How to test an ignition coil

Category: Auto Tuning

A standard car’s distributor ignition coil can be tested by checking the ohms reading. Ohms can be read on a volt/ohms meter. Ohms is a unit of measure for the resistance that a wire or coil has. Ignition coils should be measured on the primary coil between batt and tach terminals. The batt is the coil ground. To check the secondary coil, check the ohms between the batt terminal and where the coil output wire plugs into. If the ohms read zero the coil connection is broken and the coil is no good. An open coil reading zero is the usual culprit of coils. Don’t test through the output wire though. The primary coil should read between .7 ohms and 1.7 ohms, if outside this range replace it. The secondary coil should generally read between 7.5K ohms and 10.5K ohms. If the ohms are not within the specified range for that paticular car, replace the coil. Coil resistance will also change and vary if the coil is hot or cold. This a generalized ohms range that fits most distributor coils. Another thing to remember is that sometimes a coil will only read bad after it gets hot. It may work intermittently after it gets hot also. Coil packs will generally read around .3 to 1.5 ohms on the primary side and 12.5K to 13.5K ohms on the secondary side. These figures will get you reasonably close to where the coil’s ohms need to be to work properly.