Author Topic: No Starting 101  (Read 3014 times)

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Offline rbwdriven

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No Starting 101
« on: May 06, 2010, 07:03:17 am »
I found this on Honda-Tech by juevi.

I copied most of it.  Has some good informati on for what the hell is going on with our little engines.

A car needs Four things to run.
Fuel, Compressi on, Spark, Timing.
To break down properly, a car needs PROPER Fuel, PROPER Compressi on, PROPER Spark, and PROPER Timing.
The below is consideri ng the car is cranking over properly and Battery is at FULL CHARGE.

Lets start with...

So your car doesn't start, did you check spark??? How to check spark.

#1. Get a spark tester (very cheap).
#2. Use a spark plug. Take a spark plug, plug it into the wire. Use a pair of INSULATED pliers (the kind with the rubber handles), and hold the spark plug (steel part, base or threads) against a ground on the engine (steel bracket or something steel). So while holding the rubber part of the pliers, holding the plug, and it's touching metal to metal, have someone turn the vehicle over. Does it spark???

A. No, my car does not have spark.
1. Check to make sure the timing belt is turning the cam. (Can be done by removing the top cover, or simply by taking the oil cap off and watching to see if the cam is turning when someone turns your car over).
2. Check grounds.
3. Pull diagrams and start to check wiring with multimete r. The diagrams change from car to car. This step isnít for everyone, but is what to do to properly find the problem.

B. If you have FULL Battery Voltage, Cam is Turning, Grounds are Good. Then check wiring. Most likely cause is the Coil/Igniter. Other causes could be cam/crank sensors, wiring, etc etc etc. Hondaís do have a Coil issue, itís pattern failures usually seen at least once during the life of the car.
If it DOES have Spark, what color is it?

A. Bright Blue/White = Good spark.
B. Red/Orange/Yellow = not strong spark

Note: Please understan d. Weak spark will STILL NOT fire the car off. Also understan d that when using aftermark et or even ďPerformanceĒ coils, you are creating another variable. Honda Ignition systems have been proven to handle high HP applicati ons. If you replace your coil with a new one that is NOT a Honda Part, donít keep asking the same questions until you use a NEW Honda part. Aftermark et parts are VERY unreliabl e, same goes for unkown used.

This goes for MOST Japanese cars. Ask Dealer Technicia ns. They will tell you how aftermark et parts greatly effect performan ce, even aftermark et plug wires can keep it from not starting, yes, itís true.

Note: Another thing you can do if you think your Distribut or doesn't have any power is check all the fuses.

You can do this with a test light. Turn your car all the way ON, but don't crank it over, right before crank. Now make sure your test light has a GOOD ground, and touch each side of each fuse (two sides per fuse). It should light up on both sides, if not, it's blown.

To check for a hot spark, I'd go with a Thexton 404. If the coil was weak, it might be able to jump the standard spark gap in free air, but put some compresse d air/fuel between the gap and it becomes a little harder. So this guy allows you to adjust the gap to your liking, while keeping things safe and hands-free. And using a multimete r to measure the coils primary resistanc e (or secondary) isn't exactly accurate, nor does it show the whole picture like a scope and inductive amp probe would.... but it's better than nothing. If a couple windings in the secondary became shorted internall y, your meter would still measure a lot of resistanc e leaving you thinking it's in spec but a scope would show something different .

Get a compressi on tester, they are not that expensive . Make sure you lube well before threading into the cylinder (spark plug hole), and don't TORQUE the daylights out of it, a LIGHT snug fit will fulfill the purpose.

Read compressi on tester instructi ons, or for basics, just test each hole. Install tester, and have someone turn over (AFTER unpluging distribut or/ignition fuse (don't want it to start)). Let it "bump" the tester 3 times. Take the last reading from all cylinders, compare. Usually honda wants the variation between cylinders to be within 28psi or so. In other words, they should be close across the board.
If they are more than 28psi different, then diag further, it could be a problem with head gasket, timing belt, bent valves, bad compressi on rings, etc etc etc.

MAKE SURE TO UNPLUG THE DISTRIBUT OR! Yes, it was stated. I'm just restating it, because it's important . Typically people remove their plug wires, set them aside and then remove the plugs. The problem is, you've got no load for the coil if you start cranking the engine over. And if the distribut or is plugged in and it's got the coil charged, when it tries to make a spark and release that voltage, it's going to go somewhere . How often do you see threads "I just did a compressi on test and now my car won't start back up."? It's not an instant killer of the coil, but for older coils that have some miles on them, it's easier prey. Also make sure to hold the throttle WIDE OPEN. You'll get lower numbers without doing that.


You can buy a fuel pressure tester, just like a compressi on tester. Check fuel pressure to spec. of your car. In general, I've seen very little fuel problems from Honda's. Personall y, this would be the last thing I'd check on a Honda.
However, if you don't have a tester, check all the other first, if you think your not getting fuel, you can do it a "ghetto" way.  You can take out the plugs, look inside the whole with a light and have someone turn over. You should see fuel spray or smell fuel strongly. Careful with fire hazards.

Note: Hondaís are also notorious for having bad ďMain RelaysĒ. Search and you can read up on this. This will allow you to have good spark, but will cut off the injectors from firing fuel. Itís a very easy and inexpensi ve fix. Usually located in under the driver side dash, close t tohe kick panal.

Note #2: Too MUCH fuel will also cause a car not to start. If you have a chipped ECU, or if your Coolant Temp. Sensor (tells computer the coolant temp and adjust fuel according ly) is bad for example, it can cause the injectors to fire too much fuel and flood the engine. There are other factors that can cause this as well.

Note #3: Vacuum leaks can cause Too MUCH air. The mixture has to be just right for your car to run. If a vacuum line is open or broke, it may be hard for your car to start.

As stated - get a fuel pressure gauge. It'll tell a majority of the story for sure. You can go a step further and get a set of noid lights to verify that the injectors are actually being triggered though.


If others check out well, check your timing, OR if COMPRESSI ON is off, CHECK YOUR TIMING. There are two kinds of TIMING to check. IGNITION TIMING and VALVE TIMING.

Check your valve timing by taking the top cover off of the timing belt and check the belt/cam/crank marks and see if lines up like is supposed to according to the manual.

Check your ignition timing after the Valve Timing has been confirmed to be ok. You will need to use a timing light and research what you have to plug/unplug to get the proper reading. Checking your ignition timing is more for when you have it running. But you can still see if itís somewhat close with a timing light by just cranking.

Check it first. It's the most non-invasive of the tests mentioned . If the timing checks out, you just verified that you have "a" spark to the #1 plug. What about the others? So just move that inductive pick-up to the next cylinder to see if a spark is there. This does not tell you if the spark is hot enough though. At the same time, take off the oil cap to see if the cams are moving. Just a quick visual to know the timing belt didn't snap and that the cam is turning the distibuto r.

A few IMPORTANT notes:

First, make sure your car is in good running order. Honda's are very picky when it comes to tune up parts. MAKE SURE you have good (or better NEW) NGK plugs (proper plugs for car) installed . Next make sure you use a Honda Cap and Rotor AND Ignition Wires. Sure others work, but have seen many issues because of the car simple not working with aftermark et parts. Do things right and buy OEM.

Second, buy some simple tools, spark tester, timing light, compressi on tester, coolant pressure tester, etc.

Third, if you have no idea what your doing DON'T ask the local parts jocky whats wrong, they are in parts for a reason.

Donít be afraid to pay 50-100 or watever it cost to have a GOOOOOOOD Independe nt shop Diagnose it for you. You will probably spend less in the end compared to throwing parts at your car and trying things and making it worse for a professio nal to figure it out. WARNING: You screw stuff up, it will cost more for you to have a true Technicia n figure it out.

To round out the tools, add a meter...a nd a Helms.

Of course, if your car was running fine, suddenly dies and the CEL comes on - I'd start there first.


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