ignition coil

How to Deal With Your Volkswagen’s Ignition Coil When It Fails

Do you know how to fix your ignition coil without shelling out money for a mechanic?

If you drive a Volkswagen, you’re in luck. These cars have ignition coils that you can fix yourself when problems occur. This can save you money and hassle since you’ll be able to do the fix without taking your car into the shop.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to know when your ignition coil is having issues. Then, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide so you can fix it yourself. Read on to learn more!

What is the Ignition Coil?

If you’re not sure what ignition coils are yet, don’t worry. It’s always a good time to learn something new about your car.

Ignition coils, also called spark coils, are what translate your engine’s voltage into the surge of power needed to ignite your engine’s fuel. In short, when you start your car, this part is responsible for making it happen. Without spark coils, Volkwagens won’t start.

If something is wrong with this part, it usually becomes clear pretty quickly. Let’s take a look the signs of problems.

When Your Ignition Coil Needs a Fix

There are a few common symptoms that could point to a spark coil problem. Learn to recognize these car issues as signs that you might need to fix the coil.

1. Backfiring

Backfiring isn’t normal for a car, so anytime it happens, you should take it as a sign of a problem. Ignition coils can often be the culprits for backfiring.

When the spark coils are failing, the car will often start to backfire in response. This happens because unused fuel goes through the exhaust pipes and comes into contact with the car’s electricity, causing a backfire.

Backfires will damage your car in the long term, so you’ll want to get this problem taken care of as quickly as possible.

2. Slow Start

Is your car taking a longer time than usual to start?

When ignition coils don’t send enough of a charge to the spark plugs, cars have a difficult time getting started. You’ll notice that the problem gets even worse in cold weather. It won’t get better on its own, so this is another sign that you should take action right away.

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3. Worse Gas Mileage

One of the things many people love about their Volkswagens is their great gas mileage. If you notice your car is suddenly burning through more fuel to go the same distance, it’s likely a spark coil issue.

That’s because your car is lacking the electrical power it requires. To make up for it, the car uses more gas to get power.

4. Misfiring

Another sign of problems with ignition coils is when cars start misfiring.

Misfiring happens when the car is running, but stalls briefly while in motion, resulting in a jarring ride. The engine will feel like it’s “stuttering” or “stumbling.” It might also vibrate more than usual while idling, or jerk abruptly when you’re driving fast.

5. Stalling

Stalling happens when the engine completely shuts off while you’re driving. Sometimes the stop only lasts for a moment, while at other times it can be hard to get the car started again. You may have to shut your car off and restart it to get it going.

This problem, along with the others on this list, can be damaging to your car and dangerous to you and other drivers. How can you fix the cause of these issues? Let’s take a look at what you need to know.

Guide to Fixing Ignition Coils

When you know the ignition coil is the root of your problem, all you need to do is follow these easy steps to fix it.

1. Run a Test

First, you need to be absolutely certain that the ignition coil is the issue.

Start by turning off the car, opening the hood, and letting it sit for ten minutes. Grab some protective gloves and safety goggles in the meantime.

The spark coil is usually found by the fender or the starter. A wire will connect it to the distributor of the ignition system.

Find a spark plug wire, and unplug it from the distributor. Using a spark plug socket, remove the spark plug altogether.

With insulated pliers, reattached the spark plug’s wire without replacing the spark plug itself. Now, have someone else start the car. Blue sparks show that your spark coil is working fine. Orange sparks are a sign that there’s an issue. If you don’t see any sparks, the ignition coil is completely dead.

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Be sure to replace the spark plug after the test is done.

2. Replace the Coil

Most of the time, the best way to fix an ignition coil is just to replace it.

They aren’t very expensive parts, and this is a surefire way to know that you’ll have your car back in working order.

You’ll want your car’s manual nearby to guide you through this process. Start by putting on gloves and unplugging the battery’s negative cable, so you don’t get shocked.

Use a socket wrench to take out the spark coil. Be careful — you may have to rotate the coil so it doesn’t hit the rails of the fuel injector.

Now, take your replacement coil (try to find one that’s made by the same company as the original), and apply dielectric compound to the rubber on the ends.

With a torque wrench, install the new spark coil – the wrench is how you’ll tighten the coil’s bolts. Finally, reattach the battery’s negative cable.

3. Repair the Coil

On occasion, you might choose to repair a spark coil instead of replacing it.

If the connection is faulty, you can try removing the coil and applying dielectric compound to its ends. This might help the coil connect properly.

If the coil has a cracked casing, you can remove it and try to patch the crack with epoxy glue. If the crack was the only issue, the coil will work like new for a while. But you’ll still need to replace it eventually, since cracks usually let damaging moisture inside the ignition coil.

Ready to Do Your Own Repairs?

As you can see, ignition coil replacement and repairs are actually quite simple. If you follow this guide, you’ll easily be able to do it yourself!

Want to learn more about repairing a Volkswagen? Check out our repair manuals here.