When a car has trouble starting, most people assume there is something wrong with the battery. While this could be the case, it’s not the only possibility. The problem could actually be old or faulty spark plugs. When spark plugs aren’t doing their job, everything from acceleration to fuel economy can be affected. Learn how to recognize when your spark plugs are bad by watching for the following seven signs your spark plugs need replacing.
What Are Spark Plugs
While spark plugs may be small, they have a big job to do. In fact, they are essential to the running of your car, helping it start, time after time. Spark plugs work by creating a spark which ignites the mixture of air and fuel in the combustion chamber and drives your car’s pistons. They also transfer heat away from the combustion chamber. Without that spark, your car won’t start – or go anywhere.
Here are seven common signs your spark plugs need replacing.
1. Trouble Starting Your Car
If you notice your car struggling to start, or if it stalls when you are trying to turn it on, there could be a problem with the spark plugs or spark plug wires. Old, worn out, or faulty spark plugs cause your vehicle’s ignition system to work harder, and can also lead to misfires and erratic performance. Faulty spark plugs can also cause your battery to drain, preventing your car from starting at all.
2. Engine Misfiring
When a car engine misfires it causes the vehicle to halt or hesitate for a fraction of a second and then continue as usual. This often means the engine isn’t running as smoothly as it should, which can also lead to higher amounts of emissions. You may also notice unusual noises like rattling, pinging or knocking sounds.
3. Reduced Performance
When driving, the spark plugs fire as you accelerate and change gears. If the plugs are not functioning at 100 percent, your vehicle performance will be noticeably different. For example, when you put your foot down on the gas, it may feel like your car doesn’t want to respond as quickly as usual, or it may even feel sluggish. You get the feeling that your car is having to struggle to move.
4. Poor Fuel Economy
Although lots of things can lead to poor fuel economy, one of the most common causes is old spark plugs. Worn out spark plugs can increase the amount of gasoline your car consumes. This is because the plugs can no longer effectively burn the fuel that goes into the engine. If you notice you are filling up your tank more often, have the spark plugs checked.
5. Rough Idling
A well-running engine will have a quiet, constant and smooth sound when it idles. However, if your spark plugs aren’t performing as they should, the engine will produce a rough and jittery sound. It may also make a make a rattling, pinging or knocking noise.
6. The Check Engine Light Comes On
In many of today’s cars, if a plug starts to fail the check engine light will come on or begin flashing. In a lot of cases this is caused by the engine misfiring.
7. It’s Time
Luckily, spark plugs don’t wear out very quickly, but they should always be changed at regular intervals. Look at your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the suggested maintenance schedule to see when to replace them. However, if you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to get your spark plugs checked out with an engine tune-up.
Spark plugs are vital to your car’s efficiency and performance. Driving with worn out or damaged spark plugs can cause harm to your car’s engine. If you notice any of these signs your spark plugs need replacing, don’t wait. Instead, make an appointment with a certified, expert technician like those at the Reedman-Toll Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM service department in Langhorne, PA. They can help figure out exactly what’s going on and get you back on the road quickly.