Spark Plug Inspection and Maintenance – Dielectric Inspection

in Engine Ignition and Electrical Systems

Another phase of magneto inspection is the dielectric inspection. This inspection is a visual check for cleanliness and cracks. If inspection reveals that the coil cases, condensers, distributor rotor, or blocks are oily or dirty or have any trace of carbon tracking, they require cleaning and possibly waxing to restore their dielectric qualities.

Clean all accessible condensers and coil cases that contain condensers by wiping them with a lint-free cloth moistened with acetone. Many parts of this type have a protective coating. This protective coating is not affected by acetone, but it may be damaged by scraping or by the use of other cleaning fluids. Never use unapproved cleaning solvents or improper cleaning methods. Also, when cleaning condensers or parts that contain condensers, do not dip, submerge, or saturate the parts in any solution because the solution used may seep inside the condenser and short out the plates.


Coil cases, distributor blocks, distributor rotors, and other dielectric parts of the ignition system are treated with a wax coating when they are new and again at overhaul. The waxing of dielectrics aids their resistance to moisture absorption, carbon tracking, and acid deposits. When these parts become dirty or oily, some of the original protection is lost, and carbon tracking may result.

If any hairline carbon tracks or acid deposits are present on the surface of the dielectric, immerse the part in approved cleaning solvent and scrub it vigorously with a stiff bristle brush. When the carbon track or acid deposits have been removed, wipe the part with a clean, dry cloth to remove all traces of the solvent used for cleaning. Then, coat the part with a special ignitiontreating wax. After wax treating the part, remove excess wax deposits and reinstall the part in the magneto.