Jump to content

Chasing Intermittent Crank - No Start Condition When Hot

Recommended Posts


I have a 1979 620, L20B, Matchbox Distributor with MSD Blaster 2 coil. My 620 typically starts easy. Normally, when cold, it starts within 1/4 to 1/2 of a revolution (longer if it sits for more than a week).


Within the last couple of months, it has occasionally refused to start (Crank - No Start) when hot and not allowed to cool (Like when you go into the store to by beer, and it won't start when I return to the car).  This condition is intermittent, but has been increasing in frequency.  Saturday took the 620 to the Tacoma Caffeine & Gasoline, drove from Olympia.  It died on Pine St but restarted after about 10 minutes.  Drove it back to Olympia but it died again, this time it refused to start at all.  So called for a tow home.  I couldn't start testing until the next day.  And the truck started immediately when cold. 


Originally, I was thinking It was a wiring issue with the connectors at the Ignition Module.  I've changed both connectors and soldered them to the wires. This obviously did not correct the problem.


From what I've read on the forums (Ratsun, Zcar, Datsun1200), a bad coil can cause a engine to crank - no start when the coil has not had sufficient time to cool. 


I went ahead and changed the coil to a Hitachi I had in my parts stash, but at this point I don't know if it's going to fix the issue as both coils test good when cold. 


This is what I found when I tested the coils at room temp:

MSD Blaster 2

                     Test     Spec

Primary        .7        .7  (meter at 200 Ohm)

Secondary   4.5      4.5 (meter at 20K Ohm)


Hitachi 22433-H7280

                     Test     Spec

Primary        1.0        .842 - 1.02 (meter at 200 Ohm)

Secondary   10.0      8.2 - 12.4 (meter at 20K Ohm)


Can a hot coil fail, but test good when cold?  Am I on the right track with my troubleshooting?  Anything I'm missing?


I hate Intermittent problems.....




Share this post

Link to post

When it died in Tacoma, there was no spark at the plugs.  I didn't check the coil. At the time I thought it could be Ignition module, coil or switch relay (DZ Start).

Edited by Ron1200

Share this post

Link to post

Possible pickup coil. When it fails to start, dump cold water on distributor with cap off. Or, you could swap distributor with known good unit


  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post

The EI definitely needs a SOLID ground. Some even have a terminal on the side for this.


The matchbox might be the cause if exposed to exhaust heat. But if not starting when cold this not this. Try unscrewing and cleaning the distributor area around it and put back on. Corrosion and bugs like to set up house behind them and they need air circulating around them. 


Take the coil wire of the cap and hold near a ground and crank the engine over.  It should jump the gap but may be jumping from the coil tower to the negative terminal if cracked or carbon tracked. Distributor caps can also be carbon tracked or cracked and the rotor.

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post

Update: Had the truck out this morning, noticed a slight miss just before I reached my destination (about 15 min driving time).  On the way back, It started dying  after about 5 minutes. This time I had a multi meter and checked the following with the ignition on:


Coil connections

  Ignition/start wire to coil +  = 12v

  Coil + = 12v

  Coil - = 12v

Continuity tested

  Black/white from module to coil = good

  Blue from module to coil = good

Spark Plugs

  No spark


A friend suggested using a can of compressed air to cool the module and see if it starts.  Well, not having that but having a can of semi-cool diet coke, I dribbled the coke over the module and this seemed to work... but only for a mile or so. However it was repeatable, touching nothing else, this process worked five times in a row. 


I believe I'm here in my trouble shooting: 

  Cap & Rotor Good - Installed new parts

  Coil is good - changing out the coil did not fix the problem

  Ignition switch 12v power is good - When the problem happened, I had 12v at the coil

  Wires between the coil and ICM are good - When the problem happened, I confirmed continuity

  Ignition module is suspect - When cooled with coke, it would start and run for a short while



I have ordered a replacement ICM (STANDARD MOTOR PRODUCTS LX516).


Edited by Ron1200

Share this post

Link to post

Try cleaning the module. They can collect crap like bugs in behind it. The back face is solid metal and needs clearance between it and the distributor body. Most of all the ground might be so so. Just unscrewing it and tightening back on may fix it.

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post

Thanks for the help...

I'll check behind the ICM Mike...

Share this post

Link to post

...and solidly grounded. They very seldom fail Ron and you can use a HEI module from a GM mulletmobile..

Share this post

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.