How Does Your Car’s Ignition System Work?

There are three major categories for ignition systems. Each works a little bit differently from the others, but all accomplish the same goal: getting your vehicle running and keeping it that way.

Conventional Ignition System

A conventional ignition system, which has been in use since the 1900s, consists of a primary circuit and a secondary circuit. The primary circuit includes the battery, the ignition switch, and the ignition coil. Energy is pulled from the battery at low voltage. That energy is sent on to the primary circuit coil, where the voltage is increased by the turns of the coil. The secondary circuit further increases the voltage and directs it into the distributor cap, where the electric charge creates the sparks to ignite the fuel.

Electronic Ignition System

An electronic ignition system works almost identical to how a conventional ignition system operates. In fact, the secondary circuit on both ignition systems works in exactly the same way on either system.

Distributorless Ignition

A distributor-less ignition system exactly is what its name implies. There is no distributor to connect the current to the spark plugs. Instead, the coils connect directly with the spark plugs. A distributor-less ignition system eliminates the need for timing adjustments since that is a component of how the distributor works. And since there are no moving parts in a distributor-less system, there are fewer components to be replaced.

No matter what type of ignition system your vehicle has, it’s important for you to have the system maintained and repaired when there are issues. With either a conventional or electronic ignition system, your mechanic should keep an eye on the rotor and distributor cap and check the timing during preventative maintenance. For all three types of ignition systems, your mechanic should check the spark plugs and replace them when they are worn. Preventative maintenance for your ignition system can keep you from having more expensive repairs in the future.

If you are in the Tacoma, WA area, why not give Cooper’s Auto Repair and Services a call to make an appointment to have their technicians assess and repair your ignition system?

Written by Coopers Auto Repair Specialists

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