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    Thread: (overnight)1985 Cabriolet Won't fire and starter runs even with ignition off and key out.

    1. 03-30-2012 03:51 PM #1
      As my thread title explains, my !985 Cabriolet stopped running and now has a strange problem. The car has always run great up until a couple days ago. One morning I went out to start the car and it just turned over with no hint of wanting to start or sputter. Also, every couple times I tried to start it, the car would continue to turn over even after I turned the ignition off and pulled the key out. Each time this happens during diagnostic tests i have been running, I have to run up to the front of the car and disconnect the battery as not to run the starter for more than a few seconds. I am not getting spark anymore and I have even replaced the coil that I was told by the auto parts store was bad.
      Is it possible that I have three separate problems that all showed themselves at the same time? Seems very unlikely. Are these problems connected in some way? I would love to hear any Ideas from some of you VW masters. Thanks so much for reading!

    2. 03-30-2012 04:09 PM #2
      Ignition switch sounds as though it sh*t the bed. I'd start there

    3. 04-01-2012 01:29 PM #3
      I replaced the ignition switch yesterday and still have no spark. I have good power to both + and - sides of the coil with the ignition on but no spark when turning it over. I dont even get spark if i put a spark plug directly into the end of the main lead coming right from the top of the coil. Any ideas would really be appreciated. Thanks1

    4. Member tolusina's Avatar
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      04-01-2012 01:36 PM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by gnarlington View Post
      .... still have no spark. I have good power to both + and - sides of the coil ......
      Terminal 1, that's the - side of the coil, must pulse ground on and off while cranking. Does it?
      Quote Originally Posted by kamzcab86
      I hate reading: "But I bought this car for $500 and don't want to put another dime into it."
      ____(hey, it's VW AND it's electrical, what's not to fail?) neoBentley+



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      04-01-2012 02:22 PM #5
      make sure your timing belt is in one piece
      dink and flicka

    6. 04-01-2012 03:47 PM #6
      Thanks a lot for the suggestions guys. I have full power to positive and negative sides of the coil while turning over the motor (no blinking). If I connect 1 side of my test light to the positive on the battery and then attach the other side to the negative wires (Disconected) coming from the coil, the light does not blink on and off. I know that 1 of those leads goes to the distributor and should be grounding on and off I assume. The fact that my test light hooked to positive is not blinking on and off leads me to believe that the ground switching is not happening within the distributor. ????
      Thanks!

    7. Member ToplessBunny85's Avatar
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      04-01-2012 09:50 PM #7
      It could be your (I say this lightly lol) 'computer.' That little board that's bolted to the driver side of your rain tray. I believe that has to do with controlling your spark. Anyone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, I've never had this sort of issue before.
      Quote Originally Posted by builtvw View Post
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    8. Member rabbitnothopper's Avatar
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      04-02-2012 12:42 AM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by ToplessBunny85 View Post
      It could be your (I say this lightly lol) 'computer.' That little board that's bolted to the driver side of your rain tray. I believe that has to do with controlling your spark. Anyone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, I've never had this sort of issue before.
      yes the ignition control module

      but it gets signal from the distributor and sends it to the ignition coil

      ok?

    9. Member tolusina's Avatar
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      04-02-2012 12:29 PM #9
      Hall generators on CIS cars have a semi-common issue of breaking the itty bitty wires inside the distributor housing, that's the next thing for you to check. Some that break wires are repairable, others must be replaced, you'll have to determine that.

      If no broken wires, time for some voltage tests. A DVOM should be considered essential, both a bulb type test light and a two color LED tester are very, very helpful too. Since you've got CIS, you might as well have a DVOM that can measure dwell and/or duty cycle, you'll need that later for certain.

      There are three wires to the Hall Generator, I forget the tracer colors. The outer two are power and ground, red with tracer is power, brown with tracer is ground. The center wire, green with tracer, is the signal wire. If there is no power and/or ground to the Hall generator, it cannot produce a signal.
      Test power and ground against each other, if bad, test power to a known good vehicle ground, test ground to known good power.

      When the shutter aperture is open, green/white signal voltage is LOW, closed = high.

      Test this with a DVOM while slowly turning the engine over by hand while watching the aperture/Hall generator and the DVOM, OR, watch the two color LED blinking red and green while cranking.

      Hall generator power and ground come from the Hall control unit in the left (driver) side of the cowl, Hall control must have good power (black) and ground (brown) before it can send power and ground to the Hall generator.
      Both these are best tested with both a DVOM AND a bulb type test light. The DVOM verifies voltage.
      The bulb type test light gives a rough indication of the circuit's ability to carry current (amperage) which it will not be able to do if there's high resistance upstream in the circuit.

      The Hall generator sends it's high/low pulsed signal to the Hall control on the green/white, that might just be the very best place to start trouble shooting the Hall system.
      (If the generator signal is not present at the controller, does the controller have power and ground and, if so, is the controller connecting power and ground to the generator?)

      The Hall generator's output is the pulsed ground/open on the solid green wire to coil Terminal 1 (coil negative).
      This output is dynamic in a couple of ways.
      When running, the duty cycle varies according to engine RPM, variable dwell. Dwell time (time at ground, coil build up time) is short while cranking and at idle increasing with engine RPM.
      During static testing, the ground does not stay latched, it will ground only briefly, then go open. If the green wire is connected to the coil while testing, coil primary voltage will be present when the green is un-latched from ground, coil primary is pulled to ground as the Hall control briefly latches the green wire to ground.
      Quote Originally Posted by kamzcab86
      I hate reading: "But I bought this car for $500 and don't want to put another dime into it."
      ____(hey, it's VW AND it's electrical, what's not to fail?) neoBentley+



    10. 04-02-2012 06:02 PM #10
      Thanks a lot for all the info. I do have a very good ground at the hall effect unit but the red wire which I assume it is the hot lead glows orange on my test light. Not bright white like any other 12 volt sorce around the car. Could this be my problem? What it hurt to run a nice healthy 12 volt signal to that red wire to test if that is the problem? None of the other tests that the manual says to do you have shown any blinking or ground opening or closing from that unit. If it is not getting proper power, I would assume that it would not be working properly. What do ya think?
      Thanks

    11. Member tolusina's Avatar
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      04-02-2012 06:50 PM #11
      Voltage at the Hall generator's red wire should be either 10.0 or 5.0 volts, I don't recall which. In either case, you should not expect to see a fully bright test light bulb when connected there.
      You WILL NOT be able to see the Hall generator's signal out on the green/white wire with a bulb type test light. The current of that signal is too low to light a bulb, it is essentially logic (computer style) circuit. You will need either a DVOM or a two color LED test light to test the Hall generator signal on the green white wire, I think I spelled that out above.

      Above, I carefully spelled out both generator and controller as I discussed each. Read it through again to avoid confusion.

      The Hall generator in the distributor body generates a low current logic level signal which it sends to the Hall controller.

      The Hall controller is the power stage that turns the coil on and off. The controller's main input is the output from the Hall generator. The controller processes the generator's signal to output it's (the generator's) own signal to the coil.

      The Hall generator outputs a square wave, pulsed DC (alternating between power and ground, either/or, no in between) signal that is constant in duty cycle, the frequency changes in direct relationship with engine rpm.

      The Hall controller generates an intermittent ground signal only. That signal varies in both duty cycle (dwell) AND frequency relative to engine rpm.

      'Dwell', in the case of automotive ignition systems is defined as the number of degrees of distributor rotation during which the coil negative is switched to ground, it can also be correctly thought of as the 'coil build up time'.
      Coil build up time is the time during which electricity flows into and through the coil's primary windings causing a magnetic field build up in the ferrite (iron or steel) core of the coil.
      When the coil is switched off (when the ground on the negative side of the coil is released and coil negative goes open), the magnetic field in the core collapses and when it collapses, it collapses over the coil secondary (primary too, that's another topic) which creates the high voltage (15,000 to 45,000 volts!) spike that gets sent down the plug wires via the cap and rotor to fire the plugs.
      ---
      (whew...... )
      (whew...... )2, I probably left out something I consider real basic, like that the coil positive is powered continuously whenever the key is switched on, the coil negative must get pulled to ground to complete the coil primary's circuit and get that magnetic field going.
      Quote Originally Posted by kamzcab86
      I hate reading: "But I bought this car for $500 and don't want to put another dime into it."
      ____(hey, it's VW AND it's electrical, what's not to fail?) neoBentley+



    12. 04-02-2012 10:02 PM #12
      Well, I really came to the right place. Thanks a bunch for your help. Here is what I have come up with while testing with a multi meter. With the ignition on, the red wire has 10.3 volts, the white wire has 0.3 volts, the green wire has 10.7 volts. I have the locating pin removed so that I can just spin the aperture gate by hand within the distributor to open or close the gap between the two electrical components. With the ignition on and testing between the green wire and ground, it is 9.4 volts open, and 10.7 volts closed. I also noticed that the white wire changed voltage slightly with .5 open, and .3 closed. Hopefully this will make it obvious to you if the sender is working properly. Thanks a lot.

    13. Member tolusina's Avatar
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      04-03-2012 06:43 AM #13
      There should not be a white wire, see the photo above.
      Colors are red/black, green/white, brown/white.

      0.3VDC and 0.5 VDC are too high for the ground side, kind of indicates to me that the ground side is funky. Try running that one to a known (tested) good hard on the drive train, test voltages again.

      Can't imagine why you knocked the shutter wheel pin out, oh well.
      Quote Originally Posted by kamzcab86
      I hate reading: "But I bought this car for $500 and don't want to put another dime into it."
      ____(hey, it's VW AND it's electrical, what's not to fail?) neoBentley+



    14. 04-03-2012 09:45 PM #14
      ok, you would like me to slightly strip part of that white wire and run it to a good solid ground? then retest? If that wire is run to ground should it then show zero voltage? The reason I had the shutter wheel out was to inspect the 3 wires inside the distributor for possible breaks. It does make it handy to have it freely rotating on the distributor shaft as I can do all the shutter tests in the engine compartment without having to turn over the motor. Thanks

    15. 04-14-2012 01:11 AM #15
      Ok, so I found a local wrecking yard in my area that had a 1985 Cabriolet. I "harvested" the distributor, the wiring harness to the ignition control unit and the ignition control unit. I installed them all in my car and it runs great. Not really sure what caused my no spark problem but I thought I should post what I replaced to solve the problem. One note... I am still using the original ignition switch since the replacement did not help the problem. Thanks a lot to all who posted response to my problem.
      -Gnarlington

    16. Member shortwave360's Avatar
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      06-23-2013 12:09 AM #16
      I never wanted to know so much about our ignition systems... but now I'm glad I do. Thanks for all the great info, hopefully my replacement part will fix the problem tomorrow. My meter showed no signal from the center pin on the HG when cranking the motor.

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