Gas-powered golf carts typically have a myriad of different parts that electrical carts do not possess.
For example, the ignitor is critical for operating the spark plugs in gas-powered golf carts but is unnecessary in electrical carts.
This relatively low level of usage of this part makes it one that is often rarely well understood and is often one that may be ignored by cart owners for too long.
We will discuss the nature of these parts, how they operate, and different issues that may affect them.
In this way, you can have the insight that you need to keep this part in great shape.
The Nature of Golf Cart Ignitors
Ignitors are an expansion of past parts on older carts and are integrated into a solid-state ignition system.
This ignition method is the most common type on modern golf carts, though it isn’t always the only type that you can find on carts.
This part is designed to help produce the proper electrical signal to get your cart’s engine running and to keep it properly moving without any issue.
In essence, the ignitor works to enhance electrical signals and produce a larger flow of electricity to the coil that helps your spark plug operate.
In this way, it is an essential part on gas-powered golf carts but is usually not found on electrical carts as there is no need.
Hybrid golf carts may possess this part, as they also have gas and electrical components. But that all depends on your cart’s design and what is available.
When the ignitor works properly, you won’t notice any issue with your cart and will have no troubles at all with its operation.
However, this part doesn’t always work flawlessly, and when it doesn’t, you may experience many issues.
For example, your cart may just refuse to start when you try to turn it over, leaving you in a challenging position that can be quite frustrating and hard to understand.
As a result, it is important for cart owners to fully understand how this part works and the different elements that are connected to it’s operation.
In this way, you can diagnose any issues and treat them more effectively.
You may need professional help to do some of these repairs, though, so make sure that you fully understand these factors before you try swapping out this part from your cart at any time.
How an Ignitor Works
The ignitor is a small but critical part of your engine.
Without it, your gas-powered cart won’t run at all.
Thankfully, its operation is fairly simple and easy to understand.
That said, there are many elements here that are working at the same time.
Without understanding these elements, it may be hard for your cart to run as smoothly as you’d like – it may even cause your cart to fail to operate at all.
Operation of this part focuses on how it interacts with the pulsar, the ignition coil, and other parts of your engine.
As your engine starts and spins, the pulsar spins and creates a small electrical signal.
This signal is produced because this part is magnetic and it rotates quickly when introduced to a small charge.
As it spins, it sends this electrical charge directly to the ignitor on your cart.
Once your ignitor is hit by this charge, it boosts the signal to make it stronger.
The idea here is to make the charge strong enough to ignite the gasoline in your cart’s engine as it runs.
The ignitor does all of these steps in fractions of a second – its many smaller parts all work together to boost the signal and send it off the coil in a smooth and streamlined way, enhancing cart operation.
As the coil receives the boosted signal from your ignitor, it boosts that spark a bit more and sends it directly to the spark plug.
The spark plug then ignites as the piston reaches the proper level, forcing the piston down and creating propulsive power.
The unique design of the internal combustion engine ensures that the ignitor gets used many millions of times in a cart’s lifespan.
Thankfully, the ignitor has a pretty simple design that makes it fairly easy to run and helps to make sure it doesn’t experience as many possibilities of failure.
In fact, there are few circumstances in which the failure of the ignitor will cause engine troubles – its design is so compact and efficient that it is rarely the course of corrosion-related damage or other concerns that may stop your engine.
That said, we would be lying if we said that these parts never failed or struggled to operate smoothly.
There are many issues that can cause the ignitor to fail and cause complications with your cart.
The frustrating thing about this situation is that the failure or misfunctioning of this part can be symptomatic of many issues that may be related to this part or completely separate from it as well.
As a result, we’re going to examine a few common issues that may cause your ignitor to fail and the types of symptoms that it may cause.
Then, we’ll go over how you can test your ignitor to ensure that it is operating smoothly.
These steps will make sure that you have a cart that is up to your standards and makes it easier for you to replace this part if you find that you need to get rid of it ASAP.
Common Ignitor Issues
Though the ignitor doesn’t experience many issues, there are concerns that may cause it to malfunction is you are not careful.
Just a few problems that you must watch out for when you are working on your cart include:
- Malfunctioning interior parts
- Corroded wires
- Improper electrical output
- Damaged connectors
- Misplaced pins
All of these issues can be quite frustrating to handle if you don’t take the time to test your ignitor and figure out what is happening to it.
Testing Your Ignitor
If you believe that your ignitor is struggling in any way, you need to make sure to follow these steps to ensure that you catch any problems that may be plaguing it.
Thankfully, this testing process is something that most cart owners should be able to handle without much difficulty.
We also include a series of steps to handle other elements of this process, such as bypassing your key if needed:
- Park your cart and put bricks behind the wheels to keep it from moving
- Open up your cart engine and attempt to identify the ignitor using your cart engine schematic
- Trace the ignitor back to the pulsar to see where they are connected together on your cart
- Place a voltimeter onto this connector and turn the meter to ohms to get the proper readings
- Start up your cart and keep it in the forward position – you may want to jack up your cart to allow its wheels free movement here
- Wait for the ohms reading to stabilize – it should be at about 20 ohms at the ignitor connection
- Remove your voltimeter and check the coil between the positive and negative terminals
- Take the reading from this coil to get an idea of its output – it should be about 3-4 ohms or so
- Reconnect the proper parts and turn your cart off and lower it back down f you jacked it up
If for any reason this testing process does not work for you, there may be an issue with your key that is making it impossible to test your ignitor.
This issue is a convoluted and confusing one that requires you to bypass your key to get an electrical signal directly to your ignitor.
Thankfully, this process is fairly simple and doesn’t require a lot of difficult steps, including:
- Turn off your ignition switch and take your key out to avoid any potential issues
- Trace the wires underneath of your cart’s ignition switch from your cart’s engine
- Snip away the coverings on these wires to strip the plastic and expose the metal connection
- Carefully touch these wires together to create a spark to bypass your ignition switch
- Pay attention to how your ignitor operates and test it using the process outlined below
- Wrap the stripped wires with electrical tape to prevent electrical issues
We only suggest this step if you cannot get your cart to start and you want to test the ignitor. If your cart does not start using this method, then there are many more issues with your engine that must be managed. You are going to need to talk to a professional cart maintenance and repair company to ensure that you can handle this situation properly and with minimum complications to your golf cart operation.