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Video:How to Test an Ignition Coil in a Car

with Luis Quiñones

Testing the ignition coil in a modern car requires a computer, but you still may be able to check them in older models. This About.com video will show you how to test the ignition coil in your car.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Test an Ignition Coil in a Car

My name is Luis Quiñones from North Miami Auto Specialist. Today, for About.com, we're going to learn about testing ignition coils.

Safety First

If prior to doing any work under the hood you were driving, the internal parts of your vehicle are most likely to be extremely hot. You need to wait for a few minutes before starting to do any work. Also, use caution with the clothing or if you have a long hair, you could get them dirty and greasy, so always be careful. 

Testing the Ignition Coil

In today's world, in order to check the coil in a vehicle you need this type of computer, which is a professional computer for professional mechanics. Today they sell this in any auto parts store to check what is going on with your car.

Testing on Older Cars

Most cars today have independent coil systems and you actually need a computer to check the coil, but today we're going to talk about this system, which is the coil that comes in the pre '75 cars. In order to check this, you would have to remove the wire from the center of the distributor cap, in most cars the wire would be in the center.

Take the coil wire, put it close the motor to ground and have somebody spin the motor inside. If you see sparks coming from the end of the coil wire, it has to be a blue color; if it's orange, that means it doesn't have enough power. At that point, you will go and see if something is grounded inside the distributor, but you would have to make sure before spending any money that is not necessary on the vehicle because if could be something simple.

Testing for a Signal

What I would do? I would take a light tester, you would ground it one side to the motor, then you would test it in the positive side to see if you have power. If you have power and you don't have a signal, that means something could be wrong inside the distributor, but again, you would have to check it thoroughly before coming to a conclusion.

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