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Old 01-18-2009, 08:48 AM   #1
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OK, so I have been seeing a few guys with ignition problems this year, so I figured I would write a little of my experience with bad ignition.

Alot of guys are reporting no spark, weak spark, or intermitant spark. First thing that seems to come to mind is CDI packs.

First off, CDI packs either work... or they don't. Plain and simple. They are basicaly an electronic set of points and condensors and are a sealed unit. If they quite, they quite. They are not like a set of points and condensors, where, maybe one set of points is bad or maybe a bad condensor.

Second, coil packs, can and do give out in dividually.These can be tested and determined which one or both are bad.

Third, often bad spark can be traced to the plug wires and spark plug boots. Often, these can be replaced or repaired. The wires will un screw from the coils, on some types, and the boots can be unscrewed from the wires and replaced with new ones.

Since the wires often unscrew from the coils etc, removeing them, cutting off approx 1/4 inch and rescewing them back in will fix the problem. The same goes for the spark plug boots.

Now that leads us to the spark plugs. These things, no matter the make or brand, are notorious for fouling out, and quitting. Pull the plug out and it fires. Put it back in and nothing. What gives??

Often a spark plug that appears to fire when checked, will not fire once placed back on the engine. Bad plugs will not fire under a load. You can clean them, and it might work, or it might not.

I don't know why they won't fire, just that they won't.

So finally, that brings us to an electrical problem... hmmmm

I am not sure when cat started useing these throttle switches. I can't remember what they are called exactly, other than a PIA!. TTS or something like that.

They prevent you from being able to start and engine with the throttle open, or at least, with the thumb lever pinned to the handle bars.

My recent experience with one of these, was, it was dirty and some electrical cleaner sprayed into it cleaned it up and working properly now.

They can be by passed but not sure how yet.

Bad connections, are often a culprit.Go thru each connection and clean them as nessasary. Bad kill switches, are a cause. Disconnect it and you should have spark again. Also, a bad ignition switch.Dirty contacts inside of it, or maybe a broken contact, can give you trouble.

An easy way to tell is to disconect the plug at the motor, and you should have spark, and lots of it.This would definatly lead to a problem in the wireing harness, or one of the formentioned switches.

Something simple as a broken wire, or corroded one will give all kinds of grief.

Finally, a hint that I was given last year by a knowledgeable mechanic was, The older cats were famous for developing a BAD ground. This causes all kinds of problems as well.

You would think that with all the metal to metal contact on these, a decent ground would be easy to obtain. hmmmm.... Not so.

When I found this out, I experimented with it to see what would happen. I grounded the coils to the engine with a wire. Nothing. I grounded the engine to the cdi. Nothing. I grounded the coils to the cdi... nothing.

I then ran a wire from the cdi, to the coils, to the engine and nothing....

Finally, I ran a wire from the cdi, to the coils, to the engine and to the chassis... BINGO.... houston, we have lift off!!!!!

I know this topic is a little long winded, and poorly written. Sorry bout that. But there are many problems that can and do pop up, and hopefully this will give those who are haveing problems some direction.

Also, hopefully, those that have testing specs for the engines, will chime in and post them, as well as other ideas that I have missed. Then, I will rewrite this post and see if it can be pinned as an easy to find trouble shooting guide.

Hope this helps.....
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Old 01-18-2009, 02:13 PM   #2
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Well spoken Superjuice! And non of us has the coveted arctic cat CDI tester. I have seem them, but they are waaaayyyyy out of my price range. Thanks for the space...Gunnsy


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Old 01-18-2009, 09:36 PM   #3
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Good post but if i could suggest unplugging the 4 wire harness and (pre 80) test for spark (80 and up put the jumper in )test for spark As the first step, this eliminates all the wiring and switches. then dig into the coil/CDI with the trouble shooting you have posted. I like starting with the easy stuff first.
With as many people as we see here asking about spark problems this would make a perfect pinned post.
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Old 01-19-2009, 05:41 AM   #4
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thanks steve.. can you add the proceedure for what wires to jump to this topic for me ?
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Old 01-19-2009, 07:00 AM   #5
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Cat started changing over from normally open to normally closed ignition on the 78 Jag , 79 Trail Cat and completely in 1980. Make a jumper wire about 8" with a male bullet connector on one end and a female connector on the other. On the square 4 plug engine/chassis connector , run the jumper wire between the black and brown on the engine side. On the normally open ignition all a thief had to do seperate the 4plug connector and he was off.
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Old 01-19-2009, 12:06 PM   #6
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Thanks gregg. Great info.... Anybody have any of the ohm readings for all or some of the sleds???
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Old 01-19-2009, 01:36 PM   #7
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Each sled and engine have different readings. I have a Cat Master Dealer Manual with the info in it.
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Old 11-22-2011, 11:32 PM   #8
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Hi I am having problem with kill switch or tether won't shut off snowmobile... The snowmobile runs good and I just put on new stator...it is a arctic cat zl 600 efi.. Thanks..
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Old 11-23-2011, 05:07 PM   #9
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I just went through the same exact thing, except my issue(s) all happened at once, I lost spark, not sure what went first though, the ignition coil, or the bolt that hold the mag down came loose, under the flywheel, It became a blender in there. I had to replace everything.
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Old 11-24-2011, 01:04 PM   #10
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Maybe check and see if someone put a jumper on your kill switch. Could also be the switch has failed open. I have taken these apart and cleaned them. If you do this go to a electronics parts suppler or auto parts store and get some silicone dielectric compound and coat all surfaces in the switch with it. I use Dow #6 compound. I also put it all of my connectors and plugs. It helps keep water/ moisture out of your connectors and stops corrosion.
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