Signs Of A Bad Coil Pack: Easy Tips!

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It is convenient that you detect the signs of a faulty coil pack. Coil packs have replaced the standard distributor cap on many engines as they improve the efficiency of the ignition system. Instead of using a distributor cap and rotor to send a spark through the wires, the coil multiplies the spark through an electronic pulse from the ignition system.

Signs of a Bad Coil Pack

A coil pack consists of a small plastic box containing an electronic module that connects to four, six, or eight plug wire output connectors (depending on motor size). Signs of a damaged coil pack are as follows:

1- Engine lights and fault codes

An illuminated “Check Engine” light or trouble code will give you the first indication of a faulty coil pack. If the “Check Engine” light comes on while the engine is running, it may indicate one of many possible problems, including a faulty coil pack.

If necessary, visit your dealership and have a mechanic connect a code scanner (a small handheld computer) to your vehicle to determine the exact source of the problem. The code scanner lists a fault code number; the mechanic then refers to a fault code book to decipher the problem component. To fix your own system problem, rent a code scanner and reserve it at your local auto supply store and follow the instructions.

2- Cracked coil packs

Cracked coil packs show symptoms, particularly during cold, wet weather when moisture has entered the engine compartment. Cracked coil packings can cause a poor running engine or misfire at idle.

Moisture settling in the crevice of a crack in the coil pack will allow a spark (arc) to travel the length of the crack until it reaches a source in the ground, where it will cause a direct short.

Electrical sparks flying from a crack in the coil pack case, accompanied by a loud electrical snap or clicking sound, indicate that the coil pack is cracked.

3- Bad Fuel Economy

Any one of the coil terminals can fail, robbing the ignition system of the spark needed to burn fuel. Unburned fuel that is allowed to pass through the exhaust will cause a noticeable reduction in fuel economy as the engine has to work harder to maintain the same speed and power. Slow motor performance will accompany poor coil pack performance.

4- Emissions

Any black smoke coming out of the tailpipe indicates raw, unburned fuel. An overly rich mixture appears as cloudy, black exhaust smoke coming out of the tube during all engine operations, whether at idle or high RPM.

Cranking the engine several times may show this condition. A stream of unburned fuel can enter the vehicle through open windows while driving; you will notice the smell of raw gas, which may cause nausea.

5- Catalytic converter

A smell of sulfur or burnt rotten eggs coming from the front end of the vehicle will indicate the presence of a fuel saturated catalytic converter. Catalytic converters can become wet with fuel when the coil pack does not produce a strong or consistent enough spark to ignite the fuel mixture.

This failure can plug the catalytic converter and cause exhaust back pressure. Extreme back pressure will cause the engine to run more or less well, die during idle, or not start at all.

6- Low load failure

If your vehicle’s engine misfires or attempts to misfire while it is under a load, such as going up a hill while towing a trailer, you may have a faulty coil pack or loose connection wires at the coil pack nozzle connections.

It is convenient that you detect the signs of a faulty coil pack. Coil packs have replaced the standard distributor cap on many engines as they improve the efficiency of the ignition system. Instead of using a distributor cap and rotor to send a spark through the wires, the coil multiplies the spark through an electronic pulse from the ignition system.

Signs of a Bad Coil Pack

A coil pack consists of a small plastic box containing an electronic module that connects to four, six, or eight plug wire output connectors (depending on motor size). Signs of a damaged coil pack are as follows:

1- Engine lights and fault codes

An illuminated “Check Engine” light or trouble code will give you the first indication of a faulty coil pack. If the “Check Engine” light comes on while the engine is running, it may indicate one of many possible problems, including a faulty coil pack.

If necessary, visit your dealership and have a mechanic connect a code scanner (a small handheld computer) to your vehicle to determine the exact source of the problem. The code scanner lists a fault code number; the mechanic then refers to a fault code book to decipher the problem component. To fix your own system problem, rent a code scanner and reserve it at your local auto supply store and follow the instructions.

2- Cracked coil packs

Cracked coil packs show symptoms, particularly during cold, wet weather when moisture has entered the engine compartment. Cracked coil packings can cause a poor running engine or misfire at idle.

Moisture settling in the crevice of a crack in the coil pack will allow a spark (arc) to travel the length of the crack until it reaches a source in the ground, where it will cause a direct short.

Electrical sparks flying from a crack in the coil pack case, accompanied by a loud electrical snap or clicking sound, indicate that the coil pack is cracked.

3- Bad Fuel Economy

Any one of the coil terminals can fail, robbing the ignition system of the spark needed to burn fuel. Unburned fuel that is allowed to pass through the exhaust will cause a noticeable reduction in fuel economy as the engine has to work harder to maintain the same speed and power. Slow motor performance will accompany poor coil pack performance.

4- Emissions

Any black smoke coming out of the tailpipe indicates raw, unburned fuel. An overly rich mixture appears as cloudy, black exhaust smoke coming out of the tube during all engine operations, whether at idle or high RPM.

Cranking the engine several times may show this condition. A stream of unburned fuel can enter the vehicle through open windows while driving; you will notice the smell of raw gas, which may cause nausea.

5- Catalytic converter

A smell of sulfur or burnt rotten eggs coming from the front end of the vehicle will indicate the presence of a fuel saturated catalytic converter. Catalytic converters can become wet with fuel when the coil pack does not produce a strong or consistent enough spark to ignite the fuel mixture.

This failure can plug the catalytic converter and cause exhaust back pressure. Extreme back pressure will cause the engine to run more or less well, die during idle, or not start at all.

6- Low load failure

If your vehicle’s engine misfires or attempts to misfire while it is under a load, such as going up a hill while towing a trailer, you may have a faulty coil pack or loose connection wires at the coil pack nozzle connections.

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