Minis are known to be reliable and efficient, and with the correct care are unlikely to let their drivers down. However, without the correct care and maintenance practices, and as a vehicle naturally ages, some faults and part failures are likely to occur.
Strong maintenance practices are the best way to ensure every part of your car is working at its best and lasts for as long as possible. In this article we’ll be looking at some common symptoms and causes of ignition system failure, as well as some top maintenance tips to ensure common issues are avoided.
What Parts Make up the Ignition System?
The ignition system incorporates several systems and parts, all of which work together to both begin and maintain the ignition process. As these parts often work like an assembly line, where one process or step happens after another, if one part in the system is faulty, it is likely to directly impact the rest of the system. There are 3 types of ignition system, CI (Conventional Ignition), DI (Distributor Ignition), and EI (Electronic Ignition), with most modern cars featuring the latter and including the following parts:
- Distributor cap and rotor
- Ignition coil
- Spark plugs and wires
- Ignition Module
- Ignition lock and tumbler
- PCM (powertrain control module)
- Crankshaft sensor
- Camshaft sensor
- Knock sensor
Common Ignition Problems
Ignition Lock and Tumbler Failure
The ignition lock and tumbler, sometimes just referred to as the ignition lock, comprises of a key assembly and a tumbler. When starting your Mini you insert your key into the key assembly, and it turns in the tumbler to start the car. The turning of the key in the tumbler is what signals your Mini’s battery to set off the starter motor and in turn the ignition system. Therefore, if this part fails, as it is the first in a chain of events, nothing will happen and your Mini will go nowhere!
Common signs that you are experiencing ignition lock problems include a key that is difficult to insert/remove and a car that struggles to start or does not start at all. A sticky key indicates warping of the tumbler or damage to the key, and a car with starting issues signals an issue with the turning of the tumbler.
Some great tips to avoid this issue include removing heavy accessories from your key ring, as these put weight on the key when it is inserted, which can warp the tumbler, as well as being gentle when inserting and removing your key to prevent damage.
Spark Plug Failure
Your Mini’s spark plugs are found inside the engine and are electrical components that produce the spark necessary for igniting the air/fuel mixture inside the engine to achieve combustion and motion. Spark plugs can become worn or faulty, and need to be properly maintained and replaced every 30,000 miles or so.
You’ll notice your spark plugs are failing if your Mini starts to misfire, experience a rough idle, or experience engine surging. The best tip for preventing this issue is to keep up to date with maintenance, which will help to extend the life of these hard working parts, and ensure they are working correctly.
Ignition Coil Issues
The ignition coil works directly with the spark plugs, providing the spark plugs with the high-voltage energy needed to spark. If the ignition coil fails, then the spark plugs will be provided with no electricity, meaning they cannot produce a spark. That means in turn that the fuel will not ignite, ultimately resulting in a car that will not start! Common causes for ignition coil failure include short circuits, damage, and contact faults.
If you notice your ignition coils are failing regularly, then a top tip is to have your preferred Mini mechanic check the spark plug ignition cables, which can cause high resistance and high heat which can cause your coil to burn out prematurely.
Servicing the Marlborough area as well as the Hudson, Northborough, Southborough, Sudbury, Westborough, Stow, Bolton, Berlin, and Framingham areas of MA for over 2 decades, Professional Automotive are on hand to help with all your vehicle servicing needs. Servicing cars from around the globe, and with a variety of money saving deals, there really is no reason to take your Mini anywhere else!