An ignition system produces and maintains a spark in the cylinders of an internal combustion engine. The spark ignites the air-fuel mixture, providing the power to run the engine. The ignition system has four main components: the ignition coil, spark plugs, distributor, and ignition wires.
The ignition coil is a transformer that steps up the voltage of the battery from 12 volts to as much as 30,000 volts. This high voltage is needed to create a spark at the spark plug. The ignition coil is typically located near the engine’s cylinder head.
Spark plugs are installed in the cylinder head and create a spark that ignites the air-fuel mixture. The plugs have a small gap between the electrodes, and it is this gap that the voltage must jump in order to create a spark.
The distributor is responsible for routing the high voltage from the ignition coil to the correct cylinder. The distributor has a rotating arm with contacts that correspond to each cylinder. As the arm rotates, it makes contact with each set of ignition wires in turn, sending voltage to the correct spark plug.
Ignition wires are used to route high voltage from the distributor to each spark plug. The wires must be made of special material that can withstand high levels of heat and electricity. In some vehicles, such as Toyota cars, ignition wires are not used. Instead, ignition coils are mounted directly on top of each spark plug. This design, called an ignition Coil-On-Plug (COP) system, is considered more efficient because it eliminates losses due to sparking in long ignition wires.
There are a number of reasons why your Toyota’s ignition system might fail. Here are four of the most common:
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