How do I know if my spark plug needs replacing?

If the acceleration of your gasoline-powered vehicle changes from "zoom, zoom" to "putt, putt", there may be a spark plug problem.

Although modern spark plugs last much longer than those produced 30 years ago, they do not last forever and need to be replaced regularly.

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What does spark plug do?

●A spark plug is screwed into each engine cylinder and is needed to start the engine and keep it running.

●The greatest need for the ignition system is to start the car and get it running. The plug part that sticks out from the engine is connected to the vehicle's ignition system, which must provide a specific amount of current to generate sparks in each cylinder of the engine.

●The other end of the spark plug has two exposed electrodes, located in the cylinder. The current from the ignition system flows to the central electrode of the plug. The high voltage spark jumps a small gap to reach the second electrode.

●The spark ignites a fuel-air mixture in the engine cylinder. Each time a spark is generated, a small explosion occurs in the cylinder, pushing down the top of the piston.

●If your vehicle has four cylinders, it has four pistons; Six cylinders, six pistons, etc., each with a separate plug.

Types of spark plugs

●Different gasoline-powered cars have different engines -- which means they need different types of spark plugs.

●Depending on the number of cylinders your engine has will determine how many cylinders you need. It's one on one. For example, if you drive a 4-cylinder engine, you will need four spark plugs.

●Most spark plugs are made of different types of metal in order to work with the engine, and some are less expensive than others.

●However, cheaper materials tend to have shorter life spans than those made from more expensive metals. The manufacturer will usually recommend the type of spark plug your gasoline-powered vehicle needs.

①Copper Spark Plugs

Copper spark plugs are the most common and cheapest on the market. However, they tend to have a shorter lifespan, so you need to replace them more frequently.

②Iridium Spark Plugs 

Iridium spark plugs have a very long life, which is reflected in the price. They are generally the most expensive type of spark plug on the market today.

So, if your manual says you need iridium spark plugs, that's what you need, as any shortfall may affect performance.

③Platinum Spark Plugs 

Platinum spark plugs last longer and usually run at higher temperatures. This means that these spark plugs can reduce carbon buildup in the engine.

Since they are made of hard but premium metal, you can get about 100,000 miles before you need to replace the platinum spark plug.

④Double Platinum Spark Plugs 

Dual platinum spark plugs get their name not because of the double coating, but because their center and side electrodes are platinum.

These are specifically made for cars with a "wasteful spark ignition system," which means lighting two spark plugs at the same time. This increases the wear on the spark plug, which is why this type is needed.

You can use regular platinum spark plugs in waste spark systems, but this affects performance and longevity. This type of spark plug also costs more.

Eight problems mean that the spark plug or spark plug wire needs to be replaced:

①Regular maintenance

Check the user manual for replacement intervals. Some automakers require replacements at 18,000 miles, some at 30,000 to 35,000 miles, and others at 100,000 miles.

②Spark plug wire

Real old cars use distributors, distributor caps and spark plug wires. Some later models had an ignition system without a distributor, but they still had traditional spark plug wires. Newer vehicles use a plug coil ignition system that eliminates electrical problems caused by frayed spark plug wires.

③Fuel economy decline

A dirty or scaly spark plug reduces fuel economy because the spark plug does not burn gasoline efficiently during the combustion cycle.

④Slow acceleration

If acceleration takes longer, there is less power over the car, for example, the problem may be that the spark plug is worn out and needs to be replaced.

But broken fuel filters, dirty or clogged fuel injectors, and problems with oxygen sensors and ignition systems can all slow acceleration.

⑤Rough Idling

If the engine makes a popping, rattling, or tap-like sound, or if there is a strong vibration, it may be a problem with the spark plug and/or the spark plug wires.

⑥Engine Misfires

If the plug tip has oil when removed from the engine, replace the plug more frequently. The presence of oil is due to a cracked valve chamber cover washer, a degraded spark plug O-ring, a faulty cylinder head washer, or a defective or worn valve guide.

Repairs must be made because the oil can cause the engine to catch fire or fail to start.

⑦Difficulty Starting

A frayed spark plug may be the cause. Have an experienced mechanic determine if the plug needs to be replaced.

Simply put, if the spark plug does not produce enough sparks to start the combustion process, the engine will not start. Some other reasons for difficulty starting include problems with the ignition system, batteries that need to be replaced, or frayed spark plug wires.

⑧Warning light

Finally, don't ignore the "check engine", "fault", or engine outline symbols. These warning lights may come on if the spark plug malfunctions or if the spark plug wires need to be replaced.

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