Things to Know About Spark Plugs - Toyota Service Information To Know in Salem, OR

Most drivers have at least heard about spark plugs, but many probably don't know the subtle details of spark plugs and maintenance such as how often they should be replacing them, symptoms of worn out spark plugs, and why they can sometimes go bad faster than normal. To learn more about spark plugs and how new or old ones can affect your vehicle, check out these five things every driver should know about spark plugs.

Spark plug image

5. What Do Spark Plugs Do?

Let's start with the basics of spark plugs like, what exactly do they do? As their name suggests, spark plugs are the spark of electricity that ignites the combustion needed to start your vehicle. Spark plugs emit a bolt of electricity across a small gap igniting the fuel and air mixture that puts the pistons in motion and gets your vehicle up and running. It's a crucial job that spark plugs have because if they're worn out they won't emit a spark and start your engine or can even cause significant damage. It's not just a bad battery that could be keeping your vehicle from turning over -- it could be the spark plugs.

4. How Often Should I Replace My Spark Plugs?

Clearly, spark plugs are crucial to the health of your vehicle's engine and car, but how often should you be replacing them? Well, there's obviously a lot of variables when it comes to how quickly your spark plugs go through enough wear-and-tear to the point where a replacement is necessary. A modern Toyota model with spark plugs that are platinum-made should last at least 50,000 miles while iridium spark plugs are good for up to 100,000 miles and sometimes more. Consult your owner's manual to learn what kind of spark plugs your model has and the recommended lifespan of them. If you notice some problems before either benchmark then it's always better to replace them sooner rather than later to avoid getting stranded as well as potential damage to the vehicle.

View of old spark plugs

3. How Do I Know I Need to Replace My Spark Plugs?

We mentioned keeping an eye out for problems with your spark plugs, but how can drivers know it's time to replace their spark plugs? There are a few key giveaways drivers will notice when their spark plugs begin to go bad. If the vehicle struggles to start, the problem may be worn spark plugs. While driving, if you notice a rough idle, sluggish acceleration, or an increased fuel consumption, it may be time to replace worn out spark plugs. Regardless, you should check or have your spark plugs inspected regularly even if you haven't noticed any problems.

2. Why Should I Replace My Spark Plugs?

All the possible symptoms of bad spark plugs are also reasons why you should consider replacing an old spark plug with a new one if it's been a handful years since you've gotten new ones. New spark plugs can increase your vehicle's performance while also making it more efficient. Plus, continuing to drive on spark plugs that have accumulated considerable wear-and-tear can cause damage to your car's engine by misfiring. Continuing to push your engine with faulty spark plugs can lead to damage to the catalytic converter via an incomplete combustion. When it comes to spark plugs and engines, it's better to replace them before you begin to experience any problems rather than after.

Open engine with oil image

1. What Causes Spark Plugs to Go Bad?

The last bit of info we'll leave drivers with is what causes spark plugs to go bad. Are there ways drivers can avoid wear-and-tear on their spark plugs? The most common problem with spark plugs is the build up oil and carbon that dulls their effectiveness. Now, some of this is unavoidable and the natural course of a vehicle's life, but things like the overheating of spark plugs from an incorrect fuel-to-air ratio can wear out spark plugs faster. Other factors for accelerated spark plug degradation include poor fuel quality and a bad fuel filter that can lead to a carbon build up. Another thing for drivers to look out for when their spark plugs are causing problems is a loose wire connection from low-quality plugs or improper engine tuning. Drivers should keep an eye on these things to help prolong the use and life of their spark plugs.