How To Check a Condenser on a Points Ignition

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  1. halifaxhops
    I get asked this all the time. I have a condenser tester but I do it daily. This will work for you. This is for an analog meter but a digital works--you will see the voltage spike.

    Hope this helps

    1.)
    Remove the condenser from the engine (or at least disconnect the lead wire). Note the small metal connector located on the end of the condenser. This connector is the "hot" or power connection. The metal case of the condenser is the grounding point. Discharge the condenser by shorting the lead wire to the case.

    2.) Switch the meter to the ohms position. Place the red lead into the "ohm" connector on the meter. Insert the black lead into the "com" or common connector on the meter. Set the resistance range to the highest available setting (if it is selectable). Connect the test leads together and zero the meter. If the meter won't zero, replace the battery. (Yes, an ohm meter has a battery).

    3.) Touch the red lead to the hot connector on the condenser. Place the black lead to the metal case on the condenser. The meter's needle should jump slightly to the right (toward 0-ohms), then should drop back to the left towards infinite resistance). Hold the leads in place for 15 to 20 seconds. This action places charge in the condenser. If the test shows any reading other than infinity, the condenser is leaking and needs to be replaced.

    4.) Remove the leads and reverse the placement to the condenser. Move the red lead from the hot connector to the metal case, and move the black lead from the metal case to the hot connector. At the moment where both leads are touching the correct points, the meter should jump towards the right. The second time the needle may move twice as far, as this action discharges the condenser. Holding the leads in contact should again result in movement of the needle back toward infinite resistance.

    5.) Movement of the meter's needle indicates the condenser is good. If no movement was indicated on the meter in any circumstance, the condenser is bad and must be replaced. Retest the condenser several times for a consistent reading.

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