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Thread: 240z ignition problem

  1. #1
    Registered User mossy's Avatar
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    Default 240z ignition problem

    Got a problem on my 240z ignition, if i hold the key to crank it, all it will do is continue cranking but if i release it, it will start.

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    While it's cranking, see if you're getting 12VDC to ground at the positive terminal of the coil. Most likely, you're having issues with the switch on the back on the ignition key.
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    Could also be a problem with the ballast resistor or connections to it maybe?

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    Doubtful, Captain. When the key is in the START position, the Green/White wire gets 12 VDC and doesn't go through the resistor. It goes through the tach and comes out Black/White, going on to the coil. In the ON position, a Black/White wire carries 12 VDC to the ballast resistor and comes out as the Green/White wire described above. Unless someone monkeyed around in the dash harness, the G/W wire should be connected one of the terminals energized when the key is in the START position.
    73 240Z
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    Maybe CO meant that both wires are connected through the resistor? Anyway, it sounds like low voltage to the ignition system, or a weak ignition module if it's electronic ignition. When you let go of the key, you get full voltage and a spark and the engine starts.

    I had a module that produced a weak spark and the engine would only start with starting fluid. Had to change the module.

    You didn't give many details mossy.
    1976 280Z, with some minor modifications

  6. #6
    Registered User mossy's Avatar
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    I've got the 280zx electronic dizzy and that's right zed head when I release the key it starts up. It makes it a pain to start especially when it's cold as you do t know when to release the key.
    I'll check the voltage at the coil while cranking then.

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    Stock coil? Still using the ballast?

    Check the connections to the module, and make sure the distributor is grounded well. The current to charge the coil has to pass through the module to ground, you might just have dirty connections.

    Forgot to say, to SteveJ's point in#4, if you just installed the distributor you may not have installed the two power wires correctly. One of those details. Is this a new problem on an old setup, or a new setup with new problems?
    Last edited by Zed Head; 09-01-2014 at 03:32 PM.
    1976 280Z, with some minor modifications

  8. #8
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    I'm not real good with all this electronic stuff so bear with me, so I have a 280zx electronic dizzy with e12-80 module, stock coil and no ballast at the coil, when the car was first on the road after being restored a little over a year ago I don't remember having this problem and dash wires are factory and untouched. So I'm guessing if theres nothing wrong at the coil I may need one of these?

    Ignition Switch Starter Keys SET Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z 510 620 | eBay

    Here is a pic of the coil

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by mossy; 09-01-2014 at 05:07 PM. Reason: added pic

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    SteveJ might have a thought (actually his Post #2 advice is the way to go!). 240Z wiring is odd to me, wires run to all sorts of different places before they get to their primary purpose. By the diagram, two wires should be connected together at the harness, a green with blue stripe (GRN/BLU) and a black with white stripe (BLK/WHT). Then a single BLK/WHTshould connect to the coil positive, along with the wire to the E12-80, which I assume is the big red one in your picture.

    And that seems to be what your picture shows. The diagram also shows a separate wire to the starter solenoid. So you may be right, you need a new switch. SO, as I've done before, I've distracted someone from the good initial advice - check the coil positive for voltage with the key turned to Start. You don't even need to disconnect anything, just stick the probe on coil +, and the other to ground, then turn the key. You'll probably see it jump to 12 with the key On then drop to zero at Start.

    Here's a link to a 71 diagram. http://www.atlanticz.ca/zclub/techti.../1971_240z.gif


    Thanks for letting me work on your puzzle and sorry for delaying you from the fix!
    1976 280Z, with some minor modifications

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    Quote Originally Posted by mossy View Post
    I have no ballast at the coil
    My keen troubleshooting skills are now telling me that it's not the ballast resistor or the connections to it.

    You can disregard my previous input.

    I'd take a look at the switch on the back of the ignition key assy.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post

    I'd take a look at the switch on the back of the ignition key assy.
    Looks like this might be the culprit then, I tested for voltage at the coil and had 0 volts at accessories, 12v at on position and when cranking 0 volts again. Thanks for everyones help I'll keep you posted on the outcome.

  12. #12
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    Quick update, bought a new ignition from ebay and problem solved starts straight away!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Yeah, those switches can show their age after 40+ years. It was just worn out.
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  14. #14
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    Excellent! Cheap easy fix.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveJ View Post
    Most likely, you're having issues with the switch on the back on the ignition key.
    SteveJ nailed it!

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    No more body roll! SteveJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post
    Excellent! Cheap easy fix.



    SteveJ nailed it!
    That's only because I spend too much time reading threads here and over at Zcar.com.
    There have been many similar threads over the past 18 or so years.
    73 240Z
    74 260Z

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    I wish I saw this post earlier as I had the same problem years ago and figured it out.

    The interim trick to get out of trouble is to only turn the key ~ 90% of the way to full-stop when cranking.

    The underlying problem is that the contact for the ignition in the ignition switch is not making (probably due to carbon or corrosion) however the contact for the starter in the ignition switch is making....thus you get the starter but not the spark. If you only turn enough so that both contacts are making and avoid the carbon patch, it will both crank and spark.

    The fix is to change the ignition switch or to really douse it with contact cleaner.


    Here is the required replacement part:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Blue; 09-12-2014 at 08:05 AM.
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  17. #17
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    Yep. That's the part. I was just too lazy to search for it for my original post. As a matter of fact, Phil, I think you posted that solution in one or more of the threads I have read addressing this problem.
    73 240Z
    74 260Z

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    And here's why it needs to be replaced:


  19. #19
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    Well it looks like I spoke too soon, new ignition looks to have failed on me after trying it for the second time today, accessories are on but no cranking and I plugged the factory one back in to check and it started with that. I also had taken the module off the back of the factory ignition too have a look inside but bolted it back together after needing it again and now it works like normal.

  20. #20
    No more body roll! SteveJ's Avatar
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    I was keeping my mouth shut (fingers off the keyboard?) until I was fairly sure. I think the switch you bought is for a ZX. I'm not completely sure about the cross compatibility. I have one sitting around at home along with a Beck-Arnley S30 style switch (Amazon.com: Beck Arnley 201-1179 Key, Lock And Ignition Switch Assembly: Automotive). I haven't tested the style you put in your Z, but I know the Beck-Arnley part works fine since I have it in my 260Z.
    73 240Z
    74 260Z

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    1976 280Z, with some minor modifications

  22. #22
    Registered User mossy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveJ View Post
    I was keeping my mouth shut (fingers off the keyboard?) until I was fairly sure. I think the switch you bought is for a ZX. I'm not completely sure about the cross compatibility. I have one sitting around at home along with a Beck-Arnley S30 style switch (Amazon.com: Beck Arnley 201-1179 Key, Lock And Ignition Switch Assembly: Automotive). I haven't tested the style you put in your Z, but I know the Beck-Arnley part works fine since I have it in my 260Z.
    Thats dissapointing if thats the case steve as I asked if it was plug and play for a 240z before I bought it, I have contacted the seller about a replacement just waiting to see who pays postage though.

    I see the back of those modules look different to mine as well, they have two screws on the module whereas mine has one (71 240z) and the size of my module is a lot smaller on the back.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by mossy; 09-14-2014 at 01:10 AM.

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