Do You Want to Become an Auto Mechanic Online? Here’s a Quick Intro to Sensor and Ignition Systems!

Any aspiring mechanic should understand sensor and ignition systems, how to repair them, and how they have evolved over time. The latter is especially important, since vehicles have become more environmentally friendly over the years, and also because these systems have become increasingly powerful in terms of performance. 

Although there are many differences between these different systems, and some more subtle than others, having a strong understanding of how they work and what they’re made of can give you a leg up before you start your automotive training.

With Automotive Training Centres offering a new online course on sensor and ignition systems, learning about them has never been easier, and is a great step to take on the road to becoming a mechanic. Here’s what you need to know about sensor and ignition systems.

A Quick Primer on How Ignition Systems Function

With the exception of diesel vehicles, any ignition system will need to create enough high voltage so that electricity can travel across the gap of a spark plug in order to ignite the cylinder’s mixture of fuel and air in a timely fashion. 

The firing of these cylinders depends on ignition systems knowing where engines are in their cycles. An ignition coil converts 12 to 15 volts of a car’s charging system or battery into the tens of thousands of volts needed for the spark plug gap to be jumped, due to the high resistance of air. 

Speed and knock sensors are found within the car’s engine

Different Types of Sensors and What Distinguishes Them

Online automotive course students should also understand the importance of learning how different automotive sensors work, including speed and knock sensors. A speed sensor transmits information to a vehicle’s ECU (Engine Control Unit) about the engine’s speed, while a knock sensor is mounted within the engine to detect any vibrations that result from knocks to the engine. Other types of sensors include O2 (oxygen), MAFS (metal averaging flow sensor), AFS (adaptive front lighting system), and TPS (throttle position sensor), among others.

The Components of Ignition Systems 

Typically, each cylinder of an ignition system consists of one ignition coil each. This way, a distributor is not necessary, nor are ignition wires in many cases. Ignition coils are composed of two coils of wire around an iron core, which generate voltage.

The two coils are known as primary and secondary windings. Primary windings contain heavier wire coils generating current from a battery, while the secondary winding is where voltage is created when a primary winding can no longer let current flow, leading to an electromagnetic field breaking down. Other pieces these systems consist of include spark plugs, triggering devices, distributors (if necessary), and ignition cables.

Spark plugs are among the pieces found in an ignition system

Different Ignition Systems Explained for Online Automotive Course Students

Students learning about these systems during their training in the automotive industry might already be aware of the fact that there are three main ignition systems, each with distinct differences between them. 

A DIS (distributor-less automotive ignition system) has each spark plug containing coils (with packs of coils creating sparks) and has two sensors for shaft positions, the CMP (Camshaft Position Sensor) and CKP (Crankshaft Position Sensor). 

A COP (coil-on-plug ignition system) is similar in that coils ignite each of the spark plugs, but differs in that those coils are found on separate cylinders, rather than one coil being shared by two cylinders. This allows for improved spark timing control and generating far greater sparks. Lastly, a distributor-based system — known as an electronic ignition system — uses gears to link to the camshaft.

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