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Your ignition system explained

The ignition system is of course an essential part of the technology that allows cars to function, and without it you would not get very far. But what does it do? Well the system provides the electrical energy required to get the engine running.

There are certain faults that can occur with the ignition system, and some of the ones that are most regular include the battery being flat, and therefore not able to provide the voltage for the ignition spark. Another common problem is that a fuse blows somewhere in the system, or the connections on the battery get loose. Faulty leads and a worn spark plug are other possible options too.

Behind the scenes of the ignition system there is quite a lot that goes on, and of course involves the battery to create the initial voltage for the electrical spark that lights the fuel/air mix in the engines' cylinders.

Although you don't need to know about how it all works in detail, it might be useful to read something like an encyclopaedia entry on how a petrol engine works in order to see what the basics of the system are; this can also help you understand what the pieces are and where potential errors can creep in, as outlined above: if you were told for instance that the cause of the ignition failing was a worn rotor arm would you know what that meant?

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Your vehicle catches fire while driving through a tunnel. It is still driveable. What should you do? A) leave it where it is with the engine running B) Pull up, then walk to an emergency telephone point C) Park it away from the carriageway D) drive it out of the tunnel if you can do so

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