Spark plugs are important components in petrol engine vehicles and yet most of the time they do not get the attention they deserve when it comes to repairs and maintenance. In fact, many spark plug issues are often initially mistaken for something else until a proper diagnosis is done. This is possibly due to the fact that spark plugs rarely malfunction. However, when they do, they can cause lots of inconvenience and lots of serious damage to your vehicle. Read on to learn more.
What causes spark plugs to malfunction?
Spark plugs, especially those in modern cars, are designed to last very long. However, they can always malfunction due to a barrage of reasons. For example, the spark plugs themselves may have a fault—for example, not having the right heat load to match your vehicle or being of defective quality. And in some rare cases, they may not be properly installed in their sockets (quite dangerous). Other causes of spark plug malfunctions have to do with the environment around the engine, e.g. too much air intake, too much fuel in the chamber, alkaline activity in the air, oil in the chamber, etc.
What damage can malfunctioning spark plugs cause?
Because spark plugs are tasked with igniting the engine's combustion chambers, their failure to function will always affect your vehicle's performance and the condition of your engine. Some of the effects of a failed spark plug include:
- Lack of engine power (noticeable when accelerating or going up a steep hill)
- Failure to start engine during a cold start
- Dangerous jerking when the vehicle is in motion
- Engine overheating
Spark plug explosion
Overheating or spark plug explosions can have adverse effects on your engine. In most cases, such damage will require that you have the engine machined and re-tooled to restore its integrity. In severe cases, the engine may have to be replaced.
How to avoid spark plug problems altogether
There are a number of things you can do to avoid spark plug damage on your engine. They include the following:
- Have the spark plugs serviced often. The mechanic will check their condition for damage and then clean, adjust or replace as needed.
- Watch out for spark plug damage symptoms: failed start, misfiring, loss of power, noisy idling, etc.
- Buy original OEM spark plugs with the correct heat load.
Spark plugs are very cheap and their servicing or replacement is also quite cheap. On the other hand, your engine is quite the investment. So pay attention to your spark plugs so that you don't have to deal with expensive engine repairs or replacement; as well as the other issues highlighted above.