I'm troubleshooting what I believe is an engine misfire on my LS1 Chevy and want to rule out if I have bad ignition coils.

In order to do this I took out the ignition coils and measured the resistances across every possible combination of the four pins. The thought here was that any measurement that registers as an outlier in comparison to the rest would manifest itself in the readings.

I also purchased a new coil and took similar measurements.

The terminal nomenclature corresponds to what is in the diagram below:

enter image description here

Here are the raw measurements taken with a Fluke 87 V multimeter. All measurements are in kilo-ohms.

    | Coil #1 | Coil #2 | Coil #3 | Coil #4 | Coil #5 | Coil #6 | Coil #7 | Coil #8 | New Coil #1
A-B | 31.71   | 29.30   | 29.64   | 34.19   | 28.14   | 31.47   | 34.08   | 32.89   | 26.77
A-C | 31.50   | 29.85   | 29.55   | 34.17   | 28.67   | 31.35   | 34.02   | 32.89   | 26.59
A-D | 33.67   | 33.7    | 33.56   | 34.09   | 33.52   | 33.89   | 61.00   | 62.10   | 31.29
B-C | 12.05   | 11.96   | 11.95   | 12.17   | 11.90   | 12.03   | 12.14   | 12.10   | 11.83
B-D | 88.70   | 83.10   | 84.80   | 94.00   | 82.40   | 87.20   | 95.10   | 95.00   | 73.9
C-D | 88.50   | 83.70   | 84.80   | 94.00   | 82.90   | 87.1    | 95.00   | 95.00   | 73.8

I realize that logging resistances may not reflect whether something is "bad", so I'd appreciate if someone could explain what the circuit diagram shows.

More information on the LS1 coil can be found here.

  • I agree,you really need a good scanner to see the actual signal,some coils will fire /operate ok at an idle,but will fail under load. My silver-ado is notorious for coils going bad the 7 and 8 cylinder,my belief is the excessive heat from the exhaust manifolds/and close fire wall design.
    – user31154
    Jul 23 '17 at 16:33

Unfortunately, there aren't any terrific ways of testing these things with a meter because of the internal electronics. In addition, at least one measurement you make might (will probably) be polarity-sensitive, especially if you use the "diode check" function on your multimeter - that's the A-D reading. Using "diode check", reading one way your meter should read something like 0.7 and reading the other way your meter should read a far higher number.

Of interest is the A-to-sparkplug reading. That's reading directly across the coil's secondary winding, assuming that the little grey box inside the igniter isn't some unspecified component but is instead just a connection. That reading should read the same both directions whether you use "diode check" or not, and all coils should read about the same.

Regardless of the meter settings, all the A-B-C readings may yield all manner of inconsistencies because they read through the igniter's electronics... and the igniters themselves may have been built by any number of companies using parts with varied tolerances, and those tolerances may be cumulative so it's possible to get quite a range of readings. The larger grey box inside the igniter is what's known in the electronics field as a "black box", meaning that nobody except the manufacturer will ever know exactly what it contains.

All that said, coils #7 and #8 do stand out significantly in the A-D readings. That may be because the internal NPN transistor (a bipolar) or its bypass diode has developed a higher-than normal internal emitter-to-collector(s) resistance, or may simply be indicative of those cumulative tolerances.

You may want to try running the engine & taking careful note of how (in terms of misses) it runs under all conditions (cold/hot/slow/fast), then swapping out #7 with your new coil and comparing notes, then moving the new coil to #8 position and comparing notes again. If you see an improvement with the new coil at either #7 or #8, then the original coil for that cylinder is suboptimal. If you see an improvement with the new coil both and #7 and #8, then you'd do well to buy another replacement coil & swap them both out.

  • I bought another coil and replaced both #7 and #8. It's still not firing smoothly, so something is still amiss.
    – Zaid
    Aug 29 '14 at 17:51
  • Since Cyls 7 & 8 are next to each other in the firing order I swapped the new coil on #7 with the one on #5. No discernible change in the misfire signature - I'm now suspecting a partially-clogged injector
    – Zaid
    Aug 29 '14 at 17:58
  • If you connect a spark tester (cheap tool) to it, do you get good spark everywhere? Reliable, like clockwork? You might try running a jug or two of "Carburetor & Choke Cleaner" (fuel additive) through it - that often opens up partially varnished injectors. Not the spray stuff, the liquid you add to the fuel tank. No need to go for a big brand name, either. Aug 29 '14 at 22:20

The answers you have had so far only go to show just how important a scan by an experianced mechanic is. The scanner will show if a cylinder is misfiring, or a particular cylinder is not firing - misfire count feature. The injectors can be seen to be firing and their operation on acceleration - opening durations and fuel pressures. You can do a balance test precisly and determine cylinder condition. On top of this you will have fault codes, that allow you to investigate areas the engine ECU thinks is wrong - back door coding. Multimeters are extremely useful with your vehicle, but most if not all can be better seen on an oscilloscope or graphing scanner because of the speed of operation and low voltages - milli volts and milli amps. In passing, because of power and switching diodes, 'testing' of pencil coils cannot be tested effectively other than by wave forms.

  • I haven't seen an automotive o'scope since 1978... they were good, and it's a shame they've fallen out of favor in most shops. Sep 1 '14 at 13:58
  • The most common available at the moment is the Pico.com range. They are not like the old Sun or Crypton scopes we all know and love, they connect onto a laptop. I actually saw an old Sun machine in Cornwall(UK) last week covered in about three inches of dust but it was still a buzz. I rely mostly on diag machines(computers) that do comprehensive graphing. Sep 1 '14 at 16:55

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