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Ignition System

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An ignition system is a system for igniting a fuel-air mixture. Best known in the field of internal combustion engines

 
 
Most four-stroke engines have used a mechanically timed electrical ignition system. The heart of the system is the distributor. The distributor contains a rotating cam running off the engine's drive, a set of breaker points, a condenser, a rotor and a distributor cap. External to the distributor is the ignition coil, the spark plugs, and wires linking the spark plugs and ignition coil to the distributor.
 
 
Typical Ignition System     (DIS) Distributorless Ignition System     Spark Plugs      Coil     Distributor     Testing with a Multi-meter
 
 
Typical Distributor Style Ignition System Components
 
A car engines Ignition System with distributor type ignition systems can seem complex, but once simplified can be diagnosed with ease. Using the Diagram provided above you can see there are several different components. The most common component is the spark plug. If you do not have spark at the spark plug then you can backtrack from there. Use a new spark plug or spark tester to test for spark coming from the plug wire, if you do not see spark here, test for spark coming from the coil wire to the distributor. If these test ok, move on and look at the distributor cap and rotor for corrosion or damage. If these look ok, then you most likely have a failed ignition module. The ignition module is located under the distributor cap on GM vehicles and external on most other vehicles. Ignition module failure is the most common no spark symptom outside normal tune up maintenance.
 

Ignition System Diagram

 
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