This week, we’d like to take a quick look at an aspect of your car that you might hear about frequently, but might not know that much about: spark plugs. These tiny wonders help to start the series of reactions that allows your engine to produce power in an efficient and smooth way. Thus, it’s important to make sure that your spark plugs are properly maintained. Read on to learn more info and spark plug tips!
What Do Spark Plugs Do?
Spark plugs have the task of igniting the vehicle's fuel/air mixture through an electric spark, thus allowing the fuel to combust. Without the spark plugs, the engine cannot convert the fuel into usable mechanical power.
Spark plugs fire at a rate of about 25 times in one second during driving. If any sparks are missed, you’ll often feel it as a glitch or stumble in the engine’s output. Misfires are typically attributed to worn spark plugs. Conventional spark plugs should thus be replaced immediately when needed; every 30,000 miles is a good rule of thumb. However, this can vary depending on car model, types of spark plugs, and frequency of driving.
What Happens If They Aren’t Working Properly
The following may be signs that your spark plugs are not running properly and may need replacement:
- Loss of engine power
- Motor is running “rough”
- Engine is misfiring or sputtering
- Less engine efficiency
It’s important to replace spark plugs as soon as possible if they are old or worn. Failure to do so can cause damage to other parts of the engine, like the catalytic converter.
In some cases, it can be possible to tell if there are other engine problems based on the appearance of a spark plug. For instance, if a spark plug appears to be wet, it could be an indication of engine flooding. Or, if a spark plug is black and oily, it could mean that there is an oil consumption problem, such as a leaky gasket.
However, visual inspection of spark plugs does not always provide for an entirely accurate assessment of your car’s condition. What’s best is to bring your car to a professional and have it pass through a multi-point inspection to ensure optimal car performance. The entire engine and all its components work together as a whole, and so spark plug maintenance is just one piece of the overall picture.
Is There Any Difference with Brands or Types?
Spark plug performance can vary depending on the brand used as well as the type of spark plug. For instance, some platinum spark plugs can last closer to 50,000 miles rather than the standard 30,000 miles. Also, as with any car part, there are also spark plugs that are used for specific purposes, such as racing.
Understanding which type of spark plug to use can be complex; in some cases, opting for a special type of spark plug may not be necessary at all, depending on your driving needs. The best thing to do is to consult with a professional mechanic to determine what types of spark plug options will work best for you.
Are you looking for reliable, top-quality services for your personal or work vehicle? Stop by Convoy Auto Repair for all your repair and maintenance needs. We’re San Diego’s favorite auto repair shop, and have been providing services to the area for almost 40 years now. Make an appointment today!