Changing face of ignition

Changing face of ignition

NGK spark plugFor a large part of the last decade the ignition components’ market was centred around spark plugs, distributor caps, ignition leads, points and condensers.

This traditional product mix has been in decline over the last 10 years, and new technology spark plugs with longer service life and modern electronic ignition modules and systems have taken their place. The result is that even distributor caps rarely need replacing. The introduction of coil packs and/or pencil coils means that ignition leads are no longer present on modern petrol cars. Yet some of these coils do not last as long as the older coils so this product line is fairly healthy on some particular applications.

Garages are increasingly facing demands for engine management with newer cars requiring diagnostics on highly sophisticated systems. Pricing is also a key driver for motorists approaching independent garages with diagnostics and component replacements, as the total value of engine components on a vehicle has risen dramatically over the last 20 years.

Today, the significant trend in ignition is the incorporation of engine management components with the traditional ignition products to provide a complete ‘Ignition & EMS’ product offering. This includes all the switches, sensors, modules and ECUs that are used on modern engines. The unit sales per item can be small but as a total product group the size is significant.
The increased amount of electronics in modern vehicles means many ‘basic’ service repairs now require intervention with diagnostic tools and as a result there is an increased need to provide information to the vehicle owner.

Mike Parsons, product marketing general manger at Unipart Automotive, says: “Garages are forced into engine management with newer cars requiring diagnostics. Diagnosing the problem can be a key issue and resource-heavy activity for garages. This diagnostic process is very time consuming, taking up valuable ramp space and requiring intensive labour. It is essential that garages have the expertise to fit the best quality parts first time round to limit the time spent on diagnostic issues.
“Unipart Automotive offers a comprehensive range of engine management parts through its branch network, covering all components. All parts offer a 12-month warranty and are all OE matching. In addition, Unipart offers a technical support line for all its customers.”

Working in collaboration with OE manufacturer Delphi, Unipart Automotive offers a comprehensive range of tools and diagnostics, alongside training and technical support designed to help the garage and technicians correctly diagnose faults first time. This partnership has resulted in the automotive giant opening a series of specialist engine management systems (EMS) and diesel centres across the UK.
Consequently, independent garages belonging to Unipart’s Car Care Centre (UCCC) network can now become UCCC specialists in engine management, diesel or both.
Becoming a UCCC EMS or diesel specialist is easy, garages simply sign up to one or two modules and as a result will receive the latest tools, training, technical support, OE matching quality products as well as a whole host of marketing support to help drive motorists into their garage.

Mike Parsons, says: “The ignition market represents a massive profit opportunity for garages. All vehicles seen by the IMT today will contain some degree of vehicle electronics.  This will only continue to grow as vehicles become more complex. Independent motor traders will need to understand how to service and repair these faults if they are to remain competitive”.

Spark Plugs

Spark plugs play a vital role in a vehicle’s performance. A way for IMTs to increase spark plug sales is to educate motorists on the importance of replacing all spark plugs every time they take their vehicle in for a service. Fitting the correct spark plug is vital to the vehicle’s economy and emissions’ performance. Worn plugs and damaged wires can cause ignition coils and other ignition components to fail prematurely. A misfire of a spark plug can allow air-fuel contamination and damage and shorten the life of the vehicle’s Lambda sensor and catalytic converter.

Unipart Automotive continues to work closely with NGK to provide garages with up to date spark plug technology.

The design of a spark plug is key to preventing unburnt fuel leaving the combustion chamber via the exhaust ports. Misfiring is likely to allow this to happen and will increase unwanted emissions significantly. All NGK spark plugs use both fine wire and semi-surface discharge technology, in some cases both combinations are incorporated on the spark plug. The fine wire types, typically employing iridium or platinum alloys, promote more complete combustion while lowering the load on the high tension ignition coils. Reducing this load means that the coils are more reliable. The semi-surface discharge designs provide an extremely good cold fouling counter measure which again dramatically reduces the possibility of a misfire situation. The electrodes at the firing end of some spark plugs are even used as part of a misfire detection system. These are specifically engineered to perform this task while proving efficient discharge surfaces for that all important spark.

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