Electronic Ignition (EI) System Operation

The electronic ignition (EI) system produces and controls the high energy secondary spark. This spark ignites the compressed air/fuel mixture at precisely the correct time, providing optimal performance, fuel economy, and control of exhaust emissions.
The engine control module (ECM) primarily collects information from the crankshaft position (CKP) and camshaft position (CMP) sensors to control the sequence, dwell, and timing of the spark.

Crankshaft Position (CKP) Sensor

The crankshaft position (CKP) sensor is an internally magnetic biased digital output integrated circuit sensing device. The sensor detects magnetic flux changes of the teeth and slots of the reluctor wheel on the crankshaft.

The reluctor wheel is spaced at 60-tooth spacing, with 2 missing teeth for the reference gap. The reference gap is used to identify the crankshaft position at each start-up. The CKP sensor produces an ON/OFF DC voltage of varying frequency, with 58 output pulses per crankshaft revolution.

The CKP sensor sends a digital signal to the ECM as each tooth on the reluctor wheel rotates past the CKP sensor. The ECM uses each CKP signal pulse to determine crankshaft speed position.
This information is then used to determine the optimum ignition and injection points of the engine. The ECM also uses CKP sensor output information to determine the camshaft relative position to the crankshaft, to control camshaft phasing, and to detect cylinder misfire.

Camshaft Position (CMP) Sensor

The sensor detects magnetic flux changes between the four narrow and wide tooth slots on the reluctor wheel. The CMP sensor provides a digital ON/OFF DC voltage of varying frequency per each camshaft revolution.

The ECM will recognize the narrow and wide tooth patterns to identify camshaft position, or which cylinder is in compression and which is in exhaust. The information is then used to determine the correct time and sequence for fuel injection and ignition spark events.

Knock Sensor (KS)

The knock sensor (KS) system enables the control module to control the ignition timing for the best possible performance while protecting the engine from potentially damaging levels of detonation, also known as spark knock. The KS system uses one or 2 flat response 2-wire sensors.

The sensor uses piezo-electric crystal technology that produces an AC voltage signal of varying amplitude and frequency based on the engine vibration or noise level. The amplitude and frequency are dependant upon the level of knock that the KS detects.
The control module receives the KS signal through the signal circuit. The KS ground is supplied by the control module through the low reference circuit.

The control module learns a minimum noise level, or background noise, at idle from the KS and uses calibrated values for the rest of the RPM range. The control module uses the minimum noise level to calculate a noise channel.

A normal KS signal will ride within the noise channel. As engine speed and load change, the noise channel upper and lower parameters will change to accommodate the normal KS signal, keeping the signal within the channel.

In order to determine which cylinders are knocking, the control module only uses KS signal information when each cylinder is near top dead center (TDC) of the firing stroke. If knock is present, the signal will range outside of the noise channel.

If the control module has determined that knock is present, it will retard the ignition timing to attempt to eliminate the knock. The control module will always try to work back to a zero compensation level, or no spark retard. An abnormal KS signal will stay outside of the noise channel or will not be present.

KS diagnostics are calibrated to detect faults with the KS circuitry inside the control module, the KS wiring, or the KS voltage output. Some diagnostics are also calibrated to detect constant noise from an outside influence such as a loose/damaged component or excessive engine mechanical noise.

Ignition Coils

Each ignition coil has an ignition 1 voltage feed and a ground circuit.
The engine control module (ECM) supplies a low reference and an ignition control (IC) circuit. Each ignition coil contains a solid state driver module.

The ECM will command the IC circuit ON, which allows the current to flow through the primary coil windings. When the ECM commands the IC circuit OFF, this will interrupt current flow through the primary coil windings.
The magnetic field created by the primary coil windings will collapse across the secondary coil windings, which induces a high voltage across the spark plug electrodes.

Engine Misfire Detection

The CKP sensor is used to determine when an engine misfire is occurring. The CMP sensor is used to determine which cylinder is misfiring.
By monitoring variations in the crankshaft rotation speed for each cylinder, the ECM is able to detect individual misfire events.

For accurate detection of engine misfire, the ECM must distinguish between crankshaft deceleration caused by actual misfire and deceleration caused by rough road conditions.

The antilock brake system (ABS) can detect if the vehicle is on a rough road based on wheel acceleration/deceleration data supplied by the wheel speed sensors. If the ABS detects rough road above a predetermined threshold, this information is sent to the ECM.

The ECM uses the rough road information when calculating engine misfire. Under certain driving conditions, a misfire rate can be high enough to cause the 3-way catalytic converter (TWC) to overheat damaging the converter. The malfunction indicator lamp (MIL) will flash ON and OFF when converter overheating, damaging conditions are present.

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