You Should Know This About Your Car Spark Plug

Most people don't give their spark plugs a second thought, although they play a critical role in the operation of your vehicle. In fact, your car would most likely not be able to function at all if the spark plugs were not in good operating order. Read along to know more about your Car Spark Plug and its associated functions.

What Is A Car Spark Plug?

If you know something about how cars work, you must've heard about the ‘spark plug’. The name sounds exciting and dangerous also, depending on how you look at it. Nevertheless, the spark plus is an integral component of your vehicle. In the simplest terms, a spark plug is primarily a starting point for combustion in your vehicle engine.

The spark plug ignites the compressed fuel/air mixture via an electric spark while containing combustion pressure in the engine. Thereby it can deliver electric current from the ignition system onto the combustion chamber of your spark-ignition engine. The spark plug is made of a metal threaded shell, electrically isolated from a central electrode by a porcelain insulator. All these components are such that they help the spark plug to perform its job but keep the car safe at the same time.

Spark plugs are versatile, in that they can be used for direct ignition when the engine is not able to fire, they can also be used to measure ionization in cylinders, they can also be used as furnaces wherein a combustible fuel/air mixture has to be ignited.

Want to know more about Car Spark Plug? If yes, then all you have to do is visit our “What Is The Function Of Spark Plugs?” section.

How Does My Car Spark Plug Work?

Want to know the working of car spark plugs? In that case, you have arrived at the right location. Keep on reading further: 

By now you must have understood what a spark plug is, however, understanding how it works will help appreciate its significance. Starting simple, the spark plug is an electrical device, it is located in the cylinder head of a few combustions’ engines. Its prime task is to ignite compressed aerosol gasoline with an electric spark.

The spark plugs are made of certain components that help them safely perform their job. They have an insulated center electrode; this is connected to a heavily insulated wire which connects to either an ignition coil or magneto circuit on the outside. This forms the grounded terminal on the base of the spark plug. A spark gap is present inside the cylinder. There are broadly two types of internal combustion engines; spark-ignition engines (which require spark plugs to initiate combustion) and compression-ignition engines/diesel engines (compress air and then inject diesel fuel into the hot compressed air mixture/, hence auto igniting). The latter may also use glow plugs to improve the cold start features of the vehicle.

How Do I Choose The Right Spark Plug?

What Are The Common Car Spark Plug Problems?

Spark plug problems can occur anytime since they are continuously in use and come across certain problems. These may be because of a variety of reasons. We have listed a few below:

  1. Oil in the Combustion Chamber - With time, because of prolonged usage, the oil lubricating the engine can start entering the combustion chamber. The gradual flow of oil into the combustion chamber can damage the spark plug. The tip of the plug can get dirty and oily, this will cause the buildup and hence damage the plug.
  1. Improperly Gapped Spark Plugs - A small gap is present between metal pieces on the tip of the spark plug. This gap must be of the right measurement as per the engine, at the time of installation of the spark plug. An incorrect gap causes extra stress on the tip causing it to erode or wear out faster than it would. Even if one of them is not aligned correctly, then that specific plug can go bad before the rest of the set
  1. Carbon Buildup - A buildup of carbon causes the same damage as oil. Carbon deposits are dry and black, you can understand if the spark plug has been affected by the carbon buildup by looking for this black dry substance. This happens due to multiple reasons like cracked distributor case, contaminated fuel injectors, incorrect fuel/air mixture, clogging of the air filter element, etc. These can hamper your vehicle’s spark plugs.

  1. Overheating - At times issues with the car can cause overheating of the tip of the spark plug. It may occur because of improper timing of the engine which causes pre-ignition, excessive heat can then build up in the combustion chamber. Before the ignition occurs the fuel/air mixture is compressed first. If ignition occurs before fully compressing the mixture it is known as -pre-ignition. Even a poorly functioning cooling system can cause the engine to run hot, which will affect the spark plugs making them overheat and decreasing their life and efficiency.

Which Tools Do I Need To Repair My Car Spark Plug?

To change the Spark Plug you may need the following tools:

  • Gap gauge
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Clean rags
  • Socket/ratchet set
  • spark plug wire puller
  • Swivel socket
  • Wrench

Which Top Brands Spark Plug Parts Should I Choose?

Some leading car parts brands are more than just products or services as they give rise to memories and emotions related to the quality. So have a look at some top brands for Spark Plug.

  • Ngk Canada Spark Plugs
  • Champion Spark Plug Spark Plugs
  • Accel Spark Plugs
  • Denso Spark Plugs
  • Bosch Spark Plugs
  • ACDelco Professional Spark Plugs

To know more about the top brand car Spark Plug, visit our “Top Spark Plugs Brands I Should Choose From?” section.

Which Parts Are Related To My Car Spark Plug?

Are you familiar with basic car Spark Plug-related parts? If no, then what are you waiting for? Have a look at some important components of the Spark Plug.

  • Non Resistor Spark Plug
  • Spark Plug Boot Kits
  • Spark Plug Non Fouler
  • Platinum Spark Plug
  • Spark Plug Thread Repair Kits
  • Spark Plug Tube

What Is The Repairing Cost Of My Car Spark Plug?

The first question which comes to the minds of most people when they see some faults in the Spark Plug is how much would its replacement cost? The reality is unless a professional technician examines your car, it is going to be a difficult question to answer because the overall cost would depend on a lot of factors. First and foremost, it depends on the size and the type of the Spark Plug. The other factors like whether the Spark Plug is going to be brand new, used, rebuilt, or re-manufactured play a major role in deciding the total cost. The average cost for a spark plug replacement can range from approximately $190 and $256. Labour costs can be anywhere between $131 and $167 approximately. The parts are roughly priced between $59 and $89. The estimate does not include taxes and fees.

What Are The Steps Of Changing My Car Spark Plug?

Here are the steps on how to replace your spark plugs:

Step 1 - Collect supplies and equipment

Get hold of protective gloves, safety glasses, socket and ratchet set, Spark plug socket (⅝” or ¾”), and some optional materials like Spark plug gap gauge, Spark plug wire removal tool, and a Torque wrench

Step 2 - Locate the spark plugs

Refer to your vehicle manual to get help on finding out the exact location of the spark plugs. They are threaded into the cylinder head, which sits underneath the coil pack/plug wire root.

Step 3 - Remove the coil packs or plug wires

Put on all your safety gear, especially the gloves. Remove the plug wire, drip the boot, and pull up, while moving it from side to side. Be gentle while doing this. If you have a spark plug wire removal tool, you can use that too.

Step 4 - Remove coil packs

This step is easier if your vehicle has individual coil packs. Start by removing the hold-down bolt first, and after removing it you can pull the coil pack straight up and outside the valve cover.

Step 5 - Remove the spark plugs

Wait till the engine is cool to touch. Slowly attach your spark plug socket to the end of your extension and ratchet and insider the socket into the spark plug hole. Wait till you're able to feel a good grip on the top of the plug and now you can push the rubber portion of the plug socket firmly over the plug.

Step 6 - Turn the ratchet 

Now slowly turn the ratchet in a counterclockwise motion. This will help loosen the plug so that you can remove it. Replace the plugs one cylinder at a time, this will ensure that the firing order does not get mixed up.

Step 7 - Inspect the old plugs

This step will help you understand the condition of the engine. Don’t be in a rush to dispose of them. In case you find light brown or tan coloured deposits, then it’s fine. But if the plugs are damaged physically, or have black or white coloured residue on them, then there’s probably some engine problem that will require your attention as well.

Step 8 - Get the correct replacement plugs

Purchase the perfect fitment replacement spark plugs. Match them to your vehicle's year of manufacture, make, and model.

Step 9 - Gap the spark plugs

Using the spark plug gap gauge creates the gap. Insert it in the gap between the electrodes. To know the exact gap needed refer to your manufacturer's manual. If you find the gap is more than the required measure, then gently tap the plug on a wooden surface with the gauge present in between the plug gap. Do this till the exact measure is attained.

Step 10 - Install the spark plugs

Now place the plug into the end of your spark plug socket carefully. Now use the socket and extension, insert it into the hole and gently thread the plugin in a clockwise motion. Until you feel the plug bottom out, continue with turning.

Step 11 - Re-install the coil packs or plug wires

Simply re-install the plug wires removed earlier and place the boot over the tip or plug and push down gently. A clicking sound will be audible when it’s securely in place. In case your vehicle has coil packs, then drop them into the cylinder. After which you can install the hold-down bolt and tighten it down securely.

If you are still confused about which type of car Spark Plug you should buy, then you can visit our The Ultimate Spark Plug Buying Guide. You should always look for the warning signs of a bad Spark Plug and replace them at the earliest you can. With us, you can find Spark Plug at the most economical cost.

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John Framigllia
Technical Writer
Our technical writer is known for simplifying automotive parts and services. Intuitive with various vehicles and manufacturers, he knows how to simplify complicated problems.