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98 EX. Turns Over but Won't Start. Seems to be Moisture Related

Old 12-07-2013
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98 EX. Turns Over but Won't Start. Seems to be Moisture Related

Car has ~137K miles

Car began in Pennsylvania. 11 months ago I moved to Florida along the Atlantic Coast.

Had similar issue to one I am going to explain while still in PA and it seemed to be solved by putting the chemical that is suppose to remove water from a gas tank inside.

I leave for work ~3 PM and am done work ~11PM

Last night, my car started up fine. I accidentally pulled from a stop in second gear. I downshifted into 1st to pick up some speed more quickly, when shifting to second my car started sputtering. One fraction of a second it would accelerate, the next fraction it would stop.

I pulled over. Thought about what to do. Ended up driving ~1.5 miles and hit a stop sign. Car stalled out when I tried to pull out. Started back up again but struggled (had to turn key for longer than normal).

Car sputtered in first and second but I got into third. Parked my car after ~3/4th of a mile. Sat in parking lot and went from first to second a few times. Seemed fine.

This afternoon around 3PM I was leaving for work. Car started up just fine like normal. Drove ~.5 miles to pick up some food. Car started up again just fine. No issues while driving in any gear.

Worked until 11pm. Car would not start when I got out of work. Engine turns over, all my lights, radio, etc. were working. Just would not start.

I feel like this issue is moisture related. I really have no clue where to start on fixing this issue. I am not very well versed with cars and have just been discussing with friends about it. I plan on checking the alternator tomorrow.

I would appreciate any suggestions anyone would have on the cause of this issue.

Thank you.

I own a 'Haynes Repair Manual' and following the troubleshooting section, one possibility that seems to relate to mine is 'Ignition components damp or damaged'.

Would this be a good place to start?

Last edited by treefingers; 12-07-2013 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 12-07-2013
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Re: 98 EX. Turns Over but Won't Start. Seems to be Moisture Related

Got spark? How much spark ya got?
Got spark at the plug wires?
Got spark directly out of the coil?
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Old 12-07-2013
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Re: 98 EX. Turns Over but Won't Start. Seems to be Moisture Related

Originally Posted by ezone View Post
Got spark? How much spark ya got?
Got spark at the plug wires?
Got spark directly out of the coil?
hey, same questions my repair manual is asking! I will have to get back to you. I am unable to do these tests at this time but thank you very much for feeling like my train of thought at this time may be correct.
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Old 12-07-2013
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Re: 98 EX. Turns Over but Won't Start. Seems to be Moisture Related

Run the engine in the dark with the hood open.

Watch the distributor area.

Blip the throttle so it stumbles while you watch the dist cap area for sparks leaking out. If you see any, you have problems. Cap and rotor set, plug wire set.



They are well known for the coil going bad too,
but I'll guess at the cap right now..
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Old 12-09-2013
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Re: 98 EX. Turns Over but Won't Start. Seems to be Moisture Related

Originally Posted by ezone View Post
Run the engine in the dark with the hood open.

Watch the distributor area.

Blip the throttle so it stumbles while you watch the dist cap area for sparks leaking out. If you see any, you have problems. Cap and rotor set, plug wire set.



They are well known for the coil going bad too,
but I'll guess at the cap right now..
It was a little less humid tonight so I was actually able to drive the car home from work tonight. Start up was not normal but it ended up running 'OK'.

I had a friend start it up while I watched the distributor area. I wasn't able to notice any visible sparks from the distributor area. He also rev'd the engine up a few times and I did not notice anything.

Tomorrow I am hoping to head to a buddy's and do some checks on the wires, the cap and rotor, and the ignition coil.

I figure this car is due for new wires, rotor and cap anyway.. I have found OEM parts for the cap and rotor, but I am not sure what to look for when buying wires. I would appreciate advice on this subject or recommendations. Looking for reliability.

Last edited by treefingers; 12-09-2013 at 11:14 PM.
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Old 12-09-2013
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Re: 98 EX. Turns Over but Won't Start. Seems to be Moisture Related

Originally Posted by treefingers View Post
I figure this car is due for new wires, rotor and cap anyway.. I have found OEM parts for the cap and rotor, but I am not sure what to look for when buying wires. I would appreciate advice on this subject or recommendations. Looking for reliability.
The FSM is kind of vague on testing plug wires but it says the resistance should be less than 25 000 ohms to still be OK...

I've been running NGK on all my vehicles for about 5 years now and I think they are awesome. Identical to OEM but silicone....and blue.

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Old 12-10-2013
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Re: 98 EX. Turns Over but Won't Start. Seems to be Moisture Related

Originally Posted by Stock 99 View Post
The FSM is kind of vague on testing plug wires but it says the resistance should be less than 25 000 ohms to still be OK...
IIRC, industry standard is approx 10k ohm per foot. Actual readings will vary within a set due to varying lengths.



I've been running NGK on all my vehicles for about 5 years now and I think they are awesome. Identical to OEM but silicone....and blue.
Those were the OE replacements for Mazda when I was with them, they were far better than original equipment on those cars at that time.

Most of Hondas original wires, OTOH, are extremely well made and long lasting from what I have seen here (cars of the 90s and newer). I'd almost rather opt for 150,000 mile used original wires before I'd get new aftermarkets from any parts store here.
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Re: 98 EX. Turns Over but Won't Start. Seems to be Moisture Related

Originally Posted by ezone View Post
IIRC, industry standard is approx 10k ohm per foot. Actual readings will vary within a set due to varying lengths.



Those were the OE replacements for Mazda when I was with them, they were far better than original equipment on those cars at that time.

Most of Hondas original wires, OTOH, are extremely well made and long lasting from what I have seen here (cars of the 90s and newer). I'd almost rather opt for 150,000 mile used original wires before I'd get new aftermarkets from any parts store here.
I am going to take your advice on the wires and keep those as I didn't see any corrosion when checking them today.

Buddy helped me check out the distributor. Corrosion was immediately noticed inside the cap. Also, the first screw that was removed from the cap ended up breaking in half. The Cap Gasket looked to be in poor shape.

Should I be thinking of buying an entire distributor assembly or just a new Cap and Cap Gasket? I am figuring further testing of the assembly would be needed to make this determination.

If looking for an entire assembly, any suggestions on what brands to look at and those to stay away from? OEM is pretty expensive...
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Old 12-10-2013
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Re: 98 EX. Turns Over but Won't Start. Seems to be Moisture Related

take your advice on the wires and keep those
It wasn't really advice, I was just commenting.

I don't normally like to change plug wires unless there is a good reason to.

Also, the first screw that was removed from the cap ended up breaking in half. The Cap Gasket looked to be in poor shape.
Hondas OE dist cap set comes with that gasket.
IDK if any aftermarket does.

If you have to pull the dist base out to drill out the broken screw, you will want to replace the O ring that goes around the base where it fits into the head. It's like $2.07 USD.


Should I be thinking of buying an entire distributor assembly or just a new Cap and Cap Gasket?
I'd fix yours, not replace.
Aftermarket remans are always a crapshoot (and don't last very long), and I keep hearing stories of needing 3 or 4 before they get one that will run the car.

OEM is pretty expensive...
Nope. Priceless.

I can't afford the cheap stuff.
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Old 12-11-2013
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Re: 98 EX. Turns Over but Won't Start. Seems to be Moisture Related

Originally Posted by ezone View Post
It wasn't really advice, I was just commenting.

I don't normally like to change plug wires unless there is a good reason to.



Hondas OE dist cap set comes with that gasket.
IDK if any aftermarket does.

If you have to pull the dist base out to drill out the broken screw, you will want to replace the O ring that goes around the base where it fits into the head. It's like $2.07 USD.


I'd fix yours, not replace.
Aftermarket remans are always a crapshoot (and don't last very long), and I keep hearing stories of needing 3 or 4 before they get one that will run the car.


Nope. Priceless.

I can't afford the cheap stuff.
How do I go about troubleshooting and fixing my current distributor? I definitely feel like I should buy a new cap at this point, but I would like to test the distributor so I know it doesn't have any problems.

The decision I am facing right now is the broken screw. Part of it is still inside, and I have another screw stuck into it. Will I be able to clean it out and have a new screw thread? If I can't, then I pretty much am forced to buy an entire new assembly, at least that is what it seems like to me.

Last edited by treefingers; 12-11-2013 at 11:38 PM.
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Old 12-12-2013
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Re: 98 EX. Turns Over but Won't Start. Seems to be Moisture Related

Originally Posted by treefingers View Post
How do I go about troubleshooting and fixing my current distributor?
You'd have to know what's wrong first, if anything.
Then you'd have to troubleshoot specifically for whatever is wrong.

I definitely feel like I should buy a new cap at this point,
Yep. That's cheap.


but I would like to test the distributor so I know it doesn't have any problems.
The best you can do is see if it works right now.
You can't really predict when electronics are going to quit.
Neither can my friend here:











The question now is pretty much the same as the questions in my first reply to you:
Got spark directly out of the coil?
How much spark ya got?

If it will make a lightning bolt about 3/4 inch or longer at the coil (and no relevant engine fault codes), then it's good for the moment. Put a new cap on and drive it.

Or, How many miles are on it? You said 137k....
If it hasn't been done already, I'd suggest a new coil to go along with the new cap and rotor.



If you want to be assured of zero problems for the next maybe 100,000-200,000+ miles, then your best bet is a brand new OEM distributor from Honda.
At the shop, we would only do that if there is a bad internal sensor, bad bearing, or an internal oil leak.
The normal service parts: cap and rotor, and coil and igniter, are all available separately.

The decision I am facing right now is the broken screw. Part of it is still inside, and I have another screw stuck into it. Will I be able to clean it out and have a new screw thread? If I can't, then I pretty much am forced to buy an entire new assembly, at least that is what it seems like to me.
Repairing the broken screw should be no big deal for anyone that has the tools and patience (and experience) to do the job. Should be a simple drill out and retap of the hole.


Or, just bolt the new cap on with the 2 remaining screws like some other people do. It ain't right, but it will get you around until you find someone to drill out the broken screw.

HTH

Last edited by ezone; 12-12-2013 at 12:23 AM. Reason: Ninja!
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