Of the many components of a car’s engine, spark plugs are one of the most important. They are not the biggest or the most obvious, but they are essential when it comes to keeping your engine running efficiently and properly. If you don’t replace your spark plugs regularly, you may experience performance issues such as slow acceleration, reduced fuel economy, stalling, and misfiring. So it’s important to know the signs that can indicate it’s time to change out your spark plugs.
We highlight 8 signs you should look for to replace them. But in the meantime, let’s understand what they are and how they work.
What Do Spark Plugs Do?
Spark plugs are an important component of the ignition system in your vehicle, providing a spark that ignites the air-fuel mixture within the combustion chamber. This enables your engine to run smoothly, powering all the other components of your car.
Spark plugs are screwed into the engine cylinder head and consist of a center electrode, which carries the current from the ignition coil, and a side electrode. As the air/fuel mixture passes over them, it is ignited by an electric spark that occurs when a voltage potential builds between the two electrodes.
How many spark plugs your car has depends on the make and model, but generally older cars with a four-cylinder engine have four spark plugs while newer cars can have as many as six. Over time, however, spark plugs can wear out or become fouled due to various environmental factors, such as heat and humidity. It’s important to check your spark plugs regularly and replace them when needed to maintain optimal performance.
Here are eight signs that your spark plugs may need replacement:
1. It’s Servicing Time
What’s the replacement interval for your car’s spark plugs? This is typically indicated in the owner’s manual or by the manufacturer. If you’re due for a replacement, then it’s time to start thinking about getting new ones. Automakers recommend replacement anywhere from 18,000 miles to 100,000 miles. Check your car’s manual to be sure.
2. Fuel Economy Has Dropped
Are you noticing a decline in fuel economy? This could be due to several factors, but if your spark plugs are worn or damaged, they may not be able to ignite the air-fuel mixture properly. As a result, your car won’t run efficiently and you’ll notice an increased need for gasoline.
3. Difficulty Starting Your Car
A healthy spark plug should start your car easily. If you’re having difficulty getting your car started, it could be because of worn spark plugs. This happens when the metal and insulation on the spark plug are worn away which causes an insufficient amount of electricity to reach the engine from the battery.
4. Check Engine Lights
Your car’s “check engine” lights can alert you to a variety of different issues, including spark plug problems. The light will likely indicate that something is wrong with the ignition system which could be caused by worn or damaged spark plugs. It’s important to have your car checked out if your check engine light comes on.
If your car starts to misfire or if you experience a sudden loss of acceleration while driving, it could be because of spark plug problems. A misfire is when one or more cylinders in the engine do not fire properly either due to a faulty spark plug or other mechanical issues. The check engine light will often come on when a misfire is detected. If this happens, it’s important to have your car checked out and get your spark plugs inspected and possibly replaced.
6. Rough Idling
If the engine of your vehicle starts to idle rough or shake, then it can be an indication that one or more of your spark plugs are not functioning properly. This can be caused by worn spark plugs, incorrect gap settings, or dirt and debris lodged in the spark plug socket. You should have a mechanic check your spark plugs for any damage, as well as inspect the engine components that may be causing the issue.
7. Poor Acceleration
If your engine is having trouble accelerating or seems to be stuck at a certain speed, it can also indicate that your spark plugs are faulty and need to be replaced. This could be due to the spark plugs not firing properly, a blocked air filter, or an accumulation of carbon deposits in the combustion chamber. If you notice this issue, take your vehicle in for a tune-up and have a mechanic check the spark plugs for any issues.
8. Spark Plug Wire
If you have one of those old-fashioned, non-electronic vehicles, you should check the spark plug wires for any wear and tear. If the insulation is cracking or fraying, then it’s time to replace them with new ones. This will help ensure that your engine runs more efficiently and safely. You can also check the spark plug connectors for any corrosion or wear and tear. If the connector is damaged, it’s time to replace it with a new one.
Service Your Car Regularly With Lakeland Ford
A great way to keep your spark plugs in good condition is to service your car regularly. This means making sure that it’s getting regular oil changes, and that all the necessary maintenance is being done on a consistent basis. The service department at Lakeland Ford can help make sure your car is in tip-top shape and that all the spark plugs are working correctly. With our friendly staff, you’ll be able to get any questions answered quickly and easily. So if you think you might need to replace your spark plugs, come into Lakeland Ford today and let us take care of you.