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How do you test a motorcycle coil that has two leads and is not externially grounded?

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Basic coil tests are for Primary and Secondary ohms (resistance) values and I.B. or an Insulation Break meaning you have a short.

Refer to your owners manual for what type of coil you have. Different models have different ohms ranges.

This test would be for a typical 3-5 ohms single lead externally grounded coil. You can usually identify an Externally grounded coil as they are grounded by the mounting fixture itself.

TOOL REQUIRED - VOLTMETER that will read ohm values
1. DISCONNECT THE BATTERY NEGATIVE CABLE
2. If the coil is in the bike disconnect wires from the two terminals to isolate it.
3. Once you set your Voltmeter scale to ohms connect the red and black leads to each terminal. You should read between 3 and 5 ohms if that is the spec for your bike. You have now tested the primary circuit of your coil. If you read Infinity ohms replace the coil, you have an open circuit or break in your coil winding.
4.Now take your black lead off one terminal and connect it to good ground, battery negative cable or non-painted frame bolt. Your meter should now read 0 or OFL (off line). If you do get a reading here your coil has a break in the insulation and is shorting out. Your only option here is to replace the coil.
5. Repeat step 4. for the other secondary terminal. Red on terminal, black to ground. It should also read OFL.

Another quick test option regardless of type of coil is to check Volts going to the coil with battery connected. If you have a 12vdc system and you are getting close to 12vdc at the coil terminal and nothing is coming out of the coil you either have a bad coil or connection.
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