How To Test The Ignition System (1996, 1997, 1998 1.5L Mazda Protege)

In this tutorial I'm gonna' show you how to test the ignition system on the 1996-1998 1.5L Mazda Protege.

You'll be able to find out if the ignition system is causing a misfire problem or a no-start problem.

En Español You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar El Sistema De Encendido (1996-1998 1.5L Mazda Protege) (at: autotecnico-online.com).

APPLIES TO: This ignition system diagnostic tutorial applies to the following vehicles:

  1. 1996 1.5L Mazda Protege (with Federal Emissions).
  2. 1997, 1998 1.5L Mazda Protege.

RELATED WIRING DIAGRAMS:

  1. Ignition System Wiring Diagram (1996 1.5L Mazda Protege -Federal Emissions).
  2. Ignition System Wiring Diagram (1997-1998 1.5L Mazda Protege).

What Tools Do I Need To Test The Ignition System?

You don't need a lot of tools (nor do you need to spend an arm and a leg to get them).

Here's a basic list of the tools you'll need:

  1. Spark tester.
    1. I recommend the HEI Spark Tester. If you don't have one and need to buy one, you can buy it here: OTC 6589 Electronic Ignition Spark Tester.
  2. Multimeter with Hertz (Hz) frequency capability.
    1. The multimeter with Hertz (Hz) frequency capability will be needed to test the ignition control module's activation signal in TEST 7. If you don't have one, check out my recommendations here: Buying A Digital Multimeter For Automotive Diagnostic Testing.
  3. LED light.
    1. The LED light will be needed to test the ignition coil's activation signal in TEST 5.
    2. If you don't have one, you can buy one here: The LED Light Test Tool And How To Make One.
  4. A back probe or a wire piercing probe.
    1. To test for the activation signals, the distributor must remain connected to its connector. To access the signal inside the wire you're testing, you'll need to use a back probe on the connector or a wire piercing probe on the wire.
    2. If you don't have one, you can buy one here: Wire Piercing Probe.
  5. Wiring diagram.
    1. Ignition System Wiring Diagram (1996 1.5L Mazda Protege -Federal Emissions).
    2. Ignition System Wiring Diagram (1997-1998 1.5L Mazda Protege).

7-Wire Distributor Connector Pin Out

The distributor's connector has 7 wires sticking out of it. Here are the basic circuit descriptions:

Terminal Wire Description
A BLK/RED Chassis Ground (CMP Sensor)
B WHT/RED 12 Volts (CMP Sensor)
C VIO/GRN CMP Signal
D BLK/YEL Power (5 Volts DC)
E YEL/BLK ICM Activation Signal
F WHT Tachometer Signal Output
G BLK/WHT 12 Volts Input (Ignition Coil)

TEST 1: Testing The Spark Plug Wires For Spark

Testing The Spark Plug Wires For Spark. How To Test The Ignition System (1996, 1997, 1998 1.5L Mazda Protege)

The very first thing that we're gonna' do, to get this show on the road, is to test all four spark plug wires for spark.

It's very important that you use a spark tester to test for spark to get an accurate test result.

I recommend that you use an HEI spark tester due to its accuracy and ease of use. You can find out more about it and where to buy it here: OTC 6589 Electronic Ignition Spark Tester.

Alright, these are the test steps:

  1. 1

    Disconnect the cylinder #1 spark plug wire from its spark plug.

  2. 2

    Connect the spark tester to the spark plug wire.

  3. 3

    Ground the spark tester to the battery negative (-) terminal using a battery jump start cable.

  4. 4

    Have your helper crank the engine while you observe the spark tester from a safe distance.

  5. 5

    You'll see one of two results:

    1.) Spark.

    2.) No spark.

  6. 6

    Repeat steps 1 through 5 on the remaining spark plug wires.

Let's interpret your test results:

CASE 1: Some of the spark plug wires sparked but not all. Your next step is to test for spark directly on the distributor cap. Go to: TEST 2: Testing For Spark Directly On The Distributor Cap.

CASE 2: None of the spark plug wires sparked . Your next step is to test for spark directly on the ignition coil. Go to: TEST 3: Testing For Spark Directly On The Ignition Coil.

CASE 2: All of the spark plug wires sparked. This is the correct test result.

With this test result You can conclude that the following components are okay: spark plug wires, distributor cap, distributor rotor, ignition coil, ignition control module, and the camshaft position (CMP) sensor.

Mazda Vehicles:

  • Protege 1.5L
    • 1996
      1997
      1998