Electronic ignition: what advantages does it have?

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Automobile is very complicated system, which consists of many components and devices, which constantly interact. Your car won’t move without ignition system. This aspect requires special attention, especially electronic ignition.

What is electronic ignition?
Failures of electronic ignition
Electronic ignition: what advantages does it have?

What is electronic ignition?

Electronic ignition system is a type of ignition system, which uses electronic devices for creation and transferring of high-voltage current to engine cylinders. This system is also called microprocessor spark timing system.

There are no mechanical contacts in electronic ignition system, so, it can be called breakerless. Modern cars are equipped with electronic ignition system, which is a component of engine control system. This system controls integrated injection and ignition systems, and sometimes other systems (intake, exhaust and cooling).

All electronic ignition systems can be divided into 2 categories: direct ignition and with distributor. Distribution system of electronic ignition uses mechanical distributor, which is responsible for transfer of current to plug. Systems of direct ignition transfer current directly to ignition coil.

Construction of electronic ignition consists of traditional components: feed source, ignition coil, spark plugs, switch, high-voltage wires. Also, the system includes igniter, ECU (electronic control unit) and input sensors. These sensors record data at any instant and transform them into electrical impulses. Electronic ignition uses sensors readings, which are in engine control system. To these devices refer:
- engine crankshaft speed;
- air-mass flow;
- camshaft position;
- spark knock;
- coolant temperature;
- oxygen sensor and other.

With the help of control unit sensors data is processed and input control of igniter is formed. The igniter itself is an electronic circuit, which provides ignition switch on and off. Basis of igniter is transistor. If the transistor is open, the current is transferred to primary winding of ignition coil. If the transistor is closed, the current is transferred to secondary coil. The coil in ignition system can be one universal, few individual or coupled. Using individual ignition coils, there is no need in high-voltage wires, because this coil is attached to the spark plug. Universal ignition coils used in distributing ignition systems.

Coupled coils are typical for direct ignition. If there are 4 cylinders in engine, then one of the coils works with 1-st and 4-th, another – with 2-nd and 3-rd cylinders. With the help of coils generation of high-voltage current occurs. There are 2 outputs for current, that’s why spark transfers to both cylinders simultaneously. Air-fuel mixture ignites in one cylinder, in another – runs idle.

Electronic ignition: what advantages does it have?

Working principle of electronic ignition system is following: signals from sensors are received by ECU. According to these signals, optimal system settings are calculated. Then control impulse is transferred to igniter, which is responsible for current transferring to ignition coil. After this, current “runs” through primary winding.

When application of voltage stops, then high-voltage current runs through secondary ignition coil. This current is transferred to spark plug directly from coil or through high-voltage wires. Spark forms after plug is supplied with current. Due to the spark forms an air-fuel mixture. When crankshaft speed shifts, and crankshaft speed sensor together with camshaft position sensor signal to ECU, which signals for ignition dwell angle. When engine is under increased load, the ignition dwell angle is controlled by air-mass flow sensor. Other sensors provide additional information.

Electronic system uses an output transistor for circuit breaker closing and opening. This leads to voltage increasing on spark plugs, which provides more energy. Also, such engineering solution won’t allow decreasing of voltage on plugs electrodes even under low temperature, so, the engine starts even under rough conditions.

Electronic ignition: what advantages does it have?

Failures of electronic ignition

During exploitation of car, any of its components can fail, including ignition system. There are failures typical for any ignition system:
- spark plugs failure;
- ignition coil failure;
- problems with high- and low-voltage wires (wire break, oxidated contacts etc.).

There also occur failures connected to ECU breakdowns and output sensors.

Ignition system breaks because of:
1) Incorrect use of car (use of low quality fuel, unqualified diagnostics etc);
2) Car was equipped with construction elements of low quality (coils, spark plugs, high-voltage wires etc.)
3) Failure was caused by environment (atmospheric pressure, mechanic damage).

The most widespread ignition system breakdown is failure of spark plugs, Fortunately, now this component is available for every driver, that’s why its repair won’t take long.

Even visual diagnostics can point on ignition system failures. It is easier to notice them, while checking the reaction of ignition system on failures of fuel and injection system. That’s why, it is better to make diagnostics of ignition system with other systems.

Electronic ignition: what advantages does it have?

External symptoms of ignition failure:
1) Increased fuel consumption;
2) Decreased engine power;
3) Unstable engine work on idle run;
4) Engine starts harder.

In case if engine starts harder, the failure might be in high-voltage wires, spark plugs, ignition coil, ECU, crankshaft speed sensor or hall plate. If your car consumes more fuel and engine became less powerful, this means that spark plugs, output sensors or ECU might have broken down.

Before turning to expert, try to inspect ignition system of your car by yourself, because this way you might be able to find failure. In this case you’ll just replace plugs or coil and everything will be OK!

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