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Discussion Starter #1
1980 280zx, 135,000 miles. The car has been starting and running very well. After sitting for about a month under shed but on damp ground I have no fire going to the plugs. Can’t find any moisture in the distributor or any connections. (Distributor, rotor, plugs and wires less than a year old.) any idea where I should star looking? Electrical issues are not a strong suit with me.
 

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1980 280zx, 135,000 miles. The car has been starting and running very well. After sitting for about a month under shed but on damp ground I have no fire going to the plugs. Can’t find any moisture in the distributor or any connections. (Distributor, rotor, plugs and wires less than a year old.) any idea where I should star looking? Electrical issues are not a strong suit with me.
First check to see if spark is coming out of the coil (this will rule out the distributor, dist cap, rotor, and plug wires). To do this, pull the center lead out of the distributor cap (the cable that goes from the coil) and ground it out to the metal of the car. If you get spark then you know its one of the things we just isolated.

If that doesnt work, check your condenser/condenser wire & connector. If that is damaged in some fashion, the coil will not produce spark (learned this on the side of the road once).
 

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First check to see if spark is coming out of the coil (this will rule out the distributor, dist cap, rotor, and plug wires). To do this, pull the center lead out of the distributor cap (the cable that goes from the coil) and ground it out to the metal of the car. If you get spark then you know its one of the things we just isolated.

If that doesnt work, check your condenser/condenser wire & connector. If that is damaged in some fashion, the coil will not produce spark (learned this on the side of the road once).
Let me suggest a slightly different technique. If you pull the cap end of the coil wire and hold onto it, you will get the crap shocked out of you if the coil is working. If you ground it and let go, then you won't get shocked. I'm sure that @chaseincats meant to do this, but emphasis is worth adding in case you missed the part about grounding it.

I suggest you pull the coil wire at the coil, hold it just next to the hole it plugs into, and watch for sparks between wire and coil. Doing it at that end, the spark grounds to the spark plug, not your body. Same for checking spark plugs for spark - pull the cap end of the wire.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Look around for mice bites. :smile
You are the second one that mentioned that.

In any case, I finally got back to the car today (it is out in the country) and sure enough there is no spark coming from the coil. Unfortunately, I did not have a set of sockets and was not able to remove the coil to have it tested. I'll do that on Friday. I didn't see any broken--or chewed-- wires under the hood, but I didn't spend too much time looking. I removed and relays under the hood and they all look good with no corrosion. Any suggestions for things to look for when I go back on Friday. Sure would hate to have to have it towed. Really strange that this problem seemed to come out of no where, since the last time I drove it it ran perfectly .
 

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You are the second one that mentioned that.

In any case, I finally got back to the car today (it is out in the country) and sure enough there is no spark coming from the coil. Unfortunately, I did not have a set of sockets and was not able to remove the coil to have it tested. I'll do that on Friday. I didn't see any broken--or chewed-- wires under the hood, but I didn't spend too much time looking. I removed and relays under the hood and they all look good with no corrosion. Any suggestions for things to look for when I go back on Friday. Sure would hate to have to have it towed. Really strange that this problem seemed to come out of no where, since the last time I drove it it ran perfectly .
The coil won't fire unless the wire to the distributor's condenser is connected and working. I found that out on the side of the road when my fan sliced that wire in half somehow.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The coil won't fire unless the wire to the distributor's condenser is connected and working. I found that out on the side of the road when my fan sliced that wire in half somehow.
Thanks, I'll take a look at all the wiring on Friday. However, all this happened while it was just sitting. Maybe a critter got to the wiring.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Back to it today. Confirmed that I have 12 volts to the coil with the ignition on. Cleaned the coil connections but still no spark. There is a little black box attached to the distributor and when I removed the wire plug on the top I found corrosion on the two pins. Cleaned those, but still no spark. There is a wire that runs from the bottom of the distributor to what looks like an inline condenser or possibly a fuse and attaches to a bracket that bolts to the coil mount. Both ends are attached and clean. I removed the coil but have no idea how to test it or what else to look for. Any suggestions will be appreciated.
 

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Back to it today. Confirmed that I have 12 volts to the coil with the ignition on. Cleaned the coil connections but still no spark. There is a little black box attached to the distributor and when I removed the wire plug on the top I found corrosion on the two pins. Cleaned those, but still no spark. There is a wire that runs from the bottom of the distributor to what looks like an inline condenser or possibly a fuse and attaches to a bracket that bolts to the coil mount. Both ends are attached and clean. I removed the coil but have no idea how to test it or what else to look for. Any suggestions will be appreciated.
You will not get spark to the distributor if that (the condenser/condenser power wire) are not making a good connection (so you are on the right path).

I'd recommend using a test light to see if you are getting power at the wire's connection at the pins and if you do, try the same thing at the connections at the end of the wire, then to the condenser.

It could be as simple as a bad condenser which after being replaced will fix your problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
You will not get spark to the distributor if that (the condenser/condenser power wire) are not making a good connection (so you are on the right path).

I'd recommend using a test light to see if you are getting power at the wire's connection at the pins and if you do, try the same thing at the connections at the end of the wire, then to the condenser.

It could be as simple as a bad condenser which after being replaced will fix your problem.
I checked the two wires at the IC unit (attached to the distributor) and there is no power with the ignition on. (Forgot the check the condenser, but will next week.) My manual says to check the wiring and connections between the ignition switch and the distributor. Before I go exploring the wiring harness, etc, are there any fuses or relays, etc I should look for. I'm pretty good and turning a wrench, but pretty close to ignorant about electricity. However, I have been able to confirm that the coil is good.
 

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I checked the two wires at the IC unit (attached to the distributor) and there is no power with the ignition on. (Forgot the check the condenser, but will next week.) My manual says to check the wiring and connections between the ignition switch and the distributor. Before I go exploring the wiring harness, etc, are there any fuses or relays, etc I should look for. I'm pretty good and turning a wrench, but pretty close to ignorant about electricity. However, I have been able to confirm that the coil is good.
it could be your ignition switch - these go bad periodically.

https://www.oreillyauto.com/shop/b/lighting---electrical-16777/ignition-switch-11887/a49cbe324561/1982/nissan/280zx
 

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Discussion Starter #12
can anyone tell me how to test/check the condenser with a multimeter? I disconnected it today and go no readings in ohms or for continuity, so I probably didn't do it correctly. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
since no one knows how to test it, do you think I can simply bypass it and see if it will fire. That way at least I would know that I need to replace it.
 

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since no one knows how to test it, do you think I can simply bypass it and see if it will fire. That way at least I would know that I need to replace it.
I do not know how to test it - maybe try another forum, this place is dying.

The only thing I would say to look at is make sure the wires to the condenser (sometimes called the pickup coil i think) are indeed connected well/not corroded to the body side connectors.
 

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its just a capacitor, should read as open on ohms (maybe a few mega ohms if its a little bit leaky), if you multimeter has a capacitor setting you could try that just to see what the uf is. As long as its not shorted (0 ohms) then I doubt it will have any effect on getting spark. My guess is its just an oil filled paper or maybe mylar high voltage rated .01uf cap inside a metal can.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks. I think I am going to by-pass the capacitor and see if I get any spark. If so, I will replace it. Just hope I don't mess up anything doing it.
 

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Um, I'm a Ford guy, so correct me if I'm wrong, but, generally, a condensor is only found on points ignition. The ZX ignition is electronic, so it should not have a condensor. Am I wrong?

The condensor is not the same as the pick-up coil. The pick-up coil takes the place of the points, if you will. If you guys who are saying "condensor" mean "pick-up coil", you are going to confuse the OP.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
check the following link and look at the 3rd schematic, bottom right corner, and you will see condenser wired to the coil. Actually, I think mine is connected to the cool and the distributor. I've looked everywhere and can not find a part number for it or any specs on it. The folks at the auto parts store suggested that I bring it in and let them match it up. Guess that's my next move unless someone an give me the part number or specs.

 

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Discussion Starter #20
Pulled it off today on the back side is "NCC 47DQ-G16, 250V 47M". Plan to take it to the auto parts store tomorrow and see if they can get a replacement. I have no idea how to test it. Previous poster said that if disconnected the car would not run--or at least his would not. Maybe he is talking about something else. See Chasincats comments above.
 
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