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How To Check Ignition Coil with A Multimeter?

Published by: Genson
Date of Publish:

There could be multiple reasons for checking the ignition coil; one of the primary reasons could be that you are facing difficulty starting the vehicle when you crank the key into the ignition. You are probably right if you guess this problem is because of a faulty or damaged ignition coil.

But before you go ahead and check the ignition coil, you need to know some signs that will indicate something wrong with the ignition coil. If the coil is faulty or cracked, you will experience a loss of fuel economy, the vehicle and the engine will backfire, the car will stall, and there will be random power losses. On the other hand, if the ignition coil is damaged completely, the vehicle may not even start in the first place. If you do some basic checks on the ignition coil with the help of the multimeter, you will be able to pinpoint the problem. 

This article will discuss the ignition coils as well as the multimeters and their types. Finally, we will explain how to check the faulty and damaged ignition coil with the multimeter, so stay tuned to learn something fruitful. Let's go! 

Ignition Coil and Its Types

The function of the ignition coil is to ignite the fuel and produce a spark by providing the fuel mixture with the high voltage it needs. Usually, the ignition coil is made up of solid and rugged material. Mostly it is reliable, but there are several factors from which it could get damaged or broken. One of the primary reasons for the damage to the ignition coil is excessive vibrations and severe heat. These elements can harm the insulation and its windings. Another critical element that damages the ignition coil to a great extent is voltage overload. Check at Type of ignition coil for your car, When the ignition coil goes bad

There are four common types of ignition coil systems. The four types of ignition coils are found in different vehicles and vehicle models explained.

Conventional Ignition Coil

This conventional ignition coil is made to transform a low-tension 12-volt power supply into a battery with high tension. This helps in producing a spark at the spark plug.

Electronic Ignition Coil

This type of ignition is slightly similar to conventional but has some differences. This is commonly known as a spark coil, and you have a distributor. The points on the distributor are exchanged with the pick-up coil. In this type of ignition coil, there is an electronic control module. 

Distributor-Less Ignition Coil

This kind of ignition system has multiple induction coils in place of an electronic ignition system distributor because it is made to collect more energy from several coils. This is significantly dissimilar from other types of ignitions, and the coil sets atop the spark plugs.  

Coil-On-Plug Ignition

This coil-on-plug ignition system is slightly like the distributor-less ignition with minor changes. It has all the electronic controls one can see in the distributor-less ignition. Still, the significant difference is that in place of two cylinders sharing one coil, each one of the coils on plug facilities one cylinder.

What is a Multimeter?

A multimeter is a very useful and standard diagnostic device mainly used by technicians and electricians. The primary purpose of this tool is to measure electric impulses and values and properties of the electrical circuits, like resistance in ohms, the voltage in volts, and current in amperes. It is also commonly called a volt-ohm millimeter or a volt-ohm meter.

This instrument works when two different leads are attached to the two parts of electrical circuits. Then it catches the levels of resistance and voltages. Finally, the values appear on the digital screen of the multimeter.

Analog Multimeter

This type of multimeter is less expensive than other types of multimeters, but because of this, it is not very high quality and so not very accurate. Most people cannot read the values off of it because it uses needles and a graduate scale nor do they prefer this kind of multimeter because of its fragility. It can break after falling once or twice. The primary purpose of this multimeter is to detect changes in the voltages that are slow.

Digital Multimeter

Although this digital multimeter is a bit expensive, many people still prefer this over the analog multimeter because of its excellent qualities, like high digital resistance. This kind of multimeter is straightforward and reliable as it gives accurate readings. Reading off a digital multimeter is elementary because it features an LED screen. You can quickly test your ignition coil with a digital multimeter to get authentic readings.

Popular Designs of Multimeters To Check Ignition Coil

There are furthermore varieties in the design of the multimeter. Three of the major ones are given below:

Fluke Digital

This type of multimeter is commonly used in the home's machines and other appliances to check the resistance and voltage usage. Fluke digital multimeter is perfect for people who are not sure which kind of multimeter to buy because they are either armatures or not interested. 

Clamp Digital

As this device is highly efficient, it is mainly advised for professionals or people who know about these kinds of stuff. The clamp digital multimeter can measure power consumption, amps, the flow of electricity, wattage, and voltage. It can readily measure the flow of electricity via in-built tools.


Although it is a low-profile multimeter nevertheless still useful; generally, it is advised to use in easy projects and at-home electrical appliances. It can only measure one component at a time. The auto-ranging multimeter has very few settings and knobs. This device is also known as a hands-free device that can do all the work for you in a short time. 

How To Check Ignition Coil with A Multimeter

When checking the ignition coil multimeter, you need to start by measuring the winding wire's resistance and the ignition coil’s continuity. To check the standard coil ignition, check for its primary coil winding; this resistance should range from 0.2-3 ohms because of the small number of thick wires turns. This, when measured in the multimeter switch position, says 200 ohms. The resistance value is measured by the (+) and (K) terminals that the coil possesses. Now, you will be able to measure the high-voltage coil resistance.

To make a connection with the terminal of high voltage, try touching the probe of the multimeter to the copper, which is inside the wire with high voltage. The multimeter will show the winding resistance of the high-voltage wire to be inside 2 to 3 K-ohm. 

For small engine ignition coil, please refer to How small engine ignition coil can be tested with a multimeter

Checking Double Ignition Coils with a Multimeter

For checking dual ignition coils, the test is more complicated. In the dual coils, the lead of the primary winding s generally taken out to the pin connector. You have to get to know about the pin it is connected to ensure its connectivity. For such coils, there happen to be 2 terminals of high voltages. The secondary winding must be coiled by touching the multimeter's probes with both high-voltage terminals. The resistance then measured by the multimeter probably be higher than the entire system's standard coil. It will exceed the readings of 4 K-ohms.

Checking Single Ignition Coil with a Multimeter

The reason for the single coil's disaster and the nonappearance of the spark might be a failure or an error of the added resistor that is made inside them. The resistor can be easily removed with the help of a coil; after that, you will be able to measure its resistance via a multimeter. The average value of resistance will range from 0.5 ohms to several ohms. Other times, the multimeter will indicate an open circuit and should tell you that the resistor is damaged or faulty. You will then have to replace it. 


Diagnosing the ignition coil on your own or at home with a multimeter could be a little tricky. Exchanging every part to find the problem can be inconvenient and expensive. Secondly, if you get the coil ignition diagnosed by a professional, they will demand a lot of money because they are using top-notch machinery.

So, it would be beneficial if you learned to check the ignition coil with a multimeter yourself. This is because faulty ignition is a widespread problem in vehicles, and the skill will come in handy. But for this, you would need to buy some tools, like a good multimeter. The bottom line is that this will save you a lot of money and time. We hope this article has given you an idea about how to test your ignition coil with the help of a multimeter. Now you will be able to know if your ignition coil needs to be replaced before time which will save you from a lot of safety hazards.

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