Car dies at random, seems like no spark. - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 10:10 AM Thread Starter
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Brandon
 
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Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

í69, base coupe, not original 350, MSD Streetfire HEI distributor installed two springs ago. Both under hood wiring harnesses brand new and main under dash harness replaced with excellent condition used harness two years ago. New starter two years ago. New alternator last spring. Last spring I put a rebuilt Quadrajet on it. The mechanic that rebuilt it gave it an initial adjustment so it ran ok but if you jump on it, it hesitates. I havenít had the cash to get it back to him for the final fine tuning and choke adjustment but Iíve been driving it at least four months with no problems. It does run warm on these warm summer days but itís always been like that.

So a week ago I pull in my driveway after coming home from work and it dies, turns over but wonít start, seems like no spark. I crack the gas cap in case it might be vapor locked, didnít help. Let it set for several hours and it started and ran like usual. Iím still not sure what was up so I donít take it far, just run around town in it, I did this for a few days. One evening, after running around town a little so it was up to temp it just died as I was rolling down the street, maybe 10-15 mph. I get it home, but this time it wonít start even after a day or two. I test for spark and as far as I can tell, Iím a rookie, it doesnít seem to be getting any. I pull the ignition module and coil from the distributor and have Autozone test them, they tested out ok. There is a slight amount of corrosion on the contact point inside the dist. so I clean that up, put a fresh layer of heat sink silicone on the bottom of the module, put everything back together, it starts and runs like it always has. Once again I run it around town, even take a few longer rides, 20 +/- minutes, runs fine. So this morning I take it to work, about a 15 minute drive, as I roll into the parking lot it dies, turns over but wonít pop. I tried after letting it sit an hour, still, no pop.

Could an ignition module fail intermittently? If it was going bad wouldnít it fail every time it got hot?

Suggestions?

'69 coupe, 350 engine and trans, HEI Dist, headers, posi-track. It's a good 15 footer

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post #2 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 10:23 AM
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

I have had a module in a unilite dist. fail as you describe.

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post #3 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 10:24 AM
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

This sounds like the classic loose battery to fender ground wire issue. Check that cable. Make sure it is tight. Make sure the star washer is making good metal to metal contact. If good, check every ignition related wire and its connection
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post #4 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

So Vince, the module tested fine, would work when warm at times, but not at other times?

'69 coupe, 350 engine and trans, HEI Dist, headers, posi-track. It's a good 15 footer

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post #5 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

Jon, I know this is lame, but I can't even remember where battery to fender ground is from when I rewired things. If it was a loose ground wouldn't that maybe give you issues, say when you like bounced over some train tracks or rough road? Would it be fine one moment then not the next, then change on its own in anywhere from several hours to several days?
I'm not trying to be difficult, it's just that this is all fairly new to me so I'm trying to understand things from all angles, ask questions, increase my understanding.
Thanks.

'69 coupe, 350 engine and trans, HEI Dist, headers, posi-track. It's a good 15 footer

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post #6 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 11:27 AM
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

since you think it's spark next time it won't start test the voltage at the MSD. That way you can eliminate a power issue vs the module. If you have power then I'd test the ground. If both are there you have a bad module.

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post #7 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 11:31 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gbauer View Post
since you think it's spark next time it won't start test the voltage at the MSD. That way you can eliminate a power issue vs the module. If you have power then I'd test the ground. If both are there you have a bad module.
Thanks. Now since this is all new to me, it should have power to the MSD with the key in the run postion regardless of whether it's actually running, right? So turn the key to run, then use a voltmeter and measure the volts going into the MSD from the battery?

'69 coupe, 350 engine and trans, HEI Dist, headers, posi-track. It's a good 15 footer

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post #8 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 11:33 AM
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

Yes, it should be energized with the key in the On position. Make sure you check the ground as well as the hot. unfortunately you'll have to wait until it dies on you to do it.

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post #9 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 11:36 AM
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

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Originally Posted by withac View Post
Thanks. Now since this is all new to me, it should have power to the MSD with the key in the run postion regardless of whether it's actually running, right? So turn the key to run, then use a voltmeter and measure the volts going into the MSD from the battery?
Yes. It should show a full 12 volts. That is what an HEI needs. As far as the ground wire, it is a black wire leading directly going to and attaching to the inside edge of the actual fender. Can't miss it. And yes, it can be that random.
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post #10 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gbauer View Post
Yes, it should be energized with the key in the On position. Make sure you check the ground as well as the hot. unfortunately you'll have to wait until it dies on you to do it.
It's dead right now

'69 coupe, 350 engine and trans, HEI Dist, headers, posi-track. It's a good 15 footer

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post #11 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

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Originally Posted by onefiness View Post
Yes. It should show a full 12 volts. That is what an HEI needs. As far as the ground wire, it is a black wire leading directly going to and attaching to the inside edge of the actual fender. Can't miss it. And yes, it can be that random.
This wiring was such a cluster you know what when I got it that I had to replace both underdash harnesses. There was no fender ground before that I recall, but I also recall thinking that I grounded one out when I rewired it, I just don't remember where. Gonna have to do some looking around after I drag it home.

'69 coupe, 350 engine and trans, HEI Dist, headers, posi-track. It's a good 15 footer

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post #12 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

Thanks everyone

'69 coupe, 350 engine and trans, HEI Dist, headers, posi-track. It's a good 15 footer

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post #13 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 01:05 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gbauer View Post
since you think it's spark next time it won't start test the voltage at the MSD. That way you can eliminate a power issue vs the module. If you have power then I'd test the ground. If both are there you have a bad module.
They say there's no such thing as a stupid question so I hope this isn't one, but when you say test the ground, is there a ground on the MSD or are you referring to the ground Jon was talking about? I'm not at the car but as I recall there are the wires coming from the module and the battery wire and the tach wire but I don't remember a grounding wire. Am I off base?

'69 coupe, 350 engine and trans, HEI Dist, headers, posi-track. It's a good 15 footer

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post #14 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 04:15 PM
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

The ground wire location will be at the battery area. There should be a smaller cable attached to your black ground cable that goes to your battery. It would then go over toward the passenger side fender and close to the battery and fasten to the inside of the fender lip with a bolt. The other end of the main ground cable should run from battery to engine for a good ground. There are also the firewall ground areas that you should check. Hope this helped.
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post #15 of 37 (permalink) Old Sep 8th, 14, 04:50 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Car dies at random, seems like no spark.

I'm looking and I'm honestly not seeing a smaller battery ground. I remember when I rewired it not finding one then, apparently I didn't hook one up then. It ran like that all last summer and all of this summer.

I checked the power going into the MSD, 12 volts, but when I crank it no pop. So maybe it's looking like the module?

A module at Autozone is around 48 bucks. A coil is 49. You can buy a Proform tune up kit for 82 and includes High-power 50,000 Volts HEI coil. Superior "no arc" rotor. Coil dust cover. High-performance. Low-saturation control module. Adjustable vacuum advance unit. HEI bushing. Wire harness and capacitor. High performance advance spring and weight set. Mounting hardware.
If it's any good wouldn't it make sense to replace everything?

'69 coupe, 350 engine and trans, HEI Dist, headers, posi-track. It's a good 15 footer

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