Question about 1997 Saturn SL

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97 saturn sl1 drove in fine, won't start just crank. no spark

Checked for spark with paper clip into wire boot. no spark.check engine light and all other lights come on while cranking but go off as I continue
to try. Recently changed heater sensor ( cracked on internal stem) in engine block.
what sensors and or computer issues will kill the spark?
Thanks much in advance

automatic, air, ps, pb, 4cyl 1.9 ( think)

Posted by on

  • firstin672 Feb 03, 2009

    I am battling the same issue. Ours is a '99 model. I did replace the ICM as it was bad. I also replaced the temperature coolant sensor since I couldn't verify a good/bad reading. I have checked the crankcase position sensor and get a good ohm indication there. I am stumped. I have acquired a salvage PCM (brain) and tried it with no success.

  • sdhitman Mar 23, 2009

    Same problem, also seems like it happens more when the weather is cold as i live in Dallas, TX our weather changes a lot..

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  • 13 Answers

Crank engine with distributor cap removed, is it turning?
(That is if it has a distributor cap, some newer cars don’t have one)is it turning?
Broken timing belt or chain?

Are you getting power to the + positive side of the coil (small wires) with key on ? Hint; I use a needle pushed into the back of the plug so as not to damage the wiring.
If you have power then wiring from the ignition switch is OK. It usually is.
Hook your test light to the - negative side of the coil (one end on the - terminal and the other end on a ground). You should have power on the - side of the coil with the key on and engine off.
Crank the engine while watching the test light. Get a flashing signal at the test light when cranking?
If so and you have no spark the coil is likely dead.(don’t rely merely on resistance tests for a coil, a weak coil can test ok for resistance but still give no spark.It happens but is unusual. I learned this the hard way!)
No flashing signal?
Check continuity in all primary circuit wiring for opens.
If they are good,
It is time to check the pulse generator in the distributor. (That is if it has a distributor cap, some newer cars don’t have one, if it doesn’t then the ECM or computer sends signal via the crankshaft position sensor and the camshaft position sensor)
With the engine in non-running condition connect your A/C voltmeter to the pair of wires at the pulse generator and crank the engine. You are looking for an A/C signal that makes 4-6 volts of A/C. Got this? If so the ignition module is dead or has a bad ground. If not (more likely) you have a dead pulse generator in the distributor.
If you have three wires in the distributor signal wire you have a Hall effect sensor. I forget how to test that one. (Chrysler stuff)


If this part of the primary ignition tests ok then check wiring to ECM pinouts for opens.Wiring tests ok.ECM as last resort.
Hope this helps...........

Posted on Oct 03, 2009

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