The 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001 2.0L Honda CR-V comes equipped with an ignition distributor. Sooner or later, the spark plug wires and the distributor cap will fail and cause a misfire.
In this tutorial I'll explain how to diagnose the spark plug wires and the distributor cap and help you get to the bottom of the misfire.
Contents of this tutorial at a glance:
- Ignition System Misfire Troubleshooting Essentials.
- TEST 1: Testing For Spark At The Spark Plug Wire
- TEST 2: Testing For Spark At The Distributor Cap.
- Other Misfires Trouble Code Causes.
- Where To Buy The Distributor Cap And Spark Plug Wires.
- More 2.0L Honda CR-V Tutorials.
You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar Los Cables De Alta Tensión (1997-2001 2.0L Honda CR-V) (at: autotecnico-online.com).
Ignition System Misfire Troubleshooting Essentials
Since the spark plug wires and the distributor cap don't last forever, they'll eventually fail and cause a misfire.
What usually happens is one of two things: One or more of the spark plug wires stop transmitting spark or one of distributor cap towers stops transmitting spark to its spark plug wire.
When this happens, you'll usually see one or more of the following symptoms:
- Misfire trouble codes: P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304.
- Check engine light illuminated on the instrument cluster.
- Rough idle.
To be able to successfully diagnose the high tension wires (and the distributor cap), I suggest that you use a dedicated spark tester for all of the spark tests I'm gonna' ask you to do.
I'm gonna' make a specific recommendation and that's to use an HEI Spark Tester. This spark tester is inexpensive and very very accurate. You can find out where to buy one here: The HEI Spark Tester.
TEST 1: Testing For Spark At The Spark Plug Wire
When spark doesn't reach a cylinder, that cylinder is considered ‘dead’ and your 2.0L Honda CR-V will set a misfire trouble code (most of the time).
In order to find the dead cylinder, the first order of business is to find out which spark plug wire is the one that's not firing.
To get the most accurate test result, I'm gonna' ask you to test all 4 spark plug wires (even if you have a specific misfire trouble code).
Let's get started:
Remove the spark plug wire from its spark plug.
Attach the HEI spark tester to the spark plug wire. Ground the HEI spark tester to the battery negative (-) terminal using a battery jump cable.
Have your helper crank the engine while you observe the spark tester.
Repeat the test for all of the remaining spark plug wires on your 2.0L Honda CR-V.
Let's take a look at what your test results mean:
CASE 1: You got spark on all of the spark plug wires: This is the correct and expected test result and tells you that the spark plug wires are doing their job.
If you still have a misfire, you might want to look at the following section: Other Misfires Trouble Code Causes. You should also see about testing the engine compression:
CASE 2: You got NO spark from any of the spark plug wires: This usually tells you that the ignition rotor or the ignition coil is defective. I suggest that you test the ignition coil next.
For the 1997-1998 Honda CR-V, go to: How To Test The Ignition Coil (1997-1998 2.0L Honda CR-V).
For the 1999-2001 Honda CR-V, go to: How To Test The Ignition Coil (1999-2001 2.0L Honda CR-V).
CASE 3: You got spark from some but not all of the spark plug wires: More than likely the spark plug wires are BAD or the distributor cap is BAD.
It's a common problem for one or two spark plug wires to go bad or for one or two distributor cap towers to go BAD and not let spark thru'. 90% of the time replacing the distributor cap, the distributor rotor and the spark plug wires should solve your problem.
Thankfully you can test/verify this before you run out and buy these parts and in the next test section I'll show you how easy it is to do that. Go to TEST 2: Testing For Spark At The Distributor Cap.