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Getting spark to distributor but not to spark plugs. 1986…

Customer Question
Getting spark to distributor...

Getting spark to distributor but not to spark plugs. 1986 ford ranger. 4 cylinder 2.3 liter engine

Mechanic's Assistant: How many miles are on the car? When was the last time the plugs were changed?

168,000 miles. 2 days ago

Mechanic's Assistant: Are you fixing your Ranger yourself? What have you tried so far?

I saw a small puff of smoke on passenger side of engine. Started to try and troubleshoot wiring and found that I was getting 12.8 volts to top of distributor but nothing to spark plugs. Replaced distributor module. Nothing. Still no spark to plugs.

Submitted: 5 months ago.Category: Ford
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Answered in 13 minutes by:
11/12/2017
Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago
Mike S.
Mike S., ASE Certified Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 7,950
Experience: ASE Certified Master Technician
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Hi, I am Mike, welcome. I'm reviewing your question.

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Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

Remove the distributor cap and inspect the rotor button for being burnt up.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
I have new rotor and distributor cap
Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

I thought you said you had spark to the distributor, but then you say you are getting 12.8 volts.

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Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

So your ignition coil is producing a spark into the distributor cap but the spark isn't coming out of the distributor cap, correct?

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
I got 12 volts to coil, through coil to the distrbutor but nothing to plugs
Customer reply replied 5 months ago
correct
Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

Ok but that doesn't mean the coil is producing a spark. At first you said "getting spark to distributor". Is the ignition coil producing a 10,000 volt spark when cranking?

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Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

Perform this stator test,

Stator Test

  1. Turn the ignition switch to the OFF position.

  2. Remove the coil wire and ground it.

  3. Touch the negative (-) lead from a volt/ohmmeter to the distributor base.

  4. Disconnect the pin-in-line connector near the distributor and attach the positive (+) volt/ohmmeter lead to the TFI module side of the connector.

  5. Turn the ignition switch to the ON position.

  6. Bump the starter and measure the voltage levels with the engine not moving. Allow sufficient time for the digital voltage reading to stabilize before taking the measurement. Record all values for possible use in additional tests.

  7. If the highest reading is greater than 90 percent 90% of battery voltage, go to Step 8. If the highest value is less than 90% of battery voltage, replace the stator assembly.

  8. If the lowest value is greater than 0.5 volts, remove the distributor from the engine. Remove the TFI module from the distributor and check the stator connector terminals and TFI terminals for misalignment; service as necessary. If OK, replace the stator assembly. If the lowest value is less than 0.5 volts, go to Step 9.

  9. If all values are between 0.5 volts and 90% of battery voltage, replace the stator assembly. If no values are between 0.5 volts and 90% of battery voltage, go on to the EEC-IV/TFI-IV Test.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Not sure. Did not know it produced 10,000 when cranking. I ran over my Fluke Meter yesterday so I need a new meter. Pieces everywhere. So when I get a new meter measure voltage out of coil and it should read 10,000 volts when cranking?
Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

No, do not attempt that. Just check for a spark. 10,000 + volts will fry your fluke.

If you don't know how to test for a spark, then try this.

Make a test plug then check for a spark while cranking.

You can make a test plug with a new spark plug and some wire, a mini hose clamp and an alligator clip. First open the spark plug gap to around 0.075” and strip both ends of a 16 gauge wire about 4 foot in length. Attach the mini hose clamp around the threads of the spark plug cause that is a ground and secure it with the mini hose clamp with the bare wire end in between to make a good connection. Next, take the other end of wire and secure to an alligator clip.

Now, you have a test plug. Remove any spark plug boot you want and insert your test plug onto the spark plug wire end you just pulled off and ground the alligator clip. Lay the spark plug in some shade somewhere under that hood and then crank the engine and look for spark. It should crackle with sound and should be blue but red is ok, orange is a little weak. If it can jump that 0.075” gap you should have no problem igniting an engine.

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Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

Check for spark from the coil wire, too.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
what if I put a spark plug in the coil wire and ground it?
Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

Yeah, that is another way.

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Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

That was the son for the wire and clip on my test plug but that is ok, too.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Does the EEC/TFI test have anything to do with relays?
Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

What relays?

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Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

Plus, I read this was TFI-IV .

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Disregard relays. Does TFI have something to do with fuel injection?
Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

NO, TFI stands for thick film ignition

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Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

Chances are you have a bad stator.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Is stator the coil?
Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

No, inside the distributor. Like a pickup coil.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
MooseThank you for your time and knowledge. Have a good day, Finger crossed.
Ford Mechanic: Mike S., ASE Certified Technician replied 5 months ago

I am not Moose, he is a different expert here. I am Mike.

Did that answer your question? If so, kindly leave me a positive rating, so I get credit. After all, you have already made the deposit.
If you don't, the deposit you made will just sit there and I won't get my share of it.

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