The average car contains around 30,000 distinct parts. For the car to drive as it should, those 30,000 parts need to work in perfect harmony. That all starts with the spark of the spark plug. This is what ignites the air-fuel mixture that fires up the combustion in your engine. Without that electrical spark, your car isn’t moving anywhere. And just like those 30,000 other parts, spark plugs do need to be replaced. When should that happen? Here’s how to tell:
Check Your Owner’s Manual
Have you ever looked at your owner’s manual? You might’ve given a glance when you first bought the car just to see how everything works but after that it goes right into the glove box never to be read again. It actually has all kinds of helpful information starting with when your manufacturer recommends replacing your spark plugs. It is different for each car but it’s a good standard to follow.
Problems with Starting the Car
When it comes to having problems with starting the car there’s a long list of “suspects.” The most obvious is a dead battery or a faulty alternator. However, don’t discount the spark. If you can turn on other electrical components like your radio or lights, then the fault might not be in your battery but in the spark plug.
You can tell a lot about a car when it is sitting at a red light. Your engine should be purring as opposed to rumbling, pinging, rattling or knocking. There might even be slight vibrations coming from the steering will. All of these can point to an inconsistent firing of the spark plug. Time to get them checked.
An Engine Misfire
As mentioned, the purpose of the spark plug is to ignite that air-fuel mixture. This is really a kind of mini controlled explosion but in a good way. When the spark plug fails, your engine could misfire. In other words, it feels like it starts but then it stops. There could be other reasons for this happening. But swapping out the spark plugs is the easiest possible solution.
Once the car has started, the spark plugs job is not over. They need to continue firing up that electrical arc every time you accelerate. If you find yourself pushing down on the gas pedal further to get that acceleration, then the spark plugs might not be firing as they should.
Bad Fuel Economy
If you notice that your trips to the gas station are becoming more frequent, then you might want to get those spark plugs replaced. When the spark plug fails, your car’s fuel economy suffers. It is a bit like a battery-operated toy that starts to slow down when the batteries weakened.
You might discover in this process of replacing your spark plugs with the mechanic that you could do it yourself on the next go-round. Watch how gets done. It’s not that complicated.