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What is an Ignition Coil and where is it Located?
The ignition coil, also referred to as a "spark coil" or "spark plug coil," is a critical component in the electrical ignition system of your vehicle. The coil essentially converts the 12 volts from your battery, to the thousands of volts necessary to allow for the spark plug to ignite the air / fuel mixture in the engine. The location and appearance of the engine’s ignition coil is dependent on what type of ignition system your vehicle uses. However, the function of the ignition coil remains the same.
There are two primary types of ignition systems commonly used in modern automotive applications: Mechanically Timed and Direct Ignition. Mechanically timed ignition systems were at one time the standard in the automotive world, however they are becoming less common as most modern vehicles are coming equipped with a direct ignition system.
Mechanically Timed Ignition
Mechanically timed ignition systems use a distributor to control the ignition firing sequence. In these systems, the engine’s ignition coil may be located remotely and transfer the current to the distributor through a wire, mounted either internally under the ignition cap or on top of the cap (as in GM HEI systems).
Direct ignition systems (also known as distributorless ignitions) use a camshaft or crankshaft position sensor (or combination of the two) to control the ignition firing sequence. There are variations on the location and appearance of the engine’s ignition coil (or coils) within the system depending on the vehicle. Some vehicles will use a single ignition coil pack assembly or multiple coil packs, which may be mounted on the engine, that use individual ignition wires to transfer the current to each spark plug. Other vehicles use individual coil-on-plug coils (also known as C.O.P.) which are usually bolted to the valve cover on top of each spark plug and transfer the current directly to the plug through a coil boot. There are also some waste spark ignition systems which use a coil-on-plug style coil, but have an additional wire that connects to the opposite spark plug.
Ignition Coil Failure
The common causes of ignition coil failures are heat and age. An engine’s ignition coil can suffer a complete failure, resulting in no spark; or may become too weak to supply sufficient current to the plug to adequately ignite the air / fuel mixture in the engine which may result in poor performance and a misfire condition. In either case, the car engine’s ignition coil must be replaced. OBDII Check Engine Codes related to ignition coils include:
For an even more in-depth explanation of the different types of ignition coils that there are, causes and symptoms of failure, and much more, check out our ignition coil guide for cars and trucks.
Need an Ignition Coil Replacement?
If you need an ignition coil replacement, then you have come to the right place. At 1A Auto, shopping for ignition coils for your car, truck, SUV or van is easy - we're here to help you! Call our customer service toll free at 888-844-3393 if you have any questions about our coils, warranty, and compatibility or to purchase, or you can buy online. Order your ignition coil replacement today at 1A Auto and get your vehicle back in working condition!
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