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As we all know, without your ignition, your car is going nowhere! However, it’s a pretty precise function which relies on some fairly tight conditions. It’s hard to believe just how precise and intricate our cars can be, right down to the finer points!

Ignition systems are always going to vary from vehicle to vehicle, but they – naturally – all do the same thing. They deliver power to fire up your combustion engine! All it takes to spark the ignition and to set the chemical reaction going is, of course, a quick turn of your key.

The way this appears and works in practice, as mentioned, may differ from car to car. However, in this quick guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how this system works at a basic level. It doesn’t have to be rocket science!

Ignition 101

Let’s take a look at ignition and how it works in older models of car. Traditionally, petrol engines will normally rely on an electrical coil, which works to deliver power to your spark plugs. Your spark plugs will time the delivery of a spark to your fuel cylinders, and this traditionally takes place via something called a distributor.

Your distributor has a rotor arm which spins around inside its cap, and it revolves faster the more your engine speed up. This allows the arm to deliver pulses to different cylinder contacts. Crucially, this means that your spark plugs receive charges and therefore start the combustion process. In these older engines, you’ll normally find that fuel is available in each piston, which will then react to the process as mentioned.

This tend to be a little simple in modern cars. This means that your fuel is delivered directly, and that along the way, there are bits and pieces which are electronically managed. There are individual coils for your spark plugs and cylinders.

This means that there’s no longer a need for a distributor, and it also means that power delivers cleaner and stronger to each spark plug. This is a huge reliability booster.

In some cases, you’ll find that there are single coil systems which affect multiple cylinders.

What About Spares?

The spares you might need for your ignition system may vary depending on the age of your fuel system (as above). Older systems might need new distributor caps, ignition coils, HT cables and rotor arms.

If you have a modern car, however, you will likely need to swap out control unit parts and electronic fixtures. If you drive diesel, you won’t even need anything to make a spark – meaning you may need to swap out your cold start advance system.

If something does go wrong with your car’s ignition, it may be worth considering looking into replacing the key barrel. This runs common to most systems, and over time, it is a prominent part of your ignition system which is likely to wear down.

Your ignition doesn’t have to be complex! Make sure to reach out to a service centre or local mechanic and get back on the road in no time.


Replacement Ignition Parts


Coil Ignition Module Combined Ignition Amplifier Ignition Control Unit Coil Pack Ignition Barrel & Key Ignition HT Leads Coil Pack Assembly Ignition Coil Ignition Switch Cold Start Advance System Ignition Coil Module Lockset & Ignition