Need New Spark Plugs? Four Steps To Changing Them Correctly

Spark plugs should be changed every 10 to 20 thousand miles. It seems like it might be complicated to do this type of maintenance, but it is very easy, if you follow some basic tips.

1. The Right Plug

The most important thing with spark plugs is to make sure you have purchased the correct model for your vehicle. A short conversation with a mechanic or a worker at an auto parts store will help you determine the right model of spark plug for your car.

Next, you need to choose the type of spark plug. The metal used to make the spark plug makes a difference. Copper is more conductive, so it has the best performance, but it wears out the fastest. Iridium and platinum have worse conductivity, but last longer. Once you are comfortable changing your plugs, choose copper for the best performance.

2. Mind the Gap

The next thing to think about with spark plugs is the gap between the two electrodes. This gap is very important to maintain a good spark while minimizing the amount of corrosion that builds up. Every make and model has a specific spark plug gap particular to the engine. While most spark plugs come pre-gapped now, this may be a concern with older engines.

Purchasing a set of feeler gauges is a good way to double check the gap and maintain your engine's health. Feeler gauges are a set of tools with pieces of metal at predetermined thicknesses from 0.010 inches to 0.045 inches. You slip the gauge of the correct thickness into the gap and it should just fit with a small amount of resistance. If you can wiggle the gauge, you need to tighten the gap.

3. A Little Patience

When it comes time to change the spark plugs, do them one at a time. This is so you do not lose track of which spark plug wire goes to which spark plug. While there are many guides with pictures of the distributor head showing where each wire goes, changing them one at a time means you do not need to worry about finding one for your car. Another thing to think about when changing your spark plugs is changing the spark plug wires as well. It is an inexpensive maintenance item and should be done every two or three spark plug changes.

4. Don't Over-Tighten

As a last note about changing spark plugs, do not over-tighten them. This can happen and will result in a cracked plug and a lot of work getting the damaged spark plug out of the engine. Finger-tighten the plug, then tighten them with the socket an additional quarter turn.

Changing spark plugs is easy once you know how. Following these tips will maximize the performance and longevity of your engine, and ensure you never pay for something you can do yourself. To learn more about automobile repair, visit a company like First Klass Transmission


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