The spark plugs of a car fulfill an essential function for the operation of the starting system. When this element fails, this is immediately reflected in the performance of our car in various ways:
- Increased fuel consumption to enrich and meet blend standards.
- Altered operation of the injection system sensors.
- Idle instability (minimum).
- Noticeable loss of power.
- Jerking when starting.
Although the acceleration of a car is not always a matter of spark plugs as is often thought, this is the first point that should be checked in the event of a failure. There is also always the possibility that one of the cylinders is working with difficulty and prevents proper combustion.
A quick way to check if your car’s spark plugs are working properly is to start the engine and rev it to a stop two or three times in a row. If it jerks when doing so, the electrical system is not working properly, so it would be wise to remove the spark plugs and check.
Spark plug cleaning and change process
The spark plugs must be replaced in the periods recommended by the manufacturer in the user manual. Likewise, this change is usually around 35,000 miles if they are spark plugs from a gasoline vehicle or 75,000 miles if they are diesel pre-ignition.
Cleaning can help extend its life a little more, but it will never be as effective as replacing it when recommended. It is not convenient to clean them more than three times, in that case it is better to change them.
Currently there are few models that require the distance between the central and lateral electrodes to be readjusted, thanks to the fact that they are usually multi-electrode and the wear is balanced, which helps to ensure that the useful life of the spark plug is fulfilled. Although if you have to do it, it is advisable to give them a cleaning.
Before removing the spark plugs, it is essential to mark them next to the cables so that when they have to be replaced, it is done in the same way. Doing so will prevent reinstall problems.
The following steps must be followed:
Loosen the assembled spark plug and proceed to clean the dirt that is found in the mounting hole with compressed air. This must be done with the engine cold and the battery disconnected to avoid short circuit problems.
Then proceed to unscrew the spark plug once the cables or coils (depending on the model) have been disconnected with the help of a torque wrench and that is where the orifice deposits are blown.
If the spark plug is to be cleaned, 90 °C alcohol or a specific cleaner recommended on the market can be used. The spark plug can be scratched with a wire brush, a needle or hook, or a sharp knife.
It should be checked that the distance between the electrodes is between 0.020 and 0.080 inches, in case erosion has distanced them, preventing the spark from being produced with sufficient intensity. It can be calibrated by readjusting the side electrode.
Once it has no impurities and is dry, and as long as it is not cracked, we will blow it again and pass it through a dry cloth before reinstalling it.
To finish, we will screw in the new or clean spark plug until it stops. Then we will set the tightening torque that corresponds with the torque wrench. It is not recommended to do it manually, many spark plugs fail because they are not tightened correctly.
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