How many ignition coils does a car have? A detailed answer

Ignition coils play a crucial role in the engine’s ignition system. These coils allow spark plugs to ignite the air+fuel mixture in the individual cylinders. How many ignition coils does a car have?

The short answer is that cars come with a series of ignition coils, depending on the number of cylinders their engines have. In most cases, the number of ignition coils is proportional to the number of cylinders and each cylinder will have one coil.

But that’s not the only case as some cars will have one ignition coil with or without a distributor(mostly, modern cars don’t need a distributor) per pair of cylinders.

Generally speaking, your car will have 2, 3, 4, 6, or 8 ignition coils, depending on the number of cylinders present in your engine and also whether it uses 1 ignition coil per cylinder or 1 ignition coil per pair of cylinders.

How Many Ignition Coils Does a 4-Cylinder Have?

A 4-cylinder engine will have either 2 or 4 ignition coils. As said earlier, the number of coils depends on the number of cylinders you have and whether the car uses 1 coil per cylinder or 1 coil per pair of cylinders.

Does a V6 Have 6 Ignition Coils?

A V6 engine does have 6 cylinders. Typically, this engine has 1 ignition coil per cylinder—so 6 coils in total. However, this is not the only case; two other different case scenarios can play out when it comes to a V6 engine when it comes to the total number of ICs this type of engine can have.

The first one is if the engine is using 1 IC per pair of cylinders. In that case, the car will have 3 ICs. The second one is if the engine is using a special technology known as “Twin Spark” to deliver added performance.

In this technology, one cylinder is equipped with two spark plugs and two ignition coils to increase combustion, leading to increased performance. In that case, the engine will have a total of 12 ignition coils instead of 3 or 6. Twin sparks are mostly found in V6 engines and higher.

How Many Ignition Coils Are In a V8?

The first thing to keep in mind is that a V8 engine features 8 cylinders. Second, each cylinder can have only 1 ignition coil if not 2. Or 2 cylinders can have only 1 ignition coil.

Based on this knowledge, you can easily tell the number of ignition coils that can be present in your car. All factors above considered, it could be 4, 8, or 16 ignition coils.

Can a Cylinder Have More than One Ignition Coil?

The short answer is yes. As explained above, some cars nowadays come with the Twin Spark technology that stuffs 2 spark plugs with 2 ignition coils into each cylinder.

The goal of having double spark plugs and coils per cylinder is to boost the combustion rate. It leads to increased engine output.

While most engines that have this technology fall within the V6 and higher categories as said earlier, it’s also not uncommon to find a 4-cylinder engine that has it.

Can You Replace Only One Ignition Coil?

To be honest, yes you can replace your ignition coils one at a time. However, experts, in most cases, recommend replacing all your coils at the same time as a preventative measure.

It’s especially helpful if you haven’t changed your coils in a long time. It’s also a good idea to replace your spark plug(s) when changing your ignition coil(s) to optimize the performance.

Knowing when to change your ignition coil is another important thing for you as a car owner. Otherwise, you may damage your engine by driving the car with bad coils that badly need replacing.

By the way, ignition coils do have a lifespan, which means you’ll have to change your coils at some point. Unfortunately, manufacturers never bother to give a specific age or mileage to replace them. Fortunately, you’ll be on the safer side if you know the symptoms to look out for.

Speaking of which, some of the indications that it’s time to change your ignition coil(s) include;

  • Flashing check engine light.
  • Shaking and sputtering engine.
  • Hard starts.
  • Diminished engine power.
  • Unexpected engine misfires and backfires.
  • Deteriorating gas mileage.
  • Jerking motions.

NB: The above symptoms may not necessarily indicate that your ignition coils need changing. You should keep in mind that they may also be a result of other engine issues.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace An Ignition Coil?

To start with, car ignition coils cost between $168 and $218, depending on the brand of the product, the make and model of the car, where you buy the coils, and so on.

On the other hand, labor can set you back by between $51 and $64 contingent upon many factors. These include the mechanic you choose as well as the make and model of your car. Also, you may end up paying more if other repair works are needed in the process.

Is It Hard To Change An Ignition Coil?

The short answers are yes and no. Yes if the engine isn’t too complicated like in the case of an older car and no if the engine is designed in a complex manner. Some modern cars have very complicated engines.


The ignition coil of a car is what enables the internal combustion process to happen successfully. Cars will have more than one IC, depending on the number of cylinders present in the engine, the number of coils available in one cylinder(1 or 2), and whether or not the cylinders are paired such that each pair gets only one coil.

Ignition coils have a lifespan, which means you’ll need to replace your coils at some point when you notice certain symptoms that include a flashing check engine light.

Also, watch out for shaking motions when the car is moving, sputtering sounds coming from the engine, and hard starts. Other symptoms to look out for include diminished engine power, unexpected engine misfires and backfires, as well as deteriorating gas mileage.

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