1990 Honda Civic SI 1.6 Electrical No Start

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Driving my car suddenly it stops running. Tried to start it. Turns Over but doesn't start.

Replaced distibuter cap and rotor, Ignition Coil, Spark Plugs, Main Relay Switch.

It seems that there is some electricity to the ignition coil when it is turned over but not alot of juice. Tested by faithful friend sticking a screw driver in the coil while I cranked the engine.

I had the ignitor tested but I don't have much faith.

I called an auto place to see if I could get some help before I go crazy.
He made a suggestion about the alternator. I thought that was only when the car was running, that it needed the alternator.
I don't know about these new cars. 1990 is new to me.

Any suggestions and instructions would be greatly appriciated.

Scott Scarlett

posted by  scarlenda

Hello Scott, the Honda 1.6 has an integrated module in the distributor and you may find in the long run that you need to replace the distributor. They are notorious for going out. I have replaced many. If you have voltage going into the plug at the distributor and no spark coming out, odds are pretty good you need one. Ignitors rarely go bad before the dist. Also, if you do decide to change the distributor, be sure to get the numbers and alphabet letters AA or AB etched on the side of the dist. There are two different dist. bolt positions and this will determine which one you need. The distributors look identical except for the two bolts patterns where they bolt up. Hope this helps.

posted by  MsSnapon

I also had my car stolen and the ignition switch was damaged but still functional. I don't seem to have a problem with it but with these fancy computer stuff, I thought this might be important to bring up.

A local parts store gives me the choice of these two distibuters for my car.
I will verify the correct part by bringing the distributer with me to the store.

Beck/Arnley 1850565
$47.50 core

Cardone 3117402
Distributor: Reman; Import
$75.00 core

Thanks for your help. This will be my next step.

posted by  scarlenda

A1 Cardone and Beck Arnley are offerred by Advance Auto Parts stores. While A1Cardone is cheaper it is the same one that Beck Arnley is going to sell you. Simply put Beck Arnley is a distributor of the same parts, Advance stores just sell their parts and they have an awful mark up on them. Beck Arnley is a middle man to A1 Cardone, yes, everything they sell is the same thing offered by the store in another name brand. If you were to ask for brake pads, the Bendix they offered you would be the same ones Beck Arnley would offer for a much higher price.

posted by  MsSnapon

If your key rotates the lock cylinder and cranks the car, the engine voltage is going out from the starter, thus the lock cylinder and ignition switch are doing their job and it is not relevant to your no start situation. A no start situation can best be broken down basically to either no fuel or no fire; if you have both of these or neither of these then you get in deep. :)

posted by  MsSnapon

Making a good point there, when you turn the key can you here the fuel pump priming?

posted by  cinqyg

For some reason timing belt/chain pops into my head everytime I read this. Might wanna see if your distributor shaft rotates as the car is turning over.

posted by  DodgeRida67

Dodge has a good point. How many miles are on this car?

posted by  MsSnapon

When I turn the key I hear the click sound of what I think is my fuel pump. I am not getting a good spark.

posted by  scarlenda

The timming belt did break on me in the past. I had it replaced and the mechanic told me I was lucky it wasn't a worse problem.

posted by  scarlenda

I started looking in more detail into the distributor, One of the sensors seems to be loose. The coil moves up and down the metal shaft near the gear. I don't think it should do this but I am guessing at that. I forget the name.

posted by  scarlenda

About 145,000 miles

posted by  scarlenda

I tried the new distributor. NOGO.
I would like to get access to better resources such as:
Better Technical Documentation.
My only guess that my failure is due to my lack of information I have provided you.
I am going to try to start from the beginning unless you have a better answer.

Thanks for your help
Scott Scarlett

posted by  scarlenda


If you are shure the fuel supply is OK, your problem seems to be the ignition lock. Contacts in the lock becomes loose during time and use. This is a most common defect. There are many electrical contacts in the lock. When you start, the machine turns, but other contacts in the lock failed out. In most cases, the electrical part of the lock, the "cartridge" goes hot after a while and loose contact. Until it warm up, it work fine. Check it.
For diagnostical purpose, you can find out the + and the ignition wire on the lock and connect them together provisionally. (Just like a thief do, hi) Don't forget to unlock the steering wheel.
To avoid unnecessary failures of the mechanical part of the lock, don't hang too much heavy keys together with the ignition key.


posted by  amateur

I have always got to love someone that just decides they have more interest in throwing money away by just throwing parts at the car rather than doing a proper diagnosis and finding out where the failure really is. :banghead: All those new parts and you're still dead in the water and you can't take them back. :doh:

If your car runs and then suddenly cuts off, you could have ANY number of problems going on. I can rest you assured you're looking at an igntion or fuel problem. Be it that it will crank, I'd love to know who suggested it was the alternator??? If the battery is good and charged and the alternator goes out, the battery will power the starter for cranking when you turn the key until the battery is drained. The car will also start and all assessories will work fine until the battery is dead and it won't be long. So you can forget that possibility.

You need to check the module in the distributor that has already been suggested and also you'd ba amazed at what else might be wrong from the most complex to the most simple. I just had a similar issue with a 1996 Grand Am and determined after about an hour playing with it that the PCM power feed was loose at the computer and everytime I went around a corner quickly and when I hit a bump a certain way, I'd lose the engine and all gauges and sometimes it would die completely and other times it would just faulter and then return to normal.

Something like this is going to have to be looked at by someone that knows the ignition/fuel systems of this car. I assume this happened once???? You were driving and then BOOM, engine dies and it will crank and not start back up no matter how long it sits, correct? Fuel or Igniton bud, start diagnosing all the way from the ignition switch in the column to the ignition module you say you replaced to the integrated module in the distributor. If you don't know the procedure for this nor have the equipment, it's time for a trip to the shop. :thumbs:

posted by  cmeseadoin

with all the money you've throw at this problem soo far you could have gotten a professional to do it...
if your really not willing to do that then you need to start following wires around under your dash like the guy above suggested

posted by  Pieface

Screw "professionals". Most the time they don't know sh*t about what they're doing and they overcharge and stick you with a lot of BS.

posted by  DodgeRida67

Yeah Dodge, that is why they are called professionals, right? Now, some of them are rotten at the core but for the most part if you are SMART in how you chose who to take the car to, they are are there because they DO know what they are doing, they have the training and tools needed for the job as well. Now, I do all my own work because I am more than capable and know what I am doing. If I have never done a job...I can learn because I am very savy with things mechanical. I don't necessarily trust all of the pro's either but to make that statement out of response to the point that pieface and myself was making is purely stupid.

So you're suggesting this person would be worse off by taking their car to Honda than to come on here and listen to some of the "premo" advice that you have doled out? Let me pick myself up off the floor LAUGHING MY ASS OFF! :thumbs: :orglaugh: :orglaugh:

posted by  cmeseadoin

the advantage that the shop has over the backyard do-it-yourselfer is that they have the tools to properly diagnose it rather than just replacing everything they can think of

posted by  Pieface

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