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Old 03-05-2019, 12:01 AM
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Is there mileage or age for Ignition coils replacement

Is there a mileage or age for ignition coils replacement, or are they to be replaced only as needed if an ignition coil code is thrown? I still have the original ones at 140k miles with no issues so far.
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:16 AM
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This is what I do...

- Removed the cosmetic cover and saved it on the garage shelf.
- Bought a few used OEM ignition coils on ebay (or junk yard), marked them with white paint so I know these are spare, and test them in the car beforehand.
- Then save them in the trunk for long trips.
- Also carry a basic Code Reader (such as Maxi 300, about $15 on amazon).
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:35 AM
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Started getting some coil suspicious errors at 170,000 mi so I got a couple used ones to do trading and when I swapped one that cylinder stopped having errors then a week later a different cylinder so I swapped out that one also.

Then from a tip on do I threw a bottle of Lucas injector cleaner through and not only no more cylinder errors, there were a couple O2 related errors that were coming occasionally and all are fine r not a single error since the injector cleaner
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:14 AM
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To answer the question on coil life to which to OP mentioned, there is a life to any component in the ignition system (Duty life).
There are two versions that came with X5 and E39. An early version has two bolts holding them down and have replaceable coil boots (Your 528i for example), and the later versions (2002 up) which are commonly referred to as "pencil coils", due to their unique flip up connectors and slimmer winding design (Example your 4.4 X5). (See images below).

Life span is totally based on driving/cooling/environment cycles which create too many variables, so the "rule of thumb" comes in to play: at 150K miles of city/country driving they are on borrowed time, as these little guys die from over heating which causes the windings to burn through their insulation and vibrations. You see the burn out as "blisters" around the coil tops. With vibration failures you end up with broken wires in the primary side (low voltage) creating a DEAD coil w/no warning, just gone. You can actually measure winding resistance and use a lab scope to see potential failures. Most DIYs just wait until a miss fire and then replace each coil one at a time. Shops who have to live with the owner, replace everything (coils and plugs) when one fails, as the others are always close behind. How close? Who the hell measures that?

Plugs have a 80% greater gap wear under high loads. Coils require greater saturation (Higher energy) under load and as the plugs wear. Light throttle, flat land, highway drives on Sunday with the Mrs, equals long life. Everything else equals shorter life.

Replacement is always a good thing if you are in it for the long term. Short term thinking says buy/have two known good coils ready to install when miss fires occur. At this stage all our cars have had good/poor maintenance histories. Look at your coils, see new and old mixed? Good time to replace them all!

Good preventative process says replace the boots on every plug change (50-80K)

Helpful? Or way too much info?
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2005 X5 4.8IS
The Blue ones are always FASTER....

Current Garage:
2005 X5 4.8is
2002 M5 TiSilver
2003 525iT
1998 528i
Former Garage Stable Highlights
2004 325XiT Sport
1973 De Tomaso Pantera, L Model
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A 4 sp Alpine White
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A 4 sp GoManGo Green
1971 Dart Sport, “Dart Light” package
1969 Road Runner 383
1968 Ply Barracuda 340S FB Sea-foam Green

Last edited by StephenVA; 03-05-2019 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by X5only View Post
Is there a mileage or age for ignition coils replacement, or are they to be replaced only as needed if an ignition coil code is thrown? I still have the original ones at 140k miles with no issues so far.
I had a coil go bad at just over 200,000 miles. I replaced all six as I figured the others wouldn't be far behind.
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:03 PM
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While we’re on the topic of coils, any good advice for installing new performance coils??

I was doing a major overhaul of the front end of the engine and ran in to a set of new performance coils for a price that I couldn’t pass up, trouble is... they won’t snap on to the plug for anything!! Every time I attempt to install them I end up with half a dozen misfires and end up just putting the old coils back on...

I have measured the depth, hole diameter and every other thing you can think of, even metered the coils themselves to make sure they were good, but these suckers won’t snap down... I have even gone to the extent of “buttering” them with dielectric gel to see if they’d slide on and no dice...

To confirm, I didn’t buy them for performance, I bought them mainly for the perceived better cylinder atomization and potentially slightly better fuel mileage- but that didn’t work out as they’ve been laying in my tool box for a year now...

Apologies for the thread hijack!


2005 X5 4.4i (04/05 build date)
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Old 03-05-2019, 01:06 PM
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Whistle Way too much frustrated engineering speak.....

"Performance coils" way too generic to interpret.

There are a few coil designs that offer improvements from stock. Examples one with greater windings offer greater voltage and dwell saturation capacity, runs cooler and offers some improvement in idle, throttle, and wide open performance when compared to stock. Others are just a orange/blue/green paint scheme on a stock aftermarket coil.
Fit finish and the ability to install are all great signs of reverse engineering and quality control.

Coil basics - ignition systems
It is basically a bucket of energy, your engine consumes it on two sliding scales Voltage and time (Voltage is expressed in the visual on the vertical - bottom up, while Time is measured Horizontal - left to right). Less energy used to over come all resistance (plug gaps, compression, wear, etc) or it is used over time (Mil Secs). See chart attached. The larger the bucket (windings) the more energy reserve there is.

Want to see if a coil is going bad? Look at the coil oscillations humps, Good = lots. Bad = few or none even though the coil fires the plug (note test is done with engine NOT under load. Put this on a chassis dyno and you will see all the issues at once. No guessing only test results that show real world.

Meanwhile in the DIY world, One goes bad, replace them all or have a few in the trunk and a scanner to determine and pin point failure on a given cyl.

Update: Image below is showing ONE cyl at a time. You can "stack" all the cyl visuals either analog or digital depending on the test tool. The one(s) with a difference are the ones that require more diagnostic digging. In other words, look for what is not common across the cylinders.

Helpful?
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2005 X5 4.8IS
The Blue ones are always FASTER....

Current Garage:
2005 X5 4.8is
2002 M5 TiSilver
2003 525iT
1998 528i
Former Garage Stable Highlights
2004 325XiT Sport
1973 De Tomaso Pantera, L Model
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A 4 sp Alpine White
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A 4 sp GoManGo Green
1971 Dart Sport, “Dart Light” package
1969 Road Runner 383
1968 Ply Barracuda 340S FB Sea-foam Green

Last edited by StephenVA; 03-05-2019 at 01:24 PM. Reason: fat fingers
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Old 03-05-2019, 01:23 PM
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All ignition systems are not created equal but as a generalization performance coils are not needed on a stock engine. If you feel they are worthwhile consider the cost/benefit as I don't see a good value. Performance coils can be beneficial if the engine is modified, more likely if engine is boosted bet even then it is not a sure thing. There are also mixed reviews about the longevity.

I suggest 'reading' the plugs and see if a change in heat range might be in order. Best way to improve mileage is often adjusting the foot on the gas pedal.
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Old 03-05-2019, 01:26 PM
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+1^ as always!
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2005 X5 4.8IS
The Blue ones are always FASTER....

Current Garage:
2005 X5 4.8is
2002 M5 TiSilver
2003 525iT
1998 528i
Former Garage Stable Highlights
2004 325XiT Sport
1973 De Tomaso Pantera, L Model
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A 4 sp Alpine White
1970 Dodge Challenger T/A 4 sp GoManGo Green
1971 Dart Sport, “Dart Light” package
1969 Road Runner 383
1968 Ply Barracuda 340S FB Sea-foam Green
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  #10  
Old 03-05-2019, 02:08 PM
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bcredliner, StephenVA - thanks guys, appreciate the info.

As noted, I did not buy them for any performance gain or any wanted mileage increase, I routinely exceed 21mpg in mine to this day, I know the Parts Manager at my local BMW dealer and as it happened he had a set of BMW Performance Coils (red tops) on the shelf when I picked up my AUX plug for my head unit, at $80 (dealer cost) for the coils and having 100k miles on mine... I couldn’t pass them up. Of course mine hadn’t failed, no issues no codes, but I figured I’d keep those as backups since I’m an over the road guy.

Being for the X5 4.4i (I’m sure they fit other 4.4s as well) I assumed they would be plug and play so to speak, in fact they are, I just can’t seem to get them to seat and snap on to the plug for some insane reason... Suckers are a spot on match to the stock coil, with the exception of a higher winding count, but for the life of me won’t seat.

Keep in mind I’ve had the entire front of this engine off, water pump, vanos out and cleaned, full cooling system overhaul, valve covers, left and right upper timing covers, you name it, I’ve even pulled the mech and replaced the bridge seal and 4 pickup tubes... but for the life of me I can’t get those blasted coils to seat.

I have to be missing something terribly obvious... though I’ve had no problem at all reseating the original coils, I assumed it was because the original boots HD already been “stretched out”... go figure maybe I’m just not a coil guy LoL...




2005 X5 4.4i (04/05 build date)
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