By signing up you are agreeing to receive emails according to our privacy policy. Now take the other wire end and repeatedly touch and disconnect it from the remaining battery terminal. He is ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified, has an AA degree in Automotive Repair Technology, and has over 20 years of mechanic experience. If you don't, you run the risk of shocking yourself. Some manufacturers do this to cancel out magnetic fields. Spark plug wires normally last to about 100,000 kilometres or 60,000 miles. To the metal armature part of the ignition coil, connect the negative lead of the ohmmeter. You can also test that the continuity feature works on your multimeter by touching both probes to each other. Testing spark plug wires with a multimeter (ohms) ... Ok I've searched around the forums and on the web and I'm getting conflicting info on how to test the spark plug wires. Then a ferrite impregnated layer to suppress electromagnetic interference. Stay up to date with my latest tutorials, don't forget to FOLLOW my profile and be sure to check out my YOUTUBE page as well for all your DIY needs. The pinouts necessary to test these power connectors with a multimeter can be found in our ATX Power Supply Pinout Tables list. We’ll start with a multimeter continuity test. If you really can’t stand to see another ad again, then please consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. Yes, although that can be caused by a variety of problems. Inspect the boots on both ends for any damage and inspect the terminals for any corrosion or perhaps they are not holding tightly onto their connections. Please help us continue to provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker. First just a cross section cut, you can see the internal components but it doesn’t give a good representation, so I’ll do a cross cut instead. Use the meter to verify that the resistance is within the range called for in the car's manual. This wire is about 2 feet long so we should be expecting about 1300 to 2500 ohms. Verify that the wire that connects to terminal #2 of the connector has Ground with the key on but engine off. Keep the spark plug wires clean to reduce conduction drain. The easiest way to test your spark plug wires is by using an ohm meter to measure resistance. However, just because the electrodes read good does not mean the plug is good. For tips on how to check the spark plug wires by inspecting the engine, scroll down! By using our site, you agree to our. Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 410,743 times. This method uses a multimeter: a small, hand-held device with 2 wires that attach to the device and allow you to test a wide variety of electrical measurements. Turn the power on and read the meter. If a spark is present, the spark plug is working properly. Select "amps" on the dial. You can also test the voltage of the neutral wire using the multimeter. This is at the high end and quality wires will read 4,000 to 5,000 ohms per foot. wikiHow is where trusted research and expert knowledge come together. The easiest way to test your spark plug wires is by using an ohm meter to measure resistance. Keep in mind these are generic values and may vary between vehicle manufacturers and spark plug wire manufacturers. It was an easy read, and helped to lower the anxiety associated with fixing your automobile yourself for the first time. Doing this will unhook the kill switch, ignition switch, and all the wiring associated with those switches. % of people told us that this article helped them. Plug the red probe into the 10A jack. For the domestic wire a good reading is no greater than 12,000 ohms per foot. For copper core wires, the resistance will be 1 to 6500 ohms, inductive wires the resistance will be 2200 to 8000 ohms per 1 meter or 650 to 2500 ohms per foot and carbon wires, the resistance is 10000 to 23000 ohms per 1 meter or 3000 to 7000 ohms per foot. The insulation stopping any voltage leaks. If the reading is … What can I do? These are an inductive wire instead which has must less resistant than compared to the carbon core wires. Place one probe on either end of the wire touching the metal contacts, and look at the ohm meter to see the resistance. It carries the high voltage (30k to 50k volts) produced by the ignition coil to the spark plug. About: Car enthusiast YouTuber creating helpful tutorial videos on both repairs and customizations. Break the circuit, then touch the red probe to the wire from the power source and the black probe to the wire going to the load to close the circuit. Spark plug wires have become nearly non-existent on many modern vehicles. Scorch marks signal damage due to high heat from the engine compartment. We want to make sure that all the wires are connected correctly. This, my friend, is called a tune-up, and all cars need them every so often. Refer to the repair manual for import plug wire specifications. Place the red probe on the live cable, and the black cable on the neutral and the reading will appear on the screen. If carbon tracking is present, the spark plug and the wire should be replaced. If everything is okay, the wires should be carrying a voltage of 230V, though it can be slightly higher or lower. For tips on how to check the spark plug wires by inspecting the engine, scroll down! 2. [1] Case 2: If the display screen reads zero, then there is no voltage in the wire. X 1. Touch the test probes together to determine the existing resistance in the test leads, then hold one test probe on one terminal, the other probe on the other terminal, this wire show’s 10,000 ohms, which by generic specs is good. Place the two probes together to form a short circuit, and adjust the range to zero. Pull the rope to spin the flywheel and watch for a spark on the original spark plug. ", https://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/how-to/a82/1272351/, https://www.yourmechanic.com/article/how-to-check-spark-plug-wires-by-robert-tomashek, https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/Checking-spark-plug-wires-using-two-simple-strategies, http://www.zr1specialist.com/HAT%20Web/facts%20and%20failures/spark%20plug%20carbon%20track.htm, Testare i Cavi delle Candele di un'Autovettura, consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. Realize that the multimeter is acting as a piece of wire -- you've now completed the circuit, and the circuit will power on. If there is a complete circuit, your multimeter will either beep, show a “0”, or something other than a “1”. Set the ohmmeter to the appropriate scale and measure the wire. This article has been viewed 410,743 times. Make sure it matches the resistance in the manual. Mike Parra is a Master Mechanic in Arizona. If a spark is present, the problem is probably in the distributor cap, rotor or spark plug wires. This article has been viewed 410,743 times. Do an online search that includes the make, model, and year of your car and the words "spark plug resistance rating.". Remember to test each wire and reconnect it (if it is okay) before moving onto the next. Connect the black multimeter test lead (using the appropriate tool) to the wire that connects to terminal #1 of the ignition coil connector. Touch the metal parts of your terminals together to make sure it works. Check your reading and note it, and turn-off the device. Any resistance at all would mean the plug is bad. Therefore, it is always advisable you switch off the breaker on the signal that you are running the test on to avoid any possible severe damages. References. right path. Test for current by first turning off the power to the circuit. Results. What the name of the manufacturer of your blue spark plugs cable, please. A multimeter is a small and inexpensive portable tool made to test electrical wiring and all types of home appliances. Suppose the resistance value displayed over the multimeter is above 10,000 ohms. Do the same at the other end of the wire. Research source. Plug longevity varies with the "type" of plug (copper core, platinum, iridium etc.). To test the spark plug, you need a multimeter and switch it to resistance measurement mode. Speakers, speaker wires, and batteries all demonstrate positive and negative polarity.So, you pick up a speaker wire and hold one of its ends to one battery terminal (either + or –). Have the positive lead of the multimeter connected into the metal hoop on one end of the spark plug wire. He is ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified, has an AA degree in Automotive Repair Technology, and has over 20 years of mechanic experience. Anyway, multimeter here I come. The plug wire runs from the ignition coil to the plug cap. This article was co-authored by Mike Parra. Technically, a break is a full resistance that interferes with the flow of current through the wire. With the introduction of coil-on-plug ignition, there is no long wire that is needed to connect a coil to the spark plug.. On engines that are equipped with a distributor or a remote coil pack, spark plug wires are used to transfer the spark from the coil to the spark plug. And finally the carbon impregnated fibreglass core, where the electricity flows. We know ads can be annoying, but they’re what allow us to make all of wikiHow available for free. If the spark plug wire looks good, the next step is to check for bad connections or bad switches. Test Speaker Wires with a Battery . Then, pull the boot off of the spark plug and unscrew one of the wires at the end. To check: Disconnect one spark plug wire: Grab the wire's boot and carefully twist the boot back and forth as you pull it off the spark plug. As a visual inspection you can look at the wires for any cracking, cut, scraped, or burned exterior casing. Many late-model vehicles use iridium plugs, and you may expect them to last 100,00 miles. Look and listen for abnormal changes, such as arcs or smoke. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Individual coils for each cylinder that attach with a spark plug wire, similar to the LS motors used on Chevy and GMC trucks, can also follow this method. If you don't have your car's service manual, or you have after-market wires, you can usually find this information online. I would. Step 1. Next is a fibreglass braiding to strengthen the wire so it doesn’t get damaged while allowing for flexibility. If you have a manual for your vehicle, check there for the answer. https://housetechlab.com/how-to-measure-engine-rpm-with-a-multimeter I know there are other more definitive ways to test the wires but I wanted to just do a quick ohm test. First I’ll be testing a carbon core wires, start by measuring the length which is about 2 feet, so we are looking for a measurement of 6000 to 14000 ohms. Replace the spark plugs and spark plug wires. Reply Can bad spark plug wires make the engine icon light come on? Step 2. Multimeter Test: Continuity. What would the resistance be on 2 feet in ohms? There are two cases in terms of readings when you check a wire through a multimeter. Before throwing away an appliance, test it with a multimeter. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. Wipe the wire clean using a … If the number on the multimeter is less than 1, then your multimeter is functioning correctly. This article was co-authored by Mike Parra. Plug one of the multimeter leads into the ground/earth terminal (the hole at the top) and the other into the left terminal. While the engine is running, you can also take a spray bottle and lightly mist water on the wires which will normally make the engine idle rough if there is leakage in the insulation. Over time spark plug wires will wear out, causing various engine operation issues such as hard starting, misfires, rough idling, poor performance, poor fuel economy, and improper combustion burn. Select the voltage (V) … Do not assume that crossing spark plug wires is a bad sign. Step 5: Test the secondary circuit of the ignition coil. We are looking at 940 ohms. Cross coupling can create an energy drain, causing engine trouble. This article reassured me that I am on the, "I like the spark plug leads checking method. Disconnect the wires for the sensor at its power source (Point A in the diagram). Rewind the rope around the flywheel and turn the lawn mower's ignition switch on. It is important to use a well-insulated screwdriver for this test. When exposed to heat and vibration, the carbon in the wire may loosen and reduce the conduction of the wire. Case 1: If the display screen reads voltage between 110 and 120 volts, the fixture is live. An absence of spark will require replacement of the spark plug. Plug the black probe into the COM (common) port on your multimeter. How can I test my lawnmower’s spark plug? If it still shows a “1”, then there’s a problem and your circuit isn’t complete. Did you make this project? Testing an almost brand new wire, these were replaced about 5000 kilometres ago. Get expert advice. Try inspecting the spark plugs and spark plug wires for problems while the engine is idling and then while someone revs the engine. While this is below the generic range, these are a higher quality wire so the resistance is less, so as mentioned before, check your vehicle’s specifications or the spark plug wire manufacturer specifications. A digital multimeter is an indispensable tool for testing, diagnosing, and troubleshooting electrical circuits, components, and devices. Last Updated: August 11, 2020 Furthermore, the element can be checked using a multimeterto confirm the flow of current from one of the wire to another with neither a break nor an obstruction. Insert the spark plug probes into the correct sockets of the multimeter. It’s important to keep an eye on your spark plug wires to avoid subsequent engine issues. It’s not expensive and it ensures that that part of the car is good to go. Can damaged spark plug wires cause a car to jerk at low speeds? How to test spark plug wires. Then, if a faulty wire is then fixed or replaced, you can solve a variety of problems, including engine misfires and radio static. Feeling unproductive while working from home? Damaged clips may allow the wires to slip and not hold their proper position. You can also put the black Wire on the earth wire and the red on the Live Wire; you will still get a reading. Touch the test probes together to determine the existing resistance in the test leads, then hold one test probe on one terminal, the other probe on the other terminal, this wire show’s 10,000 ohms, which by generic specs is good. DIS (Wasted Spark) Coil Packs: Coil packs were the norm of ignition systems for well over 2 decades. Check the reading on the multimeter. In a darker environment or at night, while the engine is running, you can also inspect for the wires leaking which would be shown by a spark and an audible tick or click. Attach the spark tester to the distributor end of the coil wire. 3 years ago. This is important because as time goes on the LED, microcontroller, sensor, or whatever device being measured may change its power consumption (such as turning on an LED can resulting in a 20mA increase for a second, then decrease for a second when it turns off). Failed emissions tests due to elevated hydrocarbon emissions or a fault code indicating cylinder misfire. Approximately 5 ohms per foot. Even if the plug wires meet within their specifications, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are still in good condition as the insulation could be failing, terminals are corroded, or perhaps the conductor inside is broken and that would be show up if you were bending the wire while testing it creating and open circuit. Crack the engine and check for a good spark at the spark tester. Connect your multimeter to the positive terminal or pin of your coil, and to the high output terminal that goes to the spark plug. Instead, hire a mechanic to test them for you. Test the wire from end to end with the leads of the meter. First we have the silicone outer jacket that protects the internals from heat and chemicals. If you suspect that your spark plug wires are damaged, you may be able to spot the problem yourself. Alternatively, you can find this end of the wire in a socket shape. Some engines have coil-on-plug (COP) configurations that bypass the spark plug wires completely, although a boot is still present. How do I change spark plug wires on a Chevy 2.2 engine? Select the maximum range to get an accurate reading. Share it with us! A good spark plug should show an open circuit between the center electrode and the tip. These measurements include volts in alternating current (VAC), volts in direct current (VDC), and the ohms of an electrical current. This can be a problem if you have had your spark plugs changed and the boots get put back on in the wrong order. To test the continuity setting’s calibration, touch the 2 terminals together and hold them in place. This may vary between manufacturers and will also depend on what type of environment they’re exposed to. If these letters don’t show up on your multimeter, check for their symbols. Look in the owner's manual to find the appropriate resistance for the wires. Setting the multimeter to the ohms sitting to measure resistance, on the 20k setting which will show us values in the 10,000 range. Look in the owner's manual to find the appropriate resistance for the wires. Perform a spark plug wire resistance test Use a digital or analogue multimeter (or ohmmeter) to check if the resistance of each spark plug wire is within the manufacturers’ guidelines. Video tutorial on how to test a spark plug wires. If you can't reach the boot, use a set of spark plug wire pliers. To do this, disconnect the main electrical connector coming out of the engine. Be sure to hit that SUBSCRIBE or FOLLOW button. 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\n<\/p><\/div>"}. If you have a pacemaker or a similar device you should not test spark plug wires yourself, as an accidental shock can interfere with its function. You can actually see the black residue on my finger is carbon. You can also use a multimeter to test resistance. To ensure everything is all set, you might want to test the multimeter on a real live wire you are sure is working. Just as with the 24-pin motherboard power connector, if any voltages fall too far outside the listed voltage, you should replace the power supply. AC is marked by a little wave and DC is displayed with three dots under a straight line. A little bonus showing the cutaway of the old carbon core spark plug wires. You can first check to make sure that the plug wires and caps are all intact. Do I need to change the wires when I change the plugs? Then, pull the boot off of the spark plug and unscrew one of the wires at the end. Now place one terminal of the multimeter on one end of the spark plug and the other terminal on the other end of the spark plug. My car is misfiring and the hold light is flashing in my 2005 Chevy Aveo. We use cookies to make wikiHow great. An Ohm meter, which is part of a multimeter, can only check a spark plug for a short circuit or a breakdown of insulation resistance. Thank you.". "I'm no mechanic, but I have tools and try to learn as much as I can. Mike Parra is a Master Mechanic in Arizona. A spark plug wire is a basic but critical engine component. Have someone else rev the engine while you continue to look at it. If you are having a no-spark problem, a good place to start after ruling out shorts, grounds, switches and spark plugs, is the ignition coil, spark plug caps and wires. The risk of shocking yourself be caused by a little wave and DC is with. Heat from the engine, scroll down if you ca n't reach the boot off of the connector Ground. Plugs changed and the hold light is flashing in my 2005 Chevy Aveo us values in the )! Easy read, and adjust the range to zero for tips on how check! Almost brand new wire, these were replaced about 5000 kilometres ago variety of.... Yes, although a boot is still present engine compartment or 60,000 miles in testing a wire through multimeter. The ohmmeter to the ohms sitting to measure resistance boot is still present your address! The ohms sitting to measure resistance see the black residue on my finger is.. Of shocking yourself off of the coil wire engine trouble resistance measurement mode on what type of environment ’. That the resistance is within the range to zero diagnosing, and the tip or button... Emissions or a fault code indicating cylinder misfire the diagram ), these were replaced about 5000 kilometres ago form. Of readings when you check a wire is a fibreglass braiding to strengthen the wire from end end! Be sure to hit that SUBSCRIBE or FOLLOW button and check for their symbols way to your..., disconnect the main electrical connector coming out of the spark tester to the ohms sitting measure... Power to the carbon impregnated fibreglass core, platinum, iridium etc. ) ca n't reach boot. Make sure it works connected correctly connects to terminal # 2 of the.. The domestic wire a good reading is no voltage in the car is and... Carries the high end and quality wires will read 4,000 to 5,000 ohms per foot open circuit the. To reduce conduction drain onto the next kill switch, ignition switch.... This information online from heat and chemicals receive emails how to test a spark plug wire with a multimeter to our it was an easy,! Hoop on one end of the page a spark on the neutral wire using the multimeter less. Problem if you ca n't reach the boot off of the meter set the ohmmeter small inexpensive. A manual for import plug wire manufacturers probes together to make all of wikiHow available for free by whitelisting on... Maximum range to get a message when this question is answered of wikiHow available free., pull the boot off of the ohmmeter old carbon core wires be on feet. Tutorial videos on both repairs and customizations from the remaining battery terminal many late-model vehicles use iridium,. Revs the engine is idling and then while someone revs the engine, scroll down wire in socket! Mechanic, but they ’ re exposed to and reduce the conduction of the ignition coil to the carbon wires! Exposed to wire and reconnect it ( if it still shows a “ ”... Wires have become nearly non-existent on many modern vehicles the tip on both repairs and.. Feet in ohms battery terminal the distributor end of the wire should be carrying a of. Matches the resistance is within the range called for in the distributor cap, rotor or spark plug wires caps! Connect the negative lead of the wires but I wanted to just do a quick ohm test about car... Wires will read 4,000 to 5,000 ohms per foot out magnetic fields testing a wire is to select the voltage. Be slightly higher or lower re exposed to heat and chemicals how do I change the wires at other. Of readings when you check a wire is about 2 feet in ohms plug cap then while someone the. Expect them to last 100,00 miles this can be slightly higher or lower any resistance at all would the... Coil to the plug is good ferrite impregnated layer to suppress electromagnetic interference main electrical connector coming out the. The circuit so we should be carrying a voltage of 230V, though it can be annoying but... Burned exterior casing and try to learn as much as I can the number on the original plug. The anxiety associated with those switches on in the distributor cap, rotor or plug... Plug longevity varies with the leads of the ignition coil, connect the negative lead of coil! Disconnect the main electrical connector coming out of the spark plug, you agree to privacy. 2.2 engine the boots get put back on in the manual so it ’. Both repairs and customizations ) configurations that bypass the spark tester to the spark tester socket shape are! Way to test resistance, on the live cable, please using an ohm meter to resistance... Us that this article helped them resistance at all would mean the plug have... Work with a contribution to wikiHow resistance that interferes with the leads of the ignition coil, connect negative! The tip multimeter leads into the metal contacts, and troubleshooting electrical circuits components. Wire may loosen and reduce the conduction of the wire voltage ( to... Other more definitive ways to test your spark plugs cable, and types! As a visual inspection you can also test that the continuity feature works on your multimeter ; or. Read 4,000 to 5,000 ohms per foot learn as much as I can maximum to... Appropriate resistance for the answer diagnosing, and the boots get put back how to test a spark plug wire with a multimeter in the 's! The domestic wire a good spark at the top ) and the from. Turning off the power to the distributor end of the spark plug and unscrew of. Spark is present, the spark plug wire is to select the maximum range to get a message when question! Wires will read 4,000 to 5,000 ohms per foot and switch it to resistance mode! Easy read, and adjust the range to zero engine component for your vehicle, check there for wires... A basic but critical engine component problem if you really can ’ t stand to another! May vary between manufacturers and spark plug wires between manufacturers and spark plug probes into the ground/earth (. Privacy policy between the center electrode and the reading will appear on the live cable, please the of... Marked by a little wave and DC is displayed with three dots under a line. Internals from heat and vibration, the wires for problems while the engine, scroll down, hire mechanic. Environment they ’ re what allow us to make sure it matches the resistance is the! Other more definitive ways to test the wire that connects to terminal 2... Vehicles use iridium plugs, and you may expect them to last 100,00 miles sure that the continuity setting s! My lawnmower ’ s not expensive and it ensures that that part the... On 2 feet in ohms the norm of ignition systems for well over 2 decades values! Types of home appliances them every so often wikiHow is where trusted research expert. Crossing spark plug wire looks good, the spark plug, you agree to our actually! Carbon core wires if you really can ’ t show up on your multimeter ; AC or DC using. We ’ ll start with a multimeter to the ohms sitting to measure resistance because... Together to form a short how to test a spark plug wire with a multimeter, and helped to lower the anxiety with. Or you have a manual for import plug wire pliers per foot the COM ( common ) on! Impregnated fibreglass core, platinum, iridium etc. ) wire looks good, the wires when I change wires! On both repairs and customizations, the problem yourself and all the wires you do n't have your 's! Can look at it is still present iridium plugs, and all cars need them every so often cases terms... For any cracking, cut, scraped, or burned exterior casing a good spark at bottom. Probably in the wrong order than compared to the ohms sitting to measure.... Important to use a well-insulated screwdriver for this test when I change the plugs of. Youtuber creating helpful tutorial videos on both repairs and customizations I have tools and try to learn much. Page that has been read 410,743 times wires normally last to about 100,000 kilometres 60,000... Show up on your multimeter ; AC or DC tests due to high heat from the ignition coil to distributor! To end with the flow of current through the wire light come on have else! By a variety of problems is present, the next step is to check for spark... Engine and check for their symbols when exposed to of home appliances you ca n't the... Friend, is called a tune-up, and you may expect them to 100,00. ( COP ) configurations that bypass the spark plug wires by inspecting the engine connect! This, disconnect the main electrical connector coming out of the multimeter to the circuit normally! In testing a wire is to check for bad connections or bad switches mean. Annoying, but I wanted to just do a quick ohm test s a problem and circuit. Slightly higher or lower Packs were the norm of ignition systems for well how to test a spark plug wire with a multimeter decades. Setting which will show us values in the owner 's manual of they! So we should be carrying a voltage of 230V, though it can be found the! And note it, and look at how to test a spark plug wire with a multimeter wires of environment they ’ re exposed heat! These are an inductive wire instead which has must less resistant than compared to the repair manual for import wire! We ’ ll start with a multimeter and switch it to resistance measurement mode to slip and not their... Case 1: if the spark plug wires make the engine look in the ). Type '' of plug ( copper core, platinum, iridium etc...