If your car runs on gasoline, it has spark plugs. (For diesel and electric vehicles, spark plugs aren’t used.) The way an engine runs is by delivering a spark to compressed fuel and air. This happens within four, six, or eight different cylinders, one spark plug for each cylinder.
The spark plug receives voltage from the ignition system, allowing them to fire when the cylinder has maximum compression of air and fuel in it. The spark plug ignites the air in the cylinder, and the engine creates forward motion as a result of that explosion
6 Signs of Spark Plug Failure
Spark plugs fire thousands of times a minute. Normally, they operate perfectly, allowing your engine to run smoothly. But eventually, after about 50,000 to 100,000 miles on average, you’ll encounter spark plug failure. This happens as a result of spark plugs getting worn out and is completely natural for all engines. Fun fact: The average spark plug will fire 250 million times in the course of its life!
Below are some of the most common signs that it's time to replace your spark plugs:
● Vibrations: You’ll be driving along and your normally smooth-running engine will begin to vibrate, shake and make funny noises. Instead of a smooth vibration, your engine will have a vibration with a hitch in it. Think of the sound made when you have a heavy towel in your washing machine on the spin cycle. If you’re hearing a sound like that coming from your engine, you may have a spark plug failure.
● Loss of Power: The car may lose a little bit of power, too. When your spark plugs aren’t working properly, your car may not accelerate as quickly. Imagine merging on the highway, and putting your foot down on the gas. It takes 15 seconds instead of 10 to get to 60 miles per hour. If you notice your car is not accelerating as quickly as it used to, it’s time to have a look at your spark plugs.
● Misfiring Engine: When spark plugs start to die, they’ll give out slowly, giving you plenty of warning signs in the form of engine misfires. Most of the time, the car runs properly, but as spark plugs begin to fail, they will sometimes fail to ignite, causing your engine to cough, hiccup, or hesitate. Once the spark plug kicks in, the engine will surge. This intermittent problem will get more and more frequent as your spark plug continues to deteriorate.
● Rough Idle: Where your car used to be smooth, it rattles and is noticeably slower when the engine is idling.
● Hard to Start: When your car normally fires right up, it doesn’t start up as easily. The engine cranks for more than a few seconds, then runs roughly.
● Check Engine Light: In a modern car from the mid-90’s forward, the check engine light will come on in response to a spark plug failure. If you have a check engine light reader, you can check for a code or bring your vehicle to a gas station to see if the spark plugs may be the problem.
How can you prevent early spark plug failure?
The spark plugs will eventually fail, but they should last a long time. By carefully following the specifications of your car’s manufacturer, you can ensure that your spark plugs will have the longest possible life. When you have new spark plugs installed, it’s important that your dealer or preferred mechanic installs spark plugs that are the right size and heat range for your engine.
It also needs to be gapped correctly. The gap is the distance between the center and side electrode. Your spark plug needs to be set at a precise specification so that arcing occurs, creating a combustion explosion that makes the engine run. If it’s not gapped properly, your spark plug will still work, but it will wear more quickly, causing you to have to get a replacement sooner than if you had gotten the spark plugs installed properly.
M Service in Walnut Creek is the Trusted Garage to Install Your Spark Plugs
Our expert mechanics have been serving drivers in the Walnut Creek, California area for years. We follow your car’s manufacturing specifications to the T, making sure that you receive spark plug servicing that will last you as long as possible.
When you’re getting your car fixed, you know how important it is to find a mechanic you can trust. At M Service, you’ll receive professional service, the highest quality parts, and the most advanced technology to keep your car running in the best possible shape. If you suspect a spark plug problem, don’t hesitate, call M Service today.