Understanding a DIS Ignition System
A DIS ignition system might be the far better alternative to the classical distributor and cables system, but if anything happens to it, it is also more difficult to repair. That is because the system is now controlled by the car ECU or computer system, and you will need to interact with that system in order to conduct any repairs. However, the ECU can also greatly improve gas mileage and engine performance when controlling the spark plugs directly. So you will have to get very familiar with your car’s system and buy a few new toys if you are to work on the DIS ignition on your own. The simpler and cheaper alternative, though, would be to have a specialized mechanic work on it.
How a Regular Ignition System Works
There are three important components to a classic ignition system. The first is the electric coil that transforms the low voltage generated by the battery into the high voltage current required to ignite the fuel. Second, there is the distributor that is finely tuned to direct the electric current in a precise order to the spark plugs so that they will ignite in the correct sequence. And then there are the spark plugs that actually create the spark required to ignite the fuel and air mixture in the pistons.
How a DIS Ignition Works
A DIS ignition system or a distributor-less ignition does away with the distributor and allows the car’s ECU to decide when each spark plug needs to be fired. This allows the system to make minute changes depending on the engine’s needs so that it works more efficiently. Also, each spark plug has its own ignition coil so there are no more high voltage wires running through the engine.
Comparing the Systems
The DIS ignition system is clearly the better alternative if you are looking strictly at the car’s performance. Still, it takes away much of the home mechanic’s ability to fix his own car or to improve its performance. If the system breaks down, you will need to ask a specialized shop to diagnose the car and learn how to fix it. And if you want to improve its performance, again, you will have to get a specialized shop to install any component and then to tweak the ECU so that it will know how to use this new system.
Fixing a DIS Ignition Yourself
Unless you are a specialized mechanic and have all the necessary equipment to interface with your car’s ECU, it would be better not to attempt fixing it on your own. Even if mechanically you might be able to determine what is causing a problem with the ignition system, if you cannot tell the ECU to erase that error code and to check again, it will still behave as if the problem was not solved.
For the regular driver who just wants the best fuel economy, a DIS ignition is great news. It allows for a much better engine performance and for better fuel mileage. However, if you enjoy working on your car and knowing exactly what is wrong with every component than the classic distributor system is a better choice. Still, a classic distributor system will never be able to achieve the fuel economy that a DIS ignition can and that may offset the fact that you will no longer be able to work on your own car.