Are your Spark Plugs giving you performance?
During my career as a mechanic I sometimes come across a repair that really surprises me. Sparks Plugs are at the top of this list. Recently a friend asked if I could give his vehicle a once over before winter, which I recommend to insure that it is ready for the harsh weather ahead.
When the vehicle arrived I took it for a test drive to check its performance. Nothing unusual jumped out at me. I placed the car on the lift and begin my inspection. Many people who are not familiar with mechanics often ask, “Just what are you looking for”? I use a check off list that includes all the areas underneath, interior and in the engine compartment to insure I do not miss checking anything.
As I gave the underneath the once over, I found that the tires could use a rotation, a small minor leak at the oil pan and a tear in his steering rack boot.
It is when I started checking the engine that I found my surprise. Have you ever had an older vehicle where you tried starting it in a cold morning only to flood it causing the spark plugs to foul?
When this would occur, the practice was to replace the spark plugs and change your oil. Why you ask, well when a spark plug fouls out, it is saturated with gasoline and cannot fire, or spark, as intended which does not allow the fuel that enters the cylinder to burn and then ends up in your oil by flowing past the piston rings. Just imagine if a match was wet and you tried lighting it, nothing happens, right! Same with Spark Plugs. If the Spark Plugs are not igniting, then the gas ends up in your oil causing a slow death process for your car’s engine. Gas is a cleaner in a sense and can cause what is called washing your engine. This thins out the engine oil not allowing it to lubricate the metal parts and keeping them from seizing. This is the short version.
I always ask the cars owner when the last time it was the engine had a tune up. In this case, the owner thought it was about a year or so ago (after you see the photos, I would say more like years) but was unsure of the exact mileage, which is what I like to go off of. Time does not where the spark plugs down, usage does.
I removed the first spark plug and it was beyond used. (See photos and notice gapping difference from old one to new one).
The gap in the spark plug allows a spark to ignite the fuel as it enters into the cylinder causing an explosion. When the gap is either too small or too large, then the explosion cannot occur so the unburned gasoline must go somewhere which finds itself flowing into your engines oil. As you can see by these photos, the one I removed from the engine and the new one’s gap difference is subtantial.
How this engine was functioning properly was due to the computer in the vehicle trying to compensate for the lack of spark. This could also trip your check engine light as a cylinder misfire. When the spark plugs are not replaced as recommended, this could cause your car to use more gasoline or even harm to your engine over time. I guess you could say, you either pay now or pay later. It all depends on you.
After I performed a tune up on this vehicle and made some minor needed repairs, the owner gave it a test drive and could not believe the difference in performance.
So remember to have your vehicle checkups as recommended. It could save you $$$$.