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How To Clean A Spark Plug – Signs And Symptoms Of A Faulty Spark Plug!

How to clean a spark plug

Spark Plugs are key parts that help your engine run smoothly and properly, so it is very important that you keep each spark plug in good condition and in clean working order. Cleaning your spark plugs is essential, and a quick and easy way to keep them working and prevent necessary replacements.

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It is important to consider the main reason why your spark plugs need to be cleaned. If you notice that the spark plug is dirty, then it is often best to replace the old and dirty spark plugs. However, if you want to know how to clean a spark plug, this can keep your car running properly until you get the necessary replacements. 


You can clean your spark plugs effectively using abrasives like sandpaper, but you can also use other household items in case you do not have any abrasives to learn how to clean a spark plug. In order to determine if your spark plugs need to just be cleaned or need a complete replacement, it is crucial to know the main methods of how to clean a spark plug and the main symptoms and signs of a bad spark plug. By noticing when you need a spark plug replacement, you can determine if you need to clean your spark plugs or replace them in your vehicle. 

How To Clean the Spark Plugs – Methods

Removing the Spark Plugs


First, disconnect the negative terminal on the battery. Locate the battery either in your engine bay or the battery located in the trunk. It will look like a plastic box with 2 terminals sticking out of the top, so make sure you find the negative terminal that has the negative, minus, sign. Loosen the bolt holding the cable on the terminal and then slide off the terminal. This is the first step of how to clean a spark plug. 


Next, locate the spark plugs near the engine. Find the spark plug wires where they connect the spark plugs, and then allow them to the openings in the cylinder head for reach. There will be 1 plug and 1 cable for each cylinder in the engine. If you can’t find your spark plugs in your specific vehicle, then you should look at the owner’s manual or vehicle specific repair manual to find out where the spark plugs are located to learn how to clean a spark plug.


After this step, use a can of compressed air to blow debris out of the spark plugs and keep it clean. Once you have found where the spark plugs are screwed in, you can then have to clean out all of the dirt and gunk out of the area to stop it from falling into the engine cylinders. If any dirt or debris falls into the cylinder, it could cause serious engine damage and potentially cause engine replacement, which is a step to how to clean a spark plug. 


Once you have cleaned out the debris, disconnect the spark plug wire. In order to keep the cables organized, clean the spark plugs one at a time, since if you remove them all at one time, it can make it easy to confuse which cable goes into which cylinder. Grip the spark plug cable and then pull it away and off the plug. Make sure you do not pull high on the wire or you could separate the inside of the cable from its connector in the plug when you learn how to clean a spark plug.


The last step in this case of removing spark plugs is to use a spark plug socket to unscrew the spark plug. Place the spark plug socket o the end of an extension and then connect it to the ratchet, then popping hee extension and socket off of the wrench and finish unscrewing it by hand. This is the final step in learning how to clean a spark plug by removing it in the first place. 

Cleaning with abrasives


When you use this method to how to clean a spark plug, the first step is to use 220 grit sandpaper on the electrode. At the end of the spark plug, find the small piece of metal that extends from the plug – the electrode. If the electrode does not look like bare metal, make sure you keep sanding it until it does to prevent any damage and perform the first step in how to clean a spark plug. 


Next, you need to file down the grime on the electrode if it is very dirty. If sandpaper does not do the trick, the spark plug should be replaced. However, if you need to give it a quick fix right away, you can use a small file to slide into the gap between the plug and the electrode, moving out back and forth to clean the metal. 


The third step in learning how to clean a spark plug is to scrub the threads with a wire brush. The chances are good that there is a big build up of oil and grime in the threads of your spark plug, making them re-installing them difficult. Scrub the threads with the wire brush from a perpendicular angle to the plug to remove the gunk, then scrubbing from other angles to get the maximum effect when cleaning the threads. 


After this step has been completed, the next step in how to clean a spark plug is to spray the brake cleaner on the plug and wipe it down. Brake cleaner is sold in spray cans and can easily clean the grime. After this, it evaporates rapidly so the pairs can dry quickly. 


The last step in this process of cleaning the spark plug is to repeat the process for every spark plug. Once that first spark plug is clean, reinstall it and reconnect the spark plug wire that goes with it. Then you need to repeat the process with each spark plug to complete the steps on how to clean a spark plug.

Use a blow torch


The third method you can use to clean a spark plug is by using a blow torch. The first step in this method to learn how to clean spark plug is to grip the spark with pliers on the end the wires connect to. Keep a firm grip on the plug and hold it firmly so that you don't risk damaging the spark plug, but that it also stays safe in your hands. 


Next, put on gloves and ignite the torch. Turn the knob on your gas or propane torch to let the gas flow, and then place an ignition source in front of the nozzle. Once this has been done, hold the end of the spark plug in the flame until it is red. The torch will burn the carbon and debris off of the spark plug, and rotate the spark plug from side to side until the end of the plug and the electrode are glowing red hot. 


After this has been done, the next step in learning how to clean a spark plug is to let the plug cool and do not touch it with your fingers. Let it cool for a few minutes, and then return to normal colors before attempting to reinstall it in the mechanism. Once it is cool and you can reinstall it, repeat the process for each spark plug. Reconnect the spark plug wire and move on to the next spark plug until they are all clean. 

Reinstall the clean spark plugs 


The last method that you can do to learn how to clean spark plugs is to just reinstall the clean spark plugs. Use a gap tool to correct the gap between the plug and the electrode. Check the service manual to find the measurement for the spark plugs and then insert a gap tool into the space between the spark plug body and the electrode. Use a tool to measure the gap and then pry the electrode further from the body to increase the gap or press it closer.


After the first step is done, place the plug in the spark plug socket with the threads facing out. The spark plug socket has a rubber grommet that will hold the plug in place as you lower it down to the engine, making it easier to thread the plug. One the second step is complete, insert the spark plug and turn it clockwise to seat it. Make sure you don’t cross thread your spark plugs when learning how to clean a spark plug, which can occur from over tightening.


The fourth step is to tighten the spark plug using a socket wrench. One the spark plug is snugly seated in the correct place, connect a ratchet to the extension and finish tightening it. Make sure the spark plug is secure and don’t put too much force on the wrench in terms of how to clean a spark plug. 


The final step in reinstalling the clean spark plugs is to reconnect the plug wire to the spark plug. Grip the plug wire by the boot near the end and press down firmly to expose the end of the spark plug sticking out of the engine. 

Signs You Need To Replace Your Spark Plugs


In order to determine if you need to clean your spark plugs or replace your spark plugs, you need to pay attention to certain signs that your spark plugs might be damaged or are breaking down over use. The first sign that you need to replace your spark plugs instead of finding out how to clean your spark plugs is that the car is hard to start. The battery is usually blamed for the vehicle not starting, but spark plugs can often be the cause. Your car's engine will need to work harder to compensate for clogged spark plugs. 


The second sign you need to replace your spark plugs is that the engine misfires, which can also be due to a bad ignition coil plug cap or an inferior quality of fuel. However, a misfire can often be the result of a worn spark plug, with the engine possibly popping as it misfires and sends raw fuel into the exhaust. 


The third sign of a replacement is that your car gets poor fuel economy, worn spark plugs create extra work for your engine, since they can’t burn enough fuel within the combustion chamber, causing you to dish out more fuel. In addition, another sign you need to replace the spark plugs is that you have a rough engine idle. If you notice knocking or rattling noises from the engine, it is time to get your spark plugs checked to learn how to clean spark plugs or how to replace them. 


Furthermore, another sign you need to replace your spark plugs is that your car struggles to accelerate, which is when your worn spark [plug can no longer create the spark necessary to ignite the fuel and air mixture in the combustion chamber. In addition, the engine might be really loud, since if one of the spark plugs is malfunctioning, this can reduce the effectiveness of a cylinder. 


Another sign that you need to replace a spark plug and instead of learning how to clean a spark plug is that the check engine light has turned on in your dashboard. You might forget your vehicle to bring it in for scheduled maintenance, but make sure you pay attention to get the check engine light on your car.

Frequency of replacing spark plugs 


In order to determine if you need to just learn how to clean your spark plugs or if you need to replace your spark plugs, there are certain intervals to know how to change your spark plugs. Usually, spark plugs replacement is required at around 30,000 miles. If you do not replace your spark plugs in a timely manner or at regular intervals, you could be setting yourself up for further engine problems that are very expensive and cause engine replacements or repairs, such as misfiring, lack of proper acceleration, and uneven and rough idling. 

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