What is the Points & Condenser all about?
In the days before modern ignition systems came into use, automobiles used different technologies. A car’s points and condenser served the same role as today’s ignition modules, and were responsible for operating the vehicle’s spark plugs and wires, as well as other elements of the system.
It worked like this: A charge was sent to the ignition coil, which then connected with the distributor cap, to which the condenser was attached via contact breaker points. From there, the distributor cam turned and operated the rotor arms and contacts, which sent voltage through the sparkplug wires to the plugs themselves in order to ignite fuel.
The condenser and points on a vehicle were subject to significant amounts of wear and tear on a daily basis. They were used every single time the car was cranked. While points could be cleaned to provide a little bit more use life, they would eventually need to be replaced. The condenser also needed to replaced regularly. These were actually two of the main aspects of the average automotive tune up.
Today, points and condensers have been replaced by electronic ignition components that offer far better lifespans and reliability.
Keep in mind:
- A car’s points and condenser need to be replaced regularly as part of normal maintenance.
- Points can sometimes be cleaned to provide longer life.
- Without operable points and condenser, the car will crank but not fire.
- Replacement components of this nature are becoming more and more difficult to source.
How it's done:
- The hood is opened and distributor cap is removed
- The defective points and condenser are removed
- The new points and condenser are installed and adjusted to specifications
- The distributor cap is installed and ignition timing and dwell adjusted
- The engine is run and the ignition system operation is checked
Work with one of our expert mechanics, capable of inspecting and troubleshooting older ignition systems during regular maintenance, as well as of providing tune ups for cars using older ignition systems. All points and condensers are subject to wear and tear and must be replaced regularly.
What common symptoms indicate you may need to replace the Points & Condenser?
- Engine cranks well but doesn’t fire
- Engine doesn’t start easily, even with a good battery and starter
- Engine runs rough and stalls
How important is this service?
Having a reliable ignition system is absolutely essential. Without regular maintenance and tune ups, it’s possible that you could find yourself stranded, and even a jump start won’t help you get back on the road. We highly recommend working with one of our mechanics experienced with classic cars and older ignition technology to keep your system in good repair.