How Often To Change Spark Plugs?

Every gas-run engine needs electricity too that helps not only the engine to work but run most of the accessories. Spark plugs are important elements in this mechanism. You should know how often to change spark plugs because the engine will be dead without them.

The alternator creates electricity and sends it to the plugs, which then creates electricity arcs. Those arcs are transmitted to the ignition system through connecting wires, igniting the fuel in the engine’s cylinders. As a result, combustion happens, and it pushes the pistons down to turn the engine. So, the plugs are crucial for the car to run properly.

Why Do Spark Plugs Wear?

Before knowing when to change spark plugs, you should also learn the reasons for their deterioration.

Like most other engine parts, the plugs wear out over time. The electrode that forms electricity arcs is the first component to show signs of wear. The small metal rod wears out to the point that it cannot create sufficient electric arc, hampering the engine operation.

Problems Caused by Worn Out Spark Plugs

Used up spark plugs can create plenty of troubles. Besides affecting the engine performance, they also hit the gas mileage.

In response to how often to change spark plugs, vehicle manufacturers suggest waiting for 100,000 miles in case of extended-life plugs. However, plugs that have run for 80,000 miles are already four-fifths worn. Every function related to them starts suffering when the gap between plugs widens over time.

Worn out plugs can also seize the cylinder head and break it, costing an expensive repair job.

how often to change spark plugs
Worn out plugs cause several problems. (Photo Source: Pixabay)

Even if your vehicle has extended-life spark plugs, checking them at every 30,000 miles is a good practice. As you have to replace them sometimes down the road, it is better to change them sooner than later, before the car starts showing troubles.

Every time you examine the plugs, don’t forget to inspect the conditions of a few other items including the brakes, tires, fuel filter, air filter, and charging system. Keeping these parts in good running condition and updated will help the vehicle to perform at its peak power.

How Often To Change Spark Plugs?

The owner’s manual of your vehicle is the most authentic source to find out the changing routine of spark plugs. Most automakers recommend replacing at every 30,000 miles. This is the right duration is you are using stock products. But the actual timing may vary depending on a few other factors:

Check Engine Light

The light indicates plenty of engine problems and worn out spark plugs are one of them. The check engine light will be on or start flashing when either the electrode or the wire connecting them become worn. When that happens, you should check if your engine is misfiring.

Misfiring plugs put extra stress on the catalytic converter, increase exhaust emissions, and supply uneven power at the time of acceleration.

High-Performance Plugs

Some high-performance plugs combust more fuel by providing more sparks to the firing tip. As a result, the car can produce a bit more horsepower.

However, the electrode of these high-performance plugs wears thin faster. So, you will need to replace these plugs before the usual 30,000 miles.

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Extended-Life Plugs

How often to change spark plugs when they are rated for an extended lifespan? In that case, you can definitely keep them longer than 30,000 miles. Plugs made of platinum and iridium are the most durable and the copper ones have the shortest life.

Acceleration And Speedy Driving

Do you like to rev your car and listen to the screeching of tires? Doing so makes the plugs to undergo additional wear and tear. Speeding up the car will require replacing the spark plugs more often.

Oil Leaks

The base of a plug should be clean when you pull it out of the engine. If there is a trace of oil, you should look for a blown seal and change the plugs as soon as possible.

The engine will show some symptoms when it’s time to change the plugs. Examine the condition of the plugs and change them (if necessary) when the engine skips, stalls, or runs rough.

when to change spark plugs
Trace of oil residue is alarming. (Photo Source: carroar)

What To Keep In Mind When Changing The Spark Plugs?

Besides learning how often to change spark plugs, you should also keep a few things in mind to extend their lifespan.

Always use the same plug type when you are replacing the old ones. For example, if the default plugs are double platinum the new ones should also be double platinum style.

Also, don’t forget to check the spark plug wires because frayed wires can be another reason for engine misfiring. Change the wires if they are old and crispy before they cause a bigger problem.