Signs of a Bad Pickup Coil

by Jonathan Lister
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Pickup coils work with a vehicle's ignition system to regulate spark and communicate to fuel injectors. When one fails, it can have adverse effects on multiple vehicle systems including the engine and fuel system regulators. An observant driver or mechanic must take note of these symptoms before the problem becomes worse and begins to impact other vehicle parts.

No Engine Spark

The pickup coil sends the signal from the ignition module to the spark plugs during the ignition process. A bad pickup coil may mean a lack of engine spark because the spark plugs are not receiving the proper information to fire correctly. The fuel injectors also fail to fire, which may lead to car not starting.

Rough Idle

Because the spark plugs are not communicating proper timing to the fuel injectors, a rough idle may occur. The vehicle will shudder and rattle when sitting still because of inadequate fuel being present in the engine block. This condition may not be as present during colder weather, though it may also increase as the vehicle heats up.

Engine Stall/Failure to Accelerate

A pickup coil that has failed, or is about to, may also cause engine stalling and an inability to accelerate smoothly because the fuel injectors are not firing properly. Engine stalling will occur as the vehicle warms up with rough idling being the first clue that a stall is about to happen. Once stalled, the vehicle will not be able to start again until the engine has completely cooled.

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