Most of us know that the spark plug is necessary for the important act of starting your engine. This tiny component of your engine sends a small electric arc across a gap that lights the first in a series of small explosions in your car that use the fuel you pump into it to run your engine. Though it is one of the smallest parts of your engine, who could argue that it is one of the most important?
What Does a Spark Plug Do?
In addition to starting your engine for you day after day, the mighty spark plug is responsible for a handful of other tasks that greatly improve your driving experience:
Burns off deposits from fuel additives
Over time, deposits in your car engine can lead to a jolt when you start your car or a jerky ride as you drive. The heat generated from good spark plugs keep these deposits from building up in your engine.
Helps your car run efficiently
According to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence misfiring spark plugs can reduce fuel efficiency by 30%.
A smooth combustion system triggered by healthy spark plugs means a smoother ride.
Reduces harmful emissions
With many states now requiring emissions testing of motor vehicles in order to renew registration, this is an important consideration. Many times, when a car fails an emissions test it is due to the amount of raw gas being released from the tailpipe. If you find yourself in this situation, replacing spark plugs could be the first step you take in correcting and retesting your car’s output.
Problems Caused By Faulty Spark Plugs
Needless to say your spark plug does a lot for your vehicle. Yet not many of us give much thought to the maintenance required to keep them working as intended. Automotive manufacturers recommend replacing your spark plugs anywhere from every 30,000 to every 80,000 miles. Failing to do so can lead to problems, the most troubling of these being the inability to start your car in the morning. Over time, poor fuel quality can leave deposits on your spark plugs, or an ashy coating on the electrodes which lead to misfiring. If not addressed, the build up can actually close the gap between the electrodes which would leave you unable to start your engine.
In addition, the following list of symptoms are good indicators of failing spark plugs:
Jerky engine start
After some time, the gap between electrodes between which the electrical signal is sent, can begin to widen making it harder for that spark to get across. If your car is having a hard time starting and requires a few tries in the morning, this may be the culprit.
Engine idles roughly
If the RPMs are shooting up and down causing your car to rumble as you idle, there could be a problem with a set of your spark plugs. Check the color, wetness and physical appearance of your spark plugs as an indicator of where the faulty ones may be.
Engine surging is a warning sign that your car has combustion problems. Spark plugs are key in the combustion process and could very likely be the cause for the surge. Each cylinder in your engine has a spark plug. If one of those are misfiring it could lead to engine surging.
Failure to accelerate
For the same reason mentioned above a failing spark plug can make your car’s acceleration feel laborious.
Filling up your gas tank more frequently
Faulty spark plugs could lead to increased fuel consumption and higher emissions as mentioned earlier. If your spark plugs haven’t been checked in a while, this might be the time.
Spark Plug Maintenance
As with anything, maintaining your car’s engine is safer, more economical and results in a more enjoyable driving experience. Replacing your spark plugs at the recommended interval will help you avoid the headaches listed above and keep repair costs to a minimum. Rely on the European car experts at Star Motors or Orange County to help you create a maintenance schedule tailored to your vehicle. Contact Star Motors in San Capistrano, CA to check your spark plugs and get you set up on the best maintenance schedule for your vehicle.
As a Volvo owner, regular maintenance is vitally important to the performance and safety of your vehicle. Without proper care, your vehicle will be more likely to have serious problems in the future that could lead to you spending large amounts of money on emergency fixes. Poor maintenance also compromises the security and stability that has become synonymous with Volvo’s brand.
Car maintenance shouldn’t be considered a difficult task. Even drivers with limited mechanical knowledge can perform routine maintenance tasks which can prolong the life of your Volvo as well as save you hundreds of dollars in emergency fixes. Maintaining your vehicle shouldn’t be considered an inconvenience or a challenge. Instead, you should see this as ensuring your safety and security and getting the most out of your investment.
Keep it Clean
A simple maintenance task that often goes overlooked is maintaining a routine car washing schedule. The best way to keep your Volvo’s exterior looking well is to clean off any mud and scum that may harm the car’s finish. This also gives you a closer look at any scratches, dents, chips, and dings that you would not usually notice. Below are some tips on washing your Volvo.
Wash your car with a gentle cleaning solution that is safe for automotive finishes. Start at the top and work down from there. Use a washing mitt or cloth made of microfiber. After washing the finish, wash your tires with a separate bucket filled with soapy water, so you do not get grease or dirt on any other parts of your car.
Look over the paint for messy spots from bird droppings, pollen, or tree sap. These contaminants are often stuck to the paint’s surface so a special clay bar made for car exterior care may help you clear them away.
Dry your car thoroughly with fresh, clean towels. Soft, waffle-weave, absorbent microfiber drying towels are preferable for this task. Then put on car wax. You have several varieties from which to choose, but usually a liquid or paste-style wax works well when applied every 3 months. This will help protect and maintain the exterior of your car.
Checking Tire Pressure
Another maintenance tip that often gets disregarded is the importance of checking your tire pressure. Low tire pressure can result in dangerous driving conditions. Low tire pressure will also result in you visiting your local gas station more frequently, as it will lower your car’s gas mileage. Checking your tire pressure can be done anytime you visit your local gas station and should take you less than 5 mins. The only tool you’ll need is a tire gauge which should cost anywhere from $5 to $10 from your local auto store.
Take off the cap from the air valve, then firmly press the tire gauge squarely onto the air valve. Be sure to only remove the valve cap from one tire at a time.
Increase air in the tire until it reaches the recommended air pressure.
Screw the valve cap back onto the air valve.
Look over your tires to be sure that they do not have any nails, screws, or any other objects stuck in the rubber that could puncture the tire and cause an air leak.
Check the sides of the tires to be sure you do not see any cuts, bulges, gouges, or any other irregularities.
Repeat this procedure for each tire. Don’t forget the spare!
For the more ambitious Volvo owner, there are additional maintenance steps you can perform, such as changing your battery every 4 to 5 years, regular oil changes, replacing the brake pads as needed, and rotating your tires annually. However, these are more intensive tasks, and these can all be addressed at an annual checkup with your local Volvo specialist.
How Star Motors Service Can Help
The Volvo automotive specialists here at Star Motors focus their expertise on European automobiles and their safety and performance. We serve clients from all over the areas of San Juan Capistrano, CA and Southern Orange County. We perform thorough ongoing inspections as part of our routine maintenance plan for our clients. If you’d like us to perform a routine maintenance check on your Volvo, contact us today to schedule an appointment with our Volvo experts or drop by to speak with one of our skilled service technicians.