How often should car spark plugs be changed?

Everything in life has a process, even starting a car. And it is that this action puts several mechanical elements on alert to help the driver to start the journey that has occurred to him to undertake towards work, the university or a tourist destination on the occasion of his vacations, regardless of the time of year in whichever takes place.

Some of them, and one of the most important ones, are the spark plugs, which are responsible for that spark in the combustion chamber between the fuel that enters the engine cylinders and the air and that causes starting in gasoline cars. For all AutoUsaPremium readers who have a gasoline car, next we are going to explain how often the spark plugs are changed. In this way, you can anticipate a potential and big problem.

Pay attention: how often do you have to change the spark plugs?

After putting a bit of context on the matter, it is the ideal time to go to the main topic of this new entry and help you, those of you who have a gasoline car, to anticipate the end of life of your spark plugs and save yourself suffering troubles upside down to the mess

1. What are spark plugs?

As we have anticipated at the beginning, Spark plugs are the component responsible for producing the combustion that pushes the engine of a gasoline car to start., reaction that takes place when said fuel is mixed with the air that enters the cylinders. It must be said that there is no fixed number of spark plugs in a vehicle, but rather it is subordinated to the cylinders they contain in their mechanical structure. In turn, spark plugs are made up of different elements:

  • upper terminal: place where the ignition coil is connected.
  • Main body: is responsible for isolating high voltage and heat.
  • Thread: the one in charge of screwing the spark plug into the cylinder head (aluminum piece that ensures the correct closure of the cylinders by its upper part) of the propeller.
  • Electrode: is the point of origin of the spark caused by the mixture of gasoline and air.

2. Types of spark plugs

Thus, what spark plugs do is disperse accumulated heat and direct it towards the car’s cooling system. It must be said that they are usually classified into two types: ignition and preheating. However, the tasks they carry out are very different in gasoline and diesel cars, respectively, so it is not very solid. In any case, it is good to know those big differences in terms of their operation:

  • Spark plugs: the most common and well-known, they do not need a long time to reach the ideal temperatures that allow the car to start.
  • preheating: they can be found in diesel fuels, and its main feature is that it is an incandescent tube located in the cylinder head and sends heat directly to the combustion chamber. They are used so that the car in question has more facilities when starting at low temperatures.
  • for gas engines: They are mainly linked to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) engines. Its main deficiency is the wear of its electrodes due to oxidation, which is why they are coated with nickel. That being said, the ignition voltage is higher to actually make combustion.
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However, there are more types and classifications in this regard. For example, the iridium ones, which theoretically contain a thinner electrode in the center than the conventional ones, a better efficiency when it comes to conducting electricity and, in this way, generate more grateful sparks and that facilitate the starting action of the car . The criteria used to classify spark plugs in one way or another are:

2.1. Endurance

Based on the resistance they have, spark plugs with bare, protected and antiparasitic resistance can be distinguished:

  • nude: those of a lifetime, with that part completely uncovered, so that it can be seen with the naked eye.
  • protected: that part is covered with a magnesium oxide sheath in order to transmit heat as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • antiparasitic: variant of the previous one, inside its magnesium oxide chamber it has a resistance that helps it to eliminate interference that may appear in the vehicle’s electrical system.

2.2. current arc size

The arc of the current is the distance that the spark has to travel from the central electrode to the lateral one, which can be reduced in the hypothetical case that the lateral electrode is diminished:

  • normal opening: the current arc goes in this case up to 0.9 millimeters, it is the simplest and the most common in today’s thrusters.
  • large opening: in this case, said arch can be raised up to 2.05 millimeters. In addition, in order for it to function properly, they need high-voltage coils in the ignition system.

23. The material used

The materials also play an important role in the good work of the spark plugs, which on this occasion can be made of platinum or iridium, as well as copper:

  • platinum/iridium: the most resilient by far thanks to their lower conductivity, which they compensate with a pointed central electrode that makes the current jump easier. Of course, they cost more than copper ones.
  • Copper: the traditional, best known and most conductive.

2.4. Number of electrodes

The electrodes that the spark plugs can contain can range from as little as one to between four and five. This factor has a special impact on durability, so that those with several distribute the work when it comes to conducting electricity. This translates into less wear. On the contrary, those with only one focus all that effort on it, which accelerates wear and negatively affects its useful life.

3. So when do you have to change the spark plugs?

Once the definition of spark plugs and the types that exist have been explained and clarified, we are going to solve the enigma. The first thing to say about it is that there is no exact answer to when to change them, although there is a commonly used reference fork.

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For current cars, this is between 60,000 and 80,000 kilometers. That said, if you have recently bought a vehicle, you should check the mileage that it already has behind it. Fortunately, it’s a huge step up from the copper ones that older models used to carry, as they had an estimated useful life of 20,000 kilometers. If you want to stretch the gum even more, the platinum or iridium ones go up to 160,000 kilometers.

What is convenient in any case is to follow the instructions dictated by the user manual and the recommendations that the manufacturer gives in this regard. After all, each teacher has his booklet.

4. How much does it cost and how to replace the spark plugs?

Despite what it may seem due to its great importance, changing the spark plugs does not involve a large financial outlay, far from it. In fact, it is a task that the user can carry out if he has some expertise. With everything, the cheapest are those of copper, which can cost about four euros, while the most expensive are those of iridium or platinum, which can go very close to 20 euros.

It is necessary to indicate that, to avoid imbalances in the ignition, it is convenient to change each and every one of them at the same time, although there may be only one that is defective. The necessary tools for this are the following:

  • Key: It has to contain a specific width that adapts to the spark plugs in order to remove them correctly and put the replacements in the engine.
  • Ratchet or hexagonal socket: tool that helps extract the spark plugs to be replaced.
  • Blower or compressed air: useful for carrying out a thorough cleaning of the spark plug holes.
  • Safety glasses: to protect the eyes from any element prone to jump when blowing the holes.
  • Gloves: the same as we have just discussed, but for the hands, since you have to manipulate the cables that it has and change them.

Now is the time to know the process to carry out the change:

  • Find the spark plugs once two hours have passed since the car has stopped and the engine has cooled down. They can usually be in plain sight or under the plastic guard that covers the engine.
  • Disconnect the wiring by pulling the cap little by little.
  • Extract the coil and the spark plug, for which you have to take the corresponding hexagonal socket or ratchet, the spark plug key and unscrew the coils and then remove them. The spark plug is removed by turning the key counterclockwise, which will loosen it and allow it to be removed by hand.
  • Blow out the spark plug hole using the blower to remove all impurities.
  • Screw the new ones in by hand and with little pressure, use the wrench as soon as it is screwed in and turn it clockwise to tighten them.
  • Replace the ignition coil by screwing it back with the screws and the ratchet that was already used in the third step. Don’t push yourself too far.
  • Connect the wiring and repeat the process for each spark plug after fixing the coil.
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