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What Is a Spark Plug and How Does It Work?

If you know a thing or two about automobiles, you’ve probably heard the term “spark plug,” mentioned. It is an indispensable component in the internal combustion system, and your car needs it to start. Without one or a functional one, your car will not get from place to place at all. 

What is a Spark Plug?

A spark plug is a piece used for firing the explosive mixture of air and fuel inside an internal combustion engine. Spark plugs can be made of different types of metals, with copper, platinum, and iridium being the most common. The stronger and more durable the metal that makes up your spark plug, the longer it will last.

How Do Spark Plugs Work?

When you turn the key or push the button to start your engine, it starts with the spark plug sending an electrical signal through the ignition coil. The plugs provide enough energy to move your engine, and it constantly fires throughout your drive. 

How Do Spark Plugs Wear Down?

As mentioned, spark plugs are constantly in use, and can wear down from the conditions they are put under. There are two common ways that a spark plug can deteriorate:

  1. The first way it can stop working is by the expanding “gap” of the spark plug. When this gap grows further apart, either due to debris in the engine, wear and tear, or excess heat, it will cause the engine to misfire. Eventually, it will be apart enough to not be able to start the engine at all.
  2. Another way a spark plug can fail is by built-up deposits on the exterior of the plug. This can affect ignition timing and ultimately cause you to replace the spark plug.

Spark plugs can usually last 30,000 miles and up to 80,000 miles, depending on the vehicle usage and material of the component. However, you should have your spark plugs checked if you notice the following warning signs:

  • You experience slow or trouble with car stats.
  • Your engine runs rough while idling.
  • Your MPG is lower than normal.
  • Your engine misfires or surges.
  • Your check engine light comes on.

If it has been a while since your last tune-up or spark plug change, please contact the local auto repair experts at Integrity Transmission & Auto Repair. We look forward to servicing your vehicle.

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