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Frequently asked questions (and their answers)

1. What are the differences between 123\ignition, 123\TUNE (USB) and 123\TUNE+ (Bluetooth)?

The 123\ignition, "mother" of all 123 distributors, hosts generally 16 advance curves, which can be activated per rotary switch at the side of the distributor housing. These advance curves are more or less revealed to the public. Some are shown in total (all intermediate points), some only with their max. value and others only stating which engine they are meant for.
There are 123\ignition distributors with and without vacuum advance, for cars with negative and positive polarity and for vehicles with mechanical injection respectively carburettor(s) and electronical injection (D-Jetronic). Versions meant to be connected to positive earth vehicles can also be connected to negative earth vehicles. None of the 16 advance curves can be altered (neither by you nor by us). There's a great number of car-specific 123\ignition distributors, often hosting engine-specific advance curves, sometimes hosting a diversified choice of advance curves.

The 123\TUNE (USB) hosts 2 advance curves when being delivered. These advance curves are generally not adjusted to the needs of your engine. They are examples, which are explained in the manual how they work. They can be adjusted/tuned to the needs of your engine (incl. rev-limiter) with the help of a (free) downloadable program and a PC/notebook (connection via USB-cable). Ideally you will book a motor power testing station for an hour or two, but it will also be possible on the road. You can define each 10 points for the rotation speed and vacuum dependent curve. The values in between will be interpolated automatically. You can save as many advance curves as you like on your PC/notebook and load 2 of them as often as you like into your 123\TUNE distributor or exchange them with other drivers (also per email). You have the possibility to switch between the 2 loaded advance curves while driving without USB-connection. Moreover you can manipulate the advance curve during driving in some degree provided the distributor is connected to a notebook via USB-cable.
The 123\TUNE is designed for negative and positive earth cars (except the 8 cylinder distributors, which are available for negative earth cars only) and is always equipped with a vacuum advance connector, which doesn't need to be connected necessarily. The 123\TUNE is not available for electronic injection engines in its standard version. Please contact us for custom-made distributors.

The last rung on the evolutionary ladder so far is the 123\TUNE+ (Bluetooth), similar to the 123\TUNE (USB). The biggest difference is the way the connection between PC/notebook and distributor is established via Bluetooth instead of USB-cable. The one advance curve hosted in the 123\TUNE+ (Bluetooth) can be modified using your smartphone/tablet connected via Bluetooth to the distributor. With the Bluetooth version, it is possible to save as many ignition curves as you like on your smartphone/tablet and load them back into the distributor or to exchange these curves electronically with others. A big advantage is the implemented immobiliser, which can be activated/deactivated via smartphone/tablet.

2. Despite of using fully electronic ignition, do I need vacuum advance and what is it good for?

When the engine is running there will be an inlet manifold vacuum, caused by the up- and downward stroke of the pistons in the cylinders and the opening and closing of the valves, thereby aspirating petrol/air mixture. There is resistance for the aspiration, in the first place the throttle valve, which is controlled by the gas pedal.
By running the engine with increased revolutions and more or less closed throttle valve (i. e. the gas pedal is not or just a little depressed, called part-load operational range), the combustion chambers will not be filled optimally, causing the combustion to happen more slowly. While the piston is on its power stroke the ignition point is advanced to regain the lost time caused by the slow combustion. The 123ignition needs, like conventional distributors, an input, i. e. information, what the rate of the inlet manifold vacuum is in order to react appropriately and advance the ignition.
Vehicles used for racing purposes mostly don't need vacuum advance, because they are operated predominantly with full throttle. When operating an engine under full throttle there will be no or only little inlet manifold vacuum, because the throttle valve is fully opened.
There are some kind of carburettors not suitable in conjunction with vacuum advance. We are aware of only a few vehicles with Weber carburettors operating vacuum advance.
In general you should order a 123ignition with vacuum advance if the original distributor has a vacuum unit. 123ignition distributors with vacuum advance can be operated without connecting the vacuum tube to the distributor, which simply means, if there is no input there will be no advance (other than rotation speed dependent).

3. Is there a 123\ignition distributor for my specific engine available?

Take a look at the wide range of 123\ignition products in our webshop. First compare the dimensions of the line drawings with your original distributor to be sure you have picked the right mechanical model. The following thing to check is the advance curve. The 123\ignition version, also called the "Switch" version, offers 16 pre-programmed advance curves listed in the curve table.
When the advance curves don't match with your specific engine, the programmable 123\TUNE USB or 123TUNE+ Bluetooth probably is the right choice for you. With the programmable units it is possible to program your own advance curve. Please be aware these distributors are not equipped with engine specific advance curves by default. You can order a presetting with the factory curve with us.

4. Can I install a 123\ignition system by myself?

If you are familiar with installing old-fashion distributors it should be a piece of cake to install a 123\ignition. When you are not experienced it will be better to search for a specialist to install the unit. Ask us for a specialist in your area.
The programmable versions need some experience in ignition technology, but you can order a presetting of the original advance curve with us, if we have the data or you supply them to us.

5. What are the main advantages of the 123\ignition?

  • Simple installation without mechanical adaptations
  • No maintenance ever again!
  • Variable dwell angle for better performance
  • Better starting
  • Better emissions
  • Better fuel consumption
  • No burning out of the ignition coil
  • Built in LED for simple static ignition timing
  • Real value for money

6. Which operating systems is the Bluetooth app compatible with?

Apple (iOS):

The Bluetooth app is compatible with all modern Apple smartphones and tablets. Please make sure your device offers Bluetooth 4.0 low energy.


The Bluetooth app is compatible with most Android versions. Please make sure you use Android 4.4 or newer and your device offers Bluetooth 4.0 low energy.

Unfortunately we can not guarantee the 123\TUNE+ works with Android 7.0 because of a Bluetooth bug in this Android version.

7. Which coil do you recommend in connection with the 123\ignition?

This depends on your engine:

On a Citroen 2cv: DON'T use other coils than the standard. Best advise : buy a new black 2CV-coil, and new (silicone) ignition leads. The Brown VISA coil will ruin your ignition because these coils have a very low primary resistance.

For 2 cylinder DAF or FIAT engines we recommend the 123\ignition coil with 3 ohm resistance in the primary windings (product number: 7008).

For 4 cylinder engines not revving above 6,000 rpm, we recommend the 123\ignition coil with 3 ohm resistance in the primary windings (product number: 7008). For engines revving above 6,000 rpm we recommend the same coil, but with 1.5 ohm in the primary windings.

For 6 cylinder engines we recommend the 123\ignition coil with 1.5 ohm resistance in the primary windings (product number: 7008).

For 8 cylinder engines not revving above 4,000 rpm (Pre-war, etc.), we recommend the 123\ignition coil with 1.5 ohm resistance in the primary windings (product number: 7008). If your engine revs higher, we recommend the 123\ignition coil with product number 8943.

Note: We hear a lot of complains from our customers about the fake "Lucas Sport" or "Lucas gold" coils, better don't use these coils.

8. What kind of high tension leads will be a good choice in connection with 123\ignition?

Of course it is always possible to use your original HT-leads for the original look, but some of our customers have experienced strange behaviours from misfiring up to non-starting engines in connection with copper core cables. For the best performance we advise so-called "carbon tension leads". These cables have a little resistance and very good isolation. We offer a wide variety from stock looking 7 mm cables up to cables in various colours with 8 mm diameter.

9. What kind of spark plugs do you recommend in connection with 123\ignition?

Always use the spark plugs for your engine specified by the manufacturer of the car! However, you can increase the gap by about 0.1 mm - 0.2 mm (0.004 - 0.008").

10. It looks like my engine misfires in the high rpm range. What can cause this problem?

The car battery has to put enough energy into the coil for a powerful spark. In the higher rpm range the time to do this is very short, so all conditions have to be perfect for good performance.

Make sure you are using the right coil for your engine: Read Q & A "7. Which coil do you recommend in connection with the 123\ignition?".

Resistance somewhere in the primary circuit can cause a lot of ignition problems as well, think about the following:

  • Coil and ignition wiring: Use good connectors and cables of good quality and appropriate conductor cross section
  • Ignition switch: Make sure the dashboard ignition switch is in good condition (test to power the ignition/coil direct from the battery)
  • Ground connection of the distributor: Make sure the distributor makes a good electrical connection with the engine, and the engine with the chassis

11. It looks like the ignition misfires after a few kilometers driving, what can I do?

In some cases a very unstable voltage of the vehicle's electrical system can cause misfires. The 123ignition is protected against high voltage peaks (greater than 15v) and goes in protection mode for a split second when a spike is detected. Most of the time this error occurs when the car battery is charged full again after having been started and the voltage regulator starts to work.

This problem can be caused by a broken alternator / dynamo or bad voltage regulator. Unfortunately this is impossible to measure with just a standard voltage meter because we talk about high voltage spikes of micro seconds.

You could easily test this by driving a while without working alternator / dynamo. Use a fully charged car battery and keep in mind that other important systems (e. g. water pump, power steering) may be driven by the dynamo belt. Under no circumstances separate the dynamo / alternator from the electrical system and let it run. This may lead to a broken dynamo / alternator.

12. Can help me to find the best advance curve for my engine?

Unfortunately not! We would need certain equipment (e. g. motor power testing station) and we would need to be a garage. Neither complies.

However, we have a comprehensive library of original advance curves. We can do a research and if we find the original curve for your engine, we can program your 123\TUNE USB or 123\TUNE+ Bluetooth to original specifications. A small surcharge will be applied.

13. What PC operating systems does the programmable 123\TUNE USB software run on?

It runs on:

  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows XP (Service Pack 2)

There is neither a version for iOS nor for Linux.

Note: USB A ---> USB mini B cable not included.

14. After having installed the 123\ignition my tachometer shows erratic values. What can I do?

The interposition of a diode 1N4007, 1000V (costs less than 1 €) between ignition coil and tachometer leads here to success. Attention should be paid to the direction of installation, cathode (dash on the diode) towards tachometer. Unobtrusive solution, the diode is only about 5mm long, simply soldered at any point or installed by means of cable lugs.