Modern engine tune-ups involve replacing the spark plugs. If you neglect this important maintenance item, it’s only a matter of time before you start to experience performance issues. While some modern spark plugs have a life expectancy of up to 120,000 miles, they will all wear out at some point. Here are the top signs your car needs a new set.
1. Visual Signs of Excessive Wear
It’s recommended to have your spark plugs visually inspected every 30,000 miles. By performing a visual examination, an experienced Asheville mechanic can estimate how much life they have left. Carbon deposits, cracked housings, and worn-out electrodes all indicate the need for replacement.
An oil leak can also cause the spark plugs to become contaminated. Before installing a new set, it’s important to first repair the leak. If you allow the leak to persist, the same problem is bound to happen again.
2. Your Car Has Trouble Starting
A number of issues can cause your car to have trouble starting, including a bad battery and a failing fuel pump. Fouled spark plugs can also lead to poor starting.
If the spark plugs aren’t firing correctly, trouble is bound to occur. Things will only worsen over time. Severely worn electrodes can cause your vehicle to not even crank. There won’t be enough spark to turn the engine over.
3. Check Engine Light Comes On
When your spark plugs have reached the end of their life, don’t be surprised if the check engine light pops on. The car’s onboard computer is designed to detect misfires. You should bring in your vehicle for diagnostic testing as soon as possible.
However, never continue to drive your vehicle with a flashing check engine light. This indicates severe detonation, which could cause irreversible damage to the engine’s internal components. You may need to call for a tow.
4. Decreased Fuel Economy
The condition of your vehicle’s spark plugs has a direct impact on fuel economy. When these crucial ignition parts begin to deteriorate, gas mileage can take a big nosedive. Your engine will be out of tune, which causes it to suck down fuel at a much higher rate.
Efficiency can decrease by up to 30 percent. A vehicle that once averaged 30 mpg may struggle to even hit the 20-mpg mark.
5. Sluggish Performance
When driving a car with worn spark plugs, you can expect to experience sluggish performance. Acceleration will be much slower. Your car will also have difficulty climbing hills.
Furthermore, don’t expect the engine to run smoothly. It could eventually begin to stall at times, especially while idling at a stop.
When Should I Replace My Spark Plugs?
Don’t wait until your vehicle begins to run poorly. The best approach is to have your spark plugs replaced at the recommended service intervals. This information can be found in the vehicle owner’s manual. Also, be sure to purchase genuine OEM spark plugs. Installing the wrong kind can cause just as much trouble in the long run.