car didnt' start

A couple days ago, a girl came by wanting a hot shot.
Her car wouldn't start, even with the jump, and even though, at least with my car connected, it was turning over plenty fast. I pointed out to her that it was probably a different problem, but she kept thinking it was her battery (It turned out that the previous day, it wouldn't start, but it started right up when she got a jump, so this must have fixed in her mind that it was the battery.)
She had a distrubutorless ignition in her Honda, and I had some big nails in my pocket, so I took out one of the spark plug wires and put the head of the nail in the hole, and held the wire connector within 3/16" of nail, but there was no spark. Shouldn't there have been one? Does the galvanizing on the nail have any effect on that?
A guy who was redoing a bathroom for a neighbor came by. When he saw the problem, he went to his car and came back with a code reader. But first he was trying to get the fuel line off to see if there was fuel. I went back to my house to get him a screwdriver, but by the time I got back he was on the ground under the back of the car pounding on the gas tank.
And the car started right up, and ran, and started two more times.
So it seems the fuel pump was causing the problem and pounding on the tank can free it up, at least for a while. Something very good to know.
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Micky wrote:

I've seen this before , and she needs to get that in-tank fuel pump replaced before it strands her in a Bad Place . It is dying , and there will come a day when no amount of pounding will bring it back .
--
Snag



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On 12/6/2015 4:04 PM, Terry Coombs wrote:

Similar to the starter. You can tap on it once or twice and get lucky, after that, don't hold your breath. It's wise to replace these parts after the first rap session.
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wrote:

Indeed, but you remind me.
In 1969, a friend with a volkswagon beetle couldn't start her car. I read her owners manual and it, the manual itself, said to hit the carbureter with a small hammer. I did and it started.
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After serious thinking Micky wrote :

I lost the fuel pump on My Taurus and no jump would get it going. I checked the fuel line and nothing was being pumped. I had to drop the tank to change the fuel pump, and it started after about 5 seconds of cranking. I tested the old pump and sure enough, it was bad. I changed the fuel delivery system on My '68 Chevy C10 pickup from a holley 1150 to a Holley TBI system, and the performance really improved. No more off the line fuel starvation, just a clean fast launch.
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wrote:
But what about the nail and the lack of spark?
She had a distrubutorless ignition in her Honda, and I had some big nails in my pocket, so I took out one of the spark plug wires and put the head of the nail in the hole, and held the wire connector within 3/16" of nail, but there was no spark. Shouldn't there have been one? Does the galvanizing on the nail have any effect on that?
Since it started a couple minutes later, she must have had a spark. How come I didn't see it.
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Micky wrote:

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On Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at 12:04:05 AM UTC-5, Micky wrote:

Not sure how you take the wire off a spark plug to test it like that anymore. Vehicles I've seen for years now, the plug has it's own coil module that drives it directly. And if you pull that off, it then has no ground. If that's what the car had, that could be why you had no spark.

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On Tue, 8 Dec 2015 06:09:37 -0800 (PST), trader_4

The Honda was several years old but I don't know how old. She was just visiting a neighbor girl, and I was outside so she asked me for a jump. Lives 20 miles away. I don't expect to see her again.

The end of the wire looked pretty much like the end of any spark plug wire that would go into a distributor. It had a wrap-around end, with some square holes and slits in it, enabling part that was separated on three sides to be a spring, to hold it in the hole. The metal was 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, a little bit longer than older spark plug wires had. The metal was silver-colored, when most of what I've seen has been copper.
I didn't pull off a whole module. I think there is one modue powering 4 plugs. How it knows which one is beyond me, but that's true even when the coil is on the plug.
My answer to Rbow has more details.

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On 12/07/2015 10:03 PM, Micky wrote:

The ECU noted some idiot had stuck a nail in the spark plug hole. What do you mean by spark plug wire? My Toyota has neither a distributor nor plug wires, just the coil mounted on each plug.
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wrote:

Not the spark plug hole! The wire hole. I never did see the spark plugs.

There was some black rectangular thing a couple inches from the engine, 6 or 8" long x 2" wide at its widest point x 3" high that had 4 wires which looked like spark plug wires, black and same diameter as a spark plug wire, coming out of it, a row of them. They disappeared under some cover, maybe a grey aluminum (or plastic?) decorative cover on a black engine, and I assumed they were headed for the spark plugs.
The wires and ttheir ends, described in my answer to trader, looked like spark plug wires, at the distributor end.
The wires looked too heavy, didn't they, to be powering coils mounted on each plug.
The galvanizing on the nail wouldnt' interfere with electric current, would it?
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On 12/08/2015 11:47 PM, Micky wrote:

I don't know. Zinc is a conductor and is more conductive that iron or steel but only about a quarter of copper. What I meant by my snarky comment about sticking a nail in the spark plug hole is the ignition module might be 'smart' enough to monitor the resistance of the wires and not fire if it is out of the expected range.
I had an Audi that got about 15K on a set of plug wires. The performance wouldn't noticeably degrade, you'd just go out one morning and the car wouldn't start. Get the spare set out of the trunk, put them on, and you were good to go. That was still early in the evolution of automotive computers but I assumed there was some sort of sensing. Or maybe it was just a cargo cult repair.
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wrote:

I never thought of that. Maybe so. That might mean then end of getting the full sparkplug jolt when you pull the wire off while the engine is running. Old times. I'll miss them.

Interesting. Maybe I"ll have a chance sometime to learn how that car worked. I'll post back in 5 years.
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On 12/09/2015 12:14 PM, Micky wrote:

Back in the early '70s a friend bought a new Volvo. He was the first of my group to buy a real car versus the ragtag collection of junk we'd all driven through college. We stopped, probably for a six pack, got back in the car, and it wouldn't start. No prob with two old pros like us. He popped the hood and we stared at the engine. It was missing all the familiar landmarks like a carburetor.
Turned out the brains of the operation was under the passenger seat and I'd kicked a connector loose getting in. That was the beginning the end.
I've got two bikes and a pickup that still have most of the traditional stuff. As far as the V-Strom and the Toyota, I just hope they keep on doing what they're doing. I might be able to unravel the Suzuki since it isn't the latest V-Strom model that got even more sophisticated.
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wrote:

jump, so there is a very good chance you would not see the spark. If you stuck your finger in the hole it would have told you if there was spark or not. As for one module and 4 plugs, it was almost certainly 2 coils mounted together running "waste spark" - which makes it even harder to get a visible spark doing what you were doing, because it had to junp THREE gaps now. One coil fires twice every revolution, 0 once on a charged and compressed cyl and once on an empty cyl - on 2 cyls at a toime - so each time it sees a different compressed cyl, and a different empty cyl.
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On Wed, 09 Dec 2015 17:24:57 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I used to be able to handle spark-plug jolts, without even moving my arm much, but I think that was before electronic ignition. I'm 68 now and I had images of falling dead on the sidewalk if I did that this time (well, not that, but holding the wire directly while I held it close to the nail.) Not that I really think it coulld happen, but it wasn't even my car!

Wow. Never heard of that. When it is my car, I'll come at it more slowly, with more reading, and with more determination.
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On 12/09/2015 11:22 PM, Micky wrote:

Harley always used waste spark ignition. There are two separate coils but they both fire together. That's the secret of the famous potato potato sound; they misfire about 10% of the time at idle when the cylinders aren't scavenged efficiently.
Then you have the newer, sophisticated, fuel injected bikes that are programmed to misfire at idle so they sound 'right'. Honda even unbalanced a perfectly good engine to get the necessary shaking.
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wrote:

ROFL
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On Sunday, December 6, 2015 at 2:59:38 PM UTC-6, Micky wrote:

What is a hot shot ?
You had some nails in your pocket....Please stop using drugs.
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