When looking to upgrade your vehicle, there are several modifications you can make to help you increase, torque, power, and gas mileage. Immediately people will look to larger installs like cold air intakes, turbochargers, or superchargers.
Often they forget about the smaller tweaks that can really make a difference. Something as simple as getting better spark plugs can easily get overlooked. Some aren’t even sure when to change spark plugs. However, upgrading this component can deliver noticeable fuel gains and performance increases.
Many times we just opt for the cheapest spark plugs without thinking what effect it will have on the overall system. Does it really matter which spark plugs to buy? This article will give you a better idea as to the function of your spark plugs, when to change spark plugs, and why you should upgrade to a better brand.
How Do Spark Plugs Work?
It seems that time when to change spark plugs has arrived. Before deciding on which spark plugs to buy, it is helpful to understand how they function.
- An engine needs three things in order to run: air, fuel, and spark. Spark plugs fit into the cylinder head of your vehicle’s engine.
- There it has to create a very high voltage charge to jump the gap through an arc, similar to a bolt of lightning. In order for the electricity to arc across that gap, it must reach anywhere between 40,000 and 100,000 volts.
- The spark plugs direct the electrical current to the ignition coil in order to achieve the necessary high voltage.
- The spark it creates is used to ignite the fuel. It also creates the necessary combustion to supply the engine with the energy it takes to run.
Now you can see the importance of the spark plug and its integral job in making your vehicle run. When you figure out when to change spark plugs, usually stock plugs do just fine. However, once you begin to modify your vehicle, or the compression gets raised considerably, that a basic spark plug shows signs of being inadequate for the vehicle to run efficiently.
The wear and soot on them will tel you when to change spark plugs. At the point where you can notice your spark plugs are no longer enough, there will be a variety of factors to consider when choosing the right ones for your application.
General Specifications and Considerations
- The rate the heat moves away from the central electrode. A hot plug will have a longer electrode will take longer to dissipate heat. Meanwhile, a short electrode is considered cold because it has a shorter distance to travel to get to the water jacket.
- Gaps can be adjusted to match your driving habits. A reduction in the gap by .010 is suggested for better performance if you operate at full throttle a lot. An increase of .010 is suggested to gain better performance for normal driving.
- The number of spark plugs you need for your application will depend on how many cylinders your vehicle has. For example, a four cylinder needs four spark plugs, a V6 has six cylinders so it will need six spark plugs, etc.
- Typically spark plugs should be changed every 30,000 miles. However, that will depend on the quality of the plug and the application you are using them with.
PROs and CONs of Upgrading Your Spark Plugs
- More steady production of optimal combustion: Better spark plugs create a better, more powerful spark which supplies your vehicle more consistent combustion.
- Better fuel efficiency: According to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, poor spark plugs can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 30%. Better plugs will create better combustion and maximize fuel economy.
- Easier starts: Better spark plugs provide a better, spark with a higher impact that will give you a stronger, smoother start.
- Less damaging emissions: Regular tune ups and better quality spark plugs will create a better fuel to air ratio. So combustion burns fuel more fully and efficiently. This creates less emissions caused by an engine running too rich.
- Testing: You may need to experiment to find the right spark plugs for your vehicle. To find the optimal plugs, you may need to drive under different conditions with different plugs and different gaping and observe the changes to the plug.
- Cost: Better plugs are more expensive than stock plugs. This is because they are made of better quality materials.
Examples of Higher Quality Spark Plugs
Pulstar Spark Plugs
Pulstar spark plugs crank out 5 million watts! That is one hundred thousand times more than that of a traditional spark plug. Pulstar has manufactured its spark plugs based on technology usually reserved for lasers, particle accelerators, and radars. They also include an incorporated capacitor that condenses its charge. Then, it lets loose a spectacular spark in a matter of nano-seconds. They use plasma-assisted combustion technology to increase power and torque.
Reviewers say that these are worth the extra money. The increase in horsepower is incredible and their vehicle starts much smoother. The nickel-chromium wire is extremely durable and long lasting making reviewers happy they save money over time.
ACCEL Platinum Y2418P Spark Plug
Now part of another well-known name, Holley, ACCEL is a must have spark plug manufacturer. Reviewers love the durability and quality of this product.
They also appreciate the reasonable cost even though it is on the higher end. They can really feel the difference these spark plugs make.
E3 Performance Spark Plugs
E3 has put their patent DiamondFire electrodes through strenuous testing to ensure they provide their customers with an incredibly high performing plug. Customer testimonials show they can tell that a lot of time was put into them.
They claim to get an extraordinary amount of extra mileage to a tank of gas. The power increase is nothing short of incredible as well. These plugs seem to have outperformed their expectations.
Upgrading your vehicle is a great way to get more power. Just do not forget the little things that help assist those upgrades to be performing at their best. Spark plugs are no exception to that rule. A better spark plug will increase efficiency and allow for a better air to fuel ratio. That translates into more power.
What type of performance spark plugs do you use? Also, what sorts of improvements did they provide? What signs told you when to change spark plugs? Leave your comment below.