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Chevrolet/Geo Metro



  • annieluluannielulu Posts: 54
    Thanks, I checked your messages. I will be working on the car a little later today and get back to you.
  • fastford1fastford1 Posts: 4
    been reading this and it sounds like the same problem I'm having. I have a 94 geo with the 1.0L in it. It has the updated coil in it. The book I have said the ignition module is on the firewall. I can't find it ???? I have tried and tried to get this car running. Put a new re-man motor in and can get it to start. HELP me too.
  • zaken1zaken1 Posts: 556
    Your ignition module is a small plastic box which is mounted with two bolts, and has a three terminal plug on it. It is located on the firewall near the coil. If you can't find it; go to and look up your car year and model in their online catalog (under Geo). Scroll down to "ignition" and click on the ignition control module category. You can see a photo of each part in their listings by clicking on the blue icon with the "i" in it, which follows the part number listing.

    I have NEVER seen one of those modules go bad. (which does not mean it can't happen) But one little known thing that commonly prevents a spark is that you cannot run power through a jumper from the battery to the hot side of the coil (regardless of whether or not the ignition switch is on). The coil power MUST all go through the ignition switch; or the ignition system will not produce sparks. Apparently there is some sort of anti theft circuit which disables the spark if you try to hot wire the car.
  • annieluluannielulu Posts: 54
    The coil says 12 volts, made by "Denso" company-there are 2 small wires coming out of the top, 1 is brown and 1 is red-those, and the big wire going to the distributor-nothing else coming out of the coil, nothing else attached to the coil. There are no wires coming out of the bottom of the coil and the distributor rotor cannot be turned either way by hand. I pulled the 15 amp fuse to disable fuel and it did not start.

    I put a new distributor cap and rotor on it and it still won't start, not even a sputter.
    I was wondering...if I take the coil to a parts store-do they check these things out to see if they are bad Likewise-the ignition module???????

    All wiring is tight that you suggested I check.
  • zaken1zaken1 Posts: 556
    It is highly unlikely that someone in a parts store could check the coil adequately. They might be able to check popular modules; but it is unlikely that they would have the required information to enable them to connect test equipment to your module. Metros just are not that common; and electronic components vary greatly from one brand of vehicle to another. Besides; I think we can deal with this without additional cooks.

    The coil on your car is not listed as the coil that belongs on it; in the source that I usually rely on. But there is some confusion in the coil listings for Metros of that era; so I cannot be sure it is not the right coil. If you had a volt-ohmmeter; it could provide information about the coil which might conclusively determine its suitability. And a volt-ohmmeter would also be essential in determining whether the ignition switch has developed excessive resistance; which, along with the coil, is one of the most common causes of weak sparks.

    But, for now; I'd like you to test the spark from the coil wire for its color, and to see how far it can jump; as I explained earlier. Since your car apparently has the type of distributor with electronic spark advance; the rotor cannot be turned, so you won't be able to use the test that doesn't require running the starter. But you've apparently been able to test for spark before; so I expect you have a remote starter switch, or an equivalent. If you can only crank the engine from inside the passenger compartment; I'll ask you to either get a remote starter switch; or I can explain how to make a usable jumper wire for cheap; or you can ask someone else to help crank the starter while you're under the hood measuring the spark.

    I don't know whether spending 20 or 25 bucks on a voltmeter would be something you could afford or not; and I'd like to get a better sense about your limitations in that respect, so we can decide more appropriately on how to proceed from here.

    But if you at least can somehow test the spark to see how far it will jump; that might be as much information as we need for now. So let me know where you stand on this.
  • annieluluannielulu Posts: 54
    Will do as soon as my roomate gets home.

    Thank you Zaken1

    ps Sometime when I try to shut the engine off with the key, the engine will keep on running even with the key out, usually if the battery is somewhat run down. I have to quickly disconnect the battery terminal when that happens. Could this ignition thing have anything to do with it.
  • zaken1zaken1 Posts: 556
    That could have something to do with the ignition problem; if the contacts in the ignition switch were connected to the wiring harness incorrectly. Do you know whether any work has been done on the wiring under the dash? Has the ignition switch been modified or replaced with a different type of switch? Also:is your car a convertible? (convertibles use a different ignition coil than the coupes or 4 doors).
  • annieluluannielulu Posts: 54
    The car is a convertible. I don't know if any ignition switch work or under dash wiring was ever done.
    The co that made the coil also made a lot of the other parts. Looks like a Japanese company (subcontractor or whatever).
    The key problem is only of recent vintage. I really think that it doesn't have anything to do with the current problem. Just that when the battery is low, it seems not to kick off the key when you attempt to shut the engine off. Maybe something to do with not having enough juice to do it or whatever. Anyway, the car ran for over 1 1/2 years without any key problems before all this started.
    As soon as I can get my roommate to work the key, I will measure the coil spark length, color, etc and report back. Many thanks.
  • zaken1zaken1 Posts: 556
    Since the car is a convertible; you have the right coil. But it begins to sound like the ignition switch is defective. This is where a voltmeter would be very handy.

    Nippondenso is one of the largest automotive electrical suppliers in the world. It is owned by Toyota; and Geo (Suzuki) uses lots of their parts. They make top quality stuff.
  • annieluluannielulu Posts: 54
    I'll check the coil spark as soon as I can get my roommate to turn the key. How would the key mess up the starting?? Not making some kind of connection/contact or something like that.
    Then, is there any way I could jump the wires or something like that at the key switch (like on TV) to see if it is in fact the key (provided the coil spark is ok).
    I don't know anything about voltmeters and never used or saw one. I probably could learn to use it for this problem if I could be walked through it.
    I learned to fly small planes and gliders since I moved here 13 years ago, but I am not Mr Technology when it comes to electrical stuff. If most people were like me, we'd probably still be living in caves.
  • annieluluannielulu Posts: 54
    OK, The spark was at least 3/4 inch to about 1 inch in length at maximum. It seemed about as big around as the stem on a Q TIP. The color was a golden yellowish mixture. very little blue except at the very tip. It seemed to be a strong spark as it jumped over to a closer piece of metal as I pulled it away from its first contact point. Made a good crackling sound. No extraneous noise from the coil itself. I guess this rules the ignition switch out as a problem? Recap: new timing belt and properly timed, new rotor, cap and plug wires, new plugs. Pulled 15 amp fuse to check possible over fueling-result-negative, all wiring connections tight, battery new, checked compression #1 cylinder at TDC-good compression. Only thing else I can think of is the ignition module, but you have said in a previous post they rarely fail. Engine just turns, doesn't attempt to start or even sputter, etc.
  • shaggyman1shaggyman1 Posts: 28
    Still attempting to get 95 1.0L to run right- see former posts...
    I think I have finally found the culprit, after replacing TB and about everything that attaches to it.
    As far as I can tell, this is the first time I have EVER seen this: The pole piece teeth have pieces broken off and sticking to the pickup coil, which is scarred and gouged!
    Under this condition spark would be erratic at best- no wonder starting and idling are crummy. Can't feel any wobble in the shaft, so I'm assuming that some know-it-all adjusted the pickup air gap to zero.
    Something to look for in a used car from now on....
  • zaken1zaken1 Posts: 556
    I'll have to think about this; I expected the spark to not jump nearly that far; but the color is not right. I've seen sparks which jumped impressive distances; but just wouldn't fire the plugs; so I still think it could either be the coil or the ignition switch.

    It could be possible to bypass the ignition switch; but it would require figuring out which terminals or wires to use; and probably taking the covers off the steering column. A wiring diagram would also be highly desirable in such a situation. A wiring diagram could be found at a good public library. There is one at a library in my area. But all this stuff is extremely time consuming; and potentially frustrating. So the question really comes down to whether saving the last possible cent is more important than saving your time and patience.

    A new ignition switch from Rock Auto online is about $200; but there are few enough wires in the harness that bypassing the switch is not too formidable a task. However; you would at least need a 12 volt test light; if not a meter.

    A new coil is $27 from Rock Auto online. I expect it is far more likely that the ignition switch is bad, rather than the coil; but I couldn't guarantee that.

    So please tell me how you want to deal with this: 1> Take it to a shop. 2> Buy a new coil because it is the cheapest option and hope it fixes it. 3> Buy a new ignition switch. 4> Buy a test light or a meter, and try bypassing the ignition switch; which may also require getting some soldering or crimping equipment and a wiring diagram.
  • zaken1zaken1 Posts: 556
    Sounds like you have found the problem!!! Congratulations. Them know it alls mess us all up.
  • shaggyman1shaggyman1 Posts: 28
    OH! How I wish it were true!
    I replaced the distributor (and cap & rotor for the third time!), and put in a new set of plugs.
    I get spark at all cylinders through either one or two rotations- then nothing.
    Same for coil- fires either 3 or 6 times, then squat. I suspect this might have been taking place for a while, as it would start when first pushed, but not while cranking. If it didn't start on the first clutch pop, it would refuse until ignition was cycled on and off. And it would not start in second- only first or reverse.

    Could the crankshaft rotation sensor have a dead spot, and only report rotation over 500 RPM or something?

    Maybe this is a Metro with a Gremlin......
  • annieluluannielulu Posts: 54

    I'm going to try a new coil and see what happens.

    Thanks very much.
  • shaggyman1shaggyman1 Posts: 28
    Crankshaft Position Sensor checks out- I think I'll try a new coil, too.
  • annieluluannielulu Posts: 54

    Auto Zone here in Vegas has the coil in stock for $33.00 which I think is an ok price. I called Checker Auto and those guys wanted $97.00 and could not get it until 6/2. So I'm going to pick it up tomorrow at Auto Zone.

    Could you elucidate as to why the ignition switch might be the problem, based upon what I described to you about it. What are the workings of the switch and how would it impact starting.

    Thank you so much for all of your previous assistance.
  • zaken1zaken1 Posts: 556
    First of all: from the price you were quoted; I believe Checker Auto is talking about the coil for the sedan and hatchback. Few parts people realize that the convertible takes a totally different type of coil.

    I agree that the $33 is an OK price. But I'd like you to first make one simple test, which costs nothing; although you'll need a spark plug gap gauge and adjusting tool to do this. This test can only be done if your car does not have Bosch Platinum +2 or platinum +4 or Fusion plugs in it. I believe you said it now has Autolites; which will be fine for this test. Please take the plugs out; clean them if they are wet with fuel; and adjust the electrode gap to .030" (0.75mm). Then put them back in and try to start the car. If the car runs, you can leave the plugs gapped at .030".

    When you tell me what the result of the test was; I'll explain more about the coil and ignition switch.
  • zaken1zaken1 Posts: 556
    No; Geo never made a gremlin; The Gremlin was made by American Motors (and it was too large to fit into a Metro).

    The symptom you describe; of getting sparks only on the first one or two crankshaft rotations; sounds like either a bad coil or a bad module.
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