You get into your car, turn the key and the engine starts right up. Sounds so simple right? If you only knew what goes into the background.
Your car’s engine is a complex machine consisting of different parts to run smoothly. An ignition coil is an essential component that delivers power to your engine and if it goes bad, your engine won’t get the energy it needs and your car may not start at all.
If your car is an older model, this coil would sit between the battery and the distributor. But modern cars don’t have a distributor. Thus, the coil is mounted on top of each spark plug. Because of this, modern vehicles have multiple coils as opposed to older systems that typically have one coil.
Scroll down to find out how these ignition coils work, when to replace them and what are some common ignition coil problems.
How does an ignition coil work?
The battery in your car has a low-voltage current (12 volts). But it needs thousands of volts to ignite the fuel and start the engine. Ignition coils, also known as transformers, amplify the voltage of your car’s battery to a much higher voltage current. It delivers power to the spark plugs and creates the spark needed to ignite the fuel so your vehicle is ready to start and run.
The three main parts of an ignition coil are
- Primary winding
- Secondary winding
- Iron core
An ignition coil is a set of two insulated copper wires wrapped around a piece of iron. Modern vehicles have one such coil for each engine cylinder but there can e exceptions as sometimes there is one coil for a pair of two cylinders. If your vehicle has a diesel engine, it does have an ignition coil. The condition of ignition coils is important to your car’s fuel efficiency and engine performance. Just like other components of the engine, these coils should be checked and maintained regularly. As the ignition coil helps in starting the engine, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of a poor ignition coil which we have discussed in the next section.
Signs your ignition coil is failing
The various symptoms of an ignition coil failure are:
The engine won’t start
If there’s something wrong with your car’s ignition, it will surely reflect on the performance of your engine. But you must look out for other symptoms as well before you blame the ignition coils.
This is an early symptom of a faulty ignition coil that leads to the emission of unused fuel through your car’s exhaust system. If left unchecked, this can do a great deal of damage to your car.
Check the engine light
The check engine light is quick to pick up any problem in the engine. So, a poor ignition coil will most definitely trigger the check engine light.
A faulty coil leads to an irregular flow of current to the spark plugs which causes the car to stall. Eventually, you’ll face trouble even starting your car.
Poor fuel Economy
If the fuel consumption of your car has increased all of a sudden, maybe it’s time to get the ignition coils checked. A fuel leak is another indicator of a bad ignition coil. If you don’t want to replace your ignition coils anytime soon, learn how to take the best care of them.
How to avoid ignition coil problems?
The following precautions are a must to keep your ignition coil functioning properly:
- Regular spark plug inspection – This is important because when damaged, spark plugs can drain out your ignition coil and cause premature degradation. When the plugs are in a good condition, you won’t have to face any ignition coil problems.
- Check for oil leaks – make sure that there is no oil leak in the coil casing. Pay close attention to the wires connecting the ignition coils with the electrical system. If there has been a recent drain issue, the wires will appear toasted and that’s how you would know that it’s time to replace the ignition coils or get them checked by a professional mechanic.
- Regular maintenance – regular service checks are important to keep your car in good working condition. Make sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions to avoid any ignition coil problems.
We hope that you now understand why ignition coils are such an important part of your car