Spark plugs have been around since cars were first dreamed about. The first spark plugs were developed in the mid-1800s and while others had a hand in developing them, Robert Bosch was the one to perfect and patent the technology in 1901.
Today, if you drive a gasoline-powered or hybrid vehicle, your vehicle has spark plugs. So it's worth taking a few minutes to understand how they work.
What are spark plugs?
Spark plugs are a major component of your vehicle's ignition system. They create the electric spark needed to continuously ignite the fuel-air in the combustion chamber of your car. Every vehicle requires a specific spark plug. When your spark plugs are in good shape, they burn fuel efficiently. But like your motor oil, spark plugs also require routine maintenance and replacement. A faulty spark plug is one that has become dirty or has blistered and worn out from running too hot. Just one bad spark plug will affect how your motor runs.
How do you know when spark plugs are bad?
A four-cylinder car will have four spark plugs; a six-cylinder car will have six and so on (though a HEMI engine has two plugs per cylinder). In most vehicles, you'll recognize your spark plugs need replacing because of two main reasons -
- Poor performance. A faulty spark plug can cause the engine not to respond when accelerating. If your car is struggling to increase speeds, a malfunctioning spark plug may be the culprit.
- Decreased gas mileage. Since your spark plugs are responsible for the efficient burning of fuel, a sudden drop in gas mileage is a sign that you may have a faulty spark plug.
Other symptoms you may notice include trouble starting the vehicle (your vehicle won't start if the spark plugs can't produce the necessary spark to get your motor running) and rough idling.
Can you drive with faulty spark plugs?
If one or more spark plugs are faulty, your vehicle is not running at peak efficiency. With incomplete combustion, your fuel consumption and emissions may increase. Eventually, your car may die while running or fail to start. Driving with bad spark plugs can also lead to more serious and costly problems with your engine, including damage to your vehicle's catalytic converter.
How often should I replace my spark plugs?
Each vehicle may differ on when spark plugs should be replaced. Generally, spark plugs are fairly durable components and are replaced during your vehicle’s 60,000 or 90,000 miles scheduled maintenance.
At DRIVE AutoCare, our ASE-certified mechanics use factory-recommended spark plugs and the highest quality components. Call our Customer Service team at DRIVE AutoCare and they will patiently explain the benefits of having your spark plugs replaced!