Sigh. What's Wrong With My Car?

1984 Honda Accord, I was driving the car today and the engine stalled. The car wouldn’t restart and in fiddling with it I found that the engine wasn’t getting any spark, so I checked all the fuses and finding them okay, I swapped out the coil. Car still doesn’t start and has no spark. Cranks just fine, but there’s no spark. Any ideas of what it could be or where to look?

Battery cables? Alternator? Distributor?

I’m grabbing at straws here.

It is hard to say with such limited knowledge of what has been going on. I am going to make a few assumptions, i believe that your car is attempting to turn over it just won’t. So you can eliminate the posibility of battery or alternator. So I would say your distributor needs to be replaced. How ever if your car is not turning over it could be your cylinoid (not sure about spelling on that) or it could be your battery, starter, any number of things.

95% chance it’s the igniter ( = ignition module). Depending on which distributor you have, it’s either mounted on the outside of the distributor housing, or inside the distributor. The distributor is either a Tec or a Denso ( = Nippondenso?), which you’ll need to know to get the right part.

Car turns over fine, everything’s fine, but there’s no spark to the engine at all. Pulled the distributor end of the coil wire off and checked (both before and after installing the new coil) and there’s no spark.

Last time this happened to me, it was the timing belt.

$325 repair.

Good luck.

I’m with Gary T. Chances are, it’s the “ignition module.”

Since at least the mid-70’s, most cars have one – a sort of “mini-computer” that controls the ignition and monitors various sensors. I still recall the day ol’ Sam – my '76 Mustang II – died on me as a result of the totally unpredictable failure of his ignition module. In Sam’s case, the thing was a circuit board encased in what appeared to be epoxy (?) inside a cast aluminum box. Replacement involved one wrench, one electrical plug, two minutes of my time, and about 75 of my dollars.

I couldn’t say what yours looks like or where it might be found, but I’d bet that’s the problem.

Good luck!

Danalan, I don’t know about Hondas that old, but at least for the last few redesigns, most Honda engines have been interference engines - if the timing belt goes, the engine is toast. Doesn’t sound like that’s the problem ;). Sorry, can’t be of any more help than that.

My Honda Civic also had a fried igniter.

Hmmm. Now that you mention it, I had a F***** upoldrebuiltdodge which had a module go out on it that exhibited the same kinds of behavior. There was another module that went bad as well, but I can’t remember what it was, but both of them blew at the same time.

Several people have mentioned a busted timing belt. This is possible (you didn’t give a mileage or when the last time it was changed)
If the T-belt is busted, when you try to start the engine it will spin very fast and have a much higher than normal tone as the engine cranks. If OTOH, the engine sounds normal when in crank mode, it probably is not the t-belt.
If the belt is OK and you are not getting spark, then change the thing that tells the coil to make the spark. This is what goes bad. Coils are almost bullet proof. In all the cars I have worked on over the last 20 years I think I have seen 2 bad coils.

Follow Gary T’s advice, it is right on.

I had these same symptoms with my Ford Escort, and it turned out to be the timing belt.

Minor brain fart – Tec distributors are found on Toyotas. Hondas used Hitachi (w/ internal igniter) or Toyo Denso (w/ external igniter).

And lucky me, I have a Hitachi distributor. If I’m really lucky, I’ll get my car running tomorrow.

Nope. Ain’t lucky. Looks like it’s the timing belt.

Here’s an easy way to check if it’s the timing belt:

Take the distributor cap off and watch the rotor while someone cranks the engine. If the rotor doesn’t move the timing belt is gone.


Which is exactly what’s happening. The question is: Has any damage been done to the engine?