How To Remove Pickup Coil From Distributor

An electronic ignition pickup coil is a component found on every normal electronic distributor ignition system. It regulates the firing order of an engine. The pickup coil transducer is strategically placed to sense magnetic field changes around the distributor rotor as the rotor spins.  

The pickup coil monitors the gyration of the distributor and alerts the ignition system at the best possible time to produce a spark at the perfect time for optimal engine performance. A faulty distributor pickup coil may make it impossible for the engine to spark.

Steps Taken In Removing Pickup Coil From Distributor

 Step 1

First, disconnect the air cleaner. Place a piece of tape on the terminal side of the distributor to mark the number one wire location. The next thing you should do is to pull all the plug wires from the distributor cap.

Step 2

Located on the driver’s side of the cap are the electrical connections, disconnect them. You will find two connectors, one is the power wire and the other being the connector from the component to the coil, pull them down and out.

Step 3

Using the flat-head screwdriver, remove the distributor cap by firstly removing the top cover on the distributor cap which hides the coil by using a 1/4-inch drive socket. Also using the 1/4-inch socket unscrew the four screws protecting the coil to the cap. 

Step 4

With one hand, lift the coil, and with your other hand, disconnect the wire terminals from the cap by pulling them out. Make sure you remove them simultaneously. Flip the cap and drop the spring and center contact for the rotor.

Step 5

Insert the new center contact and then the spring simultaneously. Also, insert the coil and the electrical terminals too. Screw back the four screws tightly and reinstall the top cap over the coil.

Step 6

Reinstall the distributor cap on the distributor and tighten the screws. Connect the large connector to the terminals closest to the cap and plug in the power wire. Be careful not to miss any of the steps.   

What Will A Bad Pickup Coil Do To A Vehicle?

When a pickup coil gets faulty or completely damaged, it may cause engine stalling, the improper firing of fuel injectors, and difficulty in acceleration. Engine stalling ensues when the vehicle warms up with rough idling being the initial clue that a stall may happen.

How To Test Ignition Pickup Coils

To check an ignition pickup coil, attach the black (negative) lead of the multimeter to the exterior negative terminal of the ignition coil. Then link the red (positive) lead of the multimeter to the external positive terminal of the ignition coil. Set the dial on the multimeter to ohms to measure resistance. The resistance we are measuring is that of the primary pickup coil.

Where Does Ignition Coil Get Power?

The rotor is where power from the ignition coil is supplied. The rotor rotates synchronously with the engine. When the end of the rotor comes close to one of the contacts, electric current arcs to the contact form where the power travels through a spark plug wire to the associated spark plug.

How To Test A Distributor

To test a distributor, pull a plug wire from the distributor test, one by one. Using a screwdriver, check the arc when the ignition is turned on by putting the metal part of the screwdriver on the metal part of the plug wire. Position the metal screwdriver close to the electrode of the distributor.

Final Note

Always keep an eye on the pickup coil and monitor it when you checking your spark plugs, rotor, and distributor cap. The pickup coil should be added to your list of routine checks and replacement procedures, by doing this, you will avoid being stranded in the middle of nowhere due to a damaged ignition coil.

It is very wise to always keep an extra pair in your vehicle all the time.  By having an extra pair in the vehicle, you save yourself the time and stress of searching for where to purchase a new one when the old one gets damaged.


Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Electronic Ignition Pickup. (2016, 1 7). Retrieved from Your Mechanic:

What is a distributor pick-up coil? (2020, 1 29). Retrieved from ASKINGLOT:

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