Good troubleshooting chart/instructions?

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Honda Experts,
Where can I find a good basic/overview troubleshooting chart for my car?
I have a 97 Civic LX, with 220,000 miles. Yesterday it wouldn't start.
It does turn over normally. I was getting ready to leave work, 6pm. The car started, backed up 5 feet, then died, and wouldn't start again.
I have the 96-2000 service manual, but I can't find the basic troubleshooting. It goes into detail on troubleshooting many parts; VTEC troubleshooting, PGM-FI troubleshooting, etc, but doesn't seem to have an overview, a starting point for the troubleshooting.
I'm wondering; should I start with buying a code reader? If so, do you have experience with a particular one? I'd much prefer a low-cost one. I see some OBD-II readers on Amazon for $40.
Then, where to start troubleshooting? Such as: disconnect fuel line, turn over motor, see if gas squirts out, etc. Where can I find good troubleshooting instructions for a Civic?
Thank you, Bill
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1) Start with the Check Engine light (MIL). Does it behave as it should? i - turn key to II, MIL illuminates, fuel pump runs for 2 sec ii - MIL goes off, fuel pump shuts off iii - Turn key to III; MIL remains off; fuel pump operates again Any deviation from this points to a problem area.
2) When the car dies, do all the dash idiot-lights come on? If not, the ignition switch is bad.
3) If you have a tach, does the needle jiggle just the tiniest bit when you crank, or is it dead-still? If daed-still, the igniter is bad.
4) Check for spark at the plugs in the standard manner, when the engine will crank but not start.
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Tegger

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On 03/24/2010 05:13 AM, Tegger wrote:

first thing i'd check on this vehicle is the timing belt...
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Good call, but how does the OP (who obviously has limited ablilty , no offense meant ) check this ?
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wrote:

I've been meaning to completely rewrite this page, but it's still useful as it is: <http://www.tegger.com/hondafaq/startproblems.html
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Thanks to everyone for your great tips! This is very helpful.
Tegger, thanks: 1) idiot lights on-normal 2) check engine light goes on, then off, so I think that's normal 3) fuel pump, it's hard for me to tell. I do hear a click, like a solenoid activating, but I'm not clear if I hear the fuel pump. This is in the gas tank, right? Maybe I should sit in the back seat, while a friend turns on the ignition.
4) The valves do move-Thanks for that tip, since I do need to replace the timing belt soon, and was wondering about that.
5) Tach seems to be still, when I try to start, I don't see any movement. You mention an "igniter,"
Can you tell me more about this part? Is there another name for it? I can not find that word in my service manual.
Your troubleshooting page is very good. I should also try the "Spray starting fluid" technique.
thank you, Bill

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Yes. While the MIL is on, the pump will hum/buzz/whine. Another way of listening is to remove the gas filler cap and put an ear there while somebody else turns the key to "II" and then to "III".

Oho... this is absolutely critical. And you need to watch that needle like the proverbial hawk while you crank.
"Seems" isn't good enough; you need to /verify/. If the tach needle is indeed dead-still while cranking, then the igniter is dead.

It's also called the Ignition Control Module, or ICM.
It's unfortunate that you never actually checked out my site, otherwise you'd have found this: <http://www.tegger.com/hondafaq/startproblems.html#badigniter The links are right at the very very top. It's another page I've been meaning to rewrite...
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Tegger,
Thanks for your troubleshooting and repair advice. I followed it, and bought an ignition control module and a coil, just in case. I installed them both and am getting the same thing.
Actually, the very first time I tried to start my car, after installing both new parts, it did fire a little, and I thought it was going to start. Then it stopped firing. Now, I'm getting the same symptoms;
Car turns over, with normal chuga-chuga-chuga noise Tach needle does not move
Do you have suggestions as to the next most likely component/problem? Or do you think the new ignition control module could be defective?
Thank you, Bill
On Mar 24, 5:50pm, Tegger wrote:

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Bill wrote:

PMJI
Have you tried pulling a plug and wire and verifying that the plugs are sparking? Attach lead wire to plug, lay plug on its side on a bare metal surface (so that it's grounded) and crank. You should see and hear the spark.
Or try the starting fluid test. It should do much the same; verify whether or not you've got a viable spark to the plugs.
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On 03/26/2010 10:59 PM, Bill wrote:

no.
best advice is to be more analytical, not simply replace parts. tegger has detailed information on his site about how to test igniter units for instance. you should check this out before you go buying new [expensive] components.
do you have a meter?

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Then replace the igniter (ICM. The tach gets its signal from the igniter's blue wire, which carries voltage only when there is output from the igniter

If the "new" ICM is aftermarket, then it's defective. You're better off to grab a used OEM igniter from a wrecking yard.
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I found a complete distributor for $100 from someone parting out a Civic. Do you think I should buy that and try it?
The symptoms are that it turns over, but does not start. There is no spark.
Ive tried replacing the ICM/igniter, and have the same symptoms.
Can anyone think of anything else it could be? Are there any fuses that could cause this? Could a defective sensor (any of the sensors) make it not get spark?
I did the input test on the Ignition Control Module; there is 12V on the black/yellow wire and 12 volts on the white/blue wire. Since Ive disconnected the battery cable, there is now no code in the computer.
Other ideas?
Thanks, Bill

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If the tach needle does not move at all when you crank, then your "new" ICM is not working.
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Bill wrote:

Divide and conquer! Don't go buying a distributor unless you have reason to believe that it's somehow bad!
Attach a plug lead, with plug, directly to the coil output (assuming the socket is the same size) and see if THAT gives you a spark.
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I wonder if your engine is flooded. Your owner's manual should have instructions for clearing the flooding. From Curly: Hold the pedal to the floor, start the car, and crank the starter for up to fifteen seconds. When it starts to run, back off the pedal. It may blow a bit of smoke.
Else I would suspect a defective or failed coil or igniter. Coils may be easily fried if one does diagnostics incorrectly, as Tegger's site explains.
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When he turns it over, listen for little clattering pieces of metal inside the cylinders.
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- dillon I am not invalid

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And if it had slipped or broken, you'd notice a big difference in how it cranks.
To the OP: DO NOT pull the distributor cap to "see if the rotor turns". Remove the oil filler cap and look inside to see if the cams are turning when you crank.
To check cam/crank alignment, the valve cover needs to be removed.
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Standard manner. Is that where you put the pinky of one hand into the boot of the plug wire and hold on to the block with the other while someone with a morbid sense of humor turns over the starter?
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- dillon I am not invalid

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:

Replace "pinky" with "tongue" and you've got it.
I'll bet a 20,000 volt tickle is more fun than a 9-volt dry cell!
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Tegger

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Watched a guy take his t-shirt off (it must have bee 100F that day), tighten up the ground on his battery, then the hot, while leaning over the fender. Or at least tried to. Three times! Stupidity is a capital crime and Nature frequently executes without appeal. In this case, I think he got off with probation.
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- dillon I am not invalid

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