Most car owners don’t think much about their spark plugs but the truth is this small device plays a very significant role in how your car operates. That tiny device is so important that without properly functioning spark plugs you wouldn’t be able to drive your car at all. So what is a Spark Plug? What does it do and why is it important? What are the common problems that can be encountered with your spark plug and why is there a need for a Spark Plug Non Fouler?
So what is a Spark Plug? The engine of your vehicle is a complex remarkable machine that is made to turn an energy source (like gasoline) into force that drives movement. It happens through the principle of internal combustion. To turn the energy source to kinetic energy the engine has to find a way to release it and it does that through a combustion process.
The process happens through an engine cycle where valves are filled in with a mixture of air and fuel that are highly explosive when combined. As the engine piston moves up it compresses the mixture until it reaches an extremely small space that creates more potential energy. At the peak of compression the engine will ignite the mixture with a small spark creating an explosion that will force the piston back downward. That will then turn the crankshaft of the engine and create the power that will make the car move forward. The spark plug is what supplies the spark that ignites the fuel/air mixture.
The small and simple spark plugs create an arc of electricity that runs across two leads that are not touching but are close enough together that electricity is able to jump in between the gap. The spark plugs together with the electrical and timing equipment that powers them makes up the car’s ignition system. Spark Plugs also helps in transmitting and dissipating heat from the combustion chamber.
The spark plugs are generally made with extremely durable components and designed to withstand millions of explosions before showing signs of wear. But it’s also true that over time the explosion along with corrosion leads to weaker sparks reducing engine efficiency and causing misfire.
Through time spark plugs even in a healthy engine develop a slight brown or tan tint of color on the center and ground electrodes. Grayish-tan deposits can also be seen on the side of the electrode. But the electrode wear should be uniform and like the threads should be free of oil and unburned carbon. In this case, the spark plug should still continue to deliver dependable performance. It is also common to find brightly colored residue on the plug when you’re using “off-the-shelf” fuel additives like fuel injector cleaners in your vehicle. It is however important to make sure the plug gap is set correctly before reinstalling the spark plugs after the check.
A Fouled Plug
There are, however, signs that you might already have a problem with your spark plugs. One common problem is having a fouled spark plug. What is a fouled spark plug? It is when the plug becomes covered with substances like fuel, oil or carbon or has become blistered from running too hot. A fouled plug affects how your engine runs.
The sign of light brown deposits encrusting the center and/or ground electrode means upper engine wear (if deposits are found on one side of the plug) and lower engine wear (if deposits appear around the electrode). Excessive oil, or fuel additives cause the deposits.
Another problem sign is the presence of ash deposits on the spark plugs. The light brown deposits found encrusted on the center and/or ground electrode are caused by fuel additives or excessive oil. The presence of deposits on one side of the spark plug means upper engine wear specifically on the seals, valves and cylinder head) and lower engine wear when it is around the electrode.
When you happen to find soft colored black sooty dry deposits on plug it means carbon fouling. It is caused by rich air-fuel mixture, improper heat range (too cold) or weak ignition. That kind of deposit makes way for a spark plug misfire. If you happen to see a chalky white insulator without the tan coloring or blistered electrodes (gray or dark blue insulator in some instances) it indicates the plug is running too hot. So it is important to avoid engine overheating that also causes the plug to overheat.
Lastly, one common problem found in spark plugs is oil fouling. It happens when oil manages to enter the combustion chamber. When this happens oil deposit masks the spark plug which could hinder the spark from arcing across the gap. The spark goes to the shorter path instead to ground through the oil. This unfortunately indicates advanced engine wear. All these issues can somehow be avoided by a Spark Plug Non-Fouler.
So what is a Spark Plug Non Fouler?
A spark plug non-fouler is a device that screws onto the spark plug and acts like a sleeve for the plug. It has a small hole enough for the gas vapor to pass through to ignite and move the engine while keeping the oil or other substances out so it doesn’t foul the plug. Burning oil causes spark plug fouling. The non fouler could serve as a temporary fix for the engine problem. They are designed to prevent the spark plugs from getting damaged and to fix spark plug fouling if the engine has run too rich or if there are some oil issues. The defouler is made up of high quality steel that are corrosion resistant making them effective for their role.
Spark Plug Non-Fouler Installation
Installation of the spark plug non-fouler could be a difficult thing but not when it’s done the right way. Before you start the installation have all security tools within reach and begin. These are the simplest and best way to install a Spark Plug Non-Fouler
- The first step is to fit the sensor. The car has a room for either 1 or 2 spark plug non-foulers. So if you want to install more than a single spark plug have an electric drill machine nearby. Buy a spark plug that is at least eighteen mm size. Begin by resetting the ECU (Engine Control Unit). This is done by disconnecting the battery’s negative terminal. Proceed by drilling down the center of one non-fouler to the half by taking it out. With this you will be able to create enough space for the sensor to easily fit inside.
- The next step is to find the sensor inside the spark plug non-fouler and then screw it tightly on the crest of the original. For an easy setup apply an anti-grab product on the strand. Proceed by carefully detaching the stock sensor, place the cell stick using an anti-grab. Have a paper towel or any cleaning product to remove dirt from the entire cell. Make sure to remove all dirt as a single spot with dirt might result in further issues.
- The final step is taking the sensor and reinstalling it. Remember to apply some anti-grab on the thread. You may now reconnect the entire ECU system or the battery of your car. Then that’s it! You have now successfully installed the entire spark plug non-fouler system by yourself.
You can save money through a DIY but in a worst case scenario don’t hesitate to call a professional who can handle the situation better.
Most car makers nowadays install “extended life” spark plugs at their factories, which are marginally more expensive than the standard spark plugs but undoubtedly more appealing to car buyers. These extended-life spark plugs are commonly rated having a lifespan of 100,000 miles. The gap in between two leads begins to widen as it approaches the end of its lifespan leading to reduced efficacy and higher possibility of a misfire. Once a plug has already corroded to the point it breaks it can already do significant damage to an engine cylinder’s interior leading to a very costly repair.
Spark Plug Non-Fouler for O2 Sensors
First and foremost, what are Oxygen Sensors? The engine has a fuel injection computer that consistently fine tunes the amount of fuel being injected into the engine through the use of oxygen sensors. There’s a sensor right ahead of the cat converter. Cars have 2 to 4 sensors but cars who are more than 20 years old may only have one or none at all. The appropriate amount of fuel ensures proper combustion and the optimum performance and emissions.
Another oxygen sensor can also be found screwed into the exhaust pipe past the cat converter. This sensor does another function of checking the performance of the cat converter. It makes sure the last traces of pollution from your exhaust is scrubbed. The O2 sensors are but a part of a bigger system, and that means that a P0420 code or other car error codes doesn’t instantly mean the oxygen sensors or catalytic converters need to be replaced.
But some techs have been using Spark Plug Non-Fouler for O2 Sensors for a cheaper and a temporary fix of the P0420 code/Catalyst Inefficiency Code instead of replacing the catalytic converter or other more costly repairs. This is illegal for some states, especially if you are using it to pass an emission test.
Others have concluded that 2 spark plug non foulers is not going to work and you’ll still end up with the MIL light on as the ECM will be able to detect that the O2 sensor is not active. It only equates to having the O2 sensor plugged while leaving the O2 sensor attached to the harness.
It is best to keep in mind still that error codes that point to an oxygen sensor ( p0420, p0135, p0141, or others) only marks the first step in the diagnosis of your car’s problem. A quick replacement of the part the check engine code points to or putting in a Spark Plug Non-Fouler does not always ensure the vehicle is completely repaired.
Steps in using the Spark Plug Non-Foulers for O2 Sensors
There are also some who have managed to do the trick successfully by using a drill, ½ drill bit for steel, a wrench, hammer or mallet and 18 mm Spark Plug Non-Fouler No. 42009 that comes in par from Autozone.
The first step is to remove the rear Cat O2 sensors or the second O2 sensor — which is not an easy task. The sensor is usually found right after the catalytic converter. You may also use an oxygen sensor socket and a used 2 foot metal pipe as an extender over the ratchet wrench to give you the torque to get the thing off when a hammer and wrench wouldn't work.
The next step is to put the spark plug non-fouler against something solid and steady and drill the non-fouler enough for the Oxygen sensor to be able to slide inside at approximately ½ inch. Take it nice and slow as with drilling other metals and put some lubricant to the metal a few times during the drill so your drill will not dull very quickly.
Next, is to finally screw the spark non-fouler onto the sensor. Go with the one that was drilled out first. Screw it onto the O2 sensor where it screws into the catalytic converter/exhaust pipe. And then take the second non-fouler and screw it on the top of the other one. Lastly, all you need to do is put things back up at the catalytic converter.
Spark Plug Non-Foulers are an invention made in heaven. They are a cheap fix saving you tons of money but keep in mind that they are only a quick and temporary fix for your spark plug or for your O2 sensors. You still have to make sure to check your vehicle owner’s manual to know the lifespan of your spark plugs. And once you already know make sure they do not go past the rated mileage.