The ignition igniter, also commonly known as the ignition module, is an engine management component found on many road going cars and trucks. It is an ignition system component that is responsible for providing the signal for the ignition coils to fire, so that the spark can be produced for cylinder combustion to occur. In some systems the igniter is also responsible for advancing and retarding the engine’s timing.

As the igniter provides a signal that is vital to the operation of the ignition system, and engine, when it fails it can cause issues that can dramatically affect engine performance. Usually a bad or failing igniter will produce a few symptom that can alert the driver of a potential issue.

1. Engine misfires and decrease in power, acceleration, and fuel efficiency

One of the first symptoms of an issue with the vehicle’s igniter is engine performance issues. If the igniter fails or has any problems it can compromise the engine spark. This can in turn lead to performance issues such as misfires, a loss in power and acceleration, a decrease in fuel efficiency, and in more serious cases engine stalling.

2. Check Engine Light comes on

An illuminated Check Engine Light is another symptom of a potential issue with the vehicle’s igniter. If the computer picks up any problems with the igniter signal or circuit, it will set off the Check Engine Light to alert the driver of an issue. The Check Engine Light can also be set off by performance issues possibly related to the igniter, such as the misfires, so it is best to have the computer scanned for trouble codes to help determine what the exact issue may be.

3. Car is not starting

Another symptom of a faulty igniter is a no start condition. The igniter is responsible for providing the signal for the ignition system to fire, if it fails it can disable the entire ignition system. A vehicle without a functional ignition system will not have spark, and as a result will not be able to start. A no start condition can also be caused by a wide variety of other issues, so a proper diagnosis is highly recommended.

As they are an electrical component, igniters may eventually wear out and need to be replaced, especially in high mileage vehicles. If you suspect that your igniter may be having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if the igniter should be replaced.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Ignition Ignitor and was authored by Eduardo Ruelas.


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