Have you been driving your car around town and noticed that your engine light occasionally turns on? Do you ever feel like your engine is not running as smoothly as it normally does? If you have noticed any of these signs while driving, you might have a bad spark plug. The spark plug is a crucial part of your engine so it is important to check this issue out as soon as you recognize a problem.
What Is A Spark Plug?
The function of a spark plug is to ignite the cylinder fuel and air mixture in your engine. The spark plugs push pistons down so the fuel mixture can pass through. If your spark plugs are not working properly, the air-fuel mixture won’t ignite and your exhaust pipe could blow out. This whole process is called a misfire. As you can see, the spark plugs play a crucial role in working with your car engine and if they malfunction, your engine could get very damaged.
Signs Of A Bad Spark Plug
Since spark plugs are a critical part of the engine, it is important to recognize the signs of faulty spark plugs. If you can detect this issue early, you might be able to save your engine. The most common signs of bad spark plugs are rough acceleration, misfires, poor fuel economy, rough idle, and your engine light will occasionally go on. Listed below are more detailed explanations of what each sign means.
- Rough Acceleration: This means that you could experience a rough or slow acceleration because of the misfires occurring. If this happens, you will feel the car having a difficult time acceleration.
- Misfires: Engine misfires are the most common sign of bad spark plugs. You will be able to feel the misfires from your engine because they cause the engine to run rough at acceleration, rough at idle, and your fuel economy will change. Your engine could sound different as it normally does and that could be a sign of bad spark plugs as well.
- Poor Fuel Economy: If your spark plugs have stopped working properly, you could experience poor fuel economy. Most likely you won’t be able to tell a huge difference but this is caused because a misfire will cause a lot of problems for the fuel mixture.
- Rough Idle: If your spark plugs are bad then they will misfire. Often this misfire occurs, the unburned fuel could trip the oxygen sensor. Then this sensor will regulate the fuel mixture and as a result of the misfire, you could get a lean mixture that could cause a rough idle.
- Check Engine Light: The check engine light will often go on when the engine is misfiring. This happens because the engine control unit will often recognize the misfire, store this issue as a trouble code, and then the check engine light will turn on. It is very important that you don’t ignore these lights when they turn on. Often they are switched on to tell you there is a problem.
Where Are Spark Plugs Located?
It is important to understand where spark plugs are located so you know where to look if you think there is a problem with your spark plugs. These spark plugs can be located in different places on a car engine. However, there is one overall rule about the location of spark plugs and that is that they are generally located in the cylinder head, which is directly above the cylinder combustion chamber. The location differs for a few reasons. The location is dependent on the type of car engine you have as well as who the car engine manufacturer is. There are a few different types of car engines so if you want to locate your spark plugs, you need to fist understand what type of engine you car has. Majority of times you will be able to find them by looking in the cylinder head.
How Many Spark Plugs Am I Looking For?
The easiest way to determine how many spark plugs your car has is by counting how many cylinders your car has. You will typically have one spark plug per cylinder. However, there are some cars that have a dual spark system. This means that they will have two spark plugs on each cylinder. It is not very common to have two spark plugs per cylinder, but there is a possibility so it is worth checking out to make sure.
It can be difficult to determine how many spark plugs to search for. The best solution to this problem is to open up your hood to see if you can find the ignition cables or coils. The majority of times these will be located on the top of your engine and you just have to look to see how many cylinders you have.
Types Of Engines
There are different types of engines that will affect the type of spark plugs you need to use as well as the amount you need. For example, an inline engine is an engine that is fitted into a line and a V-Engine has cylinders that are placed in the shape of a “V” which is why it’s called V-Engine. The inline engine is often more balanced because of the shape. It will create fewer vibrations in relation to the V-Engine. The benefit to a V-Engine is that it is much shorter and fits better in your hood if you have many cylinders. The type of engine that your car has is dependent on the shape of the car and how much room is under the hood. They are all designed in order to make the car work at the best of its ability. The most important thing is that you understand what type of engine you have so you know where to look for the spark plugs. Once you know where to look, then you need to make sure you know which ones to purchase so they are exactly the same as the ones currently in there.
Steps On How To Replace Spark Plugs
Since every car is a different model with a different engine, the process of replacing a spark plug is not universal. Some engines are easier than others to reach the spark plugs and remove them. The overall principle of replacing them is the same. Below are some detailed steps on how to replace spark plugs.
Step 1: Remove the ignition coils or cables and any other objects covering the engine.
Step 2: You will find the spark plugs on top of the cylinder. Remove them.
Step 3: Make sure the new spark plugs you have are the same length so you know you are replacing them with the correct spark plugs.
Step 4: Spray some lube directly on the spark plugs at the threads and then tighten them up.
Step 5: Lastly, put back together the ignition coils or cables and all other parts that you had to remove.
This is a general overview on how to replace spark plugs. There may be a few more steps or things to replace depending on the model of your car and the type of engine you have.
When Should I Replace My Spark Plugs?
Generally speaking, you should replace regular spark plugs every four years. If you have iridium or platinum spark plugs you should replace those every six years. The service manual in your car will be able to give you the exact number for the type of car you drive. This timeframe is dependent on the model of your car as well as the type of engine you have in your car.
The car manufacturer will also be able to give you an exact number dependent on the type of car you drive. The manufacturers schedule services for spark plugs to be replaced, so they are knowledgeable about the exact timeframe you should change them.
You must understand that your spark plugs could go bad before the recommended timeframe. These numbers are rough estimates and if yours only last three years, you still need to change them to avoid damaging your engine. If you are experience symptoms of bad spark plugs, always check to see if they have gone bad. If you continue to wait they will just continue to cause problems that get worse as time goes on.
What Type Of Spark Plugs Should I Buy?
There are many different opinions on what spark plugs are the best. The platinum and iridium spark plugshave longer life spans than the regular spark plugs. The platinum and iridium spark plugs typically have strong sparks and are all-around better quality in most ways. The platinum spark plugs will give you a better spark, longer life span, and it will most likely be cheaper in the long run.
One important thing to note is that bad spark plus can damage other things in the ignition system. If you choose the cheapest plugs because you need the lower price, you could end up spending more money in the long run and damaging other items connected to your engine. If you damage pistons or valves with cheap spark plugs, you could potentially have to spend thousands of dollars in repairs.
When you are purchasing spark plugs look at other individual’s reviews. This will help you determine the most reliable ones to buy. There are some that are well tested and fitted for many different cars at the factory, so those ones would be the most reliable.
Cost To Replace Spark Plugs
The first thing to determine is how many plugs you need for your engine. Once you know how many plugs you need to purchase, then you can start looking online and pricing out your options. There are plenty of options on Amazon that you can price check. The most important thing to remember is that you are selecting the correct spark plugs for your engine such as size and the type of spark plugs. If you want to purchase the best spark plugs for engine, you should contact your car dealer. These individuals will be able to tell you which ones to purchase so that you don’t damage your engine in the future.
You can also check to see what spark plugs you currently have and then order the same part number. This is another way to ensure you don’t purchase cheaper spark plugs. If you order the same number, you will get the same quality of spark plugs.
Lifespan Of Spark Plugs
It is important understand the lifespan of spark plugs so you can financially prepare for how often you will need to replace them. First, you need to check to see what type of spark plugs you have because there are many different types of plugs on the market. The main spark plugs are categorized as regular spark plugs and platinum and iridium spark plugs.
The regular spark plugs have the shortest lifespan and they are the cheapest. The newer models are platinum and iridium spark plugs and they have a longer lifetime. These new spark plugs are often a little more expensive but are stronger than the regular spark plugs.
If you are trying to determine the difference between a regular spark plug and the platinum spark plugs, you can check the tip of the spark plug. The regular ones will have a wider tip compared to the platinum and iridium plugs. Additionally, you can also look at the part numbers and research them to figure out if they are regular spark plugs or platinum and iridium spark plugs.
Spark Plug Conclusion
A bad spark plug could seriously damage your engine. If you are experiencing rough accelerations, misfires, or your engine light occasionally turns on, you should check your spark plugs. These spark plugs could be bad and you need to replace them as soon as possible.
Depending on the type of car you have and the type of engine, you can chose you to replace your spark plugs with regular spark plugs or platinum and iridium spark plugs. You need to determine what option is best for you and your current situation.
Remember to always make sure you are purchasing the correct spark plugs for your car. If you put the wrong ones in, you could seriously damage your engine. If you are ever questioning which ones to use, always consult with an expert at the dealership to ensure you are using the correct spark plugs.