Ignition coil arcing

Ignition coil arcing

Postby astrometalvan [OP] » November 16th 2012, 6:33pm

Astro the metalvan hasn't run in about 3 weeks. Thought I had a bad fuel pump. I got the dog house off to check fuel pressure at the port near the back of the intake. While i had the doghouse off, I cranked on it a little and heard electrical arcing. I looked and saw the spark jumping from the coil to the mounting bracket. Hoping I had a bad coil wire boot, I turned the coil wire around 180 ( coil end into dist and dist end into coil ) and plugged it back in and it's doing the same thing. The arc looks like its coming from the bottom of the wire boot and jumping about 1/2 inch to some exposed metal. Do I need a coil?
96 Astro LT 2wd 4.3L "W" 4L60E
92 S10 2wd reg/short 2.8 "R" 5-speed
93 S10 Ex cab/short 4.3L "Z" 700R-4
2000 Chrysler 300M 3.5L DOHC
88 SeaRay Seville 21" cuddy Mercruiser 4.3/4BBL-Alpha1
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby Astronomical1987 » November 16th 2012, 7:40pm

Cant say for sure but something similar happened on an old Caddy I used to have. Ended up being a bad wire. Even though I couldnt see it, there was some cracking on the boot, enough to allow the spark to escape and create the arch. Of course there could be an issue with the coil, where the wire connects to it.
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby astrometalvan [OP] » November 16th 2012, 7:43pm

It arcs the same after switching the coil wire around.
96 Astro LT 2wd 4.3L "W" 4L60E
92 S10 2wd reg/short 2.8 "R" 5-speed
93 S10 Ex cab/short 4.3L "Z" 700R-4
2000 Chrysler 300M 3.5L DOHC
88 SeaRay Seville 21" cuddy Mercruiser 4.3/4BBL-Alpha1
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby Astronomical1987 » November 16th 2012, 8:09pm

Could be a grounding issue at the coil. Also, double check that the wire is correct for the year. I believe 96 was the first year for a newer style boot. Although an older style may fit, it wont fit correctly. If it is a universal type wire, than that is almost certainly the issue. Although unlikely, incorrect gap on the plugs can cause arcing issues, but I dont think its all that common.
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby Ragenme » November 16th 2012, 8:28pm

Try wrapping it with a little electrical tape. See if it stops. Coil could have a hair line crack.
ragenme If you can't fix it with a hammer then its probably a electrical problem!
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby astrometalvan [OP] » November 16th 2012, 10:06pm

I haven't changed the wires since we got the van. I was thinking crack in coil also.
I thought about the tape idea too. The wire and boots look too good on both ends.
Hearing someone else say it kinda backs up my suspicions. I'll try the tape thing.
how long can ET last in a harsh florida winter. I'm freezing my *** off, it got down to 54 this morning....hehe
96 Astro LT 2wd 4.3L "W" 4L60E
92 S10 2wd reg/short 2.8 "R" 5-speed
93 S10 Ex cab/short 4.3L "Z" 700R-4
2000 Chrysler 300M 3.5L DOHC
88 SeaRay Seville 21" cuddy Mercruiser 4.3/4BBL-Alpha1
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby astrometalvan [OP] » November 16th 2012, 10:21pm

I used a pic from parts store online catalog to show where mine is arcing.
Attachments
astro coil.jpg
this is where it arcs
astro coil.jpg (32.37 KiB) Viewed 3991 times
96 Astro LT 2wd 4.3L "W" 4L60E
92 S10 2wd reg/short 2.8 "R" 5-speed
93 S10 Ex cab/short 4.3L "Z" 700R-4
2000 Chrysler 300M 3.5L DOHC
88 SeaRay Seville 21" cuddy Mercruiser 4.3/4BBL-Alpha1
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby astrometalvan [OP] » November 16th 2012, 10:32pm

Astronomical1987 wrote:Could be a grounding issue at the coil.


Yes. its grounding at the coil.

tape didn't work. I think the crack is too far down the molded cylinder that the boot slips over.
the arc goes under the tape.
96 Astro LT 2wd 4.3L "W" 4L60E
92 S10 2wd reg/short 2.8 "R" 5-speed
93 S10 Ex cab/short 4.3L "Z" 700R-4
2000 Chrysler 300M 3.5L DOHC
88 SeaRay Seville 21" cuddy Mercruiser 4.3/4BBL-Alpha1
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby astrometalvan [OP] » November 16th 2012, 10:34pm

:confused: Maybe liquid electrical tape? :shrug:
96 Astro LT 2wd 4.3L "W" 4L60E
92 S10 2wd reg/short 2.8 "R" 5-speed
93 S10 Ex cab/short 4.3L "Z" 700R-4
2000 Chrysler 300M 3.5L DOHC
88 SeaRay Seville 21" cuddy Mercruiser 4.3/4BBL-Alpha1
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby chevymaherchevymaher is online! » November 16th 2012, 10:59pm

Cover it with silicon and jam the boot on.
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby Astronomical1987 » November 16th 2012, 11:15pm

chevymaher wrote:Cover it with silicon and jam the boot on.


I was thinking the same thing! Some tune up grease may go a long way in this case. At the end of the day the coil is only $35, which might just be some cheap insurance!
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby Ragenme » November 16th 2012, 11:21pm

Plus you already have it apart! Getting the dog house off is half the fight!
ragenme If you can't fix it with a hammer then its probably a electrical problem!
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby astrometalvan [OP] » November 16th 2012, 11:28pm

I'm headed to Autozone...

gonna order a coil ...

it's at the warehouse, so the store will have it by 9:00 am ...


I REALLY hope it's just the bad coil and not the fuel pump too.
I think astro is 1/2 full o gas.
96 Astro LT 2wd 4.3L "W" 4L60E
92 S10 2wd reg/short 2.8 "R" 5-speed
93 S10 Ex cab/short 4.3L "Z" 700R-4
2000 Chrysler 300M 3.5L DOHC
88 SeaRay Seville 21" cuddy Mercruiser 4.3/4BBL-Alpha1
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby astrometalvan [OP] » November 16th 2012, 11:31pm

oh, my liquid tape stopped being liquid a long time ago.. just arubber chunk at the bottom of the can now.

dont have any silly cone stuff either.

new coil is next
96 Astro LT 2wd 4.3L "W" 4L60E
92 S10 2wd reg/short 2.8 "R" 5-speed
93 S10 Ex cab/short 4.3L "Z" 700R-4
2000 Chrysler 300M 3.5L DOHC
88 SeaRay Seville 21" cuddy Mercruiser 4.3/4BBL-Alpha1
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby astrometalvan [OP] » November 17th 2012, 6:58pm

:banana: YAY ignition coil was the problem!!!

I put the new coil on and it fired up as soon as I cranked it enough to refill the fuel system,( i removed the fuel filter and blew through it to make sure it was clear.) and its idling good and drives like it should. :driving:

Now I'm wondering how many of my hard starting and driveability issues can be traced back to the bad coil... :shrug:


BTW: I did check out a fuel system pressure tester kit from Autozone and found out for sure that my fuel pump is right at 60 psi when running. :thumbup:
96 Astro LT 2wd 4.3L "W" 4L60E
92 S10 2wd reg/short 2.8 "R" 5-speed
93 S10 Ex cab/short 4.3L "Z" 700R-4
2000 Chrysler 300M 3.5L DOHC
88 SeaRay Seville 21" cuddy Mercruiser 4.3/4BBL-Alpha1
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby xit » November 17th 2012, 8:29pm

Good for you & thanks for posting after you fixed it so we all can benefit from your solution. :rockon:
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby astrometalvan [OP] » November 26th 2012, 4:45pm

My son drove the Astro to Tampa (110 miles ) to stay with his uncle for Thanksgiving and had no starting or driveability issues.
96 Astro LT 2wd 4.3L "W" 4L60E
92 S10 2wd reg/short 2.8 "R" 5-speed
93 S10 Ex cab/short 4.3L "Z" 700R-4
2000 Chrysler 300M 3.5L DOHC
88 SeaRay Seville 21" cuddy Mercruiser 4.3/4BBL-Alpha1
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby dejure » January 20th 2013, 10:12pm

BUT, if the distributor gear is worn, the coil voltage will be GREATLY increased, to try to arc across the gap when the system fires between two terminals, instead of at the proper terminal. Too, the higher voltage the coil is forced to put out will likely wear out the coil quicker. when the dialectic fails and the coil starts arcing internally.

Remember also, electricity wants the shortest path to ground. As such, if your distributor gear is worn such that the coil fires when the rotor is between two terminals, the arc will be drawn to the cylinder which offers the shortest path (wire) to ground [via a plug or crappy wire]. Instant random misfire.

If your coil is bad, make sure the distributor gear is not worn before you replace it.
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby esmartuek » January 21st 2013, 6:10am

I was thinking along the same lines, dejure.
If the electricity is being drawn to cross air (which has an enormous amount of resistance, mind you) than something in the path to the spark plug must not have been functioning. Honestly, I would've taken this entire scenario as an excuse to replace the entire ignition system from the Coil to the Plugs. (coil, bracket, wires, distributor cap, rotor, and spark plugs) That way you are sure exactly the age of the entire system.
On top of replacing them, buying a can of dielectric grease and using that instead of trusting the factory grease that's already put in the boots, because the factory stuff gets old really fast. Maybe replacing any wire-spreaders, as well to ensure that all wires are clear of any metal contact or crossings.

All of these measures can keep a healthy spark and prevent this scenario from occurring.
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Re: Ignition coil arcing

Postby astrometalvan [OP] » January 22nd 2013, 5:15pm

you guys think of expensive stuff....I replaced the coil and it runs again, good enough for a $550 van with 200K on it.
96 Astro LT 2wd 4.3L "W" 4L60E
92 S10 2wd reg/short 2.8 "R" 5-speed
93 S10 Ex cab/short 4.3L "Z" 700R-4
2000 Chrysler 300M 3.5L DOHC
88 SeaRay Seville 21" cuddy Mercruiser 4.3/4BBL-Alpha1
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astrometalvan
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Year: 1996
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: LT 4.3 W

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