I’m one of those people that don’t pay much attention to the needs of their car unless a warning light comes on telling me its time to take action and frankly having three kids, I prefer to put off any non emergency expenses or responsibilities whenever I can. But like most people my car doesn’t have an indicator to tell me when the spark plugs need changing but I do know its important to do so periodically, especially considering that I live in one of the colder, windiest parts of the region.
So to be on the safe side I asked Steve Szilagyi, owner and operator of Euro Mobil Autohouse located in St Catharines by the Pen Centre, 3 reasons spark plugs need to be changed and when it is the right time to do so…
Euro Mobil Autohouse is contracted to perform maintenance on some of the local law enforcement vehicles and Steve has been a licensed mechanic for 30 years, so I figure if anyone in Niagara knows best in this regard, its him;
Reason 1: New spark plugs significantly improve cold starting. Dirty, corroded or worn spark plugs require higher voltage to get a strong enough spark to start your vehicle. By the time you’ve cranked the engine a half dozen times hoping for an eventual start, you just might run your battery dead. Therefore if you allow it to get to this point, you’ll have two problems. However maintaining your vehicle with a properly functioning set of spark plugs means less voltage is required upon start up and is easier on your ignition system, decreasing the chances of a misfire while leaving more amps for the starter and injectors. In other words, proper spark plugs may make the difference of you being left stranded.
Reason 2: A set of quality spark plugs help keep your engine operating at its optimal performance and efficiency levels reducing chance of misfires. Frequent misfires mean increased exhaust emissions, wasted gas and reduced power. Misfires often caused by worn spark plugs will cause some vehicles to buck, stall, run rough or start slow. Most vehicles manufactured since 1996 have OBD II onboard diagnostic systems that track ignition misfires that trigger a warning light… but it has to get pretty bad in order for this to occur.
Reason 3: New spark plugs will minimize your risk of a catalytic converter failure. Just one misfire can dump enough draw fuel into your vehicle’s exhaust system to overheat and damage the converter. The resulting load of unburned gasoline in the exhaust will increase the operating temperature of your converter, potentially causing a meltdown of the converter substrate, which in turn will form a restriction or full blockage of the exhaust, literally choking your engine. Your vehicle may run, but it will lack power decreasing your fuel economy. And we can assure you that a new catalytic converter is a whole lot pricier than a routine spark plug change.
When: If you experience any of the aforementioned signals it’s likely your car is long overdue for a routine spark plug change, so don’t wait. Standard copper plugs will generally last from 16,093 to 32,187 kilometers (10,000 to 20,000 miles), while higher quality platinum or iridium spark plugs can last longer. The average Canadian puts approximately 20,000km per year on their car, therefore depending on variables it may beadvisable to change your plugs annually. One rule of thumb Steve uses is that if you simply can’t remember when the last time you had your plugs changed was, you’re probably over due. On a positive note he points out that when you do replace spent plugs you’ll not only have the peace of mind knowing you’ve reduced potential problems, you may feel an extra bounce in your cars step, leaving you glad you did.
As an authorized Bosch Auto Parts dealer he warns that although quality is important not to overpay for brands or gimmicks that are sometimes manufactured on the same assembly lines as the less expensive ones.
Steve reminds us in summary that when it comes to spark plug maintenance “It’s either pay a little now or a lot later.”
Euo Mobil Autohouse advises you to refer to your vehicle owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for timely car spark plug or truck spark plug changes – preferably before it gets to the point where you have to ask your spouse or neighbour for a ride to work at the very last minute.
“Like” the Euro Mobil Autohouse Facebook page for a chance to win a FREE oil change and to receive regular updates on car maintenance specials and for more helpful automotive tips… or visit their web site at http://www.euromobilah.com/