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'87 GL Ignition Module Problem


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29 replies to this topic

#1 gt4hire

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Posted 09 July 2004 - 03:15 PM

Hi,

I'm a newbie here and need help! I have an intermittant starting problem that I believe may be caused by the ignition module. On my vehicle there's a metal bracket that holds the ignition coil - and below that on the same bracket is what I believe to be the ignition module? It has a big transistor attached and is using the metal bracket as a heat sink. When I'm having the problem, the engine turns over but I don't seem to be getting any fire. So I changed the coil and plug wires - but still have a problem. Is this in fact the ignition module, and does anyone know the part # or a place I can find a replacement?

Thanks

#2 nutt7

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Posted 09 July 2004 - 05:25 PM

that is not the ignition module...that is the ignition amplifier and it grounds through the bracket. the module for my 86 is in the dizzy, however, the ignition system changed a little in 87 so I am not sure how those work. do a search for ignition module or ignition amplifier and you will find a lot of good reading :)

eric

#3 MilesFox

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Posted 09 July 2004 - 05:55 PM

there is a cerank angle sensor bui,lt into the disty. i am assuming your car is fuel injected (spfi). the dist sends a signal to the ECU for the spark, and fuel pump.

we had a sedan, 88 spfi, 200k, every now and then, usually freezing cold weather, it would crank and crank and no fire. leave it sit for a day and it starts.

we replaced with an accel coil, changed the module. but it was a shot in the dark, did it again the next winter.

eventually the motor found its way in the loyal. the motor ran with no problem in the sedan. but once it was in the 91 loyale, it would die out, tach falls to 0. leave it sit for a minut and it starts, but dies soon after.

we replaced the maf, ignitor, coil, ran again and then stalled. we then replaced the distributor and that solved the problem, we actuall yused the dist from an 87 mpfi turbo, but we swapped the wiring, and the rotor fit(looked better) and that worked with our 88 spfi motor in a 91 loyale

#4 edrach

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Posted 09 July 2004 - 08:02 PM

I have the distributor and ignition coil (with the ignition amplifier) that I pulled off an '88 Turbo at the wrecking yard. If you're interested in it, I'd like to get $40 for the set plus shipping. The number on the distributor is 221200 AA440, D4P86-03 A 7Z04; mechanically the distributor is sound with no wobble/play in the shaft bushing.

there is a cerank angle sensor bui,lt into the disty. i am assuming your car is fuel injected (spfi). the dist sends a signal to the ECU for the spark, and fuel pump.

we had a sedan, 88 spfi, 200k, every now and then, usually freezing cold weather, it would crank and crank and no fire. leave it sit for a day and it starts.

we replaced with an accel coil, changed the module. but it was a shot in the dark, did it again the next winter.

eventually the motor found its way in the loyal. the motor ran with no problem in the sedan. but once it was in the 91 loyale, it would die out, tach falls to 0. leave it sit for a minut and it starts, but dies soon after.

we replaced the maf, ignitor, coil, ran again and then stalled. we then replaced the distributor and that solved the problem, we actuall yused the dist from an 87 mpfi turbo, but we swapped the wiring, and the rotor fit(looked better) and that worked with our 88 spfi motor in a 91 loyale



#5 gt4hire

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Posted 09 July 2004 - 09:17 PM

Thanks, I believe I've tried everything except the Disty and the ignition amplifier. I did take the Amplifier apart, re-soldered the contacts, and checked the wiring and connections but to no avail. Still intermittant.

The disty fix sounds right except that it has never died on me once it starts. What are the odds on it just being the Amplifier (transistor) itself.

#6 gt4hire

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Posted 09 July 2004 - 09:27 PM

Correction: should have said "Ignition Amplifier". Sorry.

#7 Turbone

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 03:24 AM

If it was the disty module, it would die after running for a little bit. It could be the Ign Amp, even after your fix it still may not be working right. Ed has the setup you need, you might end up with some spare parts, but thats a plus. What type of coil did you put on?

#8 cameron

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 09:58 AM

The reluctor type ignitions are very sensitive to overvaltage when an alternator dies, and also hate low voltage if your battery is fried. Had no experiance with the opticals, but killed the reluctor type with a bad alt. This you can't fix, you have to replace the module inside the distributor.

#9 gt4hire

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 03:08 PM

I replaced the coil with an Accel 8140. I believe at the time I checked it was a suitable replacement. It was replaced a while back and seems to be doing just fine, but still had the intermittant start problem. My GL is a 5-speed - so I don't have much of a problem, but my wife was wanting to start driving it back and forth to school (40+ mi round-trip) and I need to try and take care of this issue so she doesn't get stranded somewhere.

BTW does anyone know the part # of just the Transistor (the # that is printed on the transistor) not the ignition amp? Mine has worn off and has some light rust pits and can't read. I have a background in electronics (not necessarily automotive though) and may have a replacement out in my shop. When I did take the ignition amp apart, it didn't have any other parts inside - just wiring. I thought that one of the leads on the transistor might be suspect and so that's why I resoldered them, but that must not have been the problem.

I'd like to try and replace the ignition amp first before doing the disty thing if you know what I mean?

#10 Turbone

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 03:17 PM

Do you still have the old coil? Try putting that back in and see if the problem goes away. I say that becuase we having been having a unusual amount of failures with Accel 8140 coils. It may be because of the direction of placement, this hasnt been determined for sure yet. There are some that havent had any problems with the direction of placement, but I think they are older models. Anyways, try using the old coil and see if this works. If not I guess you need the part # for the transistor (which I dont have, sorry).

#11 gt4hire

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 03:24 PM

what do you mean by "direction of placement"? Electro-magnetic interference or something having to do with the Subaru Engine?

#12 Turbone

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 03:29 PM

No, horizontal or vertical. It seems the coils do not like being placed horizontal, the fluid in it will not cool properly.

#13 edrach

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 03:44 PM

The transistor has a Hitachi logo and the two numbers are HF8311 with a 7M1 underneath it. Not really standard numbers as far as I can tell, but hopefully this can help.

#14 gt4hire

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 05:44 PM

Thanks you guys, I'm working on it. Seems like it's a popular Transistor used in several IG systems, but it's a discreet automotive component and hard to find much info on, specs, or a cross. Since the salvage yards are closed till monday... I'll do so more research and if no luck by then just go pick one up.

Later!
Greg

#15 gt4hire

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 10:26 PM

Well, went to the salvage yard and found an ignition coil bracket w/ IG amp, cost me $5. I'm trying to go as cheap as I can these days, and thought I would try the IG amp fix first. - NO GO! Still have the same problem as before. What gives?

I do have some questions though. This problem will definitely be solved one way or another...

1) Why will the car start by "poppin the clutch" when it doesn't start w/ the ignition switch?

2) Has anyone had a "disty failure" that once the car is started - runs forever as long as there is gas in the tank? Idle is smooth as silk... and runs strong.

3) Is there any way it might could be my "ignition switch" somehow? Although, the engine turns over every single time. (I did fail to mention that I do have a problem with my "low-beam headlights" - seems to be the switch on the steering column, but not sure. I only have "high-beam"). I didn't think the two problems were related, and may not be - just thought I would mention it? I can work the lever back and forth and occasionally get the low-beams to come on, but not for long. Running lights, turn signals, dash lights, all operating correctly...

possible "gound problem"? wiring? what's my next step - I can trouble-shoot electronics, but this automotive wiring is a whole different ball of wax.

4) Could it be the ECU?

I'm willing to invest in a "disty" just to rule that out, but what am I dealing with here? Any help appreciated...

#16 Turbone

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Posted 13 July 2004 - 10:49 PM

Did you put the old coil back on and try it? Dont even need to attach it to the fender, just hook the wires up. Ignition switch problems are common with the 84 and earlier cars, but can go bad in later ones too I guess. You can take of the plastic covers on the steering colume, then on the left side is the back side of the switch held on by 2 screws. Remove the switch and turn it manualy with screwdriver, coin or key.

#17 edrach

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 12:31 AM

It starts every time when you pop the clutch? Have someone hold the digital voltmeter leads across the battery when you try to start the car (or see how far the voltage drops on the guage voltmeter when you try to start the car normally). If the voltage drops below 7 to 8 volts there's not enough voltage to fire the ignition. It's an area you haven't looked yet. If the voltage does drop significantly, start checking all the high current wiring to the starter and the ground wires to the battery. After that have the battery checked to see if it can maintain voltage while cranking. Good luck.

#18 Cougar

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 01:17 AM

After reading most of the posts here, am I understanding correctly that the engine will not start with the starter, but will, doing a compression start? If this is so then you may not be getting voltage to the ignition system in the start mode. This could mean the ignition switch is not supplying voltage to the ignition system in the start position. Also check the fusible links for a problem. There is also an ignition relay I need to read up on. It looks like it is located under the dash on the right side of the steering column. It is connected to a brown colored connector. Check fuse #20 for voltage while cranking the engine. If you don't have voltage there then check the fusible links. One of the green ones ties to the ignition relay.

#19 gt4hire

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 08:49 AM

Yes Turbone, switched coils same problem. I had changed both the battery and the ignition coil about the same time, about a year ago when I first started having problems with this starting thing. I even bought an oversize battery and stuck it in there. I did seem to help... Fewer no starts.

Let me update: The car will fail to start maybe 1 in 5 times, but when it does it's "no start" thing, there's no amount of cranking that will start it. (well, maybe occassionally) I just have gotten used to leaving it parked on a slight incline and then just "poppin the clutch".

I think I do remember having someone jump me off earlier on, with the old battery, etc., and it started then...

Yesterday I replaced the IG amp, cleaned all the contacts on the disty cap, rotor, and all the connections inside connectors associated with coil, disty, amp, etc. I haven't yet tried measuring any voltages at the coil or battery, but will do so today. Thanks for the input and suggestions Cougar, Shadow, Edrac. Will also try and check all my major + and - connections today. (can anyone tell me where to look for all of these, is there any that could be easily overlooked?)

Later

#20 Cougar

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 11:42 AM

Since you have proven the ignition system works ok in the 'run' mode I wouldn't waste more time checking various things with it. If things were not right with it, you wouldn't be able to make it run by doing a compression start. It's the 'start' mode that is the problem.

My last post tells you the location of the ignition relay. The fusible links are in a small black plastic box mounted on the coolant reservoir I believe. You should know where the regular fuses are I think. If you don't have a test light to check for voltage you need to get one. A voltmeter would even be better but not absolutely necessary. Keep us posted on the progress and your welcome for the help.

#21 MilesFox

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 12:47 PM

on my rx, mpfi turbo with a carb motor and mechanical disty, sometimes it wont start unless i jump the + coil to the + battery, like a "jump start" for the coil, and when it starts, i can pull the wire and she still runs. today she started up though, its been intermittent for me as well

follow up on my thread as it seems to be the same problem as mine
http://www.ultimates...ead.php?t=18819

#22 gt4hire

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 08:09 PM

Miles, I don't know whether or not I can do the same trick with my disty and SPFI? Will it hurt the IG amp or is it safe to do on mine?

#23 edrach

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 08:16 PM

In theory it should be okay. When you turn on the ignition, +12vdc gets put directly on your + terminal on the coil. If that 12 volts drops significantly (to 8 volts or less) while turning over the engine it would create your intermittant starting problem. By-passing it with a wire and switch directly from the battery will "cure" the symptom without really correcting the problem but it will tell you where to start looking.

#24 Cougar

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 08:59 PM

Here is what my manual shows for the wiring to the ignition relay.

The red fusible link ties to fuse #5 which feeds a wire that changes color to black/white, going to the relay. The other side of the contact goes too two white wires.

One of the green fusible links ties to another contact in the relay and it changes to a red wire going to the relay. The other side of the contact goes to a red/blue wire.

There is another critical wire coming from the ignition switch. It ties to fuse #20 and goes to the ECU via a light green/yellow wire-pin #18 at the ECU. BE SURE THERE IS 12 VOLTS AT THE FUSE AND AT ECU PIN 18 WHILE CRANKING THE ENGINE!
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#25 gt4hire

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 11:06 PM

Thanks Glen, will do in the morning. My diagram did not show the wire coming from the ignition switch. It's not the greatest. I'm not looking at the diagram right now but everything else seems to be what I had too as far as wire colors, etc.




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