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95 civic won't start

recently replaced head on my 95 civic 1.6 Vtec, i had to replace the head gasket a few years ago so i know what to do. My problem now is that it will not start and has no spark to the plugs, i have new plugs, wires, rotor and cap, even tried a new distributor but took it back since it changed nothing. I pulled a plug wire, removed the plug and plugged it into the wire, turned the engine over and no spark.I’ve checked voltage to the distributor with ignition switch on and as far as i can tell it’s getting voltage to the distributor. But when i try to crank it the engine turns over but will not start. It is getting gas, i took the fuel rail off with the injectors and checked for flow. I’ve taken timing cover off a couple of times to make sure all timing settings were as they should be. I even went ahead installed a new ignition switch which made no difference. Waste of time and money. I’ve checked several times to make sure all electrical connections are good. I really hope this turns out to be a simple fix but right now i’m at a loss. ECM maybe?

These cars are prone to bad solder joints in the main relay, which will interrupt power to the injectors. But if you flow tested the injectors and are getting fuel through the injectors, the main relay is OK.

Have you checked the coil? Also check the crankshaft position sensor, which is inside the distributor. A bad CPS will cause a no-start condition.

Where is the coil located on this engine?


Inside the distributor?

Does this car have an igniter?

Have you verified the igniter is working?

A few minutes spent with a wiring diagram and a multimeter should narrow it down, I would think

There’s a couple of grounds that need to be removed in order to remove the head.

Are you sure all the grounds are reconnected?


No Civic experience, but I have a Corolla of similar vintage. No spark is a big clue. I expect this will be fairly easy to find what’s wrong. On the Corolla there are two connectors and a half dozen wires that go to the distributor, and between the distributor and the ECM. Inside the dist cap is the coil, an electronic module called the “igniter”, and a couple of sensors which detect the phase of the engine rotation (they take the place of in new cars would be the crank sensor). The wires from those sensors go to the ECM as inputs to the ECM. The ECM then decides – based on engine coolant temp, intake air temp, rpm, manifold vacuum, etc – exactly when a spark is required, and at that time outputs a signal pulse to the igniter, which then fires and creates a high voltage spark which gets routed to the spark plug via the ignition rotor and dist cap.

So if your Civic works in a similar fashion something must be wrong with all that. Here’s what I’d do on the Corolla, hopefully some of this applies to your Civic.

Check for

  • The way you checked for spark requires that you ground the case (or the threads) of the spark plug. Did you do that?
  • Good connections to all the wires that go the distributor
  • Power to the igniter
  • Engine rotational phase sensors (crank, cam, dist sensors). Some of these have specific specs for how far apart they must be from the corresponding magnets and need to be checked with a feeler gauge.
  • Ignition rotor and cap (look on the inside of the cap for problems at the rotor contacts)
  • That when cylinder number 1 approaches top dead center, the ignition rotor is pointing to the wire that goes to cylinder number 1. Because the crank rotates at twice the rpm as the cam, it is possible to set things up so the igniter fires on the exhaust stroke instead of the intake compression stroke. Unlikely in your case, b/c it seems like you’d still be getting a spark, but worth consideration and the time it would take to verify. You can tell when the number one cylinder is at the top of its stroke by putting a long wood dowel down the spark plug hole and watching it go up and down as you hand crank the crankshaft with a ratchet and socket.