: Stalled while driving, cranks but will not restart - likely spark problem... 1979 CDV



Benzilla
05-10-13, 05:09 PM
Was driving the Phaeton around town today. Rolling down a slight incline towards a large intersection, I felt the car pull back... engine stopped. I made my way to the side of the road (kinda out of the way... very long double-turning lane) & had a look around. The car will crank just fine, but won't start. The engine was up to full operating temp, semi-aggressive driving.

First I inspected my fuel lines, they look fine & I'd just replaced the rubber lines around the fuel pump. No visible fuel leaks anywhere. Took the air cleaner off & primed the carb by hand. I heard fuel squirt & saw a poof of smoke from the choke valve, so it seems to be getting fuel. A UPS guy pulled up behind me & tried to help. We tried squirting a bit of carb cleaner down the choke while cranking; nothing. Linkage looks fine. Checked all the plugs & wires for looseness etc. Plugs, wires, cap, rotor, & distributor base are all new...

Only thing I can thing of is the Ignition Coil. I didn't replace it yet for whatever reason (cheap), wondering if it could have died while driving & now I'm not getting a spark? I had AAA tow it back to my driveway for investigation. Still won't start now that it's cooled down either.

I looked through my service manual with inconclusive results. I don't have electrical diagnostic equipment on hand right now, any way to troubleshoot this more without it? Other ideas I haven't thought about?

Thanks!!
Ben

amunderdog
05-10-13, 05:25 PM
Old school.
Pull a spark plug
hook it back to the plug wire
hold the threads of the plug onto grounding metal on motor.
Have someone crank the motor
Got spark?

csbuckn
05-10-13, 05:30 PM
Sounds like the coil to me. Grab an inline spark tester and confirm but I've been left stranded because of a coil so its always on the top of my list.

Benzilla
05-10-13, 06:32 PM
Thanks guys! Haven't checked the spark yet, nobody around to help yet.

However, I did visually inspect the coil for bad wiring, & popped the cap off the dizzy for a look around. The contacts that the rotor spins around & hit seem to have some gray carbon build up right where it contacts - all of them. The cap & rotor have less than 3,000 miles & less than a year on them. Could this cause the problem I'm experiencing? Car was running fine. Could a dying coil cause the contacts to carbon up? Scraped one lightly with a screwdriver & it felt like sandpaper.

Was going to go ahead & throw a new coil on regardless & see if that fixes it. However now I'm wondering why the cap looked like that. Is a bit if buildup normal?

jamespowers
05-10-13, 06:38 PM
Hmmmm.... I would check the wires to the coil just to be sure. I go hung out to dry once when the nuts backed off of the coil and the wires were not making good contact. There is so much vibration there that it can happen easily. :bigroll:

Fleetwood472
05-10-13, 06:46 PM
pull the rotor off and look at the 2 wires coming off of the pickup coil in the body of the distributor. A lot of times they break. Very common especially if this is the original distributor. If the pickup coil is shot you have to pull the distributor, knock the roll pin out of the gear and pull the shaft to be able to change it.

1980coupe
05-10-13, 06:54 PM
Definitely the module under the cap. Looks like a small boomerang, that happen to me but car left me at my in laws, pulled out wire and checked for spark and no spark...got a new module and she fired right up..

Benzilla
05-10-13, 07:07 PM
Distributor base including module is two months old. Cadrone rebiult unit. I upgraded from california 5 terminal to federal 4 terminal in order to bypass the ESS box. Would be very disappointed if a new part failed.

1980coupe
05-10-13, 07:10 PM
I'd still check it. Maybe it was a defective one that why it only lasted 2 months...

cadillac_al
05-11-13, 10:38 AM
Yup, bad ignition module. Sometimes I carry a spare in the glove box but I have so many cars it would most likely be in the wrong one.

lacville78
05-11-13, 05:25 PM
Years ago, I had a 79 CDV. The car quit running, no spark. It turned out to be the control module, really easy to replace. Its under the distributor, after you pull the cap off get someone to crank it over and make sure the rotor is spinning. Then go ahead and grab a new module. I'm hoping it is just a module and no timing chain issues.

Benzilla
05-11-13, 07:30 PM
Well, I went ahead & replaced my old ignition coil today, and switched the cap & rotor while I was at it. I figured for the cost, why not have all new AC Delco parts?

It didn't fix the problem though, lol. Everything looks fine, no wires out of place. So from what I've gathered, it's likely a faulty electronic module. I read about a test I can do on the pickup coil with an ohm meter to rule that out. Also read somewhere that module failure can sometimes be caused by a failing ignition coil overloading the module? Sounds like that could be the case...

cadillac_al
05-11-13, 09:42 PM
Distributor base including module is two months old. Cadrone rebiult unit. I upgraded from california 5 terminal to federal 4 terminal in order to bypass the ESS box. Would be very disappointed if a new part failed.

Like a lot of rebuilt parts, they are usually rebuilt half assed; probably even in China. They probably sourced the cheapest modules they could get and/or the kids forgot to put grease under it. That would be more likely than the pick up coil. Pick up coils seem to only die from old age and brittle wires. That carbon on the contacts inside your dist cap is pretty normal and happens pretty quick. It only looks bad it doesn't hurt much.

It probably wouldn't hurt to make sure the dist hot wire has 12 volts before you replace anything.

Benzilla
05-11-13, 11:32 PM
Thanks for all the great replies!

I've been thinking a lot about the possibility of low quality parts in the distributor. I'm going to run a test on the pickup coil tomorrow to absolutely rule that out. If it's the module, I have 2 choices that I can see. (1. rip out the distributor & have the whole thing replaced under warranty, with the same quality of parts. Or (2. Keep my otherwise fine distributor, replace the dead module with an AC DELCO part, and make sure the heat grease is applied in proper OCD fashion, giving me at least some peace of mind, if at a higher cost... Gotta say, if it turns out to be the module, I'm thinking option 2 right now. :bigroll:

Checked the heat grease before I first installed the distributor. It appears to be present under the module, if not very precise...

deVille33
05-12-13, 08:39 AM
The procedure for testing in this area is happenstance. I use a combination of tests along with the service manual procedures to check out things here. There is a tester for the module, but I have never found one. Bruce can most likely tell you how to make your own. I have an after market HEI tester, but there is no test for the module alone. So, the alternative is to check all the other parts and, provided they are all in proper operating condition, the module becomes the suspect. T&E process of elimination.

csbuckn
05-12-13, 09:15 AM
It probably wouldn't hurt to make sure the dist hot wire has 12 volts before you replace anything.

This would be my next move just to make sure your fusible link is still good.

Benzilla
05-12-13, 07:28 PM
It was the module! Replaced it with an ac delco, and the car started right up.

One problem: I took it for a test drive, and it's making a high-pitched electrical squeal sound. Like a street light. Came home, left it running & popped the hood. It's coming from the distributor, and with the hood open I could hear random sparking. Car ran fine, this is new... Any ideas?

jayoldschool
05-12-13, 08:57 PM
Put dilectric grease in the plug boots, and make sure they're on snug.

carnut
05-12-13, 09:01 PM
Pull the cap and verify the rotor is not hitting any thing inside.

Benzilla
05-12-13, 09:43 PM
Thank, will double check, but I'm very careful, double checked everything or so I thought. Can I find dilectric grease at auto parts stores? Old cap had none on it, figured I'd be ok without. Will check cap & rotor again... all looked fine on installation. Plugs are definitely on tight, checked.

Will update.

1980coupe
05-12-13, 10:43 PM
It was the module! Replaced it with an ac delco, and the car started right up.

One problem: I took it for a test drive, and it's making a high-pitched electrical squeal sound. Like a street light. Came home, left it running & popped the hood. It's coming from the distributor, and with the hood open I could hear random sparking. Car ran fine, this is new... Any ideas?
I told you it was the module...

deVille33
05-13-13, 10:40 AM
You are supposed to put dielectric grease on the metal plate on the base of the module. The grease is also to be used n the rubber seal on the top of the cap. You can use Vaseline in lieu of packaged dielectric grease.

Benzilla
05-13-13, 11:14 AM
I told you it was the module...
I never said it wasn't, just said I'd be disappointed if it was. :thepan: Who actually says 'I told you so' as a response to something getting fixed? lol


You are supposed to put dielectric grease on the metal plate on the base of the module. The grease is also to be used n the rubber seal on the top of the cap. You can use Vaseline in lieu of packaged dielectric grease.

I used that on the module, just didn't know that's what it was called. Any time I see it's it's this tiny packet that's just described as a special heat sauce or some sh*t, like it's supposed to go on a whopper or something. I wasn't even sure where to find it without buying it with a module.

Benzilla
05-13-13, 12:17 PM
Here's a video of the sound I'm trying to describe. Went out this morning & made sure everything was on tight & straight. Took the rotor off & made sure the module was connected right. Checked the carbon button, contacts.... everything looks perfect & new. Plugs are on tight, cap is seated firmly. Rechecked all ignition coil wiring... I can't find a thing wrong. I'll try putting vasoline under the spark plug wire boots. I never would have thought to do that, ran fine for me 15,000 miles & 7 years without lube on the wires.

VIDEO - You can hear the squeal pretty well, like giant crickets. A random zap happens just before I walk away to end the video, listen for it. Keep in mind it didn't do this until I was replacing parts yesterday.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agnO4CutcC8

Benzilla
05-13-13, 03:27 PM
Update,

I took the whole distributor out to make sure the shaft wasn't seizing up or something. I can not get it to squeal spinning it by hand. It spins freely, and quietly. Feels well oiled & healthy. From the google research I did, I thought maybe the shaft was about to lock up or something. Most people with that problem were able to feel resistance while turning it by hand. Mine feels fine. It definitely didn't make this sound before the new parts, it's very noticeable while driving or just standing next to the car once it idles down all the way. Checked all to the belts too for the hell of it. Does not change with rpm or speed, just constant while the engine is running.

Still hunting..

cadillac_al
05-13-13, 06:23 PM
It sure sounds bad. I don't recognize it at all. I can't imagine how a module could cause that. When you put the dist in does it seat all the way down on the manifold? It seems like half of the distributors that I put in over the last few years don't seat all the way. I have put double gaskets on a few because I'm scared of cranking it down too tight and hurting the dist gear or oil pump.

guyrobert
05-13-13, 06:28 PM
My air con belt was a titch loose/worn and caused a squealing sound like that, replaced it and it went away.

Benzilla
05-13-13, 11:30 PM
It sure sounds bad. I don't recognize it at all. I can't imagine how a module could cause that. When you put the dist in does it seat all the way down on the manifold? It seems like half of the distributors that I put in over the last few years don't seat all the way. I have put double gaskets on a few because I'm scared of cranking it down too tight and hurting the dist gear or oil pump.

Yeah, distributor fits perfectly, drops down flat. That sounds like a pretty big deal, lol! I'd feel pretty uneasy driving with that problem.

A friend suggested that it might be the rotor is too long, & making contact with the cap contacts while it's spinning. So tomorrow I'll try my old cap & rotor with everything else the same & see if the sound goes away. After that, about all that's left is the new coil.

Will report back. :)
-Ben

Benzilla
05-14-13, 01:12 PM
YES!!! Swapped in the old cap & rotor, started it; sound GONE. I'm thrilled that we figured it out, while simultaneously horrified by such a big problem on AC Delco's part... a Brand new cap & rotor, from the same company, shouldn't clash with each other! Visually, the old & new parts look functionally identical to the naked eye, must be the slightest difference just completely messed it up.

Thanks for all the great advice, everyone! :)

Ben

deVille33
05-14-13, 02:28 PM
With some of the early large cap HEI's there were some produced that had different clearances between the rotor edge and the terminal contacts. Oldsmobile come to mind. Could be one of the parts were boxed wrong or a parts man picked up the wrong part number.:bigroll:

carnut
05-15-13, 03:26 PM
Dielectric grease enables you to remove plugwires more easily from both the cap and plugs. Its benefit is the barrier it forms to keep corrosion from developing. Car will run the same with or without it. The paste you apply to the module is heat sink compound, different than dielectric grease. You can purchase that from Radio Shack.