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Why and when your spark plugs should be repaired or replaced

Spark plugs play an instrumental part in powering up your vehicle. It is essential for the safety of the driver as well as the life of your vehicle that they are in good condition. Disastrous misfires can occur if a vehicle is started when they need replacing. As a result, very costly repairs can follow because driving with misfiring spark plugs can put excessive, inordinate stress on a vehicle’s catalytic converter, which is an engine’s exhaust cleaner.

How do spark plugs operate?

 A spark plug by definition is a device that transports electric current from the ignition system of a vehicle to the combustion chamber of a spark-ignition engine. That transportation ignites the mixture of the compressed fuel and air by an electric spark, while containing combustion pressure within the engine. They only remove heat and cannot create it. They operate as a heat exchanger pulling unwanted thermal energy from the combustion chamber to the engine cooling system. It dissipates heat from the tip.

Warning Signs Your Spark Plugs Need to be Changed

Drivers commonly assume that when their car is not starting or struggling to start, that the issue can be credited to an issue with the battery; however, an overlooked cause for a difficult start-up can be old or faulty spark plugs. If your vehicle will not start at all, it is likely the battery, but if there is difficulty or delaying / a need for repeated attempts to start the vehicle it is likely it may be an issue with the spark plugs.

The check engine light should normally be a clear indicator there is need for replacing. The check engine light could signify a number of possible repairs, but faulty spark plugs can very well be one of the possibilities. If your vehicle has trouble starting and your check engine light is on, the possibilities narrow and professional examination by a certified mechanic should take place.

Other warning signs include:

  • Delayed acceleration. If your vehicle takes a while to increase speed, exhausted spark plugs may be to blame.
  • An audible change in your engine including if your engine is rattling or there is a knocking noise. 
  • Decreased fuel efficiency. Misfiring spark plugs decrease a vehicle’s fuel efficiency as substantial as 30%, so if a driver notices they are having to refuel their vehicle more frequently than usual, it could very well be an issue with the spark plugs.

The effect of driving with damaged spark plugs can be costly or result in irreparable engine damage, so as a driver or owner of a vehicle it is important to be weary of these warning signs and see a certified mechanic for examination as soon as indicated to increase the longevity of your vehicle, create a safe, easy driving experience, and to be financially intelligent as delaying a trip to a mechanic allows for increased damage and costs.