The spark that gives life to any internal combustion engine comes from its Spark Plug. Spark plugs are the most important element in the car ability’s to run and make power. Without the spark plug, the car won’t run. So what are Spark Plugs? Let’s explore a little deeper in the subject and understand about Spark Plug.
A Spark Plug has two primary functions.
- To ignite the air/fuel mixture in the engine’s cylinders
- To remove heat from the combustion chamber
The energy contained in the fuel is converted into dynamic energy in the engine by spark plugs. This is done when lighting a spark which sets off a small explosion in each cylinder, making the pistons push into the crank, thus making it rotate and creating the combustion which actually runs the engine.
Spark Plug Wear
Just like other parts of the parts of your car engine spark plugs also wear down over a period of time. The primary type of wear in a spark plug is of the electrode. Basically, one end of the spark plug is narrow and tapered –this is where the wire connects to it. The other end is rounded, with a small metal coming out of the center, and a metal hook to one side. The center rod is the electrode – electricity is passed from that to the hook
Normally the electrode on spark plug wears down because of the use over a period of time. It becomes so worn out that it does not create a much electric spark which eventually has an effect on the engine operation.
What happens to a spark plug as it ages?
When spark reaches old age they have already spent thousands of miles withstanding abuse, most extreme temperatures and conditions. That’s where the importance of spark plug material comes into play.
Spark plugs can’t last forever, and here’s why:
- Spark Plug deposit build up: When spark plugs interact with the air-fuel mixture deposits are formed on them which can lead to pre-ignition to the fuel which means unreliable supply of energy to the car
- Harder to jump gap: The spark generated has to travel the gap of space to provide correct level of combustion at correct moment when ignited, as it ages this gap widens as result continuous usage. If this gap becomes too large, combustion is erratic and ineffective
When to replace spark plugs?
Usually automakers recommend to replace the spark plug roughly every 30,000 Km (It varies from one manufacturer to another). However the actual replacement will vary depending on other factors.
High Performance: If the spark plugs are of high performance it might be possible to replace them more often, as electrode wears down faster
Long Life: Some Spark plugs are made to have longer life. The electrodes are in good condition over a longer period of time, meaning that spark plugs does need to be changed frequently. Spark plug made from Iridium or platinum run for longest period of time. Copper has the shortest lifespan roughly around 20,000Km
Oil Leaks: The base should be clean when spark plug are pulled out of engine. If there is oil present then it means there is a leak, it also means that brown seal needs to be replaced and spark plug need to be changed frequently because of contamination
Rattling, pinging or “knock”-like noises: If there noises from the force of the pistons and combustion are not working properly it may be because of misfiring of the spark plug. The constant rattling or knocking sounds are because of spark plug misfiring.
Hard vehicle start: The spark plug may not be working correctly if there are trouble starting or it feels disjointed and jerky and this can lead to misfires and bad performance.
Lack of acceleration: If the vehicle is accelerating poorly or if it feels that vehicles is not responding when put your foot down then this may be because of spark plug is not functioning 100%, your vehicle performance will be poor, and you’ll experience a sluggish and fuel-wasting drive.
If you’ve spotted any of these symptoms, we suggest having your vehicle inspected in order to prevent further problems. Healthy spark plugs are vital to your car’s ability to start up and remain powered.