No Start 1: Checking For Spark
I've found that most of the ‘cranks but does not start’ problems I've diagnosed and repaired on Honda Civics, have had their root cause in the ignition system. Specifically the ignition system is not creating spark.
So, my recommendation to you, is to test each spark plug wire with a dedicated spark tester. If the ignition system is the cause of the no-start, you're not gonna' see spark at any of the 4 spark plug wires.
Testing the ignition system on your Honda isn't hard or difficult. I've written a tutorial that'll show you in a step-by-step manner and you can find it here: How To Test The Igniter, Ignition Coil Accord, Civic, CRV, and Odyssey (at: easyautodiagnostics.com).
Remember, the idea behind checking for spark is to see if all of the 4 engine cylinders are getting spark. Here are the most common causes of a no-spark result:
CASE 1: Spark was present in all 4 cylinders. This result tells you three very important things: 1.) the crank sensors (there are 3 inside the distributor) are functioning correctly, 2.) the ignition control module (also known as the igniter) is OK, and 3.) the ignition coil is good. You don't have to spend any time testing them or any money replacing them.
Your next step is to verify fuel pressure. Go to: No Start 2: Checking For Fuel.
CASE 2: Spark was NOT present in all of the cylinders. This test result tells you without a doubt that the no-start condition of your 1.6L Honda Civic (Civic del Sol) is due to a malfunction in the ignition system.
Now, with no spark in any of the engine cylinders, this what I would suggest:
- Check for spark directly on the ignition coil tower using a spark tester.
- This is the best way to test the distributor cap. The distributor cap and rotor are infamous for causing no spark no-start conditions.
- If you do get spark coming out of the ignition coil tower, you now know beyond a shadow of a doubt the distributor cap and rotor must be replaced.
- You can find a complete ignition system diagnostic procedure here: How To Test The Igniter, Ignition Coil Accord, Civic, CRV, and Odyssey (at: easyautodiagnostics.com).
- Test the ignition coil and ignition control module (igniter).
- If no spark is firing from the ignition coil, then the next step is to verify that the ignition control (igniter) is activating it. This is a pretty simple test.
- You can find the ignition coil and ignition control module (igniter) test here: How To Test The Igniter, Ignition Coil Accord, Civic, CRV, and Odyssey.
- Check that the timing belt is not broken.
- A broken timing belt will cause a no spark no-start condition.
- You can find the broken timing belt test here: How To Test For A Broken Timing Belt (1.6L Honda Civic).
No Start 2: Checking For Fuel
After confirming that the ignition system is creating and delivering spark to each cylinder, the next step is to test the fuel system, mainly the fuel pump.
A bad fuel pump will cause your 1.6L Honda Civic (Civic del Sol) to crank but not start since the fuel pump is the one responsible for supplying fuel to the fuel injectors.
One method that I've used to test for a lack of fuel (and the one you'll probably have to use) is spraying starting fluid into the throttle body and then having a helper crank the engine. If the engine starts then I now know that I need to take a closer look at the fuel pump to see if it's fried or not.
The absolute best way to test the fuel pump is with a fuel pressure gauge. Using any other method is not as accurate. The cool thing is that fuel pressure test gauges with the adapter needed to test the fuel pressure on Honda cars have come down in price a lot!
A fuel pressure gauge can be connected to your 1.6L Civic's fuel system to check for a bad fuel pump. The fuel pressure test gauge is connected to one of the fuel filter's banjo bolts with a fuel pressure test adapter. This adapter must have a 1.0mm thread pitch and is usually labeled as: Honda M8x1.0 banjo bolt (or Import M8x1.0) adapter.
When testing the fuel pump (with a fuel pressure gauge), you'll usually see one of two results:
CASE 1: Fuel pressure is at specification. Not only does this result tell you that the fuel pump is OK but that the following components, that supply the fuel pump with power, are OK too:
- Fuel pump fuse.
- Fuel pump relay (which is known as the Main Relay).
And so, there's no need to spend time testing them or money replacing them.
CASE 2: Fuel pressure is not present. This usually means that the pump has failed, but not always. I would recommend testing/checking the following before condemning the fuel pump:
- After verifying that no fuel pressure exists, check that the fuel pump is getting power by tapping into the power circuit that feeds the pump with 12 Volts with a multimeter.
- Once you're tapped in, have a helper crank the engine while you observe your multimeter in Volts DC mode. If voltage is present (12 Volts), then you have confirmed that the fuel pump fuse and fuel pump relay are working perfectly.
- Confirming power to the fuel pump (with a multimeter) also verifies that the fuel pump has failed and needs to be replaced.
- If no voltage is present, as your helper cranks the engine, then the cause of no fuel condition is due to either a bad fuse, fuel pump relay (known as the Main Relay).