Useful Car Tips

How to Check and Change the Spark Plugs In Your Car

December 04, 2018
Spark plugs are an important part of your car’s engine. In fact, it would be pretty difficult for you to go anywhere without them! Spark plugs kick off the all-important combustion in the appropriately named internal combustion engine—setting off a chain of events that turns your engine’s crankshaft and ultimately, your car’s tires. But spark plugs do wear out over time and can occasionally go bad altogether. If your vehicle isn’t running as smoothly as it once did, and you want to try your hand at checking or changing the spark plugs, keep reading for a closer look at how to get the job done.

When Should Spark Plugs Be Changed?

The spark plugs will need to be changed at some point in a vehicle’s life, but the timing is different with every car. Some cars or trucks may need to have them changed after just 30,000 miles, but some can go as long as 100,000 miles. Every manufacturer is different. Spark plugs may also need to be changed sooner if the vehicle has been driven or used harder than normal. A few common symptoms of a bad spark plug include: Trouble Starting your car in the morning, engine idling roughly, evident loss of acceleration and higher fuel consumption among others. If this sounds like your car at the moment, it may be time to change your spark plugs.

Know Your Vehicle

While most spark plugs may look very similar, there are often big differences in the plugs used in different cars. Whether it’s the size or the way they’re threaded, the spark plugs used in a Honda Civic may be very different than the ones used in a Ford F-150. If you’re planning to change the spark plugs in your vehicle, make sure you know what your car needs—and what the manufacturer recommends. This information can usually be found in a good repair manual or most auto parts stores. Do some research before purchasing. At this point, if you don’t feel comfortable proceeding on your own, or think the plugs might be particularly difficult to change, consider getting in touch with a reliable mechanic.

What You’ll Need

Depending on what’s under the hood of your car or truck, the spark plugs could be simple to change or extremely difficult. At a minimum, you’ll need an appropriately sized spark plug socket and a socket set with a few different extensions to get the job done. You may need a few other tools depending on what might need to remove to access your vehicle’s spark plugs. You’ll also need a new set of spark plugs, some dielectric grease and a new set of spark plug wires or a set of ignition coil-on-plugs if they need to be replaced.

Getting the Job Done

Start by locating your vehicle’s spark plugs. In a newer car or truck, they’re probably located under a coil-on-plug which can typically be removed with a small bolt. Once you’ve located the first plug, simply insert your spark plug socket with an appropriate socket wrench and extension and carefully loosen the spark plug. After the old plug has been removed, check the gap in the new plug with a spark plug gap tool—making sure that it matches your manufacturer’s recommendations. Then, apply dielectric grease to any points where the plug will come in contact with the spark plug wires or coil-on-plug and carefully insert the new plug. Most modern vehicles have aluminum heads, so care should be taken to make sure that the new plugs are threaded correctly. When you’re done with one plug, move on to the next. That’s all there is to it, Good luck!
Previous Article Next Article