Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Ignition problems at the distributor.

asked by on

When I connect a test light to the positive post on the battery and touch the negative side of the coil it will light up but this will only happen with the key off. When the key is on it will not light up and I do not have spark at the plug.

My car has 2000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Hello, thanks for writing in. I’d be happy ...

Hello, thanks for writing in. I’d be happy to help. This is common as you supply power to the coil once the key is in, which will cause the ground to change. If you are not getting spark then the power to the coil needs to be checked first. If there is power then the ignition needs to be checked to see if it is providing ground to the coil when the engine is rotating. If it has points then those need to be checked. If it has HEI ignition then the ignition module has more than likely failed. If you need to have this tested, consider YourMechanic, as a certified mechanic can come to your home or office to diagnose this.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Manual transmission clutch grinds and won't go into gear

It sounds like what is happening here is that the throw out bearing has failed. This bearing is what the clutch shift fork rides against, which in turn allows the transmission to shift gears. The other possible scenario is that...

Q: Rough idle and stalling after coming off the highway.

Hi there. Sometimes the best fix is the simplest solution. On you list of things you have completed, what is missing is cleaning fuel injectors and the throttle body. Typically idle issues and stalling after frequent fuel delivery (like on...

Q: Car not starting, though fuses and plugs okay.

Does the engine crank? There are many reason why a car will crank but not start. Your engine will not start unless it has fuel, air, spark, and compression. If any one of the four components are missing you will...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...