Car Maintenance And Repairs

Bad Ignition Coil Symptoms And What Should You Do

Mike Cross
Updated Feb 9, 2022
Bad Ignition Coil Symptoms

Fewer things strike fear into a car owner then when their car seems to have trouble starting. It can be nerve wracking, waiting and hoping your engine turns over. And if it does start, you need to take a closer look at what is going on under the hood. If it doesn’t start, then you really need to do some investigating.

Sometimes cars have trouble starting because the battery is dying and sometimes it could be the ignition coil. How can you tell which it is and what can you do about it?

Bad Ignition Coil Symptoms
Bad Ignition Coil Symptoms

How can you tell if it’s the battery or ignition coil?

If your car will not start at all, you need to find out why. If you have a voltmeter, you can start by checking the juice in your battery. If the battery has an acceptable reading, then you can cross that off the list.

But now it is time to consider you have a bad ignition coil.

What is the ignition coil?

An ignition coil is the part of the automobile's ignition system responsible for transforming the battery's low voltage in to the thousands of volts needed to create an electric spark in the spark plugs to ignite the fuel. This process starts the car.

Signs of a bad ignition coil.

1.Car has trouble starting.

Although this can be a pretty basic symptom, a car that does not start often points to ignition trouble. It may be possible to get your vehicle to start by cranking the engine, but it will most likely be slow, especially if the ignition coil is struggling. When this happens, it is usually due to corrosion on the electrical circuit that is directly related to the ignition system. This blocks the right amount of electricity from flowing.

2.Key won’t work

Another sure sign of trouble is that your key will not turn in the ignition. Before you panic though, make sure that the ignition lock is not engaged. You can do this by simply turning the steering wheel back-and-forth. If after you do this the key will still not turn, it is possible that there may be excessive wear inside the ignition and that is what is preventing the key from properly aligning with the keyhole. If the key cannot be turned your car will not start.

3.Your car stalls

It is important to remember that stalling can be a sign of many different issues when it comes to cars. A key point to decide it is related to the ignition coil, however, is if it happens when you are driving your vehicle and not while sitting idle.

4. Dashboard lights flicker on and off

Again, flickering dashboard lights can be a sign of several issues. An easy way to know if it is because of the ignition or not is to take note of when it happens. The way to tell if it is because of a bad ignition coil is if the lights flicker while you are driving the car.

5. No noise from starter

If you hop in your car and turn the key and nothing happens there's a chance that the ignition switch is to blame. It could be because the ignition switch is not able to create enough electricity to get power from the battery to the starter motor. This can also be a sign of a dead battery. An easy check involves seeing of the power windows or radio still work when you have the key turned in the ON position. If they do still work, chances are the battery is not dead, which means there's a good chance that it is caused by an ignition issue.

6.Too much heat

If the ignition switch is extremely hot, this is a big indicator of a problem.

What should you do next?

If you have determined that your ignition switch is failing, you will need to have it replaced. If our car will not start, have it towed to your local automotive professional. If your car will still start, head on over.

It is possible to replace the ignition switch and parts yourself if you are handy and have the proper tools and parts on hand.

If you are not familiar with the parts needed or how to install them, your local mechanic can do the job for you. You can expect that a new ignition switch will probably cost between $180-$250. The labor to do the work should cost between $100-$150.

Points to Remember

If your car seems like it is struggling to start, that is your sign to take note. The first thing to check is your battery. You can use a voltmeter to measure the juice in your battery. If that is fine, then you need to start looking at other possibilities.

You may notice that the dashboard lights flicker. If hey flicker while you are driving, this is an indicator of a failing ignition coil. You may also experience your car stalling while you are driving. These could cause you to have an accident, so get it checked out and repaired as soon as possible.

Another sign is your key not working. First you should make sure that the steering wheel hasn’t locked up.

All you have to do is simply move the steering wheel back and forth a few times. Then try to start up again. If the key still won’t work, you need to have the ignition coil checked. You might also notice that the ignition switch seems to be overheated.

The bad ignition coil will bring the P2300 code when check your car with the obd2 scanner, you can learn more here.


Anytime you notice that your car is “off”, it is prudent to investigate to find out why. It is not always pleasant to deal with car problems, but you can prevent little problems from becoming bigger problems by prompt attention.

An ignition switch is a fairly easy and inexpensive repair. If you are not sure how to do it, see your local professional and they will be happy to help you out. You will be back on the road in no time.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

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