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Please help diagnose my engine issue.


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Hey everyone, 

 

I am mostly a lurker, and actually haven't posted in quite a while. But I'm hoping my fellow FAQ'ers can possibly help me with my 2002

 

My car is a 1976 2002, base model, 4spd manual. It has somewhere between 119,000 and 135,000 miles (ODO is inop). I am running an M10, with an E21 head, an electric choke, and a Korman carburetor. NGK plugs (just replaced), Kingsborne spark plug wires, and an electronic distributor. 

 

As the car currently sits, it will not start. It does turn over, so I know it isn't the battery or the starter. A mechanic friend of mine who recently did a bit of rust mitigation and repair for me figured out that the spark plugs are only intermittently getting spark. The car was running pretty good two months ago, but beginning about two months ago, it would start randomly cutting off. He told me that the ignition module doesn't have a good ground, and that if I run a ground wire from the ignition module to a bolt or something else in the engine bay that that would probably fix it. Well, I tried that and it didn't work. It's Kaput. Could it be the wiring harness? Is it the coil pack? Could it be the electronic distributor just went bad? 

 

The car is in otherwise great shape, and it is my long term restoration project. Pic for attention. 

 

 

IMG_2816.JPG

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Imho start with the dizzy. Maybe try to test the unit, or install the points? There is a test procedure for he pertronix system.  I am new to 2002's , but I have had pertronix before and they have never let me down. Maybe see if the gap has changed between the dizzy sensor Magnet and the pickup. I remember the distance being very important.

 

"Goosed" 1975 BMW 2002

 

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If that is an IE distributor, they come with a Pertronix knock off, which is prone to failure.

There is a ton of info on them in the archives.

 

I think you may be able to replace it with a Pertronix Ignitor, if that proves to be the problem.

Welcome back to the FAQ.

     

 

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'76 with a resistor wire and a black coil. Is that the correct resistance setup for a Pertronix if applicable?


I am honestly not sure if it's the correct set up or not.


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Well. Get a timing light and ascertain if you're getting spark to the plugs.

 

What plugs did you install (don't run platinum tips)?

 

Go from there.

 

Cheers,

Ray

Stop reading this! Don't you have anything better to do?? :P
Two running things. Two broken things.

 

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A couple of simple tests.  Turn the key to the Run (not start) position and check to see if you have at least 12v to the coil + terminal  (labeled 15).  If you do, disconnect the coil wire going to the center of the distributor and have someone hold it close to a nut on the valve cover while you turn the engine over (might be best if they held it with a insulated glove).  If you see no spark, the coil is probably the problem.  If you see spark, plug the coil wire back into the distributor, and then disconnect one of the wires going to the spark plugs and hold it next to a valve cover nut.  If you see no spark, something is wrong with either that spark plug wire (try another just for sure), or the spark coming from the distributor.  No sparky, no runny.

BMWCCA  Member #14493

www.2002sonly.com

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4 hours ago, pisgahlvr said:

Hey everyone, 

 

I am mostly a lurker, and actually haven't posted in quite a while. But I'm hoping my fellow FAQ'ers can possibly help me with my 2002. 

 

My car is a 1976 2002, base model, 4spd manual. It has somewhere between 119,000 and 135,000 miles (ODO is inop). I am running an M10, with an E21 head, an electric choke, and a Korman carburetor. NGK plugs (just replaced), Kingsborne spark plug wires, and an electronic distributor. 

 

As the car currently sits, it will not start. It does turn over, so I know it isn't the battery or the starter. A mechanic friend of mine who recently did a bit of rust mitigation and repair for me figured out that the spark plugs are only intermittently getting spark. The car was running pretty good two months ago, but beginning about two months ago, it would start randomly cutting off. He told me that the , and that if I run a ground wire from the ignition module to a bolt or something else in the engine bay that that would probably fix it. Well, I tried that and it didn't work. It's Kaput. Could it be the wiring harness? Is it the coil pack? Could it be the electronic distributor just went bad? 

 

The car is in otherwise great shape, and it is my long term restoration project. Pic for attention.

 

 

 

I have several thoughts.  The first being more pictures, including one with the distributor cap and rotor removed.

 

The "ground" issue that someone else mentioned strikes me as odd.  I am having trouble visualizing what part needs grounding?  Are there loose wires anywhere?  I do not see anything obvious in the one photo you posted.

 

There are numerous diagnostic threads that you could search for regarding pertronix issues, including the basic setup.  These may shed some obvious light on your possible dilemma.  The module could be bad or possibly it became loose, which means you need to look at it. That said, in my limited experience, modules go bad and stay bad, so that the random cutting out you describe sounds less like a module problem and more like a coil that was possibly overheating and has now, to quote you, become toast.  Since you have a newer model, it was originally equipped with a resistor wire that fed the coil.  If you are still using it after 40+ years, maybe it is toast.  Follow it (clear or amber tinted) from the coil back along the firewall.  Yours could have succumbed to the passage of time, over heated and now provides too much resistance to feed the coil.  A multimeter might prove helpful to test the wire, but sometimes that resistance wire's condition is obvious by looking at it.  Of course a loose wire to the coil or the module might also account for the same symptoms, as could a worn ignition switch, which might permit cranking, but not running.

 

There are always other unlikely possibilities.  Distributor caps have been known to lose their spring-loaded carbon connection found in the center of the cap.  Distributor cap terminals have been known to wear and corrode.  Distributor rotors can also develop corrosion that impedes their ability to transmit a spark.  All unlikely, but possible.  

 

All of the advice in the thread seems sound.  Not knowing anything about your mechanical abilities and aptitude, there are some other basics you might try.  How about pulling one or more spark plugs and cranking the engine to see if they get a fat blue spark?    Since the car has been sitting for several weeks, are you certain you have fuel in the carburetor?  Are the plugs wet or dry after cranking?

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9 hours ago, halboyles said:

A couple of simple tests.  Turn the key to the Run (not start) position and check to see if you have at least 12v to the coil + terminal  (labeled 15).  If you do, disconnect the coil wire going to the center of the distributor and have someone hold it close to a nut on the valve cover while you turn the engine over (might be best if they held it with a insulated glove).  If you see no spark, the coil is probably the problem.  If you see spark, plug the coil wire back into the distributor, and then disconnect one of the wires going to the spark plugs and hold it next to a valve cover nut.  If you see no spark, something is wrong with either that spark plug wire (try another just for sure), or the spark coming from the distributor.  No sparky, no runny.

 

We did try pulling one plug out to see if there was no spark actually. It would get spark intermittently. He used a test light to see if there was voltage coming out of the electronic distributor, and it would work intermittently. 

 

However, we did not try pulling the center wire out of the coil pack. I'll give that a try and report back. 

Edited by pisgahlvr
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8 hours ago, avoirdupois said:

 

 

I have several thoughts.  The first being more pictures, including one with the distributor cap and rotor removed.

 

The "ground" issue that someone else mentioned strikes me as odd.  I am having trouble visualizing what part needs grounding?  Are there loose wires anywhere?  I do not see anything obvious in the one photo you posted.

 

There are numerous diagnostic threads that you could search for regarding pertronix issues, including the basic setup.  These may shed some obvious light on your possible dilemma.  The module could be bad or possibly it became loose, which means you need to look at it. That said, in my limited experience, modules go bad and stay bad, so that the random cutting out you describe sounds less like a module problem and more like a coil that was possibly overheating and has now, to quote you, become toast.  Since you have a newer model, it was originally equipped with a resistor wire that fed the coil.  If you are still using it after 40+ years, maybe it is toast.  Follow it (clear or amber tinted) from the coil back along the firewall.  Yours could have succumbed to the passage of time, over heated and now provides too much resistance to feed the coil.  A multimeter might prove helpful to test the wire, but sometimes that resistance wire's condition is obvious by looking at it.  Of course a loose wire to the coil or the module might also account for the same symptoms, as could a worn ignition switch, which might permit cranking, but not running.

 

There are always other unlikely possibilities.  Distributor caps have been known to lose their spring-loaded carbon connection found in the center of the cap.  Distributor cap terminals have been known to wear and corrode.  Distributor rotors can also develop corrosion that impedes their ability to transmit a spark.  All unlikely, but possible.  

 

All of the advice in the thread seems sound.  Not knowing anything about your mechanical abilities and aptitude, there are some other basics you might try.  How about pulling one or more spark plugs and cranking the engine to see if they get a fat blue spark?    Since the car has been sitting for several weeks, are you certain you have fuel in the carburetor?  Are the plugs wet or dry after cranking?

 

I did visually inspect all of the wiring harnesses for obvious defects however I could not see any breaks. I work on $1.5m airport Xray baggage scanners (think MRI machine) that run off of 480v, and have their own self contained air-conditioning system, PLC's, and a host of other digital and optical systems. These are all new machines however. I don't have much experience working with distributor style ignition systems. 

 

I went ahead and had it towed to Touring Car Inc. My wife is about to pop with our first child at any moment, and I don't have much time available to try and figure out what the problem is with the car. I just need it to run, and run reliably. 

Edited by pisgahlvr
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3 hours ago, pisgahlvr said:

 

I did visually inspect all of the wiring harnesses for obvious defects however I could not see any breaks. I work on $1.5m airport Xray baggage scanners (think MRI machine) that run off of 480v, and have their own self contained air-conditioning system, PLC's, and a host of other digital and optical systems. These are all new machines however. I don't have much experience working with distributor style ignition systems. 

 

I went ahead and had it towed to Touring Car Inc. My wife is about to pop with our first child at any moment, and I don't have much time available to try and figure out what the problem is with the car. I just need it to run, and run reliably. 

 

Perhaps you should have run the car through the xray scanner.:D

 

Seriously, it only takes one break in any circuit to effectively ruin a day.  There is only one coil and it can show obvious signs of damage (dents, cracks, carbon tracking) and it can be tested even with an analog multimeter.  From what you describe, it could be the distributor electronics, or the coil,  or the (resistor) wire feeding voltage to the coil - or even a worn ignition switch.  The fix may be simple, but knowing the fix may be the result of a little hard-earned experience.  Since you have one or two bigger priorities, this is minor.

 

Best of luck and congratulations.

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2 hours ago, avoirdupois said:

 

Perhaps you should have run the car through the xray scanner.:D

 

Best of luck and congratulations.

 

Hahaha, yeah I probably should have tried that first. lol

 

And thank you! She is ready to not be pregnant anymore (as am I). :lol:

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