The Purpose of the Ignition System
In order for your car to move, it depends on combustion in the engine's cylinders. Your engine and vehicle are started by thousands of little explosions. Fuel, compression, and a spark are all needed for combustion. You cannot start your vehicle or truck without that spark generated by the ignition system.
At a glance, the process that generates that spark may seem complex, but after we've gone through this information with you, you will have better working knowledge of how your engine starts.
The Types of Ignition Systems
Throughout automobile history, the majority of ignition systems have relied on a distributor to provide electricity to the appropriate cylinder at the appropriate time. Electronic sensors and the vehicle's computer, the engine control unit (or ECU), regulate the spark timing in more modern distributor-less or direct ignition systems, which do away with the mechanical distributor. The objective in both systems is to get the spark plugs to spark in the proper order and at the right time in order to maintain combustion running smoothly in each cylinder.
The direct ignition method is simple enough to understand if you believe that computers are boxes full of magic. The ECU receives information from electronic sensors regarding the crankshaft and camshaft position. This enables the ECU to decide when the ignition coils (which are powered by the battery) should provide power to the spark plugs. In these setups, the ignition coils may be placed directly on the valve cover plug, known as a coil-on-plug arrangement, or they may be ignition coil packs that transmit power to the spark plugs via spark plug wires.
How Mechanical Ignition Systems With Distributors Work
Mechanical ignition systems that utilize distributors, are a little more complex and have a few more parts. The easiest way to comprehend it is to go through each component starting with the battery and finishing with the spark plugs.
Here's a simplified rundown of the ignition system: The ignition coil receives low-voltage electricity from the battery. In timed pulses, the ignition coil transforms low voltage electricity into high voltage power. The distributor has a shaft that the camshaft rotates. Other distributor components move, causing the ignition coil to pulse and sending energy down each spark plug wire in sequence. Sparks are generated by the electricity travelling down the spark plug wires to the spark plugs. The sparks in the engine cylinders ignite the fuel and air.