Ignition Coil Problems, Symptoms and Solutions

Ignition Coil

Have you ever wondered what sparks your car to life?

It’s the ignition coil, a vital component hidden under the hood. This little part packs a punch, feeding electricity to start your engine.

But what happens when it fails?

You turn the key and… nothing.

Frustrating, right?

Let’s figure out ignition coils and discover their types. Also, understand bad ignition coil symptoms and how they send your day into a tailspin when they’re not up to snuff.

Ready to spark your curiosity?

Let’s get started!

Ignition Coils: Engine Spark

An ignition coil stands as a pivotal component in your vehicle’s engine.

This electrical dynamo is the force behind the spark plugs. It converts your car battery’s voltage into the electrical surge necessary for coil ignition.

Not all ignition coils are created equal, and understanding the type your vehicle utilizes is fundamental for accurate diagnostics and repair.

Ignition Coil Types

Navigating ignition coil issues requires knowledge of the specific type installed in your vehicle:

1. Coil-On-Plug (COP): Prevalent in modern cars. This variant allocates a dedicated coil to each cylinder, mounted directly on the spark plug. It’s a streamlined, efficient system preferred for its direct approach.

2. Coil-Near-Plug (CNP): When space restraints prevent COP working, the CNP serves as an alternative. These coils reside near the spark plugs, connected by short high-voltage wires.

3. Coil-Per-Cylinder (CPC): This setup assigns one coil to each cylinder to ensure individual attention. This optimizes the distribution of electrical charge to the spark plugs.

8 Common Ignition Coil Symptoms & Signs

Despite their resilience, ignition coils can exhibit a range of malfunctions:

1. Loss of Power: The vehicle may exhibit a noticeable decline in performance.

2. Vehicle Stalling: The engine unexpectedly ceases operation during use. Suddenly, your car decides it’s nap time – right in the middle of traffic.

3. Poor Fuel Economy: A sudden decrease in fuel efficiency often occurs. Your wallet feels lighter. But not in a good way. As your car guzzles more gas.

4. Vehicle Backfiring: Backfires signal combustion occurring at the wrong time. It’s like your car is disagreeing with you, loudly.

5. Jerking and Vibrations: These symptoms can indicate intermittent spark failures. Your smooth ride now feels like a mechanical bull.

6. Problematic Hard Starts: Difficulty in starting the engine is a common sign. Turning the key becomes a workout. The engine shows reluctance to wake up.

7. Check Engine Light is ON: This indicator lights up as a response to coil issues. The dashboard’s way of saying, “We need to talk.”

8. Spluttering Sounds: Irregular engine noises suggest misfires. Your car sounds like it caught a cold.

Root Causes of Ignition Coil Failure

What causes ignition coil problems?

The demise of an ignition coil can often be traced to several factors:

1. Damaged or Worn Spark Plugs: Spark Plugs push the coil too hard, asking for more voltage than it can handle. The excessive voltage demand leads to coil overload.

2. Engine Vibrations: Constant vibrations weaken coil integrity over time. Engine vibrations shake the life out of the coils.

3. Overheating & High-Temperature Exposure: Coils are hot stuff, but too much heat can burn them out. Excessive heat irreparably damages the coil’s internal twists.

4. Wear and Tear: Like most car parts, ignition coils can’t escape the effects of time. Regular use naturally leads to the eventual degradation of the coil.

5. Moisture: Water is life, but not for ignition coils. Water entrance can cause electrical shorts and premature coil failure.

Diagnosing Bad Ignition Coil: Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re facing car troubles and suspect the ignition coil. The diagnosis begins with an OBD-II scanner. Here’s the ignition coil test process:

                     Step 1:  Test ignition coil with multimeter.

                     Step 2:  Plug the scanner into the OBD2 port of your vehicle.

                     Step 3:  Look for codes that point to ignition coil issues.

                     Step 4:  Turn off the engine and let it cool.

                     Step 5:  Swap the suspected bad coil with another one.

                     Step 6:  Start the engine and check if the error code shifts to the new cylinder.

Ignition Coil Solutions: Prevent Failures

To avoid ignition coil problems, regular checks are your best defence:

        ·  Inspect spark plugs often. A bad spark plug can overburden the coil.

        ·  Examine the coil casing for oil leaks or wire damage.

        ·  Stick to your car’s maintenance schedule. It helps keep the ignition system, including coils and spark plugs, in prime condition.

ignition coil replacement

Repair or Replace: Dealing with Damaged Coils

Can bad ignition coil be repaired?

It depends:

        · Repair

If the damage is minimal or specific. Such as a lowered insulation level. Repairing the coil without removing is feasible. This applies to coils that have been exposed to dirt or moisture.

        · Refurbish:

For more extensive damage, particularly in larger or medium voltage coils. When the primary winding is affected, refurbishing is the best route. This involves removing the coil and restoring it to full functionality.

        · Replace:

In cases where the coil is severely damaged. Such as compromised inner windings or when it cannot be cleaned. In this case, replacement is the most straightforward solution.

Pro Tip: Consider the costs of repair versus replacement, including labour and testing fees.

How to Replace Damaged Ignition Coil? DIY Approach

Many ignition coils are designed for easy replacement:

1st. Locate the faulty coil.

2nd. Disconnect it and remove it from the engine.

3rd. Install the new coil.

4th. If you handle it yourself, you save on labour costs. Coils can range from $40 to $300.

How To Test Ignition Coil?

Ignition coil test should be done with care:

                     Step 1:  Use an OBD-II scanner for initial diagnosis.

                     Step 2:  Visually inspect the coil for damage.

                     Step 3:  For a CNP coil, conduct a spark test (ignition coil tester) using insulated tools.

                     Step 4:  Observe the spark colour during the test. BLUE is good; ORANGE indicates an issue.

Ignition Coil Replacement Costs

Replacing an ignition coil is a critical repair that can affect your vehicle’s performance.

Ignition Coil Price: The cost fluctuates significantly. You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $400 or more. This price range reflects the diverse types of ignition coils and the complexities of different vehicle designs.

The final cost hinges on several factors:

        · Type of Coil: Each type has a different price point.

        · Vehicle Model: Some cars require more expensive coils or have coils that are harder to access.

        · Labour: The cost of professional installation adds to the expense. Especially, if the coil is in a difficult-to-reach location.

Keep Your Drives Smooth & Safe!

In conclusion, spotting the signs of a bad ignition coil is vital. It keeps your car running well. It also stops bigger and more expensive problems.

Are you having car trouble like weird noises or starting issues?

Don’t wait!

Talk to a mechanic at All Aspects Motors today. Take charge now and be safe.


      1. What are signs of a bad ignition coil?

8 Signs of a Faulty Ignition Coil

1. Your car uses up a lot of fuel.

2. Your car isn’t moving as fast as it should.

3. You can hear your car making choking and popping sounds.

4. Your car shakes and doesn’t run smoothly when it’s not moving.

5. Your car jerks and makes loud noises from the engine.

6. Your car stops running unexpectedly.

7. It’s hard to get your car started.

8.  The engine warning light is lit up on your dashboard.

      2. What kills ignition coils?

Continuous exposure to high heat and vibrations degrades the insulation within an ignition coil, leading to internal failure.

Additionally, worn components like spark plugs or wires can overtax the coil. Demanding more voltage leads to a shortened lifespan.

      3. How Can I Replace a Failed Ignition Coil?

Some ignition coils are simple to change by yourself. Because they just plug in and out.

However, traditional or electronic coils can be hard to replace without knowledge of car parts, so it’s best to get a pro to do ignition coil replacement.

      4. How Often Do I Have to Replace Ignition Coils?

Ignition coils are built to last up to 100,000 miles.

However, a faulty spark plug, too much heat, or water can break them down early. This leads to bad gas mileage and engine misfires.

If this happens, you’ll need to replace the faulty coil pack quickly.

      5.Can I Drive a Car With a Bad Ignition Coil?

You can push your vehicle to drive a few extra miles with a faulty ignition coil. Though, it isn’t recommended.

Driving with a bad ignition coil could harm your catalytic converter, a costly fix. Replacing an ignition coil is simple and cheap. It’s best to do it right away.

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