It seems like the days when you changed your spark plugs every couple of years have ended. Why is that? Well, they really did wear out that often. A couple of things are different now. First, spark plugs are made of better materials that last longer, and they’re designed better. The second reason that spark plugs used to have to be changed was that they were fouled up with carbon deposits.
The deposits built up when fuel wasn’t burned completely. That doesn’t happen as much now with modern engine controls. Engine control computers precisely time when fuel is injected into the engine and when spark plugs fire. Unless something is wrong, spark plugs just don’t foul like they used to. Let’s take a little tour of the steps in this process.
Electricity from the battery goes into a coil that allows power to build up to anywhere from 12,000 to 45,000 volts, depending on the vehicle.
The engine management computer tells the coil (some engines have more than one) when to release the power to the spark plug.
The electricity travels through a wire from the coil to the spark plug.
At the tip of the plug, a spark jumps between two electrodes and ignites the gas in the combustion chamber.
Coils wear out and they need to be replaced occasionally. Also, spark plug wires can wear out and need to be replaced. Modern engines are delivering more power and better fuel economy all the time. That’s largely credited to fast engine control computers, advanced sensors, electronic ignition and improvements to the lowly spark plug. It’ll be interesting to see where future developments take us. One last thing. It’s critically important to have the right kind of spark plug for your vehicle. Because engines are designed to run with different internal temperatures, spark plugs have different designs to work properly within those temperatures. Your Elite Service Advisor will be able to get the right plugs for your vehicle, and he/she will be able to advise you on when you should replace your spark plugs as well. Give us a call and we’ll get you all checked out!
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