TEST 3: Ignition Coil Switching Signal

Making Sure The ICM Is Activating The Ignition Coil. Making Sure The Ignition Module Is Activating The Ignition Coil. Circuit Descriptions of the Ignition Control Module Connector. How To Test The Ford Ignition Control Module (Distributor Mounted)

Now that you've verified the basics, in this test you're gonna' verify that the ignition control module (ICM) is activating the ignition coil.

Here you're going to use an LED test tool (to see an example of this tool and how to make it, go here: The LED Light Test Tool And How To Make One).

You can also use a 12 Volt automotive test light for this test. Use an appropriate tool to pierce the wire and attach the LED test tool (to this tool). Be careful and use all necessary precautions.

By the way, in case you want to see a more specific Ford ignition coil test, I've written one for troubleshootmyvehicle.com and you can see it here: Ford Ignition Coil Test (at: troubleshootmyvehicle.com).

NOTE: Both the ignition control module (ICM) and ignition coil must be connected to their electrical connectors for this test.

OK, this is what you'll need to do:

  1. 1

    Connect the red wire of the LED to the battery positive (+) terminal.

  2. 2

    Connect the black wire of the LED to the number 5 circuit of the ignition control module connector.

  3. 3

    Have an assistant crank the engine.

    The LED test tool (or test light) should blink on and off as the engine is being cranked. Did this occur?

Let's take a look at your test results:

CASE 1: The LED Light blinked On and Off as the engine was cranking. This means that the ignition control module is triggering the ignition coil and therefore the ignition control module is good.

To be a bit more specific: This test result lets you know that the ignition control module is working and doing its job. The ignition control module (ICM) can been eliminated as the cause of the no start condition.

Now since the ICM is activating the ignition coil and the ignition coil is NOT sparking, then by a process of elimination, we can assume that the ignition coil is faulty and is the source of the no start condition. Replace the ignition coil.

CASE 2: The LED Light DID NOT blink On and Off as the engine was cranking. Re-check all of your connections and retry the test again. If still no light pulses on the test LED, GO TO TEST 4: Testing The PIP Signal.

TEST 4: Testing The PIP Signal

Testing for the PIP Signal. How To Test The Ford Ignition Control Module (Distributor Mounted)

So far, you've verified several important things: 1.) The ignition module is getting both power and ground. 2.) The ignition module is NOT activating the ignition coil (not creating a switching signal)...

...Here we'll check that the Profile Ignition Pickup (PIP) sensor signal is being received by the ignition control module (ICM).

The PIP signal is just Ford's name for the crankshaft position sensor signal. Now, in case you're wondering, the PIP sensor is located inside the distributor.

If the ignition module does not receive the PIP signal (because the PIP sensor is bad), then it won't activate the ignition coil. But, if the ignition module is getting the PIP signal and it does not create the switching signal for the ignition coil, then the ignition module is bad.

IMPORTANT: Testing the PIP signal has to be done with an LED light. The LED Light Test Tool And How To Make One. Do not use a test light for this test!

Alright, this is what you need to do:

  1. 1

    With a suitable tool and with the key in the Off position, pierce the number 1 circuit wire of the ignition control module connector.

  2. 2

    Connect the black wire of LED to the tool that is piercing the wire.

  3. 3

    Connect the red wire of the LED to the battery positive (+) terminal.

  4. 4

    Have an assistant crank the engine while you observe the LED.

    The LED should start to blink on and off as the engine is cranked. Is the LED blinking on and off as the engine is cranked?

Let's take a look at your test results:

CASE 1: The LED blinked On and OFF as your helper cranked the engine. The ignition control module (ICM) is bad (defective). Replace the ignition control module.

Here's why: As you're already aware, the ignition control module needs: 1.) Power in the form of 12 Volts. 2.) It needs a good path to ground. 3.) It needs the PIP signal to start creating the switching signal the ignition coil needs to start sparking.

So, up until this point (in your troubleshooting tests) you have verified that the module does have power, that it does have ground and that it's not creating a switching signal for the ignition coil. In this step you have confirmed that the PIP sensor is generating a PIP signal (as indicated by a blinking LED light). So, if the ignition module is getting power, ground and the PIP signal (as evidenced by the blinking LED) is has to create a switching signal... if it doesn't, it's fried.

CASE 2: The LED DID NOT blink On and OFF as your helper cranked the engine. If you have no pulses, recheck all connections. Try again. If you still have no pulses. The Profile Ignition Pickup (PIP) sensor is bad and the cause of this no start condition. You'll need to replace the PIP sensor to solve the No Start No Spark Condition on your Ford (or Mercury or Lincoln) vehicle.

As mentioned earlier, the Profile Ignition Pickup (PIP) sensor is just a crankshaft position sensor located inside the distributor. This is the sensor that tells the ignition control module (ICM) when to start activating the ignition coil to start sparking away. So, if this PIP module is missing (as indicated by the LED not blinking on and off), the ignition control module will not function.

Where To Buy The Ignition Module And Save

If you find, after testing the testing the ignition module your test results indicate a bad one then take a look at the links below. I think they'll save you some bucks (especially on the original Motorcraft ignition module):

NOTE: If you're not sure if the above ICM fit your particular Ford don't worry. Once you get to the site, they'll make sure it's the right one, if not, they'll find you the right one.

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