Ignition System Components: Coils, Modules and Spark Plug Wires

Ignition System Components: Coils, Modules and Spark Plug Wires

Learn how spark plugs, ignition coils, and ECM controls work together to ignite the air-fuel mixture and keep your engine running smoothly.

CC:

We all know that vehicles run on gasoline. I think that we can also agree that gasoline is a very flammable fluid. Did you ever wonder how this fuel actually runs an engine and how it gets ignited to do so? Yes, it’s very flammable, but it needs two other components to ignite. It must have oxygen and an ignition source. In our vehicles today, this source is the ignition system. Today, we are going to look into the system and its components. At the very root of the system is the actual part that supplies the spark to ignite. We all know that as the spark plug. But how does the spark plug convert electrical energy into a spark and how is it controlled? Early systems used a combination of points, condenser, and a distributor to get the spark to the fuel. In this system, the charge from the battery would build up in the coil until the points broke and grounded the coil, thus discharging the spark to the distributor and through the wires to the plug.

The spark plug is an igniter of sorts. It is grounded to the block via the threads in the metal portion of the plug. A separate conductor insulated in porcelain carries the voltage to the center electrode. At this point, the voltage builds up and arcs across to the grounded electrode and boom, we have ignition. The air fuel mixture that has gathered in the combustion chamber ignites and the controlled burn across the top of the piston pushes it down the cylinder. In today’s internal combustion engines, the process is still basically the same.

However, some of the components have morphed into different forms and some have been replaced by newer, more efficient versions. Today, there is one coil for every cylinder. Each coil sits directly on top of the spark plug via a rubber boot through the valve cover. The spark plug wires, the points and the distributor have been replaced by computer controls in the electronic control module or ECM. Voltages at the plugs are much greater and thus gaps have been widened to give more robust sparks. At the heart of all of it, still is the spark plug. Compositions have changed over the years. We have gone from steel to copper, to platinum, and now onto Iridium. Plug life has increased from 5,000 miles to 100 000 miles. Today’s ignition systems are more precise and last much longer. They still need maintenance and service regularly. That’s about all for today and thanks for being with us.

You May Also Like

Why Do Timing Chains Stretch?

If your customer’s timing chain fails, it can lead to serious engine damage and repairs can be complex and costly for your customer.

Timing change. Stretch is not the stretching of the timing change's links. It is elongation of the timing chain caused by where to the change components. Timing change stretch is a common issue in internal combustion engines. To understand it better, let's break down the basics. The timing chain links the crankshaft, which powers the pistons to the camshaft controlling the opening and closing of the engine's valves.

Schaeffler and Sustainability with Jerry Conroy

Conroy shares insights into his career trajectory, the evolving landscape of the company’s aftermarket operations, and its commitment to innovation and sustainability.

Mastering Belt and Hose Replacement Strategies

Learn how recommending comprehensive replacement kits can streamline repairs, reduce comebacks, and enhance trust with customers.

Sway Bars and Linkages

The basic operation of a sway bar is quite simple.

Sway Bars and Linkages
Gear Ratios and Vehicle Performance

Just remember, there is no perfect gear ratio.

Gear Ratios and Vehicle Performance

Other Posts

Rebuild or Replace Brake Calipers

Explore the debate on whether to rebuild or replace brake calipers. Learn about the cost, time, and tools involved. This video is sponsored by The Group Training Academy.

Suspension Upgrades and Customization

Explore the benefits of upgrading your vehicle’s suspension with aftermarket components. Learn how these upgrades improve handling, traction, braking performance, and customize your ride quality.

Getting Started with Starting Systems

Learn how 12-volt batteries, solenoids, and starter motors work together to get vehicles running.

Basic Types of Brake Rotors

The most common materials used in brake rotors include cast iron, carbon composite, and ceramic cast. This video is sponsored by The Group Training Academy.