Honda CR-V Owners Club Forums banner
  • Hey everyone! Enter your ride HERE to be a part of October's Ride of the Month Challenge!
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, new member, first post ...

I have a 97 with a puzzling crank no-start problem that I think turns out to be NGK Iridium plugs, I'm curious if anyone else has ever had any trouble with them.

As briefly as I can make the story ... not that long ago (probably 2-3 months), I was having some trouble starting and a little bit of a rough idle after some starts. It got progressively worse until eventually led to a no-start. Turned out to be oily plugs from bad plug tube seals. I replaced those and at the same time replaced plugs, this time I decided to try the NGK Iridium plugs instead of the normal v-power's just to see how they did.

I didn't really notice anything different bad or good, everything was pretty much the same. However a couple days ago I suddenly had another no-start condition. Plug wells are clean, so no oil this time. Pulled the (new) iridium plugs, and they look good and clean, no oil. A little fuel on the plug from cranking with no start ... but that's normal, nothing excessive. Sounds like a spark problem. I started the standard spark diagnosing procedure. I test spark at the plug, no spark. I pulled the distributor cap, rotor a bit fouled, but not bad. I had a spare rotor and cap already so I just replaced them to see and I was definitely getting spark at the plug albeit not as strong as I was expecting. So I thought maybe that was it, put it all back together and ... still no start. Tested individual plug wires w/ test light, and I do have blinking at the plug. Since the spark wasn't super strong I thought perhaps the coil was maybe working intermittently but on it's way out, so I went ahead and swapped it with one I had lying around. And after that I got it to start. It was a rough start. It fired up after a few seconds of cranking and then ran for about 10 seconds on 1 cylinder before all 4 finally kicked in, but after that it ran like normal. I thought it was still strange, but it stopped and started just fine again so I thought maybe that was it after all. After driving around for a bit and trying to restart hot it gave me the same crank no start trouble again. I let it sit for the night and this morning, same thing, just turns over and over, no even attempt to fire. Back to diagnosing.

Just to firmly eliminate fuel, I pulled the fuel line from the rail, really strong pressure, also plugs are wet with gas, so injectors likely aren't the problem. Even checked the pgm relay and it's great. Thought about maybe a crank position sensor issue, but I think if that were a problem I wouldn't get fuel or spark at all. So I haven't tested it, but I don't suspect that's the issue.

So fuel looks good. Oh, I also used a jump battery just in case cranking amps or voltage was low and no help. I'm not really suspecting compression to be an issue. It still really feels like spark.

I already swapped the coil, cap, and rotor, but let me swap the igniter and just see (thankfully I had this old distributor lying around) ... I do that too and same result. I have been up and down the system checking everything I can, and short of arcing somewhere strange I'm at a loss (wires are about 1 year old as well). Just for kicks I get the idea to try some different spark plugs. I had some NGK V-power's lying around waiting for my civic and since they're the same I just threw them in to see what happens and BAM, fired right up no problems whatsoever. Stopped and started, same, immediate and strong start. Better than ever actually.

So as of now, it's really looking like the problem is just these iridium plugs. Since they're new, it seems highly unlikely I would have gotten 4 defective plugs. And they ran fine until now. With all of that ... has anyone else had an issue with iridium plugs like this before?

I'm going to run for a few days with these different plugs to see if the issue comes back up at all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,972 Posts
The V-groove plugs are the recommended plugs but the iridium ones (
NGK 2477 ZFR5FIX-11 Iridium IX Spark Plug)

are also recommended on the NGK website.
Here is a link to ignition non-starting problems on the early gen of CRV's.

Well worth reading ALL the pages.

So, basically it sounds like no spark or insufficient spark.
Remember. you can short out even a brand new coil really quickly.
How, turn the engine over with the dist cap removed. (Trying to turn the rotor with the starter so that the screw is positioned properly)
Check for spark with a spark plug wire not grounded.
My first guess would have been the ignitor since they usually fail after warming up.

Best of luck.
Buffalo4
 

·
Registered
2007 CRV AWD
Joined
·
1,490 Posts
Oil from the valve cover getting into the spark plug tubes would not get the plugs full of oil
Unless one takes the plugs out with oil in the tube.
After all, those spark plugs hold back quite a bit of pressure
The oil can cause the spark to jump from the spark plug wires to the engine block
This can cause an issue with the coil.

Diagnosing spark was a good start. And, from what you said, it certainly did look like an issue.
However, you mentioned the plugs were wet with fuel.
This makes me think that the fuel injectors are sticking or stuck open.
This would cause too much fuel in some of the cylinders. Washing away the oil.
And, prevent the cylinders from firing. Not enough compression and too much fuel.
Not sure if your vehicle has a "clear flood mode".
That is when you depress the gas pedal all the way to the floor and crank the engine.
This would tell the ECM to cut off the fuel while cranking.
Then, try starting as normal.

Note: It is doubtful, ..
The other thing, if you keep your gas tank empty most of the time
It is possible that water has condensed inside of the gas tank
In turn can cause hard starting.
 

·
Premium Member
1998 CR-V EX 4spd auto "Big Green" completely stock with roof rack and front mud flaps
Joined
·
1,206 Posts
I've used iridium plugs in my car for thousands of miles with no problems. I would ask if you checked the spark plug gap, however. I have not yet seen spark plugs that came gapped correctly
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
An update on this.

I am thoroughly confused.

The car ran great for a couple weeks, then it slowly started getting slower to start until it just quit entirely again. So I started diagnosing ... again. This time I wanted to verify my assumptions and get real numbers.

So I started at spark, had spark at all plugs, although still looks low ( red spark, not blue, and was a bit wet w/ fuel when I pulled them ). Oh also checked gap just to make sure, every gap on my old plugs and new plugs are perfect 0.04 w/ feeler gauges.

Checked fuel pressure, pressure was about 42psi while cranking.
Checked compression, all cylinders between about 132 and 137 so that looks great.
Checked injector pulse w/ a test light, got pulse on all injectors.
Checked resistance on all injectors, all were fine.

Still not starting. Just turns over and over and over.

If I had spark, fuel, and compression, that led me to think maybe the fuel just isn't getting into the engine. So I pulled the injectors to inspect and test them. I had a spare set of injectors lying around from my civic ( d16y8 ) and they're the same so I put new seals on them and tested them ( pressurized them with carb cleaner and manually pulsed them with a 9-volt ), they were all working great. So I threw them in. Buttoned everything up and BAM! Started up right away.

Side note ... I had removed the spark plugs from the compression test and pretty much just let it sit in open air all day while I did everything. Just like before the plugs were wet with fuel with all the cranking. When I had the fuel rail off I decided to test the "clear flood mode" in my initial injector test. Basically I just pulled them out of the engine, propped the rail up against a towel and cranked it to see the pulse actually fire and to see if the clear flood mode worked. I did not notice any change whether pressing the pedal or not. The important thing to note here is just that I had the plugs out for a long while while the engine dried out. This is basically the same thing I did last time when I changed the plugs and it fired up just fine. And yes, I know to disconnect the distributor when cranking without connection to ground.

So with it running again, I can stop it (briefly) and start it over and over again with no problems. I drove it for 20 mins, let it sit for about 30 mins, and then sure enough it had trouble starting just like before!

The low spark still just seemed suspicious to me, so I decided I would just see what happens with a brand new coil. After all, maybe it's going bad, but not quite dead. I installed the new one and it had no effect, same problem ( and same visual spark ). I checked voltage from the ICM to the coil, and it's at 12. Also FWIW battery has held up this whole time with all the cranking ... still sitting strong at 12.5V.

Also, once the car is running, it runs absolutely amazingly. No rough idle, smooth through the RPM band. No misfires, no bogs nor stalls whatsoever. Nice and quiet, no excessive valve lash clicking. It just runs like a champ. Given how well it runs, I can't imagine there being a problem with anything mechanical ( timing, crank sensor, or it really wouldn't run at all, much less start ).

I am really truly at a loss with this problem right now.

I still suspect something electrical. The other systems just seem like they would be giving me other symptoms if they weren't working. But the only thing I haven't done here yet is just replace the control module, but this would be a guess just like with the coil.

For now, I am letting the car sit all night and will try again in the morning. Last time I managed to coax it into starting, it worked fine for a few brief trips, but then wouldn't fire up the next day. So I will see what happens. Although the only thing different right now is the new verified and clean injectors and seals.

What might I be missing?

Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
193 Posts
so it will start when hot but not when cold? Actually, after 30 minutes the engine should still be warm shouldn’t it?

I looked in the Haynes manual and under hard to start when cold it lists:

Battery discharged or low
Malfunctioning fuel system
Injectors leaking
Distributor rotor carbon tracked

You didn’t list that you checked the battery. Could be the alternator is giving it enough of a charge so that shortly after driving you have enough juice to start it. That may also explain your weak spark.
are your lights bright?

try cleaning the battery terminals.
Try testing battery or jumping to start it.

wet spark plugs could be leaking injectors but could be due to cranking with no start. You seemed to have troubleshot the fuel system (except for the fuel pressure regulator).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It's not that it starts hot and not cold. But more like, once it's running it'll start hot or cold until it sits for a while. If it starts, I can usually stop it and start it again immediately even before it's warm.

So this morning, I checked and like usual, no start. This was with different injectors and new seals. So last component to test in the electrical side is the control module. I swapped it with another one I had lying around and same thing, no start. I pulled plugs and again wet with fuel from cranking. I cranked the plug as-is with the fuel on it to see if it would spark and sure enough it wouldn't. I wiped the plug clean and cranked it and got the same weak spark I had before. So I am narrowing in on insufficient spark. But I still don't know why?! The plugs are new, wires are about 1.5 years old ( also checked them for shorts last time it was running ), coil is new, and tested w// 2 control modules, cap and rotor are new, and all this works perfectly when the car is running it just won't get started.

I don't know how battery could be an issue. Like I said, it cranks strong all day long and has 12.5v. Also both times I've gone through the diagnosis process I have jumped it just to make sure and there is no change.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,972 Posts
Curious,
Did you read the whole article in the link I included in Post #2?
Why is the spark weak at cranking speed? Good question.
Does the engine crank at good speed? My friends 2000 CRV had a had time stating and the plugs fouled with gas.
First I tried a new ignition coil and it worked for a short time and then I put in a new igniter. That did the trick.
Remember, if you check out spark without grounding the spark plug wire or plug, etc, you can easily short out a brand new ignition coil. Just cranking the engine over with the starter with the distributor cap off to line up the rotor screw can fry a new ignition coil. Once running, a poor ignition coil will many times perform just fine.
To safely crank the engine over (and protect the ignition coil) with the starter when the distributor cap is off, you need to pull the ignition fuse or disconnect the low voltage connector feeding the distributor, and it is located right next to the distributor.

The igniter acts like the old points in old distributors and it usually fails when it get hotter.
Anyways, that link Part 1 -How to Test the Igniter, Ignition Coil Accord, Civic, CRV, and Odyssey is well worth reading.
Buffalo4
 

·
Registered
2007 CRV AWD
Joined
·
1,490 Posts
Fuel system checks out. Compression tested okay.
Spark is red and not strong. Coil, cap, igniter and rotor replaced
What is left? The wires?? 1.5 years old?? Got any spares lying around??
Test for Ohms??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,972 Posts
Weak spark means faulty coil or low voltage going to coil.
A high resistive load (such as many broken wires in a cable or a faulty fuse or corrode connector) can show 12v with no load but not be able to deliver the amperage when needed and then it might drop down to 4 or 6 volts or so.
You have a spark problem so at least you have a good starting point.
An example of this was a person's fuel pump was not working yet it measured 12 v at the fuel pump connection but it did not have enough amperage to make the pump work. I believe it was the contact points in the main relay being oxidized or similar.
You need to figure out a way to make sure the coil is getting enough power (voltage and amperage).
It could be as simple as a bad connection in the low voltage connector outside and near the distributor that is oxidized, loose or causing a high resistance connection another way.
There are ways to check a coil but it is too late for me now.
Is the engine ground good and solid?
Buffalo4
 

·
Premium Member
1998 CR-V EX 4spd auto "Big Green" completely stock with roof rack and front mud flaps
Joined
·
1,206 Posts
Trying to turn the rotor with the starter so that the screw is positioned properly
Just cranking the engine over with the starter with the distributor cap off to line up the rotor screw can fry a new ignition
This is the stupidest way to turn an engine over ever. You can literally just stick a 19 mm socket on the crankshaft pulley bolt, put a 3-inch extension on that, and turn the engine with a socket wrench. That's how you turn the engine to adjust valves. That's how you should turn the engine to move the distributor rotor.

Buffalo brings up a very good point, that you should check all of the electrical connections: on the heavy duty positive wire that runs from the battery to the starter, the main engine ground that runs from transmission housing to the right side frame rail, the main battery ground running from the car body to the battery, and of course the battery clamps themselves. Those can get all sorts of corrosion on them and not be noticed, and if they don't have good electrical contact, I can just stop everything from working.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
An update ... I exhausted every electrical diagnosis I could think of. So I finally decided to take it to the local Honda dealer to have a look at it and I would just eat the diagnosis fee. I managed to get it fired up and drove it to the dealer.

Everything electrical turned out to be ok. Before they even looked at it the tech said it was exhaust valve clearance too tight. I honestly couldn't believe it, but I started digging and apparently there was a TSB on this particular issue and it was quite common. Their recommendation was to just replace the head ( but they couldn't find one, so they said to replace the whole engine instead lol ).

When I did the compression test in my initial diagnosis, I got what I understood to be good numbers and so I didn't have any suspicions to warrant a further leak-down test. But I was way wrong on that. I got it home and did a full leak-down. I was getting leakage between all cylinders and heard air bubbling in the radiator. So blown head gasket?

This weekend I pulled it apart and sure enough that looks exactly right. I put some photos here ( including my compression test pics ): CRV

I didn't see any cross-contamination of fluids when I drained oil/coolant. The head and valves looked clean. But the head gasket is blown, 2 of the 3 layers were split right between the cylinders. The head and block are flat within spec as well, so not really sure what could have been the cause. I'm going to resurface the head and block, give everything a good cleaning again and put it all back together and re-test.

The more you know ...

I'll update again when I have it all back together.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
To close this out.

After a thorough cleaning and a new head gasket, everything is running great. I updated the album showing the head gasket breakage better as well as some random install pics: CRV

I also checked the valve clearance and everything was perfectly within tolerance so I'm not sure why the dealer said it was too tight and to replace the head ... other than to get more $$ for the fix.

So all is well now. Running again, hopefully for another 200k miles or until next project.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,972 Posts
To close this out.

After a thorough cleaning and a new head gasket, everything is running great. I updated the album showing the head gasket breakage better as well as some random install pics: CRV

I also checked the valve clearance and everything was perfectly within tolerance so I'm not sure why the dealer said it was too tight and to replace the head ... other than to get more $$ for the fix.

So all is well now. Running again, hopefully for another 200k miles or until next project.
Thank you very much for posting back what caused the problem.
Bufalo4
 

·
Super Moderator - How may I help?
Joined
·
5,078 Posts
As @redklyde has indicated he is closing out this issue, I will close the thread. If the OP wants to add more, just message any moderator, and we will open it back up.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top