HOW TO : GM HEI Distributor Pick-up coil troubleshooting

DIS ignition systems are much better in terms of reliability with less moving parts to fail however there is still a handful of us that cling onto old school distributors. The most common of the bunch is the ever reliable GM HEI internal cap. But even these fail from time to time. The bushings go bad and the coil wears into the housing causing a short and in effect a no start situation. Here’s an easy way to test to make sure your pickup coil is still in operating condition.

6 replies
  1. d shook
    d shook says:

    I have a 86 k10 with HEI and it started one day and the choke would not kick off hit the gas pedal to try to make it cut off and it died.    wouldn't start back up.  put new module in it. new spark plugs in it too. it now just cranks and acts like it wants to start but doesn't any help would be greatly appreciated

  2. Stainless Slayer
    Stainless Slayer says:

    82 gmc will runs fine, won't start after you shut it down. got it to start today running like shit. New coil, cap, rotor, plugs. Put a different distributor in (used)before these issues. I'd appreciate any feed back.

  3. Jackson Cruz
    Jackson Cruz says:

    I have a 89 Chevy truck with a 5.7L engine. Truck runs great except for when once it is warmed up and I come to a stop at a light or a stop sign . It just cuts off but immediately starts right back up. I am told this could be a weak pickup coil.

  4. CamsCummins92
    CamsCummins92 says:

    I have a question I got a brand new hei distributor everything new the coil the cap the rotor the shaft all of it. I dropped it in and I'm not getting any spark from the spark plug wires I metered the coil when I turn the ignition forward and it has power going to it. And I metered the harness that connects to the distributor and that was good. But when I try to start it no spark is going to the plugs. I can't figure it out for some reason. Got any recommendations?

  5. MADMAGIN689
    MADMAGIN689 says:

    Thank you sir so much for this vid. Did this test and found my problem. I own a 76 Buick Regal w/a 231 3.8L. Now I know why my engine went out like like a light switch while cruising down the highway. Take care and peace out:-)


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