Ignition coils are responsible for the smooth starting of your car’s engine. It is responsible for drawing voltage from the car’s 12V battery, amplifies it many times, and sends it to the spark plugs for ignition.
Ignition coil provides the required electricity to the spark plugs for igniting combustion.
You may not realize the importance of the ignition coil’s role in the overall well-being of your car. However, they play an important role in ensuring the health of the car’s battery and engine.
The current article provides insights into the working mechanism of ignition coils, warning signs of a failing ignition coil, and how to check the ignition coil for any damage.
How Does the Ignition Coil Work?
The ignition coil of your car is key for the smooth functioning of the ignition system. It transforms the voltage drawn from the car’s battery and transfers it to the spark plugs.
The spark plugs create the spark that starts your car’s engine. When the ignition coil starts failing, it is unable to do its job properly. This means that the spark plugs do not get enough power to start the engine.
The model of ignition coils has changed over time. most cars come with powerful engines these days, that require a greater amount of energy for firing them.
The earlier single coil ignition coils have become outdated and have given way to the multi-coil ignition coils.
Signs of a Failing Ignition Coil
A faulty ignition coil not only degrades the overall performance of your car, but it can also damage other spare parts if left unattended.
You should pay close attention to the following key warning signs of a failing ignition coil and take immediate corrective action:
Check Engine Light Coming On
A failing ignition coil directly affects the working of your car’s engine.
This can lead to the check engine light in your car coming on. You should track the check engine light on your dashboard and if it comes on after a few driving cycles, it can indicate a damaged ignition coil.
This light can come on for various other reasons also. Hence, it is best to get your car checked for the specific reason and get it repaired.
Reduced Fuel Efficiency
The damaged ignition coil will not provide enough power to the spark plugs to start the engine.
The reduced power received by the power plug from the battery is compensated by the car. This is done by releasing more fuel, which reduces fuel efficiency.
This will increase your cost of running the car. It will also damage other car parts and systems if you do not get it inspected and rectified soon.
Your Car’s Engine Does Not Start
One of the most prominent symptoms of a failing ignition coil is that your car’s engine will not start. The ignition coil draws power from the battery and sends it to the power plugs for starting the engine.
If there is a lack of enough power supply to the spark plug, it will be unable to start the car. The problem becomes more intense during cold weather.
A faulty ignition coil will be unable to generate sufficient voltage to power the spark plug properly. This affects the efficiency of the internal combustion of the fuel.
When the internal combustion of the fuel does not finish properly in the cylinder, it leads to engine misfires. You can still drive the car, but it will be a jerky ride with high vibrations.
There will also be strange and unfamiliar noises as you accelerate and increase the load on the car’s engine.
You will find it difficult to get the required power while driving. This will affect the overall driving experience.
Lack of Power and Control During Driving
When the ignition coil is failing, it will not provide enough power to the car while accelerating. As you try to accelerate, the load on the car’s engine increases.
Since the ignition coil is unable to provide the required power supply to the spark plugs, you will find it difficult to drive the car optimally.
The car will feel sluggish and less responsive to drive. In some cases, you may also find it difficult to have complete control while driving.
Your Car Backfires
Spark plugs play an important role in burning fuel.
A faulty ignition coil will not provide enough power to the spark plugs. This will lead to improper burning of fuel particles in the combustion chamber.
These fuel particles can enter the exhaust pipe of the car with a high energy charge.
This energy is released through the car’s exhaust in the form of an explosion or what is commonly referred to as a backfire.
The catalytic convertor of the car can also become damaged by the unburnt fuel particles during these exhaust emissions.
If the fuel does not burn properly and efficiently, it can impact the emission levels of your car. Damaged ignition coil does not provide enough power to the spark plugs, which leads to inefficient fuel combustion.
This can increase emissions. It can be difficult to drive a car with high emissions, especially if your locality has strict emission norms.
Gas Smell from the Exhaust Pipe
Improper burning of the fuel will cause an unpleasant gas smell coming from the exhaust pipe of the car.
The gas smell can be more intense when the car is cold. If you come across such strong and unpleasant gas smell, then it can be a symptom of a failing ignition coil. You should not ignore it and get your car checked by a good mechanic.
Ignition coils are usually housed in an oil-filled housing.
The copped coils can get extremely hot and accumulate moisture over time, which can cause damage to it. If the coil overheats frequently, the oil-filled housing may get damaged and crack. This can lead to an oil leak.
The carburetor can get flooded with the oil, which will impact the overall functioning of the car.
How to Test the Ignition Coil
If you detect symptoms that may point to a failing ignition coil, it is time to inspect it. To being with, start the engine and pull out the ignition coil.
Observe any change in engine behavior. If the engine becomes rough or starts to vibrate, then it may indicate a damaged ignition coil.
If there is no change in the engine’s behavior and it runs smoothly, it means that the ignition coil is working fine. You should repeat this process with the remaining ignition coils until you can identify the faulty coil.
You must refer to the car’s user manual for following the correct procedures for testing the ignition coil.
It is recommended to take your car to a mechanic to get the ignition coil tested. They can perform a thorough diagnostic test to assess the health of the ignition coil.
They have testing and diagnostic kits like the OBD2 code reader, digital multimeter, automotive diagnostic scanner, etc.
You can expect to pay nearly $100 for the mechanic’s wages. If you need to replace the ignition coils, then it can cost you $30-$100, depending on the vehicle’s make and model.