TEST 3: Testing For Spark Directly On The Coil Tower (Paired Cylinders)

How To Test The Coil Pack (Ford 3.0L, 3.8L, 4.0L, 4.2L)

You've been directed here because you got a No spark result from two spark plug wires that feed spark to cylinders 1 and 5, or cylinders 3 and 4 or cylinders 2 and 6.

As mentioned before, this usually indicates that one of the 3 ignition coils inside the coil pack is bad. To make sure...

...the next step is to test for spark directly on the the ignition coil pack towers that feed those two spark plug wires (that did not fire off spark in TEST 1).

This will also make sure that the spark plug wires are not to blame for this missing spark.

You'll test one coil tower at a time and this is what you need to do:

  1. Remove the spark plug wire that did not fire off spark from the ignition coil pack.
  2. Place the spark tester directly on the ignition coil tower, in place of the spark plug wire you just removed (see illustration above).
  3. Ground the spark tester with a battery jump start cable to a good engine Ground point or directly on the battery negative terminal.
  4. Have your helper crank the engine. The engine may start, so be careful.
  5. You're gonna' get one of two results: Spark or No Spark.
  6. Now, repeat steps 1 thru' 5 (of this same test) on the other coil pack tower whose spark plug cable did not fire off spark.

Let's take a look at what your test result means:

CASE 1: You got spark from both coil pack towers. This is the correct test result and it confirms that the ignition coil is good. It also condemns the spark plug wire as bad. Replace all of the spark plug wires as a set.

Replacing the spark plug wires (as a set) will solve the misfire condition and the misfire code lighting up the check engine light (CEL) on the instrument cluster.

CASE 2: You got spark from only one coil pack tower. This result confirms that the ignition coil is bad. Replacing the ignition coil pack will solve the misfire condition and the misfire code lighting up the check engine light (CEL) on the instrument cluster.

CASE 3: You got NO spark from both coil pack towers. Then the next step is to verify that the PCM or ignition module is generating and feeding a switching signal to the individual ignition coil within the coil pack (that feed spark to the two towers you just tested).

Choose from one of the following:

  1. If those coil pack towers feed cylinders 1 and 5, go to: TEST 5
  2. If those coil pack towers feed cylinders 2 and 6, go to: TEST 6
  3. If those coil pack towers feed cylinders 3 and 4, go to: TEST 7

TEST 4: Testing The Power (12 Volts) Circuit

How To Test The Coil Pack (Ford 3.0L, 3.8L, 4.0L, 4.2L)

This test step can be accomplished using either a multimeter or a test light. I recommend that you perform this test with the coil pack connected to its connector and piercing the wire (with an appropriate tool) to test for power.

The consequences of probing the front of the connector with the test light or multimeter leads are that (1) the female terminal will open up to whatever size the tip of the test light is and (2) this will cause and intermittent loss of power because this now opened up terminal will not make a good and solid contact with the male spade terminal on the coil pack.

OK, when doing the test itself, you're gonna' test for this voltage with the key On and the engine OFF and then with the Key On and engine cranking. OK, let's start:

  1. With the test light (or the red multimeter test lead), probe the wire labeled number 4 of the coil pack connector (see photos).
  2. Attach the alligator clip of the test light (or the black multimeter test lead) to a good Ground point on the engine or to the battery negative terminal.
  3. Have your assistant turn the key to the RUN position and then have him (or her) crank the engine as you observe the test light.

Let's take a look at your test result:

CASE 1: If the test light lights up. This result lets you know that the coil pack is receiving power and that the power circuit requires no further testing. If you Ford (or Mercury) car or truck still has NO SPARK coming out of any of the spark plug wires, this could possibly due to three things:

  1. Bad spark plug wires.
  2. Bad coil pack.
  3. PCM (Powertrain Control Module=Fuel Injection Computer) is not providing any of the Switching signals to the individual ignition coils within the coil pack because the crankshaft position sensor has failed.
    1. For some of the applications covered by this article, you can find the crank sensor test here: Crank Sensor Test (at: troubleshootmyvehicle.com)

You're starting point for the rest of your tests will be TEST 3. IMPORTANT: Altho’ TEST 3 indicates it's a test for when two spark plug wires didn't fire spark only, this is still your starting point.

CASE 2: The test light does not light up. Then the most likely cause will be a blown fuse or a bad relay. You'll have to consult your repair manual to find out the location of this fuse and or relay.

Even tho' testing the entire power circuit is beyond the scope of this article, since this article only deals with testing the Ford coil pack, you have now eliminated the coil pack itself as the cause of the no start - no spark condition.

Ford Vehicles:

  • Aerostar 3.0L, 4.0L
    • 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997
  • Contour 2.5L
    • 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
  • Explorer 4.0L
    • 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007

Ford Vehicles:

  • E150, E250 4.2L
    • 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
  • F150, F250 4.2L
    • 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008

Ford Vehicles:

  • Mustang 3.8L, 4.0L
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008
  • Ranger 3.8L
    • 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008

Ford Vehicles:

  • Taurus 3.0L
    • 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007
  • Thunderbird 3.8L
    • 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997
  • Windstar 3.8L
    • 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

Mazda Vehicles:

  • B3000 3.0L
    • 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007

Mercury Vehicles:

  • Cougar 3.8L
    • 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993,1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

Mercury Vehicles:

  • Mountaineer 4.0L
    • 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008
  • Mystique 2.5L
    • 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
  • Sable 3.0L
    • 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008