An Automobile Ignition System Components and How They Work

The ignition system of a vehicle generates electric sparks to ignite the fuel-air mixture in the engine's cylinder.

The ignition system of a vehicle generates electric sparks to ignite the fuel-air mixture in the engine's cylinder. The ignition system is an array of components that work together in the process of starting the engine. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the components of an ignition system and how they work.

Ignition key
In order to start a car's ignition system, you need to insert the ignition key and turn the key to run position. When the key is turned on, it allows the low voltage electricity from the battery to flow into the ignition coil.

Storage battery
The storage battery is the primary source of power. It supplies the necessary current to the ignition system. It supplies 12 volts power to the ignition coil.

Ignition coil
The ignition coil is a transformer that converts the battery's low voltage into high voltage. The coil increases the voltage from 12 volts battery power to 25-30,000 volts. It consists of primary and secondary winding circuits. The primary winding gets the electricity from the battery to make a spark and the secondary winding transports the increased electricity to the distributor.

Distributor
The distributor sends a high voltage current from the coil to the respective spark plug at proper time when spark is needed. It is also responsible for triggering the ignition coil to generate a spark. The distributor consists of a bowl made up of metal and is driven by the camshaft.

Distributor cap and rotor
The distributor cap is made of a non-conductive material like plastic and it contains an electrode inside. Inside the cap, there are more electrodes called segments. Each segment points to one cylinder. For example, if a vehicle has four cylinders, then it will have four segments. If it has six cylinders, then six segments.

The rotor is fitted on the top of the electrode of the distributor cap with a metal spring, and it rotates to distribute the high voltage to all segments. The high voltage is passed to the rotor through one central electrode of the cap. It is then distributed to all the segments and thereby to spark plugs while it rotates.

Spark plugs and spark plug wires
The spark plugs depend on spark plug wires to carry out their functions. The spark plug wires pass electrical current from the distributor cap to the spark plugs, and then the spark plugs produce spark. This spark ignites the fuel-air mixture in the cylinder of the engine, which allows the vehicle to start.

The purpose of this article is to give you a basic understanding of ignition system and how each of its components work interdependently.

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