ignition coil

Ignition Coil / Spark Coil, What Are They?

Does your car ever have trouble starting? Does it stall, misfire, backfire, you may have a failing ignition coil.

Does your vehicle’s engine die abruptly after running for a while in Huntington Beach? Does your car ever have trouble starting? Does it stall, misfire, backfire, or get worse gas mileage than it used to? If you’ve noticed any or all of these symptoms, you may have a failing ignition coil or coil pack. Diesel engines do not need an ignition system, since they rely on compression to ignite the air/fuel mixture.

An ignition coil, also known as a spark coil, is an induction coil in your car’s ignition system which transforms the battery’s low voltage into thousands of volts which are needed to create an electric spark in the spark plugs to ignite the fuel. Ignition coils can have either an internal resistor or an external resistor or resistor wire, which serves the purpose of limiting the current flowing into the coil from the car’s battery. They also have another high voltage wire which goes from the ignition coil to the distributor, and wires from the distributor to each of the spark plugs, called spark plug wires or high tension leads. Most ignition coil systems today use a power transistor to provide pulses to the ignition coil.

Modern cars may use one ignition coil for each cylinder or pair of cylinders, and do not require a distributor. If your car has individual coils for each cylinder or pair of cylinders, they may be all contained inside of one single molded block with multiple high-tension terminals, which is commonly called a coil pack. Distributors started becoming less common in the late 1980s. In modern ignition systems, ignition is electronically controlled.

In most cars, a failing ignition coil or coil pack will also cause a check engine light. This is caused either by your car’s computer detecting misfires, or detecting an issue with the ignition coil signal or circuit, such as when a coil shorts or burns out. However, keep in mind that a check engine light may be caused by a wide variety of other issues, so having the computer trouble codes read by a professional is highly recommended.

Modern ignition coils are much smaller because they only need to power one or two spark plugs each. They can be mounted either remotely or directly on top of the spark plug – called coil-on-plug or Direct Ignition. The symptoms of a failing coil pack are the same as a failing ignition coil – misfires, rough idle, being hard to start, higher fuel consumption, loss of power, or even stalling. The higher fuel consumption is because your car needs to use more fuel in order to make up for the lack of power. Continuing to drive your car with a bad misfire may cause more extensive – and expensive – damage, so if you notice an issue, you should get it taken care of as soon as possible.

If you notice any of these symptoms and suspect that your ignition coil is failing, give our ASE certified mechanics a call today. ExperTec Automotive, number one car repair shops in Anaheim, Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa!