When you drive a BMW, you drive it for reliability and comfort. When your ignition module isn’t working properly or even fails completely, then you’ll be missing both. An ignition module failure often leaves the driver stranded on the side of the road. Knowing the ignition module is, why it is important, how to recognize issues when they arise, and how to properly maintain the ignition system are all important aspects of avoiding an ignition module failure.
What is the Ignition Module?
The ignition module, or ignition control module (ICM), is a computer that regulates the spark generation of the engine. It controls the ignition coil’s firing time. It also can be thought of as the breaker in the ignition system that turns the ignition coil on or off. When you put your key into the ignition and turned to crank the engine, a spark is sent to the coil to start the vehicle. Basically, the heart of the ignition system and the on/off switch to your BMW.
Recognizing an Ignition Module Problem
Knowing that there is an issue is an important aspect of owning a vehicle, especially a BMW. Not only that, but if you are able to recognize that there is a problem with the ignition system specifically, you may be able to avoid a complete ignition module failure, and that will keep you and your car from being stranded.
There really are only 4 noticeable issues you will have when driving or starting your car if the ignition module is failing or has failed.
Vehicle Stalling: A faulty ignition system can cause the vehicle’s engine to stall and not start back up again. Luckily, if that’s the symptom, you will be able to let the engine cool off enough that the ignition module will spark and start the car again.
Engine Problems: If your BMW starts to have engine problems such as misfiring, loss of power during acceleration, or reduced fuel efficiency then you may want to get your ignition system maintenance to see where the problem originates.
Overheating: This is a very common early indicator of ignition module failure. When the ignition module gets too hot, it can’t function properly. Similar to vehicle stalling, you may be able to drive to the nearest service station when you have given your car enough time to cool down. Signs of overheating include electrical shorts, engine stuttering, gasoline odor in the exhaust, or even stalling.
No Start: The worst sign of all is when your car won’t start at all. If it is the ignition module at fault, then your BMW will likely still crank, but no spark will ignite to actually get your car running. In this instance, you will absolutely need a new ignition module to drive your BMW again.
The best method to avoid and prevent ignition module failure, as well as most other surprise mechanical issues, is to participate in ongoing vehicle maintenance (i.e. oil changes). This allows for a mechanic to refresh the necessary fluids in the car, but you can also ask them to check out a few other key aspects as well (if they don’t already).
One thing that they may overlook is the spark plugs and the battery, and if you don’t check on these yourself, then you may want the mechanic to do so during your regular maintenance appointments. A malfunctioning battery can lead to engine issues and eventually ignition module overheating. As for the spark plugs, if they are faulty it can result in engine misfiring and other engine performance issues.
If you are unsure of how thorough your mechanic is being during the ongoing maintenance, don’t be afraid to ask them to check the ignition system. It is best to be on the safe side with the ignition system to avoid being stranded on the side of the road or damaging your engine.
Trust the Professionals
Although ignition module failure isn’t an overly common issue, it can be a serious problem for you and the longevity of your BMW. Knowing how to keep the ignition system running smoothly, and how to recognize an ignition module error are both very important aspects in maintaining the health of your vehicle. If you are in need of a trusted BMW mechanic and specialist, call Bavarian Auto with any and all of your ignition system or BMW related questions.