Simple Spark Plug Fixes to Make Your Car Run Better

Simple Spark Plug Fixes to Make Your Car Run Better

Posted on February 8, 2018

Simple Spark Plug Fixes to Make Your Car Run Better

spark plugs

From oil and air filter changes to checking the transmission fluid, spark plug and a ton of other small details, there’s a lot that goes into maintaining your car. Even some of the smallest components can have a tremendous effect on your vehicle’s health.

Spark plugs, for example, play a vital role in the performance of an engine. When not replaced and allowed to erode, misfires and critical engine damage can occur.

What Is a Spark Plug?

Despite their small size and minimal cost, spark plugs are extremely important. They deliver a high-voltage electrical charge produced by the ignition coil to the combustion chamber. The result is the creation of a spark that ignites a fuel and air mixture in the combustion chamber to start and keep a car running smoothly on all cylinders.

Spark Plugs – How Long Do They Last?

Spark plugs are extremely durable and made to last for thousands of miles. In fact, while older copper tip plugs are good for up to 30,000 miles, modern platinum and iridium tip plugs can last for up to 100,000 miles before needing replaced.

That being said, the longevity of spark plugs is dependent on driving conditions and engine performance. Sometimes, problems arise that must be dealt with.

Like anything else, spark plugs suffer wear and tear as they age. Their sharp edges become less sharp and more voltage is needed to connect the gaps between the ground and center electrodes.

Fortunately, spark plugs provide certain warning signs when they begin losing their effectiveness. Some of these warning signs include:

• Consistent difficulty starting the engine
• Engine misfires
• Engine surging
• Lack of acceleration

When Should Your Spark Plugs Be Replaced?

Even if your car’s engine is running fine and gives you no warning signs of eroding spark plugs, they should still be replaced according to your vehicle’s manufacturer guidelines.

You can find this information along with the type of spark plugs your vehicle has simply by checking the owner’s manual.

Three Reasons to Maintain and Replace Your Spark Plugs

1. Keep Your Car Performing Efficiently

New spark plugs will help keep your vehicle’s engine operating efficiently and at peak performance. As spark plugs wear, misfires become more and more frequent, resulting in reduced power, wasted gas, and increased emissions. Older vehicles will also begin to stall, buck, and run rough.

2. Improve Cold Starting

New spark plugs can also substantially improve your vehicle’s ability to start cold. Dirty or worn-out spark plugs require more voltage to create the spark needed to start the engine. After turning the key several times to try and start your vehicle, you may end up with a dead battery as well. Now, you have two problems instead of just one.

Maintaining your spark plugs and replacing them as needed will allow your engine to perform with less voltage and put less strain on your vehicle’s ignition system. As a result, you’ll have more amps for your starter and fuel injector, and your chances of a misfire will also decrease.

3. Minimize the Risk of Catalytic Converter Failure

New spark plugs will also decrease the risk of suffering a catalytic converter failure. A single misfire can flood your vehicle’s exhaust with enough fuel to overheat the engine and damage your catalytic converter.

The excess unburned fuel in your exhaust will increase your converter’s operating temperature and can result in a converter substrate meltdown. In turn, this can create an exhaust blockage and choke your vehicle’s engine. Although your vehicle may run, it will suffer from a lack of power and decimate your fuel efficiency.

Since a new catalytic converter can cost upwards of $700 or more, it’s much pricier than replacing a set of plugs.

Spark Plugs are an Inexpensive Solution

Compared to other engine components, spark plugs are an inexpensive fix. In fact, copper plugs sell for as little as $3. Meanwhile, newer platinum tipped plugs sell for $10-$20 apiece.

It’s worth noting, however, that these prices are for the plugs alone and don’t include installation costs. Since the process of replacing plugs varies depending on the vehicle and mechanic, get an estimate form your mechanic before getting the work done.

If you’re mechanically inclined, however, you may be able to perform the work yourself and save even more money. Nonetheless, even if you bring your vehicle to the shop for a tune-up, it will be much less expensive than a catalytic converter replacement.

Damaged Spark Plug Wires – An Easy Fix

Sometimes, a vehicle’s spark plugs are fine, but its wires need repaired. If this is the case, you can count your lucky stars as this is a cheap and relatively easy fix that can be performed in a few quick steps.

• Step 1 – Remove the Clip

Using needle-nose pliers, grip the metal clip extending from the plug and remove it.

• Step 2 – Strip the Rubber From the End of the Wire

Remove the opposite end of the spark plug wire to free it from the distributor. Then, press the wire through the boot in order to bring it out the other end. When the wire is through the boot, strip the rubber using wire cutters. Leave an inch or so of the inner wire and conductive material exposed.

• Step 3 – Place the Clip on the Wire

With the conductive material bent back along the rubber wire, slide the metal piece overtop of the conductive material so the conductive material back while gripping the wire. Then, squeeze it closed.

Next, slide the piece of metal attached to the spark plug wire through the boot. It should sit about an inch down.

Lastly, spray WD40 on the boot, place the boot on the plug and press down until the plug clicks into place. If you don’t hear a clicking sound, the metal clip isn’t connected to the plug.

That’s all there is to it. The spark plug wire should now work just like it did before.

Bottom Line

When it comes to spark plugs and engine maintenance, it pays to spend a little now to avoid more expensive problems down the road. Refer to your owner’s manual for timely spark plug changes and keep your car or truck performing like new.

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