How to Test a Pickup Coil With Multimeter

Testing the pickup coil is critical in maintaining and troubleshooting an automobile ignition system. It ensures that the system works properly and can help diagnose potential issues. A multimeter can be used to test the primary resistance of the pickup coil, which will tell you if it’s functioning as intended or needs replacing.

How to Test a Pickup Coil With Multimeter

The advantage of using a multimeter to test the pickup coil is that it provides an easy and accurate way to check if the coil functions correctly. You can also better understand how much voltage the coil produces, which can be used to troubleshoot vehicle issues. It’s also simple to use, so even someone with limited technical knowledge can do the test without problems. In this blog post, You will learn in detail how to test a pickup coil with multimeter.

Tools You Will Need

  • A Multimeter
  • Pickup Coil
  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Socket Wrench
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Ratchet and Sockets (Metric)
  • Safety Glasses
  • Pliers
  • Wire Cutters
  • Electrical Tape

Step-by-step Instructions for How to Test a Pickup Coil With Multimeter

Step 1: Inspect the Pickup Coil

Look at the pickup coil to check that it is in good working condition. Ensure there are no visible signs of wear or corrosion and that the wires are securely connected. Connect one of the multimeter leads (positive) to the ‘primary’ wire on the pickup coil and connect the other lead (negative) to the ground.

Step 2: Set the Multimeter to Resistance Mode

Set your multimeter to resistance mode and observe the reading on the screen. The resistance should be within the expected range of values for a normal functioning pickup coil, typically between 1-10 ohms. 

Set Your Multimeter to Resistance Mode

Check for continuity between the ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ windings by connecting one of the multimeter leads to each wire. There should be a steady tone indicating that there is a circuit present.

Step 3: Measure the Resistance Between the Secondary

Next, measure the resistance between the ‘secondary’ and ground connections. This should be significantly higher than the resistance between the ‘primary’ and ground connections. Also, measure the resistance from each of the ‘secondary’ wires to the system ground. It should be similar to that of a healthy pickup coil.

Step 4: Check for Electrical Leaks

Check for electrical leaks by placing a screwdriver or other metal tool across the ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ wires. There should be no voltage present, indicating no leakage in the system.

Using the same multimeter, you can measure the inductance of your pickup coil. Inductance measures the amount of magnetic flux a coil generates when it is energized with an AC voltage. A healthy pickup coil should have an inductance value between 0.5 and 1.2 mH (milliHenry).

Step 5: Confirm Windings With An Ohmmeter

Finally, confirm that the windings of your pickup coil are in good condition by connecting an ohmmeter to each wire. If the resistance readings are similar, then the windings are working correctly. If any of the tests indicate a faulty pickup coil, it must be replaced. Ensure you purchase the correct replacement and follow any safety rules when connecting it.

Testing your pickup coil with a multimeter is an easy and effective way to determine whether it is in good working order. It can save you time and money by allowing you to detect problems before they become more serious.

Precautions for How to Test a Pickup Coil With Multimeter

Wear Safety Gloves and Eye Protection
  1. Always wear safety gloves and eye protection when working with the pickup coil.
  2. Before testing, ensure your multimeter is turned off and disconnected from any power source.
  3. When connecting the probes to the terminals, make sure they don’t touch each other or any exposed wires in the circuit.
  4. Make sure to turn off the power source before taking any circuit measurements.
  5. Check that all wires are properly connected and in good condition.
  6. If you find a faulty pickup coil, replace it with a new one as soon as possible to avoid further damage to your vehicle.

How Do You Determine if the Pickup Coil is Functioning Correctly?

To test the pickup coil, you will need a multimeter or ohmmeter. You can use this tool to measure resistance in your pickup coil’s primary and secondary windings. To do this, you first need to remove the wire lead from each side of the coil. Then, set your meter to measure resistance in ohms (Ω). Connect the leads of the multimeter to each end of the pickup coil. If the reading is within a normal range, usually between 0 and 6 ohms, your pickup coil will likely function properly.

If you are still unsure whether the coil is working correctly, you can also check for shorts by disconnecting one end of the wire from the coil and connecting the meter to both ends. You should get a reading of zero ohms if there is a short. Certain types of pickups might require different resistance ranges for testing purposes.

Is There a Risk of Damaging the Pickup Coil When Performing This Test?

Testing the pickup coil with your multimeter is a relatively safe process. However, it’s always best to be cautious when working with electrical components. If you feel uncomfortable performing this test, consider hiring an auto mechanic or electrician with experience testing car parts. Taking the right precautions and using caution can help prevent damage to the pickup coil.

Additionally, be sure to use a multimeter specifically designed for automotive testing. This will ensure you get the most accurate readings and avoid overloading your meter. The first step in testing the pickup coil with a multimeter is identifying which terminals or wires lead into the coil. If your vehicle has an OBD2 diagnostic port, you can usually use it to detect which wires lead to the coil. Once you’ve identified the appropriate terminals, disconnect them from the coil and set your multimeter on the ohms setting.

Is Diagnosing Other Issues Within the Ignition System While Performing This Test Possible?

Yes, it is possible to diagnose other issues within the ignition system while performing this test. By measuring the resistance between each terminal on the pickup coil and noting any discrepancies, you can determine if there’s an issue with the primary or secondary windings and check for open circuits between them.

You can also use a multimeter to identify bad spark plug wires and faulty spark plugs or distributor caps. Additionally, if the resistance measurement is too low, it may indicate a shorted-out coil that must be replaced.

By testing with a multimeter, you can save time and money by accurately diagnosing issues with your ignition system. It’s important to note the manufacturer’s recommended resistance values when performing this test, as these may differ from model to model.

Once you have identified and rectified any issues, performing a voltage test on the pickup coil is recommended. This will determine whether your ignition system is operating properly and producing a sufficient spark at the correct time in each cylinder.

How Can You Troubleshoot Any Potential Issues With the Pickup Coil After Testing It?

You must troubleshoot if your multimeter test results indicate an issue with the pickup coil. For example, if you have determined that the resistance is too low or too high, this may be due to a faulty connection between the primary and secondary windings. To fix this issue, you can use a wire brush to clean the terminals of the pickup coil, ensuring they make a good connection.

Use a Wire Brush to Clean the Terminals

It is also important to check the voltage levels at the pickup coil, as this may indicate a faulty ignition switch or relay. Additionally, any corrosion on the terminals should be cleaned off with contact cleaner before further testing is done. Once all of these steps have been taken, testing the coil again with a multimeter is recommended to verify that all issues have been resolved.

What Other Maintenance Is Necessary for Proper Ignition System Operation?

In addition to testing the pickup coil, regular ignition system maintenance is necessary to ensure proper operation. This includes checking the spark plug wires for any signs of wear and tear and inspecting the spark plugs themselves. Additionally, it is important to check the distributor cap and rotor for any cracks or breaks that may cause an issue with the spark delivery system.

To ensure that your ignition system continues to operate optimally, it is recommended to perform a tune-up regularly. If necessary, this should include replacing the spark plugs, wires, and distributor cap. Additionally, you may need to adjust your engine’s timing to ensure optimal performance. Following these steps and regularly testing with a multimeter ensures that your ignition system remains in top shape for many years.

Testing With a Multimeter


In conclusion, testing a pickup coil with a multimeter is a relatively simple but important task. It is essential to ensure that the car’s electrical systems are in proper working order and that there are no faults within the system that could cause functional issues or even damage components.

Testing the pickup coil with a multimeter helps identify any abnormalities in current flow. It enables early diagnosis of any potential problems before they become more serious and costly to repair. This article has been beneficial for learning how to test a pickup coil with multimeter. Make Sure the preventive measures are followed chronologically.

You Can Check It Out To Test Fuel Pressure Sensor With Multimeter

Photo of author

Enrique Howard

Hi, I am Enrique. I started my professional life as a handyman and did a lot of external and internal repair of home and office with a little bit of electric and plumbing support. I have extensive experience in tools testing such as drilling, turning, milling, and non-conventional machining like EDM. So let me help you on your journey towards becoming an enlightened DIYer with amazing tools that you can use on your project.

Leave a Comment