Things You Need To Know About Spark Plugs

You might know that your vehicle has spark plugs in the engine, or perhaps a technician just informed you that you need new spark plugs on your car. No matter how you ended up here, we want to help answer whatever questions you might have about your vehicle's spark plugs. And when you need spark plug service for your Chevrolet, head to Capitol Chevy. Our factory-trained technicians know exactly how to keep your engine running its best.

Carbon build-up on these spark plug electrodes show you that they're ready to be replaced 

4. What Do The Spark Plugs Do?

Not all engines have spark plugs. If you're driving around in a diesel-powered Silverado or Cruze, for example, it doesn't need spark plugs.

Inside the cylinders of your engine, fuel and air are mixed into a combustible combination. In a diesel engine, the piston compresses the mixture until it detonates on its own. Instead, in gasoline engines, a spark plug triggers these detonations with an electric spark at the exact right moment. Every cylinder has its own spark plug, which ensures the engine has timing correct for a complete combustion of all the fuel in the engine.

This tiny spark ignites the air-fuel mixture in the engine's cylinders 

3. How Long Can I Expect Spark Plugs To Last?

Because the spark plugs are in a pretty hostile environment, what with the constant explosions and what-not, spark plugs will eventually wear out. This happens because the metal on the spark plug's electrodes wears away, until the electrode gap is too wide for a spark to fire consistently. On the latest Chevrolet vehicles, modern spark plugs are durable enough to last up to 100,000 miles! For example, the 2019 Chevrolet Equinox recommends having the ignition system inspected and replacing the spark plugs at 97,500 miles.

If you have a classic Chevrolet model that uses older copper spark plugs, instead of modern titanium or platinum-tipped, be aware that these spark plugs may need to be replaced more often, like every 40,000 to 50,000 miles. Consult with one of our expert technicians to learn more about your vehicle.

This is what a spark plug looks like when its installed into the engine's cylinder head 

2. What Are The Signs Of Bad Spark Plugs?

If your car cranks when you turn the key, but won't completely start, that can point to a variety of problems, including spark plugs that aren't working. More likely, you'll notice other problems first, such as a rough idle if a spark isn't firing consistently or not firing at the exact right moment due to worn spark plugs. And if the spark plug doesn't fire, the engine may not burn all of the fuel in its cylinders, leading to a dark grey smoke coming from your vehicle's tailpipe. That's unburned gasoline, and you may even be able to smell gas coming from your car. If you experience these problems, get an engine inspection right away to identify the root cause.

1. What Kind Of Spark Plugs Should I Replace My Old Ones With?

As long as the spark plugs you get are the correct size, so they thread into the engine properly and provide enough clearance for the valves and pistons, there's really no harm that can be done to your engine by choosing a different set of spark plugs. Some spark plugs advertise longer life with exotic materials like nickel, platinum, iridium and others.

But, as in all things when it comes to caring for your Chevy, we always recommend Chevrolet OEM parts. Getting the parts recommended by Chevrolet for your vehicle ensures reliable performance and predictable longevity. When you visit Capitol Chevrolet for spark plug service, you can count on getting the recommended spark plugs for your engine -- for dependability you can count on.

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