Power Arc Ignitions


Precision Performance for 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 & 8 Cylinder Engines



TROUBLE SHOOTING GUIDE


Before proceeding verify the following:

  • Resistor plugs and resistor plug wires or Power Arc approved high resistance spiral wires are being used.

  • The ignition has been correctly wired and timed.  If you have sensor wires make sure the proper wires are grounded to select the correct ignition map or curve.  Please refer to your owners manual for timing procedures and wiring diagrams.

If you cannot determine the problem after going through the troubleshooting guide below you may click here to ask Power Arc a questionIf you wish to have an ignition component tested click here.  If troubleshooting the ECP (Edge Card Programmer) click here.


WARNING: If using a battery charger never attempt to start the engine or apply power to the ignition with the charger attached.  Remove charger before starting.  If the engine utilizes a starter motor and will not turn over after charging replace the battery or repair starter motor, cables etc.  Disconnect battery positive cable before charging if a defective battery is suspected.

Problem: Engine turns over but will not start.

  • Poor connections in ignition power circuit (connectors, breaker, ignition switch & kill switches).  Perform the voltage test or perform the quick wiring test.

  • Defective encoder disk teeth missing or bent.  Inspect encoder disk.  Make sure the encoder disk is centered or slightly below center in optical triggers. If the encoder disk is rubbing against the case of the optical sensor it can damage the apertures.  Click here for alignment instructions.

  • Blocked optical sensor.  Static timing light stuck on or off when engine is turned over. The static timing light should blink on at TDC. Clean the apertures of optical sensor. Click here for cleaning instructions.

  • Incorrect ignition timing.  Please refer to your owners manual for timing procedures.

  • Defective coil wiring.  Perform the voltage test.

  • Defective coil, spark plug or ignition wires.  Perform high voltage test.
  • Fuel system problems.  Check for fuel in the cylinder.

Problem: Engine dies when going over a bump.

  • Poor connections in ignition circuit (connectors, breaker, ignition switch & kill switches).  Perform the voltage test   or perform the quick wiring test.  Run your hands along the wires to find melted or bare wires.  Visually inspect all wires looking for melted or crimped wires.  Tug on wires with moderate pressure at connectors, fuses  or switches to verify they are securely attached.

Problem: Engine dies or when running appears to have a low Rev. limit

  • Poor connections in ignition circuit (breaker, ignition switch & kill switches). Perform the voltage test or perform the quick wiring test.  Check heat shrunk connections closely (wires break at connector crimp/solder joint).  Intermittent connections often cause this problem. Visually inspect all wires looking for melted or crimped wires.  Run your hands along the wires to find melted or bare wires.  Tug on wires with moderate pressure at connectors, fuses  or switches to verify they are securely attached.

  • Defective charging system.  Perform a charging system test.

  • Make sure the encoder disk is centered or slightly below center in optical triggers. If the encoder disk is rubbing against the case of the optical sensor it can damage the apertures and cause erratic operation.  Click here for alignment instructions.

  • Improper gas cap venting.  Remove cap check vent hole.

Problem: Engine hesitates/stumbles when starting from stop especially when hot

  • Plug heat range wrong.  Go to a colder plug.  The plug may be glowing red meaning the fuel will pre-ignite in the cylinder.

Problem: Engine misfires

  • Bad spark plug or spark plug wire.   Perform high voltage test.  Install new spark plugs.

  • Problem with carburetor.  Carburetor too lean.

  • Poor connections in ignition circuit (breaker, ignition switch & kill switches). Perform the voltage test or perform the quick wiring test.  Check heat shrunk connections closely (wires break at connector crimp/solder joint).  Intermittent connections often cause this problem. Visually inspect all wires looking for melted or crimped wires.  Run your hands along the wires to find melted or bare wires.  Tug on wires with moderate pressure at connectors, fuses  or switches to verify they are securely attached.

  • Make sure the encoder disk is centered or slightly below center in optical triggers. If the encoder disk is rubbing against the case of the optical sensor it can damage the apertures and cause erratic operation. Click here for alignment or refer to owner's manual.

Problem: Spark plug wire popping off coil.

  • Ignition coil wire spring too long.  Shorten spring.  Click here for proper lengths.

  • Silicone grease or silicon spray used.  Clean off coil tower do not use silicone grease or spray on the coil tower portion of the spark plug wire.

  • Use cable tie on coil boot of spark plug wire to secure boot to coil tower.

Problem: Only one cylinder will fire

  •  Bad coil, spark plug, or spark plug wire.   Perform high voltage test.

  •  No power to coil  leads.  Perform the voltage test on the coil.

  •  Module wire not connected to coil trigger,  wire broken internally or inside of connector.

  •  Pinched, melted, broken or shorted coil trigger wire. Visually inspect wires running to coil.

Problem: Hard starting or engine starts when starter button released

  •  Weak or undersized battery.  Perform the voltage test.

  • Poor connections in ignition power circuit to coils or module (breaker, ign. & kill switches). Perform the voltage test or perform the quick wiring test.

  •  Incorrect timing.  Recheck static timing.

  •  Spark plug gap too large.  Measure plug gap and adjust.  Click here for spark plug and ignition wire tips.

Problem: Erratic operation, tachometer bounce

  • Solid or low resistance spiral core spark plug wires being used.  Click here for section on testing spark plug wires.

  • Defective charging system.  Perform a charging system test.

  • Intermittent connection in wiring harness.  Check heat shrunk connections closely (wires break at connector crimp/solder joint).  Visually inspect all wires looking for melted or crimped wires.  Run your hands along the wires to find melted or bare wires.  Tug on wires with moderate pressure at connectors, fuses  or switches to verify they are securely attached.

  • Make sure the encoder disk is centered or slightly below center in optical triggers. If the encoder disk is rubbing against the case of the optical sensor it can damage the apertures and cause erratic operation.

Problem: Engine starts then suddenly shuts off  engine briefly run when power to the ignition module is cycled and and engine restarted

  • Blockage of optics.  Clean with alcohol and blow out with air.  Make sure the encoder disk is centered or slightly below center in optical triggers. If the encoder disk is rubbing against the case of the optical sensor it can damage the apertures.  Click here for cleaning and alignment instructions.

  • Defective encoder disk teeth missing or bent.  Inspect encoder disk. Make sure the encoder disk is centered or slightly below center in optical triggers.  Click here for cleaning and alignment instructions.

Problem: Static timing LED stays locked on

  • Blockage of optics.  Clean with alcohol and blow out with air.  Make sure the encoder disk is centered or slightly below center in optical triggers. If the encoder disk is rubbing against the case of the optical sensor it can damage the apertures.  Click here for cleaning and alignment instructions.

Problem: Poor acceleration. Black soot in pipes

  • Fuel octane too high.

  • Incorrect sensor map.  Recheck sensor wires.  Map is too retarded.

  • Carburetor problem.  Carburetor too rich.

Problem: Poor acceleration/hesitation pinging/popping.

  • Carburetor problem.  Carburetor too lean.

Problem: Popping and rattling in exhaust pipes when decelerating

  • Fuel octane too high.

  • Timing too far retarded. Incorrect sensor map recheck sensor wires. 

Problem: Kicks back when starting

  • Timing too advanced.  Refer to owner's manual and recheck static timing.

  • Voltage drop to ignition when starter motor is engaged. Perform the voltage test .

Problem: Ignition will not retard under heavy load or acceleration

  • VOES wire or sensor wire on ignition module not grounded.

  • Defective VOES or vacuum switch.

  • Shorted or broken sensor wire.

Problem: Tail pipes blue, hollow sound in pipes, runs sluggish

  • Ignition static timing too far retarded. Recheck static timing or change timing map.

  • VOES or vacuum switch not operating or activating at wrong vacuum.

  • Bad connection from wire to VOES or vacuum switch.

Problem: Spark present at plugs with engine backfiring or wont start

  • Incorrect timing.  Recheck Static timing.

  • Weak spark due to low voltage.   Perform the voltage test.

  • Make sure plug wire is attached to the correct coil.  Refer to owner's manual.

  • Make sure ignition module output wires are attached to the correct coil.

  • Fuel system problem.

Problem: Pinging when leaving the line

  • Timing to far advanced.  Recheck static timing or change timing map wrong sensor wires may be grounded (connected to -12 VDC).

  • Accelerator pump or enrichener not set correctly or not operating.

  • Fuel vent cap not working.

Problem: Pinging in the mid-range

  • Timing too far advanced.  Recheck static timing or change timing map.  Wrong sensor wires may be grounded/ungrounded (connected to -12 VDC).

  • VOES or vacuum switch not operating or activating at wrong vacuum.

  • Bad connection from wire to VOES or vacuum switch.

  • Carburetor too lean.



Voltage Test

  • Set volt meter to 20 Volt DC or higher range.  Refer to appropriate drawing when doing test.  Drawing 1 is for negative chassis vehicles and Drawing 2 is for positive chassis vehicles.

    Drawing 1




Drawing 2



  • Check Module Voltage- Connect the meter between module positive wire (Point E) and module ground wire (Point F).  The meter connection should be after any splices/connectors in the module power wires on the side of the wires towards the module. If the vehicle has headlights turn the headlights on.  Record the module voltage then measure the battery voltage (Points A & B).  If there is more than a 1 volt difference between the battery voltage and the module voltage there is excess voltage drop in the wiring.  The module voltage should not be below 12 volts with the engine running or 11 volts with the engine not running.

  • Check Coil Voltage- This test is for coils with separate positive & negative supply wires such as the MC-1 and MC-2 coils.  Connect the meter between coil positive screw (Point H) and coil ground screw (Point G). Start the engine if the engine can be started. The ignition coil will draw more current with the engine running.  If the vehicle has headlights turn the headlights on.  Record the coil voltage then measure the battery voltage (Points A & B).  If there is more than a 1 volt difference between the battery voltage and the coil voltage there is excess voltage drop in the wiring. The coil voltage should not be below 12 volts with the engine running or 11 volts with the engine not running.

  • Check Coil Voltage- This test is for coils with with no negative power supply (coil type not shown in drawing).  Connect the meter between coil positive (Point H) and ignition module ground wire (Point F).  No point G or negative supply will exist for these type of coils. Start the engine if the engine can be started. The ignition coil will draw more current with the engine running.  If the vehicle has headlights turn the headlights on. Record the coil voltage then measure the battery voltage (Points A & B).  If there is more than a 1 volt difference between the battery voltage and the coil voltage there is excess voltage drop in the wiring. The coil voltage should not be below 12 volts with the engine running or 11 volts with the engine not running.

  • Check Voltage When Starting- With a fully charged battery *, turn the engine over with the meter connected to the battery posts (Points A & B). The voltage should not go below 10 volts DC with the starter motor running.  If the voltage is lower check battery connections and consider purchasing a new battery.
  • Check charging system-  Measure the voltage at the battery posts (Points A & B) while increasing the engine RPM to 4000-5000 RPM.   If the battery voltage at the battery posts is 15 Volts or higher with the engine running you probably have a defective voltage regulator.  Repair or replace as necessary.

* WARNING: If using a battery charger never attempt to start the engine or apply power to the ignition with the charger attached.  Remove charger before starting.  If the engine utilizes a starter motor and it will not turn over after charging replace the battery or repair starter motor, cables etc.  Disconnect battery positive cable before charging if it is suspected that the battery is defective.

Voltage Drop Test for Determining Which Component is Faulty (Do Voltage Test First)

  • Set volt meter to 20 Volt DC or higher range

  • For negative chassis vehicles (refer to drawing 1) keep the negative meter wire on the battery negative (Point A).  Turn the ignition switch on.  If the vehicle has headlights turn the headlights on.  While observing the voltage move the positive meter probe from the battery positive (Point B)  to after the ignition fuse/breaker (Point C) then to after the ignition switch (Point D) then to after the kill switch (Point E) at the positive connection of the ignition module.  Take note of any voltage drops. The voltage drops can also occur at any of the connectors along the ignition system supply path. Each installation is different the order of the components may vary and some of these components may not exist. Any component or connection between the battery and the ignition module or ignition coil must be ruled out as each could cause a voltage drop. Whenever the voltage drops more than a few tenths of a volt you have a potentially faulty switch, connector or wire.   Jump the suspected bad component with wire and operate the engine to verify that the defective component was found.

  • For positive chassis vehicles (refer to drawing 2) keep the positive meter wire on the battery negative (Point B).  Turn the ignition switch on.  If the vehicle has headlights turn the headlights on.  While observing the voltage move the negative meter probe from the battery negative (Point A)  to after the ignition fuse/breaker (Point C) then to after the ignition switch (Point D) then to after the kill switch (Point F) at the negative connection of the ignition module.  Take note of any voltage drops. The voltage drops can also occur at any of the connectors along the ignition system supply path. Each installation is different the order of the components may vary and some of these components may not exist. Any component or connection between the battery and the ignition module or ignition coil must be ruled out as each could cause a voltage drop. Whenever the voltage drops more than a few tenths of a volt you have a potentially faulty switch, connector or wire.   Jump the suspected bad component with wire and operate the engine to verify that the defective component was found.

  • For positive chassis vehicles (refer to drawing 2) keep the positive meter wire on the battery positive (Point B).  Turn the ignition switch on.  If the vehicle has headlights turn the headlights on.  While observing the voltage move the negative meter probe from the battery negative (Point A) then to after the ignition fuse/breaker (Point C) then to after the ignition switch (Point D) then to after kill switch (Point F) at the negative connection of the ignition module.  Take note of any voltage drops. The voltage drops can also occur at any of the connectors along the ignition system supply path. Each installation is different the order of the components may vary and some of these components may not exist. Everything between the battery and the ignition module must be ruled out as each could cause a voltage drop. Whenever the voltage drops more than a few tenths of a volt you have a potentially faulty switch, connector or wire.   Jump the suspected bad component with wire and operate the engine to verify that the defective component was found.

Quick Wiring Test (No Meter Required)*

  • For negative chassis systems jump a wire from the (+) of the battery to the ignition coil (+) and to the ignition module (+).  For positive chassis systems jump a wire from the (-) of the battery to the ignition coil (-) and to the ignition module (-). Do not hook power to the ignition module coil trigger wire or you could damage the module and void your warranty.  Please refer to your owner's manual for wiring details. Remember to disconnect the jumper wires when finished with the test.  The jumper wires must be removed to stop the engine from running.  Try starting the engine to see if proper operation has been restored.

  • If the problem is remedied with the above jumper wire test jump a wire across any of the suspected components (ignition switch, kill switch, breakers) to determine which component is causing the power loss.  Check heat shrunk connections closely (wires break at connector crimp/solder joints).  Visually inspect all wires looking for melted or crimped wires.  Run your hands along the wires to find melted or bare wires.  Tug on wires with moderate pressure at connectors, fuses  or switches to verify they are securely attached.

  • Replace the defective component when located.

*Only perform jumper wire tests long enough to determine if  the power wiring is a problem and remove the jumper when finished.  Perform test in a safe environment away from high traffic areas.

Charging System Test

Regulator failures will usually present themselves by over-charging the battery. Sometimes headlight or taillight bulbs blow up from high voltage, or the battery gets hot. This can be diagnosed with a Digital MultiMeter (DMM).

  • Connect your DMM (Digital MultiMeter) to the battery terminals, red DMM lead to the positive (+) terminal, black DMM lead to the negative (-) terminal.

  • Set the DMM to DC voltage mode, 20V range or higher.

  • Start the engine.

  • Note battery voltage at idle. It should be in the range of 12V - 13.5 VDC at idle.

  • Rev the engine to 4000-5000 RPM, and check the DMM reading.

  • The regulator should reach ~14.4 - 14.6VDC.


If the voltage continues increasing with RPM to 15VDC or higher, the regulation function is not operating correctly. The voltage regulator must be replaced. Regulator operation can be intermittent and may get progressively worse.

High Voltage Test and Plug Wire Test

  • Remove spark plug.  Re-attach plug wire and place spark plug threaded area on frame of engine.  Turn over engine and observe spark gap of plug.  Do this for any cylinder suspected of not  having a spark.

  • Set meter to measure resistance. It should be placed in a range of at least 10K (10,000 Ohms).  Measure the resistance of the spark plug wires.  The spark plug wires should be between 800 and 8,000 ohms. If the resistance is too low replace the wires with the correct type or length of wires.  If the resistance is too high there is probably a break in the wires or a bad connection or crimp.  Inspect the wire boots and connections making sure the center conductor of the wires is touching the terminal.  Some+times the insulation is cracked and can short to the frame of an engine.  Inspect the plug wires for cracks, look for signs of arcing on the frame, listen for crackling or snapping sounds. Observe the engine in the dark while running for signs of high voltage leaks in plug wires. 

  • The procedure for crimping spark plug wires is shown below.  Power Arc wires are typically 8 mm.  Use the correct tool for the diameter of spark plug wire used.  Crimping tools are available at automotive parts retailers, tool suppliers, larger department stores and online.



Coil Test (MC-1, MC-2 & Quad Pack Coil Only)

  • Remove the coil trigger wire from the coil being tested.  Remove the spark plug attached to the coil your are testing. Re-attach the the spark plug wire to the spark plug and lay the threaded portion of the spark plug on the frame of engine.   Apply power to the ignition coil.  The positive and negative terminals of the coil must be connected to a power source.  Attach a wire to the trigger connection of the coil being tested and tap the wire to the negative of the battery or the frame if a negative chassis system is being used.  You should be able to observe a spark at the spark plug electrode if the coil is operating properly.   Remove the test wire from the trigger when done. 

Ignition coil spring lengths

  • If the spring has not been cut to the correct length, cut the spring to the lengths indicated below for each coil type.  Seat the spring in the coil wire boot by applying pressure while rotating the spring.






Cleaning Aperture and Aligning Optical Sensor/Pickup

  • Clean both apertures (slits) of the optical sensor with alcohol using a fine bristle tooth brush.  Blow out the apertures with moderate air pressure (approximately 60-80 psi).




  • Make sure the encoder disk is in the zone highlighted in red below.  The encoder disk should be slightly below the mid-point of the optical pickup/sensor



You may click here to ask Power Arc a question concerning diagnosis of
any ignition component problems not covered in the troubleshooting guide.