Though your car's ignition coil or coils are small and inconspicuous, they do a lot to keep your vehicle running. Without ignition coils, your gasoline-powered engine won't receive the energy to do its work. Fortunately, a bad coil is not difficult to diagnose or repair. Here is more information about ignition coils and signs you might have a problem with one.
What Does the Ignition Coil Do?
The primary duty of your vehicle's ignition coil is to provide a spark from the battery to the ignition system. Your car battery's 12 volts doesn't provide enough power to your spark plugs on its own. Instead, the coil works like a transformer. It takes this low voltage and amplifies it to the voltage needed.
In the past, most cars had one coil attached to a distributor. The distributor sent the current to each spark plug. In modern cars, you often see multiple coils. Most commonly, you see one coil for every two cylinders. However, some have a coil for each one.
What Signs Indicate an Ignition Coil Failure?
When an ignition coil fails, the spark plugs that rely on it won't fire. As a result, gasoline won't burn and provide power to those cylinders. Signs of ignition coil failure include:
- Loss of power
- Trouble starting your car
- Bad misfiring
- Lower fuel economy
- Illuminated check engine light
- Clogged or damaged catalytic converter
How Are Ignition Coils Fixed?
The only way to deal with an ignition coil failure is to replace the coil. For most vehicles, this is not difficult. Some vehicles may require the removal of a manifold to access the coils. In these cases, mechanics often recommend changing all the coils in that area at the same time. You may also want to change your old spark plugs and wires as well.
How Can One Prevent Ignition Coil Failure?
The most common reasons for coil failure, aside from manufacturer defects, are poor care and maintenance of spark plugs and wires. For example, if you have a gasket leak, oil could leak on the coils or into the spark plug chamber and cause firing issues. Also, keeping on worn spark plugs with widening gaps could contribute to coil failure.
Keeping your vehicle well-maintained goes a long way to keeping your ignition coils in shape. However, if they do break down, they are fixable. Therefore, if you know the signs of pending failure, and you keep up with regular maintenance, you will keep your car from breaking down. If you think you have a problem with your gasoline-powered engine's coils, visit a local car repair professional.