Spark plugs, those unassuming components nestled within your car’s engine, play a crucial role in the combustion process. Although they’re small in size, they have a significant impact on your vehicle’s performance.
Spark plugs create the spark that ignites the air-fuel mixture within the engine’s cylinders, which ultimately creates the power to propel your vehicle forward. If your spark plugs are bad, the engine’s cylinders won’t fire and the combustion process won’t take place. As a result, your engine won’t run!
Here’s a closer look at how spark plugs work, signs your spark plugs are bad, and how often they should be replaced to keep your engine running smoothly and efficiently.
How Do Spark Plugs Work?
A spark plug consists of three main parts: the central electrode, ground electrode(s), and a resistor wire. When the electrical current passes through the central electrode, it generates a spark that bridges the gap to the ground electrode, which ignites the fuel mixture and kickstarts the combustion process.
Spark plugs work in conjunction with various other engine components, all of which play a pivotal role in maintaining optimal performance. The gap size between the central and ground electrode is crucial because it influences the efficiency of the ignition process. There are several types of spark plugs used by different vehicles, which can vary in terms of the gap, the materials they’re made of, and how they’re constructed.
How to Tell if Your Spark Plugs Are Worn
Although spark plugs are designed to be durable, they don’t last forever. Once a spark plug becomes significantly worn, it will start to affect your engine’s performance. Some of the most common signs of worn or faulty spark plugs include:
- Engine misfires
- Rough idling
- Slow acceleration
- Poor fuel efficiency
- Hard starts
If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it’s best to schedule an appointment to determine whether your spark plugs need to be replaced. While your spark plugs could certainly be bad, other parts or components could be causing problems, such as the ignition coils, fuel injectors, throttle body, or oxygen sensor. Even a clogged engine air filter can reduce performance and acceleration, so it’s best to have your vehicle inspected rather than assume the spark plugs are the culprit.
Spark Plug Replacement Intervals
Although spark plug replacement recommendations vary depending on the type of car you own, the type of spark plug your vehicle uses, and the manufacturer, it’s typically recommended every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.
Some long-life iridium or platinum-tipped plugs only need to be changed every 100,000 to 120,000 miles—so there’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation. You can find specific recommendations for your vehicle in your owner’s manual, or ask one of our service advisors.
Keep Your Vehicle Performing Its Best with Regular Maintenance
When it comes to your vehicle’s performance, spark plugs play an essential role, but it’s important to remember that proper maintenance goes beyond just spark plug replacement! Regular oil changes, tune-ups, and factory-recommended services will all help you maintain your engine and extend its road life.
At Accurate Automotive Attention, we offer comprehensive care for all makes and models. With a legacy that dates back to 1969, our family-owned and operated business takes pride in providing friendly and reliable auto care that’s done right the first time. As Yuma’s only AAA Approved Auto Repair and service company, we’ve been recognized for our commitment to excellence and have earned the title of Yuma’s Best Auto Repair for an impressive 20 years in a row. Schedule an appointment today!
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