No Spark – When Your Engine Cranks But Has No Spark

No Spark
No Spark

When your engine cranks but fails to start, it could be because of no spark.

No spark is one of the most common reasons why your engine will not start.

When taking on a no spark condition one needs to be patient and have an open mind.

Becoming fixated on specific components is a good way to not find the true problem.

It’s far more likely that there is a problem with a wire, connector, ground, or switch than an actual ignition system component.

So, Don’t focus on a single item until testing indicates that item may be faulty.

Knowing what to look for when troubleshooting ignition systems can allow proper decisions to be made.

First, We know your engine cranks but will not start.

Before doing any testing always start with a fully charged battery.

First Confirm Your Engine Has No Spark.

  • Disable the fuel system by removing the fuel pump fuse or relay.
  • Insert a spark plug tester into the plug boot and ground it on a piece of metal on the engine.
  • Finally, Have someone crank the engine and watch for spark.

If the engine has a coil-on-plug ignition system with no plug wires:

  • Remove one of the coils from the spark plug.
  • Use an extra spark plug.
  • A spark plug tester.
  • Or even a screwdriver in the end of the coil.
  • Ground it on a piece of metal on the engine.
  • Finally, Have someone crank the engine and watch for a spark.
  • No spark indicates an ignition problem.
Testing PCM
Testing PCM

In extreme cases the (PCM) may have failed. In some cases, a (PCM) problem will cause the vehicle not to run at all. The (PCM’s) functions include positioning the crankshaft and controlling the ignition spark and timing. If there are problems with how the (PCM) performs these functions, the vehicle may not run.

The No Spark Problem May Also Be Due To Any Of The Following:

A Bad Crankshaft Position (CKP) Sensor

Crankshaft Position Sensor No Spark
Crankshaft Position Sensor No Spark

First of all, look for any broken, loose or corroded wires from the sensor to the (PCM). The crankshaft position (CKP) sensor monitors the position or rotational speed of the crankshaft. If the crankshaft position sensor has failed completely, and isn’t sending a signal to the (ECU) at all, then the computer won’t send any fuel to the injectors. This will leave you unable to start the car.

A Bad Ignition Module

Ignition modules are solid state switching devices that typically use a component like a transistor to switch the current flow through the primary winding of an ignition coil on and off. In that way, an ignition module works a lot like mechanical points. However, ignition modules are not able to do the job alone. An ignition module requires some type of external input in order to activate.

If your vehicle stalls unexpectedly during operation and will not start again, it is likely because of loose or corroded electrical connections in the ignition module. In this case, check the switch, clean oxidized terminals, and replace broken wires if necessary. Another problem is damage by overheating. If you cannot start the car, you need to test the ignition control module.

A Bad Pickup Inside The Distributor, A Stripped Distributor Drive Gear, Broken, Loose Or Corroded Wires From The Pickup To The Ignition Module Or PCM

No Spark From Electronic Ignition Coil
No Spark From Electronic Ignition Coil

Electronic ignition pickups are a component found on traditional electronic distributor ignition systems. They are located inside the distributor and function as the trigger for the ignition system to produce spark. The pickup coil monitors the rotation of the distributor and triggers the ignition system. Also, At the optimal moment to produce the best timed spark for best engine performance.

As the ignition pickup essentially functions as the activation switch for the entire ignition system, when it fails, it can greatly affect the operation of the vehicle.

One of the first symptoms of a bad ignition pickup is an engine that stalls and eventually will not restart.

Consequently, An old or failing ignition pickup may cut out signal intermittently, which may cause the engine to stall. The engine may suddenly just shut off, almost as if the key had been turned off. Depending on the nature of the issue, sometimes the vehicle can be restarted and driven. Consequently this problem will only get worse and completely fail.

A Bad Ignition Coil

Ignition Coil
Ignition Coil

The ignition coil is the unit that takes your relatively weak battery power and turns it into a powerful spark. One of the most common symptoms of a faulty ignition coil is when the vehicle runs for a while and then the car’s engine suddenly dies for no apparent reason. As a result, This occurs after the ignition coil or module gets too hot. Furthermore, it could correct itself after the engine module cools. In some cases, a bad ignition coil will result in the vehicle not starting it all.

A Bad Rotor Or Distributor Cap (cracks or carbon tracks that are allowing the spark to short to ground).

Often the distributor cap is suspect. The internal and external surface of the cap should be clean. No erosion should be on the surface and the firing points should be free of rust or corrosion. Also, Confirm the rotor is in good working order. Consequently, It could short out the coil voltage and cause a faulty connection inside the terminal of the distributor cap. The result is a misfire in the spark plugs. Look for any cracks or carbon trace in the cap.

A Bad ASD Relay

One of the most common symptoms of a bad ASD relay is an engine that will start, but stall out almost immediately, or at random times. The ASD relay supplies power to the vehicle’s ignition coils and fuel injectors, which are some of the most important components of the entire engine management system.

If the ASD is having any problems that interfere with its ability to supply power to the injectors, coils, or whatever other circuits it may feed, then those components may not function properly and problems may arise. A car with a failing or faulty ASD relay may stall immediately after starting, or randomly while operating.

Faulty Ignition Switch

Cranks No Start Ignition Switch
Cranks No Start Ignition Switch

Normally, when you put the key in the ignition switch and turn it, you will have three positions:

  • The first position is the ‘off’ status.
  • The second position is the ‘on’ position where the dashboard lights come on.
  • The third position is the ‘start’ mode where you exert key pressure to actually fire the engine up.

One major sign of a bad ignition switch is the instrument panel not lighting up in position two.

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Conclusion

NOTE: Suspect the (ECM) only as a last resort. So, If all other components are functioning properly you may have a bad (ECM). At this point you should consider taking your vehicle to a professional to diagnose the problem.

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