The job of the electronic spark control is to control the engine timing. This part can also be called the "knock sensor", as it monitors any unusual knocking, or vibration that may be happening in the engine. This is important because the vibrations can lead to damage of the actual engine, so it's important to monitor. The knocking happens when the engine doesn't fire as it should and when it should.
It's the powertrain control module that is able to send adjustments to the electronic spark control module. The engine timing can be slowed down or sped up depending on what is needed to aid in the vibration. All this is happening while you are driving your vehicle so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
Of course all of this is true except for when the electronic spark control reaches the end of its lifeline, and then a number of symptoms become apparent. While there is no set lifespan for this part, nor is regular maintenance required, it can become faulty over time. Once this part stops working it won’t cause any safety concerns for you, but you are risking serious damage to your engine, which can cost a whole lot to repair.
Here’s a look at some signs that it may be time to replace your electronic spark control:
Your Check Engine Light will likely come on and will show either an ESC module code or a knock sensor code. A certified mechanic will be able to read the codes and diagnose the situation properly.
When you stop or accelerate you may hear a knocking sound that is coming from the engine. Since the electronic spark control isn't functioning, it won't be able to make the necessary adjustments to stop the knocking.
From a stopped position your engine may stall or stumble as you start to accelerate. This can become frustrating and even dangerous to other drivers since there is no warning of your vehicle suddenly stalling.
The electronic spark control, also known as the “knock sensor” plays an important role in keeping engine vibrations in check. Without this part working properly, you risk causing serious damage to the engine. If you’re experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms and suspect your electronic spark control is in need of replacement, get a diagnostic or book an electronic spark control replacement service with a professional mechanic.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does an Electronic Spark Control Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.