Question about 1988 Pontiac Firebird

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My 1988 Firebird won't start. The starter engages, engine turns, but won't start. I've replaced the ignition module under the distributor cap, gave it a tune up [ cap, rotor,plugs ]. Checked the spark off of the coil, and the plugs, they were fine. Checked for fuel delivery, it was ok. Checked for trouble codes and didn't get any. I'm not sure what else I might check. Any help would be appreciated.

Posted by Richard Bard on


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Justin Fitzgerald

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Could try the crank sensor, that is where I would start. Next would be the timing & compression.

Posted on Jun 24, 2011


Steve D'Amico

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What engine??? 305 3.8 2.3 like omg give me a clue?

Posted on Dec 06, 2014


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1988 chevy cheyenne will turn over. but won,t start. the spark plugs fire blue every one. the fuel injectors shoot gas all the way to the pistons . it did run fine and all of a sudden it quit. i have...

Inside or directly under the distribitor cap is a plastic ring with either one or two wires attached..... these devices fail and not allow the engine to start.
It happened on my 88 chevy (305 cu in.). a quick fix is to replace it with a new one.. (Advance Auto) or other parts store.

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Will not start,new coil power to coil and distriber,no action with ether'engine turns over,anything else i should be checking

The ignition module or HEI module commonly goes out on those. It's about a $30-50 part and is under the rotor button on the distributor. The reluctor wheel on the distributor could also not be reading correctly...only fix for that would be a new distributor which would probably come with an ignition module.

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How to replace an ignition rotor to a 1988 Ford Escort

Your vehicle may be equipped with either of the following ignition systems, depending on the year and engine combination:
* 1981-82 1.3L and 1.6L engines: Dura Spark II Ignition System
* 1982-85 1.6L Non-EFI and 1986 1.9L Non-EFI engines: Thick Film Ignition I (TFI-I) System
* 1983-90 1.6L EFI and 1.9L EFI engines: Thick Film Ignition IV (TFI-IV) System

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2. Remove the distributor from the engine.
  3. Place the distributor assembly on a workbench.
  4. Remove the two TFI ignition module retaining screws.
  5. Pull the right side of the module down the distributor mounting flange and then back up to disengage the module terminals from the connector in the distributor base. The module may then be pulled toward the flange and away from the distributor.
Do not attempt to lift the module from the mounting surface, except as explained in Step 3, as the pins will break at the distributor module connector.

To install:
  1. Coat the baseplate of the TFI ignition module uniformly with a 1 / 32 in. (0.8mm) of silicone dielectric compound WA-10 or equivalent.
  2. Position the module on the distributor base mounting flange. Carefully position the module toward the distributor bowl and engage the three connector pins securely.
  3. Install the retaining screws. Tighten to 15-35 inch lbs. (1.7-4.0 Nm), starting with the upper right screw.
  4. Install the distributor into the engine. Install the cap and wires.
  5. Reconnect the negative battery cable.
  6. Recheck the initial timing. Adjust the timing, if necessary.

Hope helps.

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That problem is most likely the ignition module inside of the distributor, and you can remove it and have it tested for free at most auto part stores.

The ignition module could also have been damaged by a faulty ignition coil or a damaged distributor cap that allowed secondary voltage to flow over the ignition module, or a shorted pick-up coil inside of the distributor could also have caused the ignition module to malfunction, and in that case you should replace the distributor. (if the ignition module does test out to be alright then the pick-up coil is the next likely culprit)

Be sure that if you purchase a new ignition module that it does come with either a silicone grease, or a die-electric compound, and be very certain that you completely cover the metal mounting contact area under the ignition module with that silicone grease or die-electric compound because it is a heat sink and the ignition module will overheat without it, and be very careful that you do not over-tighten the ignition module or it will be damaged.

Be sure that you also clean off the mounting surface for the ignition module on the inside of the distributor very well before you install the ignition module, and if installing the old module back into the distributor be sure to obtain either silicone grease or a die-electric compound for it.

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