition means "to ignite). Ignition system troubleshooting isn't too difficult when you're looking for a no-start problem. The first place to check is your coil.

  • Coil Testing: To properly test your ignition coil you'll need a multimeter that can measure impedance. If you don't have a multimeter, there is an easier test you can perform using simple hand tools. Test your coil and, if it's bad, replace it.

  • Distributor Cap: Your no-start problem probably isn't caused by your distributor cap, but occasionally, especially during wet weather, a faulty cap can keep your car from starting. Remove your distributor cap and check the inside for moisture. If there is even a drop or mist of water inside, wipe it out with a clean, dry cloth. Inspect the cap for cracks and replace it if necessary. Once its dry, though, it'll work.

  • Coil Wire: The starting problem could also be due to a broken or shorting coil wire. Inspect the wire to see if there are any obvious cracks or splits, then test for continuity using a circuit tester.

Did it start? No? Ok, on to the fuel-related possibilities.

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