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Nissan Altima Ignition Coil

Tips on Diagnosing Nissan Altima Ignition Coil Problems

The ignition coil in your Nissan Altima is one of those parts that don't usually cause any trouble, but when it does it leads to huge headaches. Also known as the spark coil, the Nissan Altima ignition coil is part of the modern automobile's ignition system which converts the dismal voltage of the car battery into the thousands of volts needed by the spark plug to ignite the fuel and air mixture in the engine cylinders. Typically, an ignition coil can last for 60,000 to 100,000 miles before starting to show signs of wear, but various factors such as abnormally high operating temperatures and adverse weather conditions can cause the coil to wear out prematurely. In this article, we're going to discuss some of the common problems of Nissan Altima ignition coils and how to diagnose them.

Overheated coils

Overheating is one of the worst kinds of ignition coil failure, and it's typically due to excessive spark gap. Spark plugs that have wide gaps need more voltage in order for the spark to jump from one electrode to another. This creates additional load on the ignition coils and causing it to overheat. Even if the coil survives the overheating in one piece, the excessive heating and cooling process causes the coils to expand and contract, reducing their integrity and eventually leading to malfunction or total breakdown of the coil.

Backfiring and misfiring

If your Altima is frequently backfiring or misfiring, it could mean a loosely connected or poorly mounted ignition coil. Loose ignition coil wirings or improper mounting can damage to the ignition coil and result in complete failure of the device. Loose spark plug wires can also cause the coil to fail, as the high voltage the spark produces can jump to the coil and damage it in the process.

Difficulty starting

On the other hand, if you are having trouble starting the engine the spark plug may no longer be receiving enough charge from the ignition coil. This problem is especially noticeable during cold weather or in environments where there is high humidity, as it would be next to impossible to start the car up during such conditions.

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  • How to Maintain the Nissan Altima Ignition Coil

    The ignition coil in your Nissan Altima is often described as maintenance-free, but it still does require proper maintenance from time to time. A Nissan Altima ignition coil can last as much as 100,000 miles on the road before needing replacement, but this can only be achieved if the coil is maintained in top condition. So if you aim to get the most mileage out of your ignition coils, here are some easy maintenance tips we recommend you follow.

    Make sure that all the spark plugs are properly gapped.

    While replacement spark plugs are often advertised to come pre-gapped, we still highly recommend adjusting the gaps of new spark plugs to match the ignition requirements of your Altima. Plugs that were mishandled or dropped are also recommended to be gapped before being re-installed. This is because a spark plug that has too wide a gap will use more voltage in order for the spark to jump from one electrode to another. This in turn burdens the ignition coil with additional load, and over time this could lead to premature wear and overheating. If you are not familiar on how to gap a spark plug, bring the plugs to your local repair shop and have a mechanic gap them for you.

    Inspect for loose wires

    Over time, the constant vibrations inside the engine compartment may cause the wiring of the ignition coil and spark plug to loosen, interrupting the flow of electrical current to these two devices. In addition, loose wires would also cause the high voltage from the spark plug to take the path of least resistance, which in most cases is the ignition coil. And if the ignition coil arcs across itself, internal damage to the coil is almost guaranteed. Regularly inspect the electrical connections and check for loose contacts as well as exterior wear or damage, and adjust or replace them if necessary.

    Check the coil's resistance

    Another way to determine whether an ignition coil is functioning properly is by conducting a resistance check using an ohmmeter. First, check the primary coil resistance by connecting the meter between the positive and negative terminals on the coil; if the resistance is 0.4 to 0.6 ohms, the ignition coil is working properly. Next, check the secondary coil resistance by connecting the meter between the coil output terminal and negative terminal. The resistance should read 5000 to 7200 ohms on the meter.