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Old 11-08-2016, 12:50 PM   #1
Gone Wild
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Pittsburgh
Posts: 2,766
Default Ignition Module Information

Beginning in 1986, Columbia migrated away from points systems to electronic ignitions in golf carts. The upside to electronic ignitions is that they are capable of delivering a spark that lasts much longer than points which makes engine timing much easier and, generally, allows for a smoother and more consistent running engine. The downside is that the components used to make the electronic ignition modules on Columbia carts are not as durable as points and will fail if the cart’s ignition system isn’t operated within a range of specifications. Replacement ignition modules are expensive.

Testing the module:

Generally, if your cart is not getting spark you need to check if you are getting 12v to the coil. Place a volt meter on ground and the + terminal on the coil. With the key on, there should be 12v there. If not you have problem somewhere else in your cart. If there is 12v at the coil and there is no spark when starting then either the coil is bad or the module is bad. The easiest test is to replace the coil temporarily with a known good one. If there is still no spark then the module is bad.

The following test specifically tests the module:

1) Remove the black wire from the ignition module, where it connects to the coil.
2) Connect the positive lead from the volt meter to the black wire.
3) Connect the negative lead from the volt meter to ground.
4) Remove the spark plug wire
5) Turn the meter on, set to the "diode" tester. It will either show a flashing number (open state) or a value around .55V. An "open state" (flashing number) shows that the transistor is NOT conducting and needs replaced.
6) Turn the ignition key to ON. While watching the meter, turn the flywheel by hand. The value (.55V) should be on for approximately half the rotation and the "open state" (flashing number) for the other half of the rotation.

Some notes on the Columbia ignition modules:

Earlier Columbia / HD carts will accept the ignition module thus eliminating points. You will need to get the right rotor for a cart’s crankshaft shape, however, round for early carts and obtuse for later carts.

Critically, the Columbia ignition module needs a good deal of resistance in the ignition circuit to prevent failure. This is probably the biggest cause of failed ignition modules. Most often, the modules fail because of heat that is caused by too much current. Initially, resistance in the factory coil restricted current sufficient to protect the module. Columbia factory coils had right around 4 ohms of resistance in them but this presents a problem as coils with that much resistance in them can be tough to find. Certain car coils will work and a list can be found here:"]"]

Replacement coils offered by golf cart suppliers don’t take the needs of the ignition module into account and have only around 1.5 ohms resistance in them which, though sufficient for points systems, is not sufficient for the ignition module. Oftentimes, a 3.5 ohm coil is unknowingly replaced with a 1.5 ohm coil and module fail occurs a short time later.

A coil’s resistance can be measured with a volt meter (on the ohm setting) by testing across the small terminals. Ballast resistors, which are inexpensive and available online or in auto parts stores, can be used to increase the resistance in the circuit thus protecting the module. Resistance within the coil and an external ballast resistor is added together to achieve the total represented resistance. For example, a 1.5 ohm coil installed with a 2 ohm ballast resistor provides 3.5 ohms resistance in the circuit. Spec calls for between 3.5 and 4.5 ohm resistance total to protect the module. See diagram for proper wiring of ballast resistors.

Failed modules

Failed modules can be replaced one of three ways:

1. OEM replacement (should be done only after confirmation of at least 3.5 ohm resistance in the ignition circuit)
2. Conversion to points (will require points, point plate, condenser and maybe a points cam depending on cart year)
3. Conversion to an HEI system

A points conversion thread can be found here:
Attached Images
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