Tips from Used Car Advisor

Car Advisor Tamotsu Todoroki

Hi, this is Tamotsu Todoroki. I am a car advisor of
I write an online column every week to take care of your vehicle. My column is all about something useful and practical for your vehicle. Please have a look once to keep your car in good condition.


Replacing Spark Plugs - Vol.134

Spark plugs are essential components of car engines. Any time you take your car to a mechanic for a maintenance check, the mechanic will always make sure the spark plugs are in good shape. In fact, he will likely ask if you have been having any problems with starting or running your vehicle. Spark plugs can become corroded or otherwise unusable. And this will interfere with the car's engine and your overall driving experience. Following is basic information you should know about the role of spark plugs in the proper operation of your vehicle.

Understanding the Spark Plug
An internal combustion engine uses spark plugs to ignite the mixture of air and gas in the combustion chamber. The tip of the spark plug is actually inside the engine and the outside part of the plug is connected to wires from the distributor. Energy is sent from the distributor along the wire to the spark plug which causes the plug to fire and the air-gas mixture to ignite. This is basically how your car starts when you turn on your car. While spark plugs themselves might not be bad, spark plug wires may very well need to be replaced. For this reason, you need to know how the various parts relate to one another.

Identifying Problems with Spark Plugs
Bad spark plugs can cause a variety of problems. You may find that your car will not start right away. Engines that stall are often the result of faulty spark plugs. You only need one spark plug to be bad for your car to not start properly. Another sign that you have bad spark plugs is low acceleration. This occurs because there is not enough power to your engine to support the increase in speed. Cars that have at least one bad spark plug tends to have a rough idle. You may even worry that your car will stall when it is stopped at a red light. If you experience sudden surges while driving, you probably want to take a close look at your spark plugs.

When to Replace Spark Plugs
Your car owner's manual will provide guidance on when you should get a tune-up for your car. A good rule of thumb is to have your spark plugs checked every time you change oil. This does not mean you need to replace them that often. Newer vehicles can usually go as long as 100,000 miles before spark plugs need to be replaced. However, if you have high annual mileage, more than likely you will need to have the spark plugs replaced sooner. Of course, any time you experience any of the situations described above, you should have your spark plugs checked. It is possible that you need to replace them sooner than expected.

How to Replace Spark Plugs
You can either take your car to a mechanic to have them replace your spark plugs or you can change them yourself. To get started, you just need to have a wrench that fits your car's spark plugs. Generally it is recommended you use a ratchet with a socket that fits the spark plugs. Disconnect the spark plug wires and then, using the ratchet, remove the old spark plugs and replace them with the new ones. You may find that it is more difficult to change spark plugs on newer cars because you cannot easily access them. For this reason, you might be better off taking your car to a mechanic.

Spark plugs keep your car running well. When your engine is running efficiently, it performs better. You will easily save money on fuel every time your engine is properly tuned. Always monitor your mileage so you can be sure you are benefiting from peak performance of your car's engine.