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Steve, Honda Mechanic
Category: Honda
Satisfied Customers: 3478
Experience:  13+ years with Honda,ase certified over 25 years
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Changed spark wont start

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changed spark plugs. car won't start. it will turn over, but will not fire. there is spark getting to the end of the spark plugs (tested out of the cyl. head of course) and there 'seems' to be fuel getting to the cyl. ideas?
Make sure your distributor rotor is in good shape. You may have a weak coil which will show spark when a plug is out of the cylinder head but can not fire when under compression presure.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
i checked the rotor as well. appears in good shape. i replaced the timing belt, main seals, water pump, belts, rotor, cap and plug wires two years ago. miles now are 202,000
With the miles on the car there is a good chance the coil is weak. Especially if the plugs you replaced were really worn out.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
i'm not entirely certain when i pull the distrib cap off what the coil looks like. there are two wires connected at the top with a pos. and neg. marking. they have rust on the hold down screws with some corrosion. are they wired to the coil?
Yes those are the connection to the coil.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
according to my manual the ohms check out for the coil. that is if i understood which connections to check with each other. i.e. i checked the ohms between the pos. & neg marked terminals and came up with approximately 0.3. then went from the pos to the tower terminal and was a little over 10,000. i am going to borrow a digital ohmeter tomorrow to get more accurate results.
Yes they do almost always check out ok. If you remove the coil and take off the metal plate you might find some burn marks on it . Those burn marks are where your spark is going when tying to start the car.
Steve and 3 other Honda Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
put new coil, rotor, dist. cap & cap seal on. same result. i appreciate your help. i'm not a mechanic, but i am mechanical and have always done my own maintenance.

more details....when i changed the spark plugs originally a week ago (this has been an on going prob. for over a week) i broke one off-it was stuck in the head. i drilled out the old plug threads, retapped, and installed insert. do you know of something common that could have gone wrong in that process? i also cleaned the threads of the other plug holes applied anti seize to the new plugs and have not had it started since.

i have fuel in the tank. i have not replaced the fuel filter this go around.
I do not think the broken spark plug could be causing the car not to start. i hope you didn't let the shaving fall into the cylinder when you drill out the old plug.
One thing to check is that when the key is in the on position is to see if the dash lights like the oil and battery light come on. if they do, wiggle the key and see if they still stay on.
let me know what you find.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Steve, thank you for staying with me on this. i really appreciate it.

i was very concerned with shavings and some did get in the cylinder. i made a very concerted effort to remove them and think very few remain if any. i turned the key to on, the dash lights came on and stayed on when i wiggled the key.

i then started all over. pulled all plug wires and plugs. found the position of each piston at TDC and recorded the position of the rotor in the firing order 1-3-4-2. attached wires, installed plugs, confirmed spark at the end of wires (plugs already in).

turned engine over. for the first time since all this began it seems (hopefully not just hope) the starter has some help. it is not a strong, but yet seems like it is getting help. still not starting though.
OK from all this trying and if the wires were on wrong you may have flooded the motor.
Have you tried starting it with your foot to the floor?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
i see what you are saying.

it did not start with foot to floor.

Do you have the wires on as shown HERE?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
i don't know what the order i had them in before i checked TDC on them, but after that they are in the position in your diagram (which is not the same as what my Haynes manual shows)

over the past week there have been times i will have gone out to work on this and #1 cylinder will have pool of fuel sitting on top of the piston. i have sucked it out and blown it dry to insure no flooding. the last two mornings i have gone to start it first thing, it has actually fired immediately, but just once and that's it.

Are you sure that is a pool of fuel and not coolant?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
when it showed up the first time i assumed fuel. then when it showed up after setting all night i wondered. this second time when i soaked it up with a rag it smelled like fuel. so i didn't think too much about it being coolant, but thought afterwards may be i should do a match test. when it showed up again i then soaked it up with a paper towel and lit it with a match. now it didn't 'seem' to have water in it (if there was it must have been minimal to have lit up like it did). my last test would be to get it out of there and see if oil mixes with it or separates. I'm waiting for it to pool again......
OK. I am thinking you have a bad head gasket. Oftem times the coolant gets in while the engine is cold and will run rough when first started in the mornings.
Check and make sure the cooant in the radiator is full.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
would a bad head gasket keep it from starting at all? i have never seen any evidence in the oil (i did an oil change with the tune up). However, i have over a period of time gotten low on coolant and, more than once on an ongoing basis had to fill it up (maybe a pint to a quart at a time). where would it go? If it is a leaky head gasket would it be slow enough to not show in the oil (just burns off too fast). i have thought to look in the tranny case, is it cooled with the same oil as the engine?
A lot of times the Honda Civic head gaskets will onlt leak coolant into the cylinders and not into the oil.
if the gasket was failing between two cylinders it may lower the compression enough to cause the car not to start.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
is a failed head gasket necessarily unusual? or are they somewhat common for a Civic?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
can compression be checked without the car running?
Yes that is how it is checked, there is a tool called a comression gauge that you use.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
would that be my next step then, to check compression in all cylinders?
Yes it would to know where the compression is.