What You Should Know about Spark Plugs

Spark Plugs

Among the many things that require routine maintenance on our vehicles are spark plugs.   If your mechanic says you need new spark plugs and you don’t understand why, the explanation of their importance may sound like a second language.

Maybe you’d like to speak the language of your mechanic and have a sense of what spark plugs are and why they need to be in good working order.  So, if you’re of the mindset that it can’t never hurt to learn a little about car maintenance, here’s your spark plug tutorial.

Why spark plugs are important.
Your car won’t start without them.

Why your car won’t start without spark plugs.
Here’s how the process works. A spark plug sends an electrical signal from the ignition coil. Spark plugs were well named because a spark is created, and that spark ignites the air-fuel mixture inside the combustion chamber – and the engine begins running.

Basically, without spark plugs, your car is a really large paperweight.

The spark plugs should be in good working order.
Now, they don’t have to be, for your car to drive. If you have spark plugs that are wearing out, but they still work, your car may end up moving, but you may find that it takes a little longer to accelerate on the gas, and in general, your car may not get as much mileage. It also means you’re driving on borrowed time. If your spark plugs are weakening, it isn’t as if they’re going to get stronger on their own. Eventually, you’re going to amble over to your parked car and turn the ignition – and nothing will happen.

It’s natural for spark plugs to be replaced every so often.
You can take the best care of your car – you’ll still need to get them replaced.

Spark plugs are generally installed every 30,000 miles. So, if you drive a lot, you may end up replacing them every couple years – or a little less frequently if you’re not putting a lot of miles on your car.

Are there other benefits to having spark plugs?

  • Your car’s overall performance should improve. If you were operating on weak spark plugs, and you always had to press your foot to the gas for longer than seemed normal, that should stop now.
  • You’ll fill up at the tank less. Your fuel economy should improve.
  • Less air pollution. Fewer emissions will come out of your car when your spark plugs are working properly.
  • No crazy ignition sounds. You’ll turn on the ignition and away you go – instead of having a car that jerks around as you try to leave the driveway or a parking lot.

If you want to impress your friends with your spark plug knowledge…

Copper spark plugs tend to have the shortest life span. Platinum spark plugs are better than copper but also considered to be somewhat inferior to the best spark plugs, which are made of iridium spark plugs, which are, yes, more costly but tend to last the longest.

Helpful rule of thumb: the stronger the material, the more long-lasting the spark plug.

Still, unsure as to which type of spark plug is the best? Be sure to check your owner’s manual or consult a technician at your local Milex Complete Auto Care.

But the next time you bring your car into a Milex shop for a question about spark plugs, hopefully you’ll also feel like you’re speaking their language.

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