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intermittent ignition failure

Discussion in 'Chevy Trucks' started by hburner, Apr 10, 2002.

  1. hburner

    hburner Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    83 Chev 1/2 ton, 305 4bbl, 5-wire module, I bought for my son...I have replaced module, coil, whole distributor (thinking it was the pick-up)...Truck will start, run for a day, then no spark!
    I go through the ignition again, it starts, runs a short while (even several days), then again, no spark...
    Each time I check the fire from the pink wire to the coil, and it is hot...
    Any ideas???? hburner@bellsouth.net
  2. 85w/350

    85w/350 Senior Member
    Messages: 190

    Got Rust?

    How bad is the truck rusted? I would check all the ground wires first. Especially the ground from the block the the frame. You might even ground the block out to another spot. Thats where I would start. Why it starts one day and not another is a bit confusing though....The five wire HEI ignition is usually the most trouble free in my experiences.
  3. hburner

    hburner Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    Thanks for the idea...I noticed a ground strap that seemed to be attached to the firewall. It was well connected, but will recheck.
    Also, one day, it died while I was driving...just sputtered and died.
  4. 85w/350

    85w/350 Senior Member
    Messages: 190

    The sputtered and died sounds fuel related. Still could be lack of spark. I am assuming that you have pulled the plugs / changed them. Wires as well...especially since you have about changed everything out. :confused: When it died did it start back up immediately or was it down for a couple days again? Man I'd really get in there and check grounds from battery to block/frame. The positive cable to the starter. Check that the starter bolts are tight which is another ground necessary to starting it. etc. If all that looks well and its getting spark and just not starting it could be the mechanical fuel pump is week / failing or a fuel filter in need of changing.

    When you stated in your first post you go through the ignition again. Does that mean unplugging everything, pulling the distributor etc? Have you checked for spark at the block rather than at the module. Also when you say wont start does it even try to turn over? I am thinking if its atleast trying to crank over and not turning over its more of a fuel related problem.
  5. hburner

    hburner Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    Thaks for the ideas!
    When I go through the ignition, I mean removing module, coil, wires, etc and reinstalling. This usually causes it to start and run for a while (we don't drive it, but start it daily)...maybe 1 day but not more than 3, then it dies again (no spark). Plugs are new, wires 6 mos old, module new twice, coil new twice, rotor new, cap doesn't show any tracking.
    One idea I had, wire from connector close to firewall to module is original, and the plastic is worn. Checks ok with meter, but suspect? It is grounded to the distributor housing...should it be, or is there a gasket between screw and housing?
    I will go through grounds.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2002
  6. TurfPlus

    TurfPlus Senior Member
    Messages: 179

    Are you checking the power at the coil as soon as it dies? You might want to replace the ignition switch. They are cheap enough. I've seen ignition switch act intermittently. Just a thought.

  7. 85w/350

    85w/350 Senior Member
    Messages: 190

    At this point if it dies again rather than removing all of this just unplug and replug the module.(I'm sure you hve done this but just a thought) This should probably tell you if the wiring harness is losening up on you or what not. Also have you traced the wiring to the inside of the cab...any freys etc. "Trf" also made a good point ignition switches can be fishy as well.

    Don't know why I just thought about this but an auto will only start in Neutral or Park. Does the colum arrow line up with the P-N-D-2-1 on the dash guages. If they aren't lining up sometimes and lining up other times this could be a culprit. Afterall its only a thin strip of metal that has to be making contact with anoth thin strip on teh rotating part of the internals of the colum shift.

    Sorry we are exhausting so many things....quite a electrical gremlin you have there....
  8. hburner

    hburner Junior Member
    Messages: 4

    I disconnected all ground wires, cleaned and reinstalled, plus, disconnected module lead and reinstalled...then it started. Started again this morning, so I'll give it a few days to see if that fixed the problem.
    Thanks again for all the input! I'll post again to let you know.
    The word "Gremlin" is being kind about this one!!
  9. reallyrusty

    reallyrusty Member
    Messages: 71

    Mine did the same. Stalled out a couple times a week
    Found out the ign. mod. can intermitently fail (It was new also)
    Replaced it with another new one and has been fine for the last 6 months
  10. 85w/350

    85w/350 Senior Member
    Messages: 190

    hburner -- Glad to see its making progress....let us know how it all turns out.
  11. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    This isnt likely,but there is supposed to be a ground plate under the coil cap,it screws onto on of the 4 bolts that hold down the coil,and goes to the center terminal of the 3 wire connector to the module.If the ground plate is missing the trucks wioll blow ignition modules like crazy,and stall erractically.What will happen is someone will forget to transfer ot when the do a tune-up,it will last a few months,then blow a module.Ive also seen them run for yrs with out it,but ive fixed 2 different trucks that no one could fix,just by putting a new ground plate on them.Both trucks were blowing reman distributors on a monthly basis,funny thingi s autozone warrantied 3 of them in 4 months-no questions asked,the truck has been running 2 yrs now,since i fixed it.