All about spark plugs

All about spark plugs

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Monday, December 09, 2019

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WHEN we get into our cars and turn the key in the ignition, we expect to hear the engine turn over so that we can get on our way. But this doesn't always happen, and then we automatically assume that the battery is at fault when our cars don't start right away. And while nine times out of ten the battery may be at fault, auto mechanic and car enthusiast Roshane Holness said that another likely possibility is faulty spark plugs.

“People don't often talk about the spark plugs partly because they don't know just how big a job they perform. What the spark plugs do is that they provide the spark that ignites the air and fuel mixture within the cylinders. This continuous ignition is what keeps your car moving on the road,” Holness said.

He pointed out that outside of assisting with the ignition of your motor vehicle and keeping it running while in motion, there are other benefits to having your vehicle outfitted with proper spark plugs in good working condition. In the absence of proper plugs, Holness said that your vehicle may consume more fuel, it may not accelerate as quickly, your check engine light may come on, and you may notice weird knock-like sounds or rattles.

Holness said that these are indicators that you should change the spark plugs on your vehicle. Most vehicles, he says, will usually first send a sign that the plugs are going bad when the vehicle starts to fail to accelerate.

“Spark plugs do not make it to the list of auto parts that need to be replaced regularly but they wear down over time. Most motor vehicle manufacturers recommend that this replacement is done at 30,000 to 50,000 miles. Chances are that they may not need to be changed at this juncture; however, you can avoid the challenges associated with worn spark plugs,” Holness advised.

He said that outside of the usual symptoms associated with worn spark plugs listed above, there is the possibility of damage to the engine if the plugs are not replaced when they get worn.

If you are worried about the cost of a mechanic you may not need to. Holness said that depending on the type of vehicle that you have, most times with the right tools you can change the plugs on your own.

On the matter of what kind of plugs you should use for the replacement, Holness says it's really up to you.

“When replacing your spark plugs the most important thing that you need to know is which spark plugs to buy. You want to make sure that the one that you buy will meet the specifications for your vehicle's engine. You can usually find the manufacturer's recommendation in your motor vehicle's manual,” Holness advised.

In terms of price, Holness said that from the cheapest — copper — to the most expensive — iridium — they usually both get the job done, but premium spark plugs tend to last longer.

He explains that this is because spark plugs often like to jump from the sharpest point on the centre electrode to the sharpest point on the side electrode. Because of this, he says that if you want spark plugs that will maintain their sharp edge for the most miles, then your best bet would be the pricier metals like platinum and iridium since they are much tougher and have higher melting temperatures in contrast to other types of metals like copper.


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