Major Types of Spark Plugs

If you are in Africa, and you take your car to be serviced by one of those guys operating from under trees, you will be told that you will need to have the spark plugs on your vehicle changed as part of the process. Those people do not know what they are talking about! If you change the ones that are on your car, it is likely that you will replace them with an inferior type and brand! What, what are the major types of spark plugs that can be found out there? And how long should they last before being changed?

There are 4 Major Types of Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are mostly classified according to the material that’s used in their manufacture. There are 4 major types of spark plugs on the market today. These are;

  1. Nickel
  2. Iridium
  3. Platinum
  4. Silver.

Nickel Spark Plugs

These are the most common type of spark plug that can be found on the market today. They are also the cheapest. These spark plugs actually have a nickel-alloy coating. They, however, have copper cores. Copper is a good conductor of electricity, so it is used on the cores of most types of spark plugs.

Platinum Spark Plugs

Platinum spark plugs are another type of spark plug that can be found in a wide range of cars. They are, however, more expensive, due to the fact that platinum is expensive. Their advantage lies in the ability too endure the stresses of daily driving. They resist carbon build up and can go a long time without needing to be replaced. What’s the lifetime of a platinum spark plug? Well, it’s well into the regions of 100 000 miles, which is about 160 000km.

Iridium spark plugs

As already noted, my own vehicle, a Toyota Corolla, has iridium spark plugs. Iridium spark plugs are iridium tipped, which gives them better power and longer life spans. They do, however, cost more than all the other types of spark plug. Their lifespan is more or less similar to that of their platinum counterparts. If you look at the spark plug chart for Toyotas above, you will notice that iridium spark plugs are good to go for up to 100 000 miles or 160 000km.

Silver Spark Plugs

This is the final type of spark plug that you will be able to find on the market today. These spark plugs have a silver tips, which gives them the best conductivity. The drawback is that they do not last as long as platinum and iridium spark plugs.

What do spark plugs do?

All petrol engines use spark plugs, and they have done so since the invention of petrol engines. Their role can be discerned in their name; their purposed is to introduce a spark that serves to ignite the petrol and air mixture inside an engine’s cylinder.

How long do spark plugs last?

Most modern day spark plugs are designed to last A VERY LONG TIME. Spark plugs on most Toyotas, as an example, are meant to go for over 150 000 km without being changed. You can see what I am talking about in the chart at the top. I drive a Toyota Corolla that has Iridium Spark plugs. So, what are the major types of spark plugs that can be found out there?

How often to replace spark plugs?

Spark plugs should be changed at the lapse of the period prescribed by your vehicle’s manufacturer. If you drive a Toyota, and your vehicle has Iridium spark plugs, then you need to have them changed after 120 000 miles. There is no need for you to have the spark plugs on your vehicle changed before the end of this period, unless they have developed a fault. Make sure when changing your spark plugs, to go the correct type and brand for your vehicles. Otherwise, you will have performance issues. So, back to the question; how often should you replace spark plugs? The answer is, at the prescribed time for your vehicle.

Do diesel engines have spark plugs?

No, diesel engines do not have spark plugs. The way diesel engines work is different from that of petrol engines. In a diesel engine, air is first compressed to such a high degree that it becomes overheated. Diesel is them introduced into the cylinder. The heat and compression cause the diesel-air mixture to ignite. This all happens without spark plugs.

Best spark plugs for Toyota Corolla

All Toyota Corollas from the year 2000 have Iridium spark plugs. These are the best type of spark plugs for Toyota Corollas. If you replace the ones that are on your vehicle with another type, you may introduce performance issues on your vehicle. There are several brands that manufacture iridium spark plugs out there. Make sure that you are getting ones that were manufactured by a reputable company, such as NGK. Another famous brand when it comes to spark plugs is Bosch.

Benefits of changing spark plugs

In most instances, changing spark plugs on your vehicle actually does more harm than good. You should only change spark plugs if the ones that are on your car have reached the end of their prescribed lifespan or have developed a fault. If you are in Africa, car mechanics there will change your spark plugs before the slated period. Not only that, but they will also introduce inferior quality spark plugs onto your car, leading to performance issues.

How many spark plugs do I need?

If, like most people, you drive a 4 cylinder vehicle, then you will need 4 spark plugs to replace the ones that are on your car. It is advisable not to mix old with new spark plugs. Instead, you should make sure that you replace all the spark plugs on your car when carrying out this service.

How many spark plugs in a V6?

V6 vehicles have 6 cylinders. What that means is that you will need to buy 6 spark plugs if you drive a V6.

Know the type that’s in your car

Finally, it’s important for you to know the type of spark plug that’s on your car. You don’t want to have your spark plugs changed with the wrong type during servicing. Doing that will likely increase your fuel consumption. It could also cause your car to severely under-perform.

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