Why Do My Ignition Coils Keep Failing? Explore Causes of coil failure

When it comes to the smooth operation of your vehicle, ignition coils play a pivotal role. These tiny but super important parts change the low power from your battery into the strong power your engine needs to start. Sometimes, these parts, called ignition coils, can break. This can cause problems for car owners. Let’s find out Why Do My Ignition Coils Keep Failing and how to fix it so your car works excellently. 
Why Do My Ignition Coils Keep Failing?
Why Do My Ignition Coils Keep Failing?

Understanding Ignition Coils

In cars, ignition coils are super important. They help your car engine run smoothly. These small parts connect your car’s battery to make a vital spark. This spark starts the engine. Let’s learn more about how ignition coils work and why they matter for your car.

What Are Ignition Coils?

Ignition or spark coils are like magic machines in your car. They change the little electricity from your car’s battery into ample, powerful electricity. This considerable electricity makes a spark in your engine, which starts the fire that makes your car go. So, in simple words, ignition coils make your car’s engine work by making tiny explosions that push your car forward.

The Operation of Ignition Coils

Understanding the inner workings of ignition coils is fundamental to comprehending their importance. Here’s a simplified breakdown of how ignition coils operate:

Low-Voltage Input:

Ignition coils receive a low-voltage electrical input from the battery, typically around 12 volts. This voltage is insufficient to create the spark needed to ignite the air-fuel mixture within the engine.

Step-Up Transformation:

The primary ignition coil winding is critical in amplifying this low voltage. Electromagnetic induction transforms the initial 12-volt input into a much higher voltage, often 20,000 to 50,000 volts.

Secondary Winding:

This amplified voltage then flows through the secondary winding of the ignition coil, where it is further stepped up. This substantial voltage increase turns the electrical charge into a powerful spark.

Spark Generation:

The vital electricity goes to the plugs, making a spark between the plug’s two parts. This spark starts the fire in the engine’s cylinders, causing the engine to work.

The Significance of Ignition Coils

Ignition coils play a critical role in ensuring your vehicle operates efficiently. Here’s why they are so significant:

Reliable Ignition:

If there were no ignition coils, the spark wouldn’t be vital. Ignition coils ensure the spark is always good, so the engine works well and stays smooth.

Fuel Efficiency:

Efficient combustion, achieved through proper ignition, results in optimal fuel efficiency. Ignition coils are essential in helping your vehicle get the most out of every drop of fuel.

Reduced Emissions:

When combustion is incomplete due to a weak spark, it can increase emissions of harmful pollutants. Ignition coils aid in minimizing these emissions by ensuring complete and efficient combustion.

Engine Performance:

How well your car works, like how fast it goes and how strong it is, depends on starting the air-fuel mix at the right time. Ignition coils are essential for making your car’s engine work at its best.

Diagnose Failing Ignition Coil

Diagnosing a failing ignition coil is essential to promptly identify and resolve the issue. Here’s a brief guide on how to diagnose a failing ignition coil:

Check for Warning Lights:

If your vehicle’s check engine light is illuminated, it strongly indicates a potential ignition coils problem. Use an OBD-II scanner to retrieve diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) for more specific information.

Listen for Engine Misfires:

Failing ignition coils can cause engine misfires. While driving, pay attention to any irregularities like sputtering or hesitation. These can be signs of misfires caused by a faulty lock.

Perform a Visual Inspection:

Inspect the ignition coils and their associated wires for visible damage, such as cracks, corrosion, or loose connections. Damaged components may need to be replaced.

Swap Coils:

If you suspect a specific ignition coil is failing, you can perform a coil swap. This involves moving the suspected faulty coil to a different cylinder and a known good coil to the initially suspected cylinder. If the misfire moves with the coil, it’s likely a failing coil.

Check Spark Plugs:

Remove and inspect the plugs for fouling signs, such as carbon buildup or oil deposits. Ignition coil problems can cause these issues.

Use a Multimeter:

A multimeter can measure the resistance of the ignition coil’s primary and secondary windings. If the resistance values are significantly out of range, it may indicate a failing coil.

Perform a Cylinder Compression Test:

Conduct a cylinder compression test to rule out other engine issues in cases of severe misfires. Low compression in a cylinder could be causing the misfire, and it may not necessarily be an ignition coil problem.

Consult Professional Diagnostic Tools:

If you’re unsure about diagnosing the issue, consult a mechanic or an auto repair shop with professional diagnostic tools. They can perform comprehensive tests to pinpoint the problem accurately.

Why Do My Ignition Coils Keep Failing: Explore Common Causes

Ignition coils are super important parts of your car’s ignition system. They make the big spark that starts the fire in your engine’s cylinders. While these vehicle components are designed for durability, they are not immune to wear and tear. Let’s explore the common reasons why ignition coils may fail:

1. Overheating

Overheating is a primary factor contributing to ignition coils failures. Ignition coils are exposed to high temperatures under the hood of your vehicle. Over time, these extreme conditions can cause the insulation within the ring to break down. When this happens, it can lead to internal short circuits and, ultimately, coil failure. A coil can get too hot for different reasons, like when the engine gets too hot, there’s not enough air, or the coil gets old over time.

2. Voltage Spikes

Voltage spikes are another frequent cause of ignition coil issues. Sudden surges in voltage can overload the coil, causing it to malfunction or even burn out. These voltage spikes can result from a failing alternator, faulty spark plug gap, or vehicle electrical system issues. When not addressed promptly, voltage spikes can lead to costly repairs.

3. Moisture and Corrosion

Moisture and corrosion can wreak havoc on ignition coils. When water or moisture enters the coil’s casing, it can lead to electrical shorts and the breakdown of internal components. This is particularly common in areas with high humidity or if the ring is improperly sealed. Corruption weakens the coil’s performance and can eventually lead to failure.

4. Age and Wear

Like all components in a vehicle, ignition coils have a finite lifespan. Their internal components naturally weaken as they age, making them more susceptible to failure. Extreme temperatures, frequent engine starts, and poor maintenance can accelerate this aging process. Routine wear and tear can cause coils to lose their efficiency over time.

5. Electrical Overload

Ignition coils are designed to handle a specific range of electrical loads. Electrical overload occurs when the coil is subjected to higher electrical currents than it can safely take. This can happen due to faulty wiring, damaged connectors, or electrical system issues. Excessive electrical load can lead to coil overheating and failure.

6. Manufacturing Defects

In some cases, ignition coil failures can be attributed to manufacturing defects. Though not common, sometimes the coil can be made or put together in a way that could be better, and this can make it break too soon. It might have problems like shorts inside, insulation breaking, or other things that stop it from working well.
Car owners need to know why ignition coils can break. Regular maintenance and fixing problems like overheating, sudden high power, or getting wet can make your coils last longer. If you take care of your coils and resolve issues early, your car will run better and have fewer problems.

Preventing Ignition Coil Failures

Now that we know why ignition coils can break let’s learn how to stop that from happening and keep your coils working great.

Regular Maintenance

Routine maintenance is critical to preventing ignition coil failures. Ensure that your vehicle undergoes regular check-ups and tune-ups. This includes inspecting and, if necessary, replacing ignition coils as part of your maintenance schedule.

Addressing Electrical Issues

If you notice electrical problems like flickering or dimming headlights, address them promptly. These issues can lead to voltage spikes that may damage your ignition coils.

Keeping the Engine Cool

Preventing overheating is crucial. Ensure your engine stays within the recommended temperature range by promptly maintaining the cooling system and addressing overheating issues.

Sealing and Protection

If you live in a humid environment, consider using moisture-resistant coatings or sealants on your ignition coils. This extra layer of protection can prevent moisture and corrosion from affecting the coils.


“Why do my ignition coils keep failing?” is a question that plagues many car owners. However, armed with the knowledge provided in this article, it can do things to stop ignition coils from breaking. First, take care of your car regularly. Fix any electrical problems and make sure your coils stay dry and don’t get rusty. This will help your coils last longer and keep your car running well.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can I drive my car with failing ignition coils?

Yes, you can, but it’s not recommended. A failing ignition coil can lead to reduced engine performance, decreased fuel efficiency, and increased emissions. It is preferable to treat the problem right away to stop additional harm.

How often should ignition coils be replaced?

The lifespan of ignition coils varies, but they typically last between 100,000 and 200,000 miles. However, following your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations for replacement intervals is essential.

Can I replace the ignition coils myself?

If you have the necessary tools and mechanical aptitude, you can replace ignition coils yourself. However, it’s crucial to follow proper procedures and safety precautions. It is preferable to treat the problem right away to stop additional harm.

Are aftermarket ignition coils a good option?

Aftermarket ignition coils can be a cost-effective alternative, but their quality may vary. Choosing reputable brands and ensuring the coils meet your vehicle’s specifications is essential.

How can I test my ignition coils for issues?

You can test ignition coils using a multimeter to check for resistance and continuity. However, this process requires technical knowledge. If you’re unsure, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance.

What are the signs of failing ignition coils?

Signs of failing ignition coils include engine misfires, poor acceleration, reduced fuel efficiency, and illuminated check engine lights. Have your vehicle inspected if you notice these symptoms.

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