Is your car stalling or getting harder to start in the mornings? You may need to replace one or more of its ignition parts. Depending on the part and your knowledge and experience, there may be some repairs that you can do by yourself. Some replacements are easy, while others are tricky and best left to the experts. Let’s look at the main ignition parts in a car and how you can go about replacing them yourself:
How to replace your ignition switch?
When you turn the key, does your car jump into life? If nothing happens and the radio stays silent, your ignition switch may be faulty. The ignition switch is obviously an important part in your car, as it activates the starter and ignition system, and carries the current to the radio and lighting. You can replace the ignition switch yourself, but it’s not an easy task: you will have to remove the steering wheel and work close to the airbag - which can be dangerous. Don’t hesitate to call a professional mechanic if you’re not feeling confident.
How to replace ignition coils?
An ignition coil (or spark coil) is an important component in your car: it transfers the power from your battery to the spark plugs – there may be one coil for each spark plug or one coil for two spark plugs. If some of the coils are defective, the engine only works on a few cylinders and loses power. You may see the ‘Service Engine’ light come on and the car might stall or not start at all. You can replace a failing ignition coil fairly easily at home, but remember that you’re dealing with high voltages so must disconnect your battery before you start.
How to change spark plugs and wires?
You’ll find the spark plugs at the head of each cylinder and they deliver the spark that triggers the combustion of the air-fuel mixture. Over time, spark plugs wear out (as the electrodes burn down) and you get misfire, poor acceleration and decrease in fuel economy as well. Good quality spark plugs have a longer life, as the electrodes take longer to burn down and provide a better spark.
It’s not too difficult to change your spark plugs, but you’ll need at least an hour and the appropriate tools – such as a torque wrench, ratchet, spark plug socket and gap gauge.
How to replace glow plugs?
Unlike petrol cars, diesels don’t have spark plugs or an ignition system. In diesel engines, pressure is used to raise the temperature until the fuel self-combusts. In cold weather, this can be problematic and so glow plugs are used to warm the air in the cylinders. If you start the car without pre-glowing, it can run badly and be extremely polluting. So if your engine emits an abnormal amount of smoke, better check the glow plugs. Changing glow plugs is a job you can tackle yourself, but be sure you have the right ones for your car and a torque wrench at the ready. Good quality glow plugs will be more reliable, durable and environmentally friendly.
If you’re feeling inspired and would like to jump in and change your ignition parts:
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