I have a crank - no start issue on a Nissan micra from 1999. It is a 1.3 gasoline engine. Up to this point I found out there seems to be no spark.

  • Put a new spark in a wire and placed it on the engine block. No sparks appear when cranking
  • I opened the distributor and approached one spark wire to the ignition coil. No spark appears when cranking.

I guess I can safely say the ignition coil sends no sparks. On the other hand, I put a multimeter on the positive and negative leads of the coil when puting the contact on and there is power coming: 12V.

How can I test if the ignition coil is bad, or something else? On the old ignition coil, the resistance from the leads to the top seems to be 11.9-12kOhms. I also have a new one and when I test it, the reading goes up, then stabilizes to about 12.4 kOhms. Does that indicate the ignition coil is bad?

I plan on replacing the coil to see if that changes things. However, since it's a quite complicated procedure (for me...) I was thinking if there is a way of finding out if everything else (beyond the coil) is in order.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

  • Have you cleaned the distributor points and checked it for wear?
    – GdD
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 8:23
  • Yes, changed the distributor since it was old. That was not the problem. Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 8:43

2 Answers 2


As far as I remember, in Micra K11 the ignition coil is integrated in the distributor and they are supposed to be replaced as a whole.

Well, they may be different in the different markets or I could be wrong.

I helped a friend to debug the same car not starting because of no sparks like 15 years ago. We ended up replacing the whole distributor/sensor assembly. It was the sensor that was bad, the coil was probably OK.

These 12 kOhm or 12.4 kOhm that you measure are perfectly OK. Basically, anything from 10 to 15 kOhm is probably OK.

The low voltage part of the coil can be much more indicative in regard to the coil health. It is something like 0.5 - 1.5 Ohm (not kOhm) and you probably don't have the proper tool to measure it. If this resistance differs by more than 10-20%, something is wrong.

It could also happen that both resistances are OK and the coil is bad anyway.

p.s. while you are at it, replace the distribution finger as well. It is a simple part, but it can go bad as well, without any visual indication.

  • I changed the ignition coil. I had to take apart the distributor assembly. It had signs of arching at some point, like a weld. However, that was not the problem. The car still won't start. And apparently there is no spark. I will search for the whole assembly if I can find it as a used part. The distribution finger was also changed. Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 8:46
  • There was also oil behind the coil. Could that ruin things inside? Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 8:48
  • Sorry for another question. How can I make sure that the distributor assembly is the problem? Can the "no spark" problem come from beyond the distributor? I heard stories about faulty ECUs. Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 9:06
  • Oil in the assembly means that an O-ring somewhere needs replacement, but likely is not the main problem. In order to be sure what's broken, you have two options: (1) replace part after part related to the ignition, until the engine starts - or - (2) get an expert with professional tools involved. Can you confirm that when you crank the engine, the finger rotates? You will need to detach the coil/distributor assembly in order to see.
    – fraxinus
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 10:36
  • Yes, I can confirm that the finger rotates. I ordered a replacement for the whole distributor assembly. There is power to it when I put the contact on, so I hope that's the problem. Maybe like you said, the sensor is bad. Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 11:48

It could be that your distributor is producing spark but your engine isn't grounded. I suggest you ground the spark plug to a bolt in the frame instead, if you get spark then you need to look at your engine's ground strap.

I don't like to rely on looking for a spark in the gap because it's easy to miss in bright light, and it's not completely reliable. I suggest you invest in an in-line spark tester to get a reliable test. See this question for more details on that.

  • I will check if the engine is grounded. The spark test was made at night. Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 20:59

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