Replace the coil or the whole distributor?

Still working on the non-starting problem with my 1994 Honda Civic EX. Would appreciate opinions as to whether I should replace the coil or the whole
distributor....
The resistance between terminals makes it look like I have a bad coil:
(1) Check that the primary winding resistance between terminals A and B is 0.6-0.8 ohms. RESULT: Mine floats between .001 and .400 ohms depending on where I put the leads. This is way BELOW the spec.
(2) Check that the secondary winding resistance between terminals A and the coil tower is 12,800-19,200 ohms. RESULT: Mine floats around 15K-16K. This looks OK.
COMPLICATIONS: the screws on the terminals and distributor rotor are badly corroded. I got metal shavings all over the place extracting the screws. Also subjected the distributor to some physical abuse getting the rotor screw out.
---> Should I just replace the coil ($85), or play it safe and pay up for a new distributor ($180)?
Would appreciate any thoughts based on past experience... tx.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Will the new distributor be OEM? If so, from whom are you buying it? Is it used or new? If used, how many miles?
Two years ago my 91 Civic LX's coil died, but complicating this in the preceding months had been a stripped rotor set screw. The rotor kept coming off, leaving me stranded. Stupid dealer didn't figure it out. Per someone's advice here, I drilled a hole through the distributor shaft and rotor and used a cotter pin to affix the new rotor. Seemed to work great. Then the coil problems began, though at the time, neither the independent shop nor I knew the coil was bad. It insisted the problem was my cotter-pin revision to the rotor-shaft assembly. So they sell me a new distributor, with a new shaft, etc., and the newest rotor now affixed again with a new set screw. A week later the car dies again (though I was seeing problems as soon as I drove it out the shop's door). Now they say the coil died. So I had them replace the coil. They also convinced me to replace the ignitor, too, since they claimed a failing coil can adversely affect the ignitor. Having had previous bad experience with the ignitor, and not feeling very good aboutthe shop at this point, I bought the ignitor but decided to install it myself.
After all this, I felt ripped off, because it seemed I didn't need a new distributor housing. However, after reading here over the years, I know that the distributor housing does age; the bearing starts to fail; the threads on the shaft for the rotor set screw do fail. A new distributor housing was probably a good idea about that time, anyway.
If you can get an OEM distributor housing and new coil all for $180, I'd go this way.
You should check ebay for its listings on OEM distributor housings. There are some for 94 Civics there now, but you'll want to examine the ad closely. E.g. is the distributor OEM? Brand new? (I'd welcome the input of anyone who has bought a Honda distributor via Ebay.)
I would not buy non-OEM distributor parts.
The distributor (and its subcomponents: rotor set screw; ignitor; coil; bearing) are the Achilles Heel of circa early 1990s Hondas. Fortunately, if you know what to look for, you can deal with the distributor problems as they crop up. My 91 Civic has had no problems for 2.5 years now, though I watch it like a hawk.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
This is a rusty car I'll be replacing within a year. Would you STILL insist on OEM parts? I have an autozone down the street that has a distributor for substantially less than the cheapest OEM options....
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I've thought about it a lot. If you're keeping it only a year, I think it's just a toss-up as to which direction you take. In other words, if you use non-OEM parts, I wouldn't count on it lasting a year. But it might.
Do you have any interest in using Ebay (and so you can wait as much as a week for the part to arrive)? There's a company called "Distributor King" selling distributors there, and it has an impressive looking warranty. Just do a search at www.ebay.com for {distributor civic}. Distributor King's distributors include a new ignitor, cap, rotor, everything. See http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/NEW-92-95-Honda-Civic-1-5L-N-VTEC-Ignition-Di stributor_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQcategoryZ33690QQitemZ7995718758QQrdZ1
I've never used them, but under your conditions, and based on my experience, I'd consider them.
You could also just buy a new OEM coil (about $80 from www.slhonda.com), and roll the dice with the old distributor.
You might need a new ignitor. Have you tried some diagnostics on it?

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Yep, it's a beater and I drive it about 50 miles a week to get to my train station, that's it :)
Funny you should mention Distributor King, I was just looking at their listings and 100% feedback, looks credible. Canadian outfit. I just don't have time to wait for shpping with my commute I need to fix it myself this weekend or throw in the towel and have it towed on Tues -- which is why Autozone is my easiest option.
I haven't looked at the ignitor yet. Was having some trouble finding the test appropriate for a 94 civic http://tinyurl.com/ajuuy
Thanks for the input.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Do you know if the ignitor has ever been replaced?
Based on my experience, an early 1990s Civic that suddenly refuses to turn over at all under any conditions is most likely to have a failed ignitor.
Coils often fail slowly, allowing the car to run sometimes, with erratic RPM at idle, and being very temperature dependent. If you've seen none of this, I'd be checking the ignitor.
Try the 1990-1994 Honda Concerto manual for checking the ignitor, coil, etc. at http://www.honda.co.uk/owner/ConcertoManual/index.html . Click on "electrical," then "distributor." The third page gives the ignitor test. The 12th page gives the coil test. Good drawings.
Have you eliminated the main relay as being the main problem? Did you get a new distributor cap? New ignition wires? I'm really not sure where you're at, based on your other posts, and I don't want to say something that would be inappropriate if, for example, you haven't changed the distributor cap.
Hang in there. I suspect there's life in this car yet, unless, say, it really has been very poorly maintained for years...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It had a non-start incident once, about 2 months ago.

The coils are my top suspect. I wonder if the Park/Neutral revving I saw recently is the same as erratic RPMs.

Yes, it clicks 3 times.

Yes, that was the first thing I replaced last week.

Hondas are fine cars, 12 good years so far....
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

So when you buy a new distributor, do you get the whole shebang? i.e. does a distributor housing include the new coil and ignitor too?
For example, see the price difference (source: San Leandro Honda)
30100-P08-006 DISTRIBUTOR ASSY. (TD-42U) (TEC) $459.49 30105-P08-006 HOUSING, DISTRIBUTOR $274.16
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Not necessarily, so you're right to ask. You especially now want to ask what Autozone is offering you for $180 (if you have not already). Just the housing (that's my bet)? Or the housing with a new coil? Or the housing with a new ignitor and coil? I suspect
See my previous post for mention of a dealer on Ebay that sells the whole shebang and is something on which I, for one, under your conditions, would gamble. (But all your options are gambles!)

I am pretty sure the above is the whole shebang: Housing, coil, ignitor, etc.

The housing by itself will not have the coil nor ignitor.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
OK then, if Autozone has the whole pkg for $180 I'll probably do it tomorrow, easy enough to find out at the counter.
I respect the experience of the group and the strong reco for OEM parts. However, for a low mileage beater* this is in large part a cost decision while I wait to upgrade to a late 90s or early 00s Accord within the year.
* also rusty, in sore need of body work, great for a winter/city commuting car when you WANT to have nothing to lose ;)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.