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How Long Do Spark Plugs Last? How Often Do You Need To Change Spark Plugs?

How Long Do Spark Plugs Last? How Often Do You Need To Change Spark Plugs?

Lots of motorists don’t think about their spark plugs. But these small components of a car, have a huge job. In fact, without your spark plugs, your car probably wouldn’t be able to run at all. 


Spark plugs are the vehicle components that supply the spark which ignites the fuel/air mixture. This in turn creates the explosion which makes your engine create power. These simple and small plugs produce an arch of electricity across two leads that don’t touch, but are close enough together to allow electricity to jump the gap that lies between them. Your spark plugs-alongside the timing and electrical equipment that powers them- are part of your ignition system.

Your spark plugs are also typically crafted of durable and sturdy material- while able to withstand millions of explosions- before needing to be replaced or wearing out. But it is a fact that the corrosion and explosions can lead to weaker explosions or sparks. This will eventually lead to reduced efficiency of your engine, and other issues. The risk of failure to fire or even misfiring will be a factor. 

How Long Do Spark Plugs Last? 

With a properly working engine, your spark plugs should be able to last between 20,000 and 30,000 miles. It may help to think of your spark plugs as tiny lightning bolts able to create the electricity needed to ignite the air/fuel mixture in the combustion chamber of an engine. Spark plugs are the vital element, allowing the engine to start run without issue. 

Each cylinder of the engine is outfitted with one spark plug. Each spark plug must have a wire that connects it to the coil’s distributor. Sure, your spark plugs may seem to be a straightforward car component; they are. But in order for them to work effectively, they must fire off at a precise time in order to operate effectively.

How Often Do You Need To Change Spark Plugs?

While many car manufacturers will take the time to install spark plugs that are “extended-life” spark plugs, they may cost more and offer extended life to a car. These kinds of spark plugs are generally rated for 100,000 miles. When these kinds of spark plugs advance the end of their lifespan, the gap between them will consequently widen, leading to reduced efficiency and possible misfiring. If your plug corrodes to the point of fracture, you run the risk of doing serious damage to the interior of the engine cylinder- leading to a hefty repair bill.  Check your owner’s manual or visit your local mechanic to gather information regarding the lifespan of your spark plugs, while discussing replacement ones. You should never allow your spark plugs go past their rated and recommended mileage.

 

How Do I Select New Spark Plugs? 

When the time comes for you to select new spark plugs, be sure that you choose ones that are the correct ones for your vehicle. Many auto parts shops can help you in selecting the correct ones, as you’ll have a variety to choose from.  The spark plugs that are crafted with metals like iridium or platinum will typically cost more than those that are crafted with more common metals such as copper/ But those copper spark plugs will generally withstand wear a bit better. For a cheaper spark plug, you can expect to spend around a few dollars. While a premium spark plug may cost you around $25. 

What Are the Symptoms Of Bad Spark Plugs?

Check out some of the symptoms of failing or bad spark plugs below. These “red flags” indicate that it’s time to replace your existing spark plugs. 

Bad Fuel Efficiency 

A spark plug that works correctly, will help to burn fuel efficiently in the combustion cycle. With this efficient spark plug, you can count on great fuel efficiency that saves you money at the gas pump. On the other side of the spectrum, a spark plug that isn’t working optimally, it is more than likely due to the gap between the spark plug electrodes. The gap may be too far or too close. Lots of mechanics will remove spark plugs from a vehicle and examine them.  Once they do, they will then take the plugs and adjust the gap to factory settings as opposed to replacing the entire spark plug. If your vehicle has reduced fuel efficiency, you may be able to attribute the cause to a worn out or faulty spark plug. 

Acceleration That’s Slow 

The most frequent cause of poor acceleration in lots of vehicles lies within the ignition system. With today’s more advanced and modern engines, there are multiple sensors that tell the ignition system and the onboard computer when to send electric pulses to ignite the spark plug. Therefore, the issue may be with a faulty sensor.  But sometimes the issue may just be as simple as replacing a worn-out spark plug. As a spark plug’s composition is that of materials that work in unison to produce a spark hot enough to fire off into the air-fuel mixture, those materials can wear out over time. When this happens, efficiency of the spark plug is lessened. This can further reduce the acceleration of the vehicle. So, if you see and feel that your car is a bit sluggish or does not accelerate as fast as it used to, you may be able to trace this to a spark plug that must be replaced. Be sure to get the assistance of your mechanic, so that he or she can inspect your car and isolate the problem. 

 

Difficulty Starting Your Vehicle 

If you’re having trouble starting your vehicle, then it may be due to bad or worn spark plugs. But regardless of the reason why your car is hard to start, if you drive your car long enough and accumulate lots of miles on it, replacing your spark plugs is an inevitable truth and task you’ll face. 

Engine That Misfires 

If you have an engine that misfires, the issue generally lies in the car’s ignition system. Lots of times in newer cars, there is a sensor that malfunctioning. But an engine that misfires, may also be due to a spark plug wire or the tip of the spark plug- that connects to the wire-that’s damaged. An engine misfiring can be seen by intermittent sputtering or stumbling sounds from the vehicle’s engine. If the engine continues to misfire, engine power will decrease, fuel economy will decrease and exhaust emissions will increase.  The hand of a certified auto professional will help you pinpoint the problem. 

Can Spark Plugs Last 200000 Miles?

Depending on the spark plugs, and if they are maintained well, spark plugs can last up to 100,000 miles. However, once you reach the 200K mark, it’s time for a replacement. 

Can You Still Drive Your Car with Bad Spark Plugs?

Driving with damaged or worn out spark plugs can ultimately cause damage to your car’s engine. So, don’t put off replacing your spark plugs! 

What Happens If You Don’t Replace Spark Plugs?

Spark plugs will weaken and fail over time. So, if you chose not to replace them, you can count on lots of engine issues. Some of the most specific issues for failure to replace spark plugs include: 

  1. Acceleration that’s unresponsive 
  2. A decease in your fuel efficiency or fuel economy 
  3. Stalling and idling that’s unstable 
  4. An engine that fails to run smoothly or just doesn’t run at all 

What Type Of Spark Plugs Are The Best?

The best spark plugs on the market, are those that are made of iridium. Spark plugs that have iridium in them offer better performance, reliability, better mileage and longevity. This is in comparison to double-platinum plugs. 

Is It Worth Buying Iridium Spark Plugs?

Iridium is reportedly eight times stronger than platinum. This means that those kind of spark plugs will have even finer electrodes than others while offering better quality. 

 

How Often Should I Replace Iridium Spark Plugs?

Conventional spark plugs should be replaced every 20,000-50,000 miles. Iridium or platinum-tipped spark plugs – also called “long life spark plugs” should be changed 60,000 and 150,000 miles, depending on the owner’s vehicle.

Do Iridium Spark Plugs Really Make A Difference?

Iridium spark plugs are the best kind of spark plug at handling heat, compared to platinum and copper spark plugs. Iridium’s melting point can reach up to 4,471 degrees Fahrenheit. Iridium is also harder than platinum, while offering better performance. But they’re still not comparable to that of copper; as copper is the most conductive among platinum and iridium m spark plugs. Iridium spark plugs also use less voltage- another distinctive advantage they have over other spark plugs. Additionally, they are easily distinguishable by their narrow electrode tips that look like the tip of a writing pen.  

 

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