What Is the Difference Between Conventional, Electronic and Distributor-less Ignition Systems?

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If you’re like many people, you know that when you turn the key in your ignition, the engine cranks and you’re able to drive your car. However, you might not know how that ignition system works. For that matter, you might not even know what type of ignition system your car uses.

The different types of ignition systems

  • Conventional: While this is called a “conventional” ignition system, it’s something of a misnomer. These are not used on modern cars, at least not in the US. This is an older style of ignition system that uses points, a distributor, and an external coil. They’re high-maintenance, but easily fixed and pretty cheap. Service intervals ranged from every 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

  • Electronic: An electronic ignition is a modification on the conventional system, and you’ll find these in widespread use today, although distributor-less systems are now becoming more common. In an electronic system, you still have a distributor, but the points have been replaced with a pickup coil, and there’s an electronic ignition control module. These are far less likely to breakdown than conventional systems, and provide very reliable operation. Service intervals on these types of systems are generally recommended every 25,000 miles or so.

  • Distributor-less: This is the newest type of ignition system and it’s beginning to see very widespread use on newer vehicles. It differs greatly from the other two types. In this system, coils sit directly on top of the spark plugs (there are no spark plug wires), and the system is completely electronic. It’s controlled by the car’s computer. You might be more familiar with it as a “direct ignition” system. They require very little maintenance, with some automakers specifying 100,000 miles between services.

The evolution of ignition systems has provided a number of benefits. Drivers with newer systems enjoy better fuel efficiency, more reliable operation and reduced maintenance costs (the systems are more expensive to maintain, but with maintenance only needed every 100,000 miles, many drivers may never have to pay for a service).


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Rigoberto

9 years of experience
706 reviews
Rigoberto
9 years of experience
Chevrolet Equinox - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Niles, Illinois
Rigo was great! He got there early, finished the job early, left everything clean. He changed my rear pads and rotors. The original quoted time was 90 minutes, he was done in about 60. He knows what he is doing and I am recommending him to all my friends and coworkers.
Mercedes-Benz C250 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Chicago, Illinois
Rigo is a maverick hands down. Don’t take your car for work elsewhere. Especially great at Mercedes—this guy knows his profession! I will be using him for everything related to my car going forward.

Arturo

25 years of experience
35 reviews
Arturo
25 years of experience
Kia Forte - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Diego, California
ARTURO is great! very professional , fast, replaced my front brake pads and oil an filter change. everything now works and works well. Brakes have much improved stopping power and engine is smooth and quiet.Arturo is also kind and thoughtful. "Your mechanic" is very fortunate to have Arturo Lopez represent your company. I enthusiastically recommend him and "Your mechanic> as a fine operation Best regards to the Team Peter Marto
Nissan Maxima - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - San Diego, California
Arturo was prompt and completed my brake repair, including new rotors in a very efficient manner. I am very pleased with the quality of the work and the parts and will definitely look to have him service our other car in the near future.

Scott

32 years of experience
345 reviews
Scott
32 years of experience
Lexus IS250 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Denver, Colorado
Always on time, speedy, professional, and pleasant to interact with. The work is always consistent and we'll done. I can't reccomend Scott highly enough!

Michael

10 years of experience
15 reviews
Michael
10 years of experience
Nissan Sentra - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Conyers, Georgia
He was promptly on time and got the job done efficiently in a timely manner. I really appreciate the rapid respone on getting the job done! I would most definitely use this service again.

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