A spark plug is the one that ignites the fuel when it gets injected into the combustion chamber of the engine. It is the one that produces the needed electric current to ignite the compressed air and fuel in the said combustion chamber. You might think that all spark plugs are the same but there are several kinds of spark plug and each one has some differences from the other. The most common ones are the copper spark plugs. It is mostly constructed with solid copper and it needs more voltage to produce an electric current. Copper spark plugs are also known to be able to give more power in many performance driving situations.
Copper Spark Plugs: Does it matter what spark plugs you use?
Vehicles with petrol-powered engines have spark plugs since it is needed to create the force that pushes the piston to move. Spark plugs create the electric current needed to ignite the air and fuel in the combustion engine. Although there are several types of spark plugs, the common ones are the copper spark plugs, they all have the same function but there are ones that are available and more useful in certain types of vehicles. Other spark plugs are also more efficient than the others but whatever spark plug you choose, it has to be the same type of spark plug that is recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
There are many drivers that don’t pay much attention to what kind of spark plugs their cars have or what kind of spark plugs they need to buy when they need replacements. They might think that all spark plugs do the same thing and choosing one regardless of what they are made from does not really matter. It is not true. There are different types of spark plugs and each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. You need to know all about it so you can choose carefully what is the best spark plug for you.
There are five spark plugs that are sold in the market today – the copper spark plugs, iridium spark plugs, platinum spark plugs, double platinum spark plugs, and the silver spark plugs. Almost all of the spark plugs have a copper-core center electrode since copper makes a very good conductor of electricity and it also allows it to transfer heat faster. But copper has a weakness, it is rather soft and has a low melting point.
Because of this weakness, the copper-core is usually covered with a nickel alloy to protect it. However, many manufacturers are using precious metals such as iridium and platinum to create spark plugs with higher melting points and spark plugs that can last longer. With all different spark plugs available in the market today, how can you choose a spark plug that works best for your car? Let us go through each one.
COPPER SPARK PLUGS
The copper spark plugs are the most commonly used and the cheapest plug that is being sold today. Even though almost all of the spark plugs have a copper core, this common spark plug is being referred to as copper spark plugs. This type of spark plug usually has a nickel alloy outer material combined with the copper-core electrodes.
Copper spark plugs will need more voltage to function than the other precious metal spark plugs. This type of spark plug tends to wear out sooner than the other spark plugs since the nickel alloy which it is made from is softer than the iridium or platinum. The nickel alloy is not as hard as the other metals so it wears down faster due to being exposed to the high pressure and heat produced in the engine cylinder.
Spark plugs fouling can happen over time and it will no longer be able to work efficiently as it once did. That is why many vehicles with copper spark plugs have a recommended service interval of around 20,000 to 50,000 miles but it can wear out as early as 10,000 miles based on the reports made by many of its users.
It is for this reason that older vehicles with low voltage, distributor-based ignition systems are the ideal vehicles for copper spark plugs. However, since copper spark plugs have the ability to run cooler and give more power in many performance driving situations, there are newer vehicles with high-performance engines or turbocharged engines that are installed with copper spark plugs. Some of these engines are designed for copper spark plugs only. That is why it is important that you always consult your owner’s manual for the recommended type of spark plug replacement.
SINGLE PLATINUM SPARK PLUGS
When compared to the nickel alloy used in the copper spark plugs, the platinum used in the platinum spark plugs is a much harder metal which also has a higher melting point. But just like the copper spark plugs, this type of spark plug is also made from copper but instead of a nickel alloy at the end, it has a platinum disc. This type of spark plug can be purchased for a slightly higher price than the copper spark plugs but cheaper than the other precious metal plugs. If the manufacturer of your vehicle specifies this type of spark plug, then the single platinum spark plugs will be a great middle ground for it, not too cheap but not too costly.
Since the platinum is more harder than the nickel alloy, it can provide more durability and it can hold its sharp edge much longer than the copper spark plugs. It can last almost double of the copper spark plugs, at up to 100,000 miles. Another benefit of using platinum spark plugs is that they create more heat, running a little hotter, that helps prevent deposit build up. They tend to burn the deposits off the spark plug that can help prevent fouling. Since the platinum has an improved ability to handle higher temperatures, it can help the spark plug to wear better.
DOUBLE PLATINUM SPARK PLUGS
The double platinum spark plugs share a similar design with both the copper spark plugs and the single platinum spark plugs. The difference is, the single platinum has a plastic disc welded to the center electrode while the double platinum spark plug has a platinum disc welded on the center and side electrodes.
The double platinum design of this type of spark plug on both the electrode and inlay enables it to become even more durable and efficient. With the double platinum spark plugs that can be bought for a lesser price than the iridium spark plugs, it can be a better option if you want something that is more durable than the single platinum spark plugs.
Because the double platinum spark plugs feature a platinum coating in the center and side electrodes, it will be the best choice for a wasted spark ignition system.
IRIDIUM SPARK PLUGS
The iridium metal is known to be harder and stronger than the platinum. It is for this reason that iridium spark plugs can last the longest compared to the copper spark plugs and the platinum spark plugs. This type of spark plug has a small center electrode that is built and designed to conduct electrical energy better and to have a much improved firing efficiency. It also needs a much lesser voltage to create a spark. Because of these advantages, the iridium spark plugs are being sold at a higher price compared to the other types of spark plugs.
Many modern cars are now using iridium spark plugs. If you have a vehicle that is installed with iridium spark plugs as the original equipment and if it is due for a replacement, make sure that you will replace it with the same one and not try to downgrade it with copper spark plugs or the platinum ones. If you downgrade it, it can affect the overall performance of your vehicle.
Although the iridium spark plugs are the most expensive spark plug available in the market today, it will be worth purchasing one since it is more durable and lasts longer than the other ones. Its recommended service interval can go for up to 150,000 miles. Plus, the iridium spark plugs can give better power and complete combustion that can result in a better and improved performance of your engine.
What kind of spark plugs do my car need? With many kinds of spark plugs sold in the market today, it can be a bit overwhelming to find the best one for your car. The simplest way to find out the right type of plug you need is by consulting the owner’s manual of your vehicle. You will find the appropriate spark plugs for it. If for some reason you can’t get hold of your owner’s manual, you can check it online. You will just have to provide the basic information about your vehicle like its make and model.
Copper Spark Plugs: What happens if you don't change your spark plugs?
Copper spark plugs need to be changed around 20,000 to 50,000 miles or maybe even less if it is already worn out. It is important that you follow the recommended service interval of your vehicle’s manufacturer since the spark plugs play a crucial role in the overall performance of your engine.
The copper spark plugs can wear out over time and when they do, they won’t be able to produce the needed spark. When this happens, the combustion of the air and fuel mixture will not be completed, which could result in an engine power loss or your car not running at all. A failing and worn out spark plug can also affect the other components of the engine that supply electricity and a spark plug that is struggling to spark can potentially harm them.
Some of the signs that tell you that you need to replace your spark plugs since they are worn out or bad are:
- An illuminating check engine light.
- You find it difficult to start your vehicle.
- You have to fill your gas tank up more often than usual.
- You notice or hear that your engine is idling roughly.
- Your vehicle is not that responsive as usual. It may take longer to accelerate.
Copper Spark Plugs: What are the best copper spark plugs?
If your vehicle uses copper spark plugs and it is also the recommended type of spark plug by its manufacturer, you will need to follow it. If it is due for a replacement and you are not sure what to purchase, here are two of the best copper spark plugs for 2021:
- Champion Copper Plus
This copper spark plug is ideal if you have a low-performance vehicle or an older car. This type of spark plug might not last as long as the other types of spark plugs but for the vehicles that use this, it might be enough. It is budget-friendly and it is built with a body that is resistant to corrosion. With its copper core, you can rest assured that it can provide a reliable performance. The Champion Copper Plus should be able to provide your vehicle a trouble-free service for a long time.
- Autolite Copper Core
Autolite is one affordable copper spark plug and has received a lot of positive reviews and has earned impressive ratings. It might be very affordable but it is still a great and solid product that can give good service to your vehicle. It has a resistor that can help reduce electrode erosion. It is also built with a full copper core electrode that can help provide your vehicle an improved performance in all conditions.
Copper spark plugs might not be as durable and hard as the precious metal spark plugs, but it still has its fair share of advantages. When your spark plug is due for a replacement, make sure that you follow the recommended type of spark plug. Replacing the old one with the right, new spark plug can help you get a fully functioning combustion system, a better fuel economy, less harmful emissions, and smoother starts.