Ready, Aim, Misfire!

Have you ever spilled a drink at a gathering? Or worse, knocked over someone else’s? Maybe red wine on a white carpet? A party foul is sure to muck up a good time. Fouled spark plugs do the same thing.

Spark plugs are the life of your engine’s party. They get a high voltage electric current from the ignition coil(s), igniting the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. When you are driving, this occurs thousands of times each minute and is what propels you down the road. They not only get the party started; they keep it rockin’!

Occasionally, spark plugs misfire when the spark is too weak to ignite fuel. This causes a temporary loss of power, wasted fuel, and pollution. Misfiring spark plugs can make your vehicle hard to start. It may also start running rough. You may have trouble firing your car up when it is cold. Fuel mileage and acceleration will go down and hydrocarbon emissions will increase. Too many misfires will result in your vehicle failing an emissions test, making it challenging to register or sell. It might even cause enough raw fuel to be dumped into the exhaust to overheat and damage the catalytic converter. Or worse, heat up the temperature enough to melt down the converter substrate which could block up the exhaust system.

What Makes A Spark Plug Go Bad?

A spark plug is fouled when it has become contaminated with fuel or oil. This prevents it from generating a spark. Once the plugs get hot enough, they can burn the contaminates off. This works well if you generally make longer trips. Unfortunately, when you make short, frequent trips, the plugs don’t get hot enough. You’ll have to get them replaced more often.

Properly replacing spark plugs means getting the correct “heat range.” A cold plug has a shorter insulator nose length and is better for high rpm engines. On the other hand, lower rpm engines benefit from a hot plug that cleans the plug when it operates at a slower pace. Each spark plug brand is unique and heat ranges are not universal. This is just one of the reasons why it is helpful to bring your car to a trusted automotive repair professional. We will make sure your spark plugs are at the center of the party. And for all the right reasons!