Talking about our Car's Ignition System

Many of us are enjoying the hot summer weather and hitting the open road for adventures and vacations. However, ensuring our vehicles are in optimal condition is essential for a smooth journey. One critical component that often goes unnoticed until it fails is the ignition system. In this blog post, we'll delve into how your car's ignition system works, signs that it may be faulty or failing, and why choosing a reliable repair service like Hillside Auto Repair can make all the difference for your peace of mind.

How Does the Ignition System Work?

The ignition system in a car is responsible for igniting the air-fuel mixture in the engine's cylinders, which in turn powers the vehicle. Modern ignition systems typically consist of several components:


  • Battery: Provides the initial electrical power to start the engine.
  • Ignition Switch: Activates the electrical system and starter motor
  • Ignition Coil: Converts low voltage from the battery into high voltage needed to create a spark.
  • Distributor (in older cars) or Ignition Module: Distributes the high voltage to the correct cylinder at the right time.
  • Spark Plugs: Actually create the spark that ignites the air-fuel mixture.

Each of these components must work seamlessly together for your car to start and run efficiently.

In essence, the operational sequence is as follows:

1. The key initiates the activation of the ignition switch.
2. The battery supplies an electric current which is then relayed to the ignition coil.
3. The ignition coil amplifies the electric current received.
4. Subsequently, a spark is generated from the amplified electrical energy.
5. The distributor evenly distributes the spark to each spark plug.
6. Each individual spark plug ignites the fuel contained within the engine cylinders.
7. The resulting explosions from fuel ignition generate the necessary power for propelling the vehicle forward.

And once the engine is in operation, the process is executed at an accelerated rate—approximately 18,000 times per minute when the vehicle is traveling at a speed of 90 mph! The functionality of the ignition system plays a crucial role in the successful initiation of the vehicle's movement.

Symptoms of Ignition System Failure

A failing ignition system can manifest in several ways, potentially leaving you stranded or causing your vehicle to operate inefficiently:

  • Difficulty Starting: If your car is hard to start, especially when the engine is cold, it could indicate problems with the ignition system.
  • Engine Misfires: A rough idle or hesitation during acceleration may be due to faulty ignition components.
  • Stalling: An engine that stalls unexpectedly, especially at low speeds, can be a sign of ignition issues.
  • Poor Fuel Economy: A decrease in gas mileage may result from inefficient combustion due to a faulty ignition system.

If your vehicle is experiencing difficulty starting after you turn the key, it could be due to a variety of reasons. The most common culprits are often attributed to faulty batteries, alternators, or spark plugs. Over time, the internal components of a battery wear down and become less efficient. It is generally advised for car owners to replace their battery every 3-5 years, depending on usage, to prevent total failure. Alternators are responsible for charging the battery and powering the electrical system while the engine is running. If the alternator malfunctions, the battery will not receive a proper charge, leading to a depleted battery. Symptoms of worn spark plugs include hard-starting, rough idling, decreased fuel efficiency, odd noises, or loss of power. Typically, spark plugs need replacement after driving around 80,000 miles.

Why Choose Hillside Auto Repair?

Located conveniently in beautiful O'Fallon, Missouri, Hillside Auto Repair is renowned for our expertise in diagnosing and repairing ignition system issues and more. Here’s why we are your go-to service provider:


  • Expert Technicians: Skilled ASE-certified technicians who specialize in diagnosing and repairing ignition system problems.
  • Quality Service: We use state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and genuine parts to ensure your vehicle performs at its best.
  • Warranty Coverage: Enjoy peace of mind with our impressive nationwide 3-year/36,000-mile warranty on parts and labor, demonstrating our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.

Having an understanding of how your car's ignition system works and recognizing the signs of potential failure are essential for maintaining your vehicle's reliability, especially during summer road trips! Choosing a reputable repair service like Hillside Auto Repair ensures that you can enjoy your travels worry-free, knowing that your vehicle is in capable hands. Ready to embark on your next journey? Contact Hillside Auto Repair today and experience the difference firsthand!