The ignition system creates the spark that ignites fuel and air in a gas engine. The ignition coil increases the 12 volts supplied by the battery to around 20,000 volts. Although older vehicles used a single ignition coil and a mechanical distributor to send the high voltage to each spark plug, most vehicles now have a smaller ignition coil for each cylinder of the engine.
The engine computer determines when the spark should happen by the signal it receives from the crankshaft position sensor. The timing is further fine-tuned according to readings from other sensors such as the knock sensor, which listens for the noise created when the spark happens too early, the throttle position sensor, and the mass air flow or manifold pressure sensors. A variety of sensors are used to ensure proper timing of the engine spark.
When the engine computer activates the coil, the high voltage jumps the gap between the electrode and group strap on the spark plug, igniting the compressed fuel and air in the cylinder to create an explosion that pushes the piston downwards.
Failed or worn ignition system components cause misfires -- where the fuel is not burned correctly in the cylinder. This causes rough running, loss of power, and increased fuel consumption.
The ignition coil and spark plug are the primary elements of the ignition system, providing the voltage to create a spark.
What parts make up the ignition system?
Professional Auto Care
Professional Auto Care is an award-winning family owned and operated auto repair shop located in southwest Houston. It has been run by the same family, the Serratos Family, for nearly 35 years. Professional Auto Care services Domestic, Asian as well as select European vehicles. We are known for our professionalism, transparency and quality of work. Since our humble beginning in 1983, we always strove to provide the best, most reliable service in Houston with a hint of the personal touch. The founders, Everardo and Claudia Serratos, are still involved with the daily operations of the car maintenance and auto repair shop.