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How Do I Test a PerTronix Ignition?

by Michelle Schaefer

Upgrading older points-style ignition systems to modern electronic units is a popular upgrade. Replacing the antiquated mechanical points with accurate and dependable electronic components increases the engine's performance and fuel economy. PerTronix is one brand that manufactures aftermarket ignition system upgrades. If your vehicle does not start or has other performance issues, the ignition may be at fault. Testing the operation of the PerTronix ignition is very easy and will help you determine why your vehicle is not operating correctly.

Remove the distributor cap without removing the plug wires to gain access to the PeTronix parts. Connect one end of a 36-inch jumper wire to the battery negative terminal. Connect the other end of the jumper wire to the Ignitor module base plate. Inspect the Ignitor wiring connections and look for damage. Pay particular attention to the ground wire inside the distributor for proper connection. Repair or replace any improperly connected or damaged wires.

Unplug the red Ignitor module wire. Connect the red Ignitor module lead to the battery positive terminal using a jumper wire if required. Attach the black lead of the multimeter to the Ignitor module black wire. Attach the red lead of the multimeter to the battery positive terminal.

Rotate the center magnetic sleeve of the distributor shaft by hand or by cranking the engine. The multimeter should show a fluctuation between battery voltage and zero volts. A constant voltage reading indicates a failed module or improperly installed Hall Effect shutter wheel.

Measure the clearance between the center magnetic sleeve and the Hall Effect shutter wheel using a .030-inch brass feeler gauge. If the clearance is greater than .030 inches, the shutter wheel must be adjusted. Loosen the shutter wheel mount using a flat-head screwdriver and reposition the wheel to a .030-inch air gap. Tighten the hold down screws and double check the clearance. Repeat Step Three after adjustments have been made.

Disconnect and remove the digital multimeter. Disconnect and remove all jumper wires. Connect the Ignitor leads in their original locations. Install the distributor cap and fasten it down securely.

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About the Author

Michelle Schaefer began writing in 1998 for "The Pennsylvania Homeschooler" with advice for parents educating their handicapped children at home. She earned a bachelor's degree in education from Kutztown University in 1991.

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