The fuel gets pumped into the cylinder, and the spark plug ignites it. The internal combustion engine relies on spark plugs to provide that ignition. Without that tiny little spark, the fuel won’t burn to produce the energy to propel your vehicle. In addition, spark plugs work hard, firing up to 400 times per minute per cylinder. That’s 1,600 sparks per minute on a four-cylinder engine.
Unfortunately, spark plugs fail over time. You won’t see a steep drop-off in performance. Instead, spark plugs fail gradually over time. It isn’t always easy to tell when your spark plugs need replacing, but there are signs. Here’s a list of five signs to look for indicating spark plug failure to keep your engine running correctly.
Hard To Start Your Engine
Image via Flickr by Razor512
If you feel the engine straining to start, you could have a problem with your spark plugs. Often, drivers associate a hard-to-start engine with a failing battery. This assumption isn’t a bad one. After all, your battery provides electricity to the spark plug. So, it would help if you had your battery tested first to determine its quality.
Our technicians at Huffines CDJR Lewisville have expert training to test all your electrical components to determine what might cause your engine to strain when starting. For example, spark plugs often get clogged from the byproducts of combustion. Over time, the clogging interferes with the ignition process. After thorough testing, we’ll recommend the proper course of action.
Every time you start your engine, it settles into a smooth rhythm. So your engine should sound like its usual self and feel smooth. A rough idle will feel like the engine struggling to stay running, nearly stalling before hitting its rhythm, then nearly stalling again.
Basically, your spark plugs aren’t creating enough spark to ignite the fuel fully. Worn or clogged spark plugs can cause this or indicate something more serious. We recommend you have our technicians investigate to determine the cause.
If you notice misfiring cylinders, you’ve likely overlooked the rough idling engine. Each cylinder in your car’s engine opens to receive fuel, closes, ignites, and releases the energy that turns your crankshaft and, ultimately, your wheels. Your cylinders do this up to 400 times per minute, so seamless the process. That quiet purring engine indicates correctly firing cylinders.
However, when a cylinder misfires, you notice immediately. The engine’s pace stumbles, and you feel a temporary loss of power until it catches up. You might also hear a pop resulting from the cylinder not igniting. As a result, unburned fuel gets pumped into the exhaust system and can cause damage there.
Drop In Fuel Economy
Unless you track your miles driven and the amount of gas used, it can be challenging to realize when you lose fuel economy. Spark plugs fail over time. Thus a gradual loss in efficiency can be hard to notice. If you usually fill your gas tank once a week but now realize it happens every five days, you see the loss.
A new spark plug ignites the fuel for maximum efficiency. However, as the spark plug ages, less fuel gets burned by each weaker spark, thus wasting energy.
Every driver develops a feel for their car. You know how your car brakes, turns and accelerates. When you step on the gas pedal, you should get an instant response from your engine and smooth acceleration. However, if you step on the gas and the engine sputters before finally catching up, you could have a problem with your spark plugs.
Engines have many complicated parts and systems. This symptom could be caused by spark plugs or something else entirely. If you experience this symptom, you should have your car inspected immediately to determine the problem.
How Long Do Spark Plugs Last?
A basic spark plug made from nickel and chromium doesn’t last as long as premium spark plugs made from platinum and other noble metals. However, even the low-end spark plug should last you between 20,000 to 30,000 miles. On the high end, plugs made from premium materials could last up to 100,000 miles or more. While you’re checking your spark plugs, make sure you check your car fluids as well!
Why Do Spark Plugs Fail?
As one of the most complex working parts in your car, your spark plug goes through some of the harshest treatment. Spark plugs are constantly exposed to high heat and flame from burning fuel, and deposits from oil and other contaminants from combustion can build up over time. Eventually, they become corroded, inefficient, and finally fail.
That they last as long as they do seems like a miracle. But, when spark plugs fail, it isn’t the end of the world. Simply bring your vehicle to our service center, and we can replace them. In most cases, it takes less than 30 minutes, and you’ll be back, firing on all cylinders in no time.
Can I Replace Spark Plugs Myself?
At Huffines CDJR Lewisville, we love do-it-yourself people. They, like us, have a passion for automobiles. They love discovering how things work, how to fix them and keep them running perfectly. The truth is, it isn’t difficult to change your spark plugs. In most cases, a single wrench will do.
However, before you take on this job, you should know that reaching the spark plugs in some cars can present a challenge, let alone getting them out and installing new ones. Spark plugs become brittle over time and easily break when you try to remove them, even with the best wrenches. When a spark plug breaks, it requires a specific tool to remove, one most DIYers don’t have on hand.
When a spark plug breaks, it’s stuck inside its seat and will not function properly. If you decide to replace your spark plugs, be sure you have the tools handy in case they break. Otherwise, be prepared to tow your car to the shop and have someone else remove them.
Many drivers opt for the cheap spark plugs, and that’s okay, provided you keep up with your regular maintenance. Now that you know what to look for when a spark plug starts to fail, you can quickly have our service center technicians diagnose and replace your spark plugs. If you believe you have a problem with your spark plugs or simply want to have your vehicle checked out, you can schedule a service visit online or stop by our dealership at any time.