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Automotive Electronics Classics Chrysler Ignition Module Technical History

OddMix.com - Technology Note - TN1205 - Karl Nagy

Picture 1. Chrysler Ignition Module [7 KB]
Picture 1. Chrysler Ignition Module

This technological marvel was the first mass produced automotive ignition module Picture 1. The difference between this one and the common units is that the production modules were filled with a nearly impossible to remove epoxy and sand mixture. The purpose of this filler was to make the unit disposable and not repairable, thus force the car owner to needlessly pay many times of what the parts inside the ignition unit worth.

When Chrysler Corporation decided that every new automobile they produce will be outfitted with this modular solid state ignition circuit unit, the resulting public reaction nearly obliterated the company. Had the federal Government would not come to the rescue of Chrysler in a hurry; the Company would be extinct by now like RCA and many others too arrogant to listen to their customers.

Picture 2. Chrysler Ignition Module Inside [7 KB]
Picture 2. Chrysler Ignition Module Inside

Not that the idea of the electronic ignition was not sound from the engineering standpoint. Automotive ignitions Achilles heel's always been the high current ignition switches called the "points". A set of switches were only useable for a limited time as the high current and high voltage the switch interrupted, and the resulting constant arching slowly burned them.

Picture 1. Chrysler Ignition 1.4 Ohm Resistor [5 KB]
Picture 1. Chrysler Ignition 1.4 Ohm Resistor

Large eight cylinder gas guzzlers usually needed two sets of points. Points were not really expensive but their adjustment was critical and required instrumentsinstruments and time that was always somewhat on the short supply in car dealerships. Using that as an excuse, Chrysler Corporation decided to tax each new vehicle an additional $100 in the form of a disposable electronic unit. It may have been overlooked by their customers had the ignition did not have the nasty habit of leaving a number of new car owners stranded on the road somewhere between their home and the car dealership.

Not too many Chrysler ignition units failed but those that did mostly do it in the first one hundred miles. Regretfully the ignition modules could not be repaired on the road like regular burnt points. Some clever people helped that by having an additional ignition module installed in their car and if the ignition module failed, they just moved the wire harness plug from the failed one to the back-up unit.


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