Building a vehicle engine is a complex and intricate process that intrigues mechanics and car fans all over the world.
Changing spark plugs is simple: identify when they need to be replaced, know how to change them, and how to clean them.
When to change or clean your spark plugs
If your spark plugs become damaged, you will have trouble starting your car. Your spark plugs may even be improperly installed, which can lead to a number of dangerous situations. A poorly accelerating vehicle can be sluggish and non-responsive on the road, putting your safety at risk.
If your engine has a rough idle, your vehicle may feel bouncy and bumpy when the engine is running. A rough idle is often caused by improperly installed or failing spark plugs.
When you drive, you may experience higher fuel consumption, or even engine surging (also known as engine hesitation). That’s when your vehicle brings too much air into the engine, causing your vehicle to jerk and slow down, or even start and stop regularly while driving.
How to change a spark plug
Your best option for changing spark plugs and choosing a new set is to follow your manufacturer’s directions. Make sure you’ve purchased the correct variety of replacement plugs according to your vehicle manual. Replacement techniques vary from vehicle to vehicle, but there are a few constants to changing spark plugs at home.
Ensure your engine is off and its surface is cool as you replace the spark plugs. After removing the plugs, clean around the spark plug seat with a soft brush or a light blow of air. Your owner’s manual will tell you which tools you will need to replace the spark plugs, so check here before you start.
Reinstall them carefully with the tools listed in your owner’s manual. Not properly installing spark plugs could damage your vehicle and cause a hazardous situation. How your spark plugs are installed varies between manufacturers, though most use at minimum a torque wrench, wire feeler gauge and ratchet.
How clean your spark plugs
Some vehicles have computer sensors, emissions tubing, and other parts in the way of your spark plugs. If you can reach your engine, ensure you check every spark plug, as an issue with one could mean an issue with the rest. Change or clean them all at once – and one at a time – for safety.
There are three common types of spark plugs: copper, platinum, and iridium. No matter what kind you have, soot and grease can build up from the wear and tear of regular use. You can use very fine sandpaper to gently clean the surface of each plug, but avoid sanding iridium spark plugs. They are far more sensitive to scratches and damage and are best cleaned with a soft toothbrush.
Do not submerge any spark plug in water to clean it. If your plugs are heavily coated in grease, it’s safest to replace them. Once you’ve cleaned or replaced your spark plugs, set the proper gap at the top of the plug, according to your owner’s manual.