WHAT ARE IGNITION COILS AND WHY DO THEY FAIL?

Jan 26, 2018 | Road Trips

Your driving along when your car begins to run roughly and your check engine light pops on. You head straight for your trusty mechanic who does some diagnostic testing. Your car has a bad ignition coil. What does that even mean? Your car runs off of the battery, a 12-volt powerhouse that serves as an energy well. The power from the battery is used for many things, but in this case, we are using its electricity to create a spark for the spark plugs.

Coils Increase Voltage


The coils increase the voltage from the battery by magnitudes, which allows a tiny spark to leap across the gap of a spark plug. The spark is tiny, but it is a miniature lightning bolt. It is hot and the sparks are generated hundreds or thousands of times per minute. All of that power comes directly through the coils. Given the hot, heavy workload, is it any wonder that they eventually fail?

Is there anything that you can do to help the coils last longer?


Changing Spark Plugs Can Increase Coil Life


The repair is not too difficult in most cars, but gaining access to the plugs can occasionally be challenging. There is a coil for each spark plug. Also, your mechanic may recommend replacing all of them at the same time. If a car is an older or high mileage car when your coil failed, there is a reasonable chance that the rest of the coils are close to failure. Is there anything that you can do to help the coils last longer? The simple answer is to change your spark plugs when they are due. Spark plugs erode over time and the gap gets wider. This wide gap requires much more power to arc across which puts extra stress on the coils. Spark plugs last for years, so this is a minimal expense.

Drive Safely, The High Road Crew

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