Have You Ever Wondered How the Ignition Works?

A Simple Explanation of the Ignition System

It’s Electric!

Essentially, it takes a little bolt of electricity to start it all. The ignition system is the generator and conduit of the electricity necessary to power your vehicle. Think about how fast lightning is; that’s about how fast the ignition process happens in your vehicle. As you turn the key in the ignition, the battery is where the initial low voltage current flows to the ignition coil, which has a primary winding and a secondary winding.

The electric current from the ignition coil flows through the winding and connects to the contact breaker. The contact breaker opens and closes according to the number of cylinders in the vehicle. There’s also a cam In this contact breaker, which is connected directly to the camshaft. The secondary current from the secondary winding is able to increase the battery’s voltage to 22,000 Volts. This high voltage from the secondary winding travels to the distributor.

Next, there is a rotor inside the distributor that rotates in sync with the ignition timing. As the rotor keeps rotating, it passes certain points in the distributor. The voltage continues passing through by jumping the air gaps between the rotor and the distributor points. The high voltage is then passed on from the distributor to the spark plugs through a high tension cable.

When the insulated spark plug receives enough voltage, gas becomes ionized. This allows the gas to act as a conductor that lets the current flow through. Finally, the air gap at the end of the spark plug’s reaction with the current creates a spark. Now keep in mind, this “simple” process all happens in milliseconds. The ignition system is as fast as it is complex.

There are many individual parts that make the ignition system work. Understanding the electrical systems of your vehicle is very important, but thankfully you can leave that to your automotive technician. Before you attempt to diagnose or perform your own ignition system or electrical system repairs, consult a professional. The ignition system service experts at Coopers Auto Repair Specialists in Puyallup, WA, are ready to provide you with top-notch ignition system repair and maintenance needs.

Written by Coopers Auto Repair Specialists

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