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How to determine if a condenser is still functional.

Every time a mechanic change the contact point of my gasoline engine car he always change the condenser. Is this always necessary? What are the signs I could observe at the contact point to have it changed? What remedies I could do or a mechanic could do before it has to be finally changed? Am asking this on the basis of getting stalled anywhere and perhaps could do something to reach the nearest shop.

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  • vulture5843 Apr 27, 2010

    Thanks Zaraki, you've been most helpful.Am just an ordinary owner driver but has the knack of asking what and how a problem (like this one now on a car)came about and perhaps to get feed backs/tips I could as a novice do to troubleshoot partly till help comes along.I just landed on this site today while surfing.And the Net so far has provided me the initial engine basics fitted for car owners. Time to go deeper info into emergency road remedies when getting stalled hence,this posting.

    Again thanks.


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The ignition condenser is needed for good coil saturation and is directly related to the voltage output of the coil, the weaker the ignition condenser is, the weaker the spark will be from the coil.

The signs to look for when replacing the ignition points are burnt or pitted contact surfaces at the breakers, and for a worn down rubbing block. (where the points contact the cam lobes inside the distributor)

The only things that you can do to prolong the life of the ignition points is to make sure that the rubbing block on the ignition points and the distributor cam lobes are properly lubricated with die-electric grease, and make sure that the dwell angle is properly set. (you would need a dwell meter to set the ignition points properly)

The only reason that the engine would stall from the ignition points is because either the condenser burned out, or the rubbing block wore down and the ignition points closed up. (The ignition points should open and close to provide a primary signal to the coil, if they do close up, you can get home by using a piece of a match book cover to set the gap for the ignition points, it is approximate enough to work well enough to get you back home if stranded from closed up ignition points)

I hope that this was helpful to you in any way.

Posted on Apr 27, 2010

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If there is a lot of miles,wear in the distributor,and the distributor cam,can cause points to wear out quicker,replacement of the distributor will prolong the life of the points and condenser,the condenser is like a cushing for the voltage,to kind of soften the voltage spark of the points.If the condenser is bad it will not allow the points fire at all,and can burn out the ignition coil if it goes bad.Now quality means a lot in selecting the brand of ignition,standard ignition,and echlin ignition are the top of the line in stock automotive parts,standard ignition,is found in a lot of auto parts stores,but echlin are only found at napa auto parts.The cheaper the points and condenser,the less the performance and longtivity.

Posted on Apr 27, 2010

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