Ignition components generally include spark plugs, ignition wires, distributor cap, distributor rotor, distributor, ignition coil, ignition module and primary circuit triggering device. For ignition management, the system also relies on the powertrain control module (PCM), which also manages other engine functions. The names and exact use of ignition components varies widely among different makes and models. For example, many ignition systems no longer use a distributor and consequently do not have any of its related parts.
As a team, the ignition components work together to sense engine position and conditions and provide a high-energy spark inside the engine's cylinders at precisely the right instant.
Refer to your owner's manual for recommended service intervals for the ignition system. An engine that runs rough, bucks, surges, stalls, gets poor fuel economy or fails an emissions test are all signs of a potential ignition system problem. Although some cars now use platinum spark plugs with 170,000-kilometre service life, other parts such as ignition wires still need attention and periodic replacement. If your car exhibits any symptoms such as those mentioned here, you may also experience a glowing CHECK ENGINE OR SERVICE ENGINE SOON light on the dash. If the light appears, you should have its cause investigated by a professional technician at your earliest opportunity. If the light flashes, the condition is more severe and must be checked out immediately to prevent damage to the catalytic converter.