How To Test Ignition Coil Without Multimeter – A Complete Guide

Many people utilize a multimeter to check whether their ignition coil is functioning appropriately or it needs to be replaced. But what if you don’t have a multimeter? How to test the ignition coil without a multimeter? Well, you can test an ignition coil by testing the power balance or swapping coils, you can even lick the ignition coil and see whether it shocks.

It certainly sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? But before you’re immersed in the process, you’ll have to think about the car’s various components along with the corroborating ignition coil you’ll need to test closely. Given this, you can’t just grab your testing materials and declare that you’re finished.

So, you need a proper guideline along with being selective to choose which method is more convenient for you. As such, we have compiled a complete guide on different methods to test the ignition coil with no multimeter. Let’s start. 

Read also: When To Change Ignition Coils?

Symptoms of Faulty Ignition Coils

fauly ignition coil

Most people know when their car has gone out of oil and needs to be serviced. But what about faulty ignition coils? These are coils that power the car’s electrical system and can malfunction if not properly maintained. If you’re experiencing the following symptoms, maybe it’s time to think about the ignition coils:

  • Check Engine Light On- The check engine light should light up if your engine appears to be struggling or fails to engage. A faulty ignition coil is a prime suspect. Try to contact your Cadillac technician at the earliest opportunity if the problem with your engine is likely to force you to incur significant expenses.
  • Misfiring Engine- Misfiring may cause your vehicle to shut down while you’re driving if a problem with the ignition coil occurs. If your automobile experiences serious damage due to an incorrect signal, then your catalytic converter might suffer. The indication may damage components that your car uses to run, particularly if it’s severe.
  • Backfiring- If the ignition coil in your vehicle starts to malfunction, it may indicate that the coil is faulty. A vehicle makes a distinct bang sound when the fuel in the combustion chambers of the device suddenly explodes, producing black smoke and a strong, unpleasant fuel odor. If you do not attend to the problem in a timely manner, it may lead to further issues.
  • Loss of Power-  If your ignition coil has issues, your car will feel sluggish, and it’ll lose power. The cause of this is the result of abnormal electrical sparks that trigger the engine to burn.
  • Jerking and Vibrating- A malfunctioning ignition coil can negatively impact vibrations when the car is idling, as well as the vehicle’s lurching and jerking forward when you push on the accelerator.
  • Spluttering and Coughing Sounds– If you start the engine and hear sputtering and coughing sounds, the ignition coil is the source of the problem. The source of the sounds is a cylinder that does not fire during the ignition process.
  • Hard Starts and Stalling- If an ignition coil malfunctions, your vehicle won’t likely be able to start, and may even stall completely while the engine is off. If your car stops when it approaches a complete stop and even if you turn it off, a bad ignition coil could be indicative of a failure.

How To Test Ignition Coil Without Multimeter

Assuming that you have noticed any of the above mentioned symptoms, your first approach has to be to test the ignition coil properly. For those who don’t have a digital multimeter on hand, we’ve gathered three different methods to test an ignition coil without a multimeter.  Check these below and find out which one will be effective for you. 

Method-1: Testing Power Balance

The first method we’re going to explain to test an ignition coil pack without a multimeter is the power balance test. Here’s the whole process in detail:

  • Gather Necessary tools

As you’re approaching doing a power balance test, keep the following tools on hand:

  • Pry tool
  • Ratchet set
  • Socket
  • Screwdriver
  • Find Ignition Coil’s Location
    Ignition wiring is commonly accessible from near the bottom of the engine, whether within an engine cover or beneath the vehicle. Although your engine cover may come in the form of a plastic or metallic slab, you will need a tool to remove it. You should also use a ratchet and socket set to remove the bolts securing the engine cover in position. The coils will most likely have an electrical plug plugged into them.
  • Turn the Engine on

Adhere to whatever you are doing inside your car and wait for the engine to start. Set it off and get back onto the main cables. Remember that if you have a four-cylinder engine, you will likely need four ignition coils. 

If you have a six-cylinder engine, you will likely have six ignition coils, three at the back for cylinders 1, 3, and 5 and three at the front for cylinders 2, 4, and 6. Many cars use only one way or the other.

  • Examine Every Ignition Coil Separately

You have to determine whether a director, engine, or internal buffer is associated with any of your symptoms. If it is, you can pinpoint the problem by booting into safe mode and disabling its related parts. Be sure you can reveal the safe boot mode options. Try to observe signs that problem indicators may be appearing by listening to the engine, evaluating the RPMs, and watching the voltage state of the battery.

As you reattach the electrical connector, you will see that the engine’s RPMs reach what they should be. Retest the next ignition coil and repeat the process for all of them. You should determine which coil makes no difference to the engine’s RPMs regardless of whether it’s connected. Then you know you’ve found the bad ignition coil.

Method-2: Coil Swap Method

If you do not have access to a multimeter, you can test your ignition coil another way by swapping its coils. The swapping method is a great means of diagnosing problems with your ignition electric motor yourself, even if you don’t have a practical multimeter.

  • Gather Necessary Tools

This method requires just a few simple tools. Here are these:

  • Basic screw removal tools
  • Digital code reader
  • Connect an OBD II Scanner or a Code Reader

You could begin by plugging your OBD II scanner or digital code reader into your car’s computer system. The computer code reader or scanner will display trouble codes that specify a problem with the ignition coils. If the error code displayed is a P0350, it means that the computer has flagged isolated issues with the coils’ primary or secondary circuit. 

It could also indicate that one of the coils is faulty. The last digit of the number is the difference between the number of coils affected and their condition.

  • Detach Coils and Swap Them

Remove the engine hood, disconnect the electrical wiring that leads to the ignition coil you identified, and detach the ignition coil from where it is. Swap it with another coil. If you’re sure that the error code error P0353 shows a problem with your ignition coil in cylinder number three, remove that one and swap it with another coil that’s located in cylinder number four or according to your own preference.

  • Erase DTC Codes and Run the Engine

Once you finish clearing the codes to the engine with your code reader, let it run for a few minutes and look at the codes once again. Deleting the code for a misfire in cylinder 4 or 6 should clear the fault. 

If the code for cylinder 3 is still present, that means it has been determined that the coil for cylinder 3 was faulty. You can repeat the same procedure for all the ignition coils. If after doing all this the code still reads cylinder 3, this means that the coil for cylinder 3 is faulty.

Method-3: Using A Test Light

An effective way to inspect ignition coil packs is to use a testing light. This method can reliably determine whether the packs are good or bad, but won’t be able to accurately distinguish one from another. Let’s discuss the testing procedure itself.

  • Gather Necessary Tools

At the very minimum, we’ll need a test light to test a coil package. Of course, many supplementary tools will improve your testing process right down to the final details. So, here are the specialized tools we will need.

  • A Cable (One Meter) with a clip 
  • Test light
  • Safety gloves
  • Disconnect the Coil Pack and Remove it

You should be wearing rubber hand gloves in order to keep them safe from electric shock. This issue is a mandatory alert, which means you can physically not avoid it. You have to remove the plug for the coil pack. Uncoiling the connector yields mixed results. 

Generally, there’ll be more than one wire in the connector. The number depends on the size of your coil pack.  If you have a six-vehicle connector wiring harness, it will contain 6 connectors. 3 of those connectors will send out a steady wave to signal that a headlight is on, and the other 3 will send switching signals to the headlights. 

In the same way, a V8 connector wiring harness will contain 8 connectors and will be arranged in the same way as the previous connector harness.

  • Connect The Test Light

Some test light setup systems include jumpers, while others are set up using cables. Connecting your test light with a 12-volt battery commonly requires attaching a jumper cable, which generally comes with clips at one end. Going through all that testing again may be extremely easy for you if you have used test lights prior.

  • Turn the Engine ON

Now you have to start the engine. Be completely knocked from your back, even while working with your running engine. Starting the vehicle is simple, as long as you retain awareness. Ready for the next line?

  • Inspect All Lines

Touch the test light located on the coil header plug to see whether it provides steady light, or test the light intermittently if a signal is supplied from that plug. If the light flashes in a constant manner, it indicates that the signal connector transfers a steady light. If the address is provided intermittently, the test light will alternately glow steadily and in a dazzling manner.

End Remarks

Anticipating electrical signals relevant to your engine can help you save time and money knowing about testing and fixing the coil itself. This is especially valuable if you have experience understanding the inner workings of the engine. 

Not knowing anything about it and needing tools or much time will not go towards saving money, sadly. We hope this article clarifies how to test an ignition coil without a multimeter in less than five minutes if you’re aware of electrical systems. Check out our previous articles for additional knowledge.

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