Spark Plugs 101: A Quick Course | El Cajon, CA | West Automotive Group
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What Are Spark Plugs?

Spark Plugs 101: A Quick Course -- West Automotive Group

The spark plug is a very small part, but it serves quite a large function in your automobile. Without spark plugs, your vehicle doesn't operate. If your spark plugs need replacing, they can cause other problems for you. Before you get down to the wire (spark plug joke!) for a tune-up, educate yourself about your plugs. Also, bring your car to West Automotive Group in El Cajon, California. Our certified technicians are well prepared to check and repair your auto, and we can also assist you with heading off serious problems by performing preventive maintenance services.

Construction and Function

Despite its small size, the spark plug is tough. It's physically strong, and it holds up to providing sparks for combustion for a long time and through driving a lot of miles. The housing, an insulator, and electrodes are the three major portions of the plug, but other smaller parts comprise these zones and contribute to the overall function. The terminal, for example, connects the voltage flow cord. The insulator keeps the high voltage from transferring to areas where it shouldn't, and the electrode provides the location for the spark to happen. Even though there is a transfer of current, it isn't a continuous transfer. The arc jumps the "gap" between two leads that aren't touching but are close enough together to allow for this transfer. The resulting spark ignites the fuel and air mixture in the cylinder, where a controlled explosion occurs. Using the force of the blast, the pistons move, turning the engine's crankshaft. This process repeats, providing power that enables your car to move.

As mentioned, spark plugs are durable, lasting on average 20,000 to 30,000 miles or approximately 18 to 30 months. Even so, you will need to replace them at some point due to wear. If you begin noticing poor acceleration or a reduction in gas mileage, it may be time for new spark plugs. Another giveaway may be difficulty starting your car or engine misfire. The vehicle may idle roughly as well. No matter how the issue presents itself, worn spark plugs can reduce performance and contribute to exhaust problems, causing a check engine warning. Once this happens, you'll need to have it repaired to ensure that your car can pass the California smog test at its next inspection.

Help for Ailing Spark Plugs and the Check Engine Light

If your check engine light has illuminated or you suspect you have aging or worn spark plugs (based on symptoms, mileage, or service time), don't ignore the issue until you have bigger problems or your car won't start. Instead, bring your vehicle to West Automotive Group in El Cajon, California, for repair.

Written by West Automotive Group