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.