How often should you change the spark plugs in your car?
When it comes to serving up a dish of solid power, spark plugs are a key ingredient.They use electricity from the engine's ignition system to create a small bolt of lightning to ignite the air/fuel mixture sprayed into each cylinder between the compression stroke and power stroke.
With the exception of diesel engines which use compression to ignite air/fuel mixtures, spark plugs are also used on engines that run on alternative fuels.
There is no better way to describe a spark plug's firing than as a small bolt of lightning.Because lightning bolts are destructive in nature, they take a toll on spark plugs over time.
"How often do I need to replace my spark plugs?" is a commonly asked question.A look at ten of the best-selling vehicles in recent years shows a range of recommendations for spark plug change intervals based on the type of plugs engineers chose to use.Intervals of 30k, 60k and 100k are included.
The inner central core of the spark plugs is made of metal.The center electrode is the core.The "ground electrode" protrudes from the bottom of the threaded area and ends under the center electrode.Whenever a spark plug fires, electricity travels between the two points, known as the gap.
Different types of spark plugs are defined by the metal used to coat the ground electrode.Our article explains the different types of spark plugs.
The center electrode has an ignition coil.Many modern vehicles feature one coil per cylinder; the older, traditional model relied on a single coil connected to an ignition distributor, which then fed the spark plugs via a set of spark plug wires.
As the engine is driven, the metal used to coat the spark plug tip will be consumed slowly.The spark is reduced by the widening of the gap between the ground and center electrodes.
It's important to understand that projected lifespans for spark plugs are based on the premise that the engine using them is otherwise in top tune and enjoying ideal running conditions during the entire period.There are a lot of things that can cause improper combustion, such as too-low octane fuel, incorrect air/fuel mixtures, and excessive ethanol mixed in by gas stations.spark plug life is affected by these.When engine temperatures stay low, carbon build up on the tip can cause spark plugs to fail.If engine wear starts to allow oil into the chamber, spark plugs can become damaged.
If you haven't changed your spark plugs in awhile, they're probably more worn than you think.If you haven't reached the full mileage interval between recommended plug changes, pay attention to how your vehicle runs.The end of spark plugs' life span is a common warning sign.Rough engine idling, misfires, hard engine starts, reduced power, and higher fuel consumption can be caused by worn spark plugs.A "check engine" warning light will come on in most modern engines if there is a problem after three or four starts.
Pull one of your plugs out for a checkup if you've noticed any of these conditions.
If you remove the spark plug wires from your engine, be aware of the condition they're in.When pulling on wires that are past their prime, they may come apart completely.If you want to check your wires, you can examine your engine compartment at night.Current is escaping from the insulation if the wires are glowing or sparking.
A good set of spark plug wires will typically last 60,000 miles.In certain circumstances, that may not apply.
Unburned fuel going out the exhaust is one of the most common reasons for expensive catalytic converter failure.It's often worn-out spark plugs that are the root of the problem.If you keep your spark plugs fresh, you can save a lot of money over the long run.
The spark plug's tip should be clean.An internal oil leak can be seen on the tip.You should investigate the source of the oil if you find it on the plug.Be prepared to change oil-fouled plugs a bit more often if you must delay any repairs.
Carbon build up on the tip of the spark plugs can cause them to fail if you drive your vehicle on a lot of short trips.If this is the majority of your driving, you should change spark plugs before the recommended intervals.There is a chance of carbon build up if the air filter is dirty or the fuel injectors are dirty.Sometimes taking the car on a higher-speed highway run is a good practice.
Replacing your spark plugs more frequently is cheap insurance against a real problem that can develop when they remain seated in the cylinder head for a long, long time.The plugs can react with the metal in the cylinder head and become seized in place.If this happens, it will be difficult to remove the plugs without breaking them apart.Any engine can be affected by this issue, but aluminum cylinder heads are more prone to it.
It is still a good idea to check and replace the few remaining engine service items at regular intervals, even though the traditional tune-up has gone the way of the dial phone.This is only available on our 21st century cars.One approach is to create a schedule, based on time or mileage, and replace all service items at the same time.
There is an elephant in the room when it comes to spark plugs.Plug wire removal is required before you can put a sockets on some older vehicles.
Many modern vehicles have hoods.There is no hint as to where the plugs are.The plugs can be accessed once the coil pack is removed, if you're lucky.It takes a lot of time to get to the plugs in other cases.
If your engine still has its original plugs, and there is a related service to be performed, such as coil packs, fuel injectors, or valve cover gasket, this is an opportune time to tackle the plugs.
One of the best ways to check the plugs is to physically inspect them.This is the recommendation, not the mileage interval from the vehicle manufacturer.When you reach about two-thirds of your mileage, it is a good time to inspect the plugs.
Check at the halfway point to see how things look if longer service intervals of 100,000 or more miles are recommended.If the vehicle runs well, check again at the three-quarters point.If a spark plug can be seen or detected, replace it immediately.It could be a case of cheap insurance to toss in a new set given the affordable price of new plugs.
Don't settle for anything less than the perfect plugs for your vehicle and driving style, if it's time to order new plugs.We'll be happy to make personalized recommendations if you give us a call.