Starters and Ignition Systems

What does the coil on a car do?

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Answered 2009-06-14 14:41:20

Short answer: Fires the spark plugs. The ignition coil is nothing more that an electrical transformer. It contains both primary and secondary winding circuits. The coil primary winding contains 100 to 150 turns of heavy copper wire. This wire must be insulated so that the voltage does not jump from loop to loop, shorting it out. If this happened, it could not create the primary magnetic field that is required. The primary circuit wire goes into the coil through the positive terminal, loops around the primary windings, then exits through the negative terminal. The coil secondary winding circuit contains 15,000 to 30,000 turns of fine copper wire, which also must be insulated from each other. The secondary windings sit inside the loops of the primary windings. To further increase the coils magnetic field the windings are wrapped around a soft iron core. To withstand the heat of the current flow, the coil is filled with oil which helps keep it cool. The ignition coil is the heart of the ignition system. As current flows through the coil a strong magnetic field is built up. When the current is shut off, the collapse of this magnetic field to the secondary windings induces a high voltage which is released through the large center terminal. This voltage is then directed to the spark plugs through the distributor.

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