How To Test The Ignition Coil 1997, 1998 2.0L Honda CR-V

Sooner or later the ignition coil, which is located inside the distributor, is going to fail. And when it does, your 1997-1998 2.0L Honda CR-V is not going to start.

Although the ignition coil is inside the distributor, testing it is pretty easy (and doesn't have to be removed to test it). In this tutorial I'll explain the on-car testing procedure in a step-by-step way. With your test results, you'll be able to accurately conclude if it's good or bad.

Contents of this tutorial at a quick glance:

  1. Ignition Coil Circuit Descriptions.
  2. Making Sure Spark Is Missing At All Spark Plug Wires.
  3. TEST 1: Testing For Spark Directly On The Ignition Coil Tower.
  4. TEST 2: Making Sure The Ignition Coil Is Getting Power.
  5. TEST 3: Making Sure The ICM Is Activating The Ignition Coil.
  6. Where To Buy The Ignition Coil.
  7. More 2.0L Honda Tutorials.

En Español You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar La Bobina De Encendido (1997-1998 2.0L Honda CR-V) (at: autotecnico-online.com).

NOTE: You can find the ignition coil test for the 1999, 2000, and 2001 2.0L Honda CR-V here: How To Test The Ignition Coil (1999-2001 2.0L Honda CR-V).

Ignition Coil Circuit Descriptions

Distributor Circuit Descriptions. How To Test The Ignition Coil 1997, 1998 2.0L Honda CR-V

To be able to test the ignition coil (located inside the distributor), we need to know some info about the 9 wires that connect to the distributor.

With that end, below is a brief description of each of the wires of the distributor connector:

1997-1998 2.0L Honda CR-V Distributor Connector
Pin Wire Color Description
1 BLU CKP Sensor
2 GRN TDC Sensor
3 YEL CYP Sensor
4 -- EMPTY
5 YEL/GRN ICM Control Signal
6 BLU TACH Signal
7 BLK/YEL Power (+)
8 WHT CKP Sensor
9 RED TDC Sensor
10 BLK CYP Sensor

NOTE: Do not remove the distributor from the engine to test the ignition coil. The images I'm using show the distributor off of the car just to make it easier to explain the test steps.

You can find the ignition system wiring diagram (1997-1998 2.0L Honda CR-V) here: 1997-1998 2.0L Honda CR-V Ignition System Wiring Diagram.

Making Sure Spark Is Missing At All Spark Plug Wires

Before you start testing the ignition coil, it's important that you first see if there's a lack of spark at all four spark plug wires.

So if you haven't done this already, check each spark plug wire for spark using a dedicated spark tester. The following tutorial will help you test the spark plug wires: Distributor Cap And Spark Plug Wires Misfire Tests (2.0L Honda CR-V).

Now, the reason this is important is because if you have even just one spark plug wire sparking away, then the ignition coil inside the distributor is OK and not behind your 2.0L Honda CR-V's no start condition.

Why use a dedicated spark tester? Because using one will ensure that you get an accurate test result. The spark tester that I recommend is an inexpensive one called the HEI spark tester. You can find out more about it here: The HEI Spark Tester.

TEST 1: Testing For Spark Directly On The Ignition Coil Tower

Testing For Spark Directly On The Ignition Coil Tower. Making Sure The Ignition Coil Is Getting Power. How To Test The Ignition Coil 1997, 1998 2.0L Honda CR-V

Okay, the very first test that we're gonna' do, to start our ignition coil diagnostic, is to test for spark directly on top of it's tower.

It can be somewhat of a challenge to test for spark here, but it's possible and it's a must do test to move on to the next step.

With the results of this test, we'll be able to indirectly test the distributor cap and rotor. Why test the distributor cap and rotor? Because the distributor cap and rotor can fail and prevent the transmission of the ignition coil's spark to the spark plug wires.

These are the test steps:

  1. 1

    Remove the distributor cap and rotor from the distributor.

    NOTE: Removing the distributor rotor is a safety measure.

  2. 2

    Place the HEI spark tester directly on the ignition coil tower. Ground the spark tester, using a battery jump start cable, to the battery negative (-) post.

  3. 3

    Have your helper crank the engine as you secure the spark tester on top of the ignition coil tower

  4. 4

    The spark tester should spark as the engine turns if the ignition coil is functioning.

Let's take a look at what your test results mean:


CASE 1: The ignition coil sparked away. This is the correct and expected test result and tells you that your 1997, 1998 2.0L Honda CR-V's ignition coil is not defective.

You can correctly conclude that your CR-V's distributor cap/rotor are defective and behind your 2.0L Honda CR-V's 'no spark no start' problem and need to be replaced.

CASE 2: The ignition coil did not spark away. The next step is to make sure the ignition coil is getting power. For this test, go to: TEST 2: Making Sure The Ignition Coil Is Getting Power.