How To Test The GM 2.2L Ignition Coil Pack

This article will show you how to test the ignition coil packs on the 2.2L 4 cylinder GM engines used in the Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire cars. You'll be able to test the ignition coil packs, ignition control module (ICM) without having to use a scan tool.

So, whether your Cavalier or Sunfire has a Misfire Condition or a No Start No Spark Condition, this article will help you to troubleshoot and diagnose the problem. Now, in case your Cavalier or Sunfire does not Start and you need to test the crankshaft position sensor, you can go to this article: How To Test The Ignition Module And Crank Sensor (GM 2.2L). To see all of the GM 2.2L ‘How To Test’ Articles, you can go here: GM 2.2L Main Index of Articles.

In case this article doesn't help you... another great source of testing info is the series of articles (4 in total) on troubleshooting misfire codes at troubleshootmyvehicle.com, here's the specific article: How To Diagnose Misfire Codes: GM 2.2L 4 cylinder (P0300-P0304).

Puedes encontrar este tutorial en Español aquí: Cómo Probar la Bobina de Encendido GM 2.2L Cavalier, Sunfire (at: autotecnico-online.com).

Symptoms Of A Bad Ignition Coil And A Bad Ignition Control Module (ICM)

When an ignition coil pack or Ignition Control Module goes BAD, on your 2.2L Chevy Cavalier or Pontiac Sunfire, the car will suffer a misfire condition or a 'no spark no start' condition. Here's a short list of symptoms:

  1. Check engine light (CEL) on.
  2. Misfire Codes: P0300, P0301, P0302, P0302, P0304.
  3. Misfire Condition without any misfire codes lighting up the check engine light (also known as the Malfunction Indicator Light: MIL).

What Tools Do I Need?

No expensive tools are required to test this type of ignition system. Now, having said that, there some very specific tools that I recommend to use for the tests. So, here's the basic list:

  1. A spark tester
    1. Not just any type of spark tester. I strongly suggest you buy the HEI spark tester (don't have an HEI spark tester? Need to buy one? You can buy it here: OTC 6589 Electronic Ignition Spark Tester).
    2. Don't use a regular spark plug instead of a dedicated spark tester.
    3. Don't pull the spark plug wire off of the spark plug as the engine is cranking or running. This will give a false result and/or damage the ignition coil.
  2. An LED light.
    1. Click here to see what this looks like: Abe's LED light tool
  3. Test light.
  4. Multimeter.
    1. A cheapie one will do (don't have a digital multimeter? Need to buy one? Click here to see my recommendations: Buying A Digital Multimeter For Automotive Diagnostic Testing).
  5. Repair manual.
    1. For whatever other information this article does not cover.
  6. Helper.
    1. To help you crank the engine while you observe the LED light (or test light or multimeter).

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, you don't need an automotive scan tool for any of these tests.

Ignition Coil Circuit Descriptions

Ignition Coil Circuit Descriptions. How To Test The GM 2.2L Ignition Coil Pack

Each ignition coil is fed power, in the form of 10 to 12 Volts, and a switching signal. These two signals are provided by the ignition control module (ICM). Now to test these two circuits, the ignition coil pack has to be removed and using the photos supplied in each test step, I'll show how to test these Signals.

Also, you're gonna' need to know which ignition coil pack feeds what two cylinders with spark. Photo number 2 of the image viewer will help with this, since the numbers in the arrows identify the cylinder that that spark plug wire feeds spark to.

  1. Circuit labeled A:
    1. Power (12 V) Circuit.
  2. Circuit labeled B:
    1. Switching Signal Circuit.

Although in the photos used in the test steps, you're only gonna' see the ignition coil pack that feeds cylinders #1 and #4 removed (and exposing the ICM's males spade terminals that feed it the signals), the other ignition coil pack's circuit descriptions are the exact same. You will be able to use this photo and related info to diagnose/troubleshoot the coil pack that feeds cylinders #2 and #3.

6 Wire Ignition Module Connector Circuit Descriptions

6 Wire Ignition Module Connector Circuit Descriptions. How To Test The GM 2.2L Ignition Coil Pack

Although the main focus of this article is to test the ignition coil packs on your Chevy Cavalier or Pontiac Sunfire, you'll be testing some of the ignition control module's circuits, so below you'll find the circuit descriptions of all of the wires in the both connectors:

  1. 6 Wire ICM Connector:
    1. A- PURPLE wire.
      1. Crankshaft position sensor circuit.
    2. B- WHITE wire.
      1. 1-4 Ignition Coil Control Signal (comes from the ECM). The service literature will call this the Ignition Control Signal A.
    3. C- ORANGE wire.
      1. 2-3 Ignition Coil Control Signal (comes from the ECM). The service literature will call this the Ignition Control Signal B.
    4. D- PURPLE with WHITE stripe wire.
      1. 7X Reference Signal (goes to the ECM).
    5. E- YELLOW wire.
      1. Crankshaft position sensor circuit.
    6. F- RED with BLACK stripe wire.
      1. Ground circuit for ECM.
  2. 2 Wire ICM Connector:
    1. A- BLACK (or BLACK with WHITE stripe) wire.
      1. Engine Ground (for the Module).
    2. B- PINK wire.
      1. 12 Volts with Ignition ON.

Boy, there sure are a bunch of wires! But don't worry, you don't need to test them all to find out if the ignition coils or the ignition control module is BAD. OK, let's get started with TEST 1.

Ignition Coil Test Application Chart

  1. Cavalier 2.2L 4 cyl.
    1. 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002
  2. Sunfire 2.2L 4cyl.
    1. 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002