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August 2010 Homepage (UK/Europe)

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The Series Land Rover's Ignition Coil

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If your petrol-engined Series Land Rover becomes increasingly difficult to start, or fails to start at all, then it could be the coil that is at fault. To test it, remove a spark plug and then re-attach its lead. Hold the plug lead with insulated pliers so that the plug's electrodes are near the engine block, then have the engine cranked. The ignition should be on of course. If a good spark is seen then the coil is good. If no spark at all, then there is a break in the circuit, which may or may not be located inside the coil. Substituting a new coil will decide that one for you. Alternatively, if you have a multimeter available you can check for a break in the primary coil circuit by removing the connections from the terminals on either side of the central ignition lead and checking the electrical resistance between them. The result should be around 3-4 ohms. If the reading is about half this value then it could be that the coil should be running with a ballast resisior; if the reading is very much lower than this then there is probably a short circuit occuring between some of the primary coils of wire. A break in the primary wiring would give an infinite resistance i.e. off the scale.

The ignition coils don't vary much across the Series Land Rover model range, except that some models may have a ballast resistor strapped to the side of the coil. The purpose of this is to reduce the current passing through the coil, as the unit is not 12 volt specification. Removing the resistor will produce a stronger spark at the plugs, but also at the points (damaging them) and making the coil run hotter and so reducing its life.
The electrical resistance between the central terminal and one of the primary terminals of a standard coil (i.e. not the ballast resistor type) should be around 6,000 - 7,000 ohms.

It is important to know that the two primary terminals on the coil are not equivalent. For a negative earth system the terminal marked "-"(minus) should be connected to the distributor, otherwise electric current is passing in the wrong direction and will cause pitting of the contact points and consequent difficult starting. On Series III Land Rovers the original coil was fitted with male and female connectors in order to avoid the misconnection of the primary wiring. Third party replacement coils may have only male connectors. Really old coils have the terminals marked "SW" (ignition SWitch) and "CB" (Contact Breaker), but you shouldn't be using a coil that old!

Series Land Rover ignition coil

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