Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Electronic Ignition Pickup

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Electronic Ignition Pickup

electronic ignition pickup

Electronic ignition pickups are a component found on traditional electronic distributor ignition systems. They are located inside the distributor and function as the trigger for the ignition system to produce spark. The pickup coil monitors the rotation of the distributor and triggers the ignition system at the optimal moment to produce the best timed spark for best engine performance. As the ignition pickup essentially functions as the activation switch for the entire ignition system, when it fails, it can greatly affect the operation of the vehicle. Usually a problematic ignition pickup will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of a potential issue that should be serviced.

Engine stalling

One of the first symptoms of a bad ignition pickup is an engine that stalls. An old or failing ignition pickup may cut out signal intermittently, which may cause the engine to stall. The engine may suddenly just shut off, almost as if the key had been turned off. Depending on the nature of the issue, sometimes the vehicle can be restarted and driven again after a brief period of time. However, this problem will persist and worsen until it is taken care of.

No start condition

Another common symptom of a bad or failing ignition pickup is a vehicle that does not start. If the ignition pickup fails, it will not provide the signal necessary for the vehicle’s ignition system to operate, and as a result the engine will not start or run.

While distributors have been mostly replaced with coil on plug and ignition systems on newer vehicles, they are still commonly found on many road going cars and trucks. If you suspect that your ignition pickup may be having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if the car needs a replacement electronic ignition pickup.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Still not sure about your car's issue?
Diagnose your car
What kind of issue are you experiencing?
Brakes are squeaking
Car is not starting
Car is overheating
Car is shaking (vibrating)
Fluids are leaking
Heating and A/C
Smoke or steam is coming out of the car
Warning light is on
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Flexible Clutch Hose
Common signs include difficulty shifting, low clutch fluid, and feeling no resistance at the clutch pedal.
Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...

Related questions

Q: My car wont start after driving it for an hour, it will just crank and then start after 30 mins

The engine is very common to have an intermittent cam or crankshaft sensor. You can have the computer scanned for codes to one of the sensors and replace them as codes are stored. If you have codes for both then...

Q: Q: Ignition fuse keeps blowing

You had a good start by tracing the wires and making sure they were clean, dry, and not damaged. To make sure you covered the entire circuit, I recommend you use an official wiring diagram to check this. It is...

Q: My car has is leaking coolant and is also smoking from the hood

If you just have an external coolant leak and no overheating the leak will typically be in a hose, radiator, water pump, heater hose and so forth. Unless the leak is large and obvious, external leaks are typically found by...