How to Troubleshoot the Ignition System in a Honda CR-V

by Editorial TeamUpdated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Spark plug wire pliers

  • Spark tester

  • Ohmmeter

How to Troubleshoot the Ignition System in a Honda CR-V. Like most cars, the way in which you check the Honda CR-V's ignition system for problems depends on whether it has a distributor or not. On a distributor system, you can test the spark plugs and wires, along with the ignition coils. Inspecting a distributorless system is much simpler.

Cylinder Drop Test

Place the CRV's automatic gear shift in "Neutral" (for manual transmission) or "Park" (automatic), and apply the emergency brake. Start the engine and let it reach a warm idle.

Remove each spark plug wire one at a time for a few seconds. Use insulated spark plug wire pliers. If the engine's performance doesn't drop upon removal, something is wrong with the plug or wire.

Inspect any spark plug and wire that fails the test. The Secondary Spark Test works best in this situation.

Secondary Spark Test

Disconnect a spark plug wire from its plug. Connect the spark tester to the wire. Ground the tester to a good metal location on the engine.

Crank the CR-V's engine. Look for a spark at the tester. A blue spark is strong, while orange or yellow means weak.

Repeat this test for all the spark plug wires. Perform the coil test if all the wires show weak sparks or nothing.

Remove the distributor cap and inspect it for excessive wear, damage or corrosion. Do the same for the rotor. Make sure the rotor turns when cranking the engine, especially if no sparks appeared.

Use an ohmmeter to check each spark plug wire's resistance. Replace any wires where the resistance isn't consistent.

Coil Tests

Unsnap the negative battery cable, taking note of the radio security code. Loosen the fasteners that secure the distributor cap and remove the cap with the wires connected. Set it aside in a safe place.

Go to the ignition coil and remove the black/yellow wire from the A (+) terminal and the white/blue wire from the B (-) terminal.

Measure the resistance with an ohmmeter between these two terminals. It should be 0.63 to 0.77 ohms.

Switch to the secondary resistance between the A (+) terminal and the coil's secondary winding terminal. This resistance should be 12,800 to 19,200 ohms. Replace the coil if either resistance test fails.

Reconnect the negative battery cable and enter the radio security code. You must then reset the Powertrain Control Module's idle memory. Run the engine at 3,000 rpm until the cooling fan starts, then let it idle for 5 minutes with all the accessories off.

Distributorless System

Verify your CR-V's battery is fully charged. Check the alternator for low output.

Inspect all electrical connections, including the spark plug wires. Look for corrosion, damage or loose connections.

Replace all spark plugs that are defective, excessively worn or damaged.

Open the fuse box and look for any blown fuses.


You should perform this test at a temperature of about 68 degrees F. The resistance can vary at different temperatures.


Make sure the high-tension lead for the cylinder you're testing is properly grounded. You could damage the internal components if it's not. Avoid touching any metal part of the car. Removing the spark plug can cause a painful shock from secondary voltage.

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