Altering the spark plug gap on your vehicle can have a dramatic effect on it’s overall performance. If your engine isn’t running like it should, or if you’re curious about the importance of spark plug gapping, explore the primary reasons why spark plugs need to be gapped. Use a VIN lookup free tool to find out more about your particular spark plugs and other essential vehicle maintenance information.
Proper Air/Fuel Ratio
A spark plug uses a precise gap between two electrodes on its tip to produce a spark. An extra-large gap may prevent the spark plug from working effectively. A small gap can have similar issues. A minor gap issue will affect your fuel economy and horsepower, but a major gap change can cause your engine to stop running altogether.
Most spark plugs need maintained after roughly 70,000 miles. After this lifespan, you can expect spark plugs to increase their gap as they bend and warp through frequent use. Some spark plugs don’t last as long and need to be completely replaced after 30,000 miles.
Long-Lasting Spark Plug Performance
Without proper gapping, spark plugs can wear out quickly. Depending on the type of spark plug you have, some spark plug electrodes can be more fragile than others. Extreme bending or overwork due to a large gap can decrease the lifespan of your spark plug. Proper gapping maintenance steps prevent spark plug replacement.
Two Types of Spark Plugs
There are two basic types of spark plugs: copper electrode spark plugs and precious metal electrode spark plugs. Copper plugs are more traditional and have a more rugged electrode that’s more resistant to bending. Newer spark plugs typically have a coating of precious metal that’s slightly weaker and more prone to bending, but offers more efficient sparking.
Both types of spark plugs come in pre-gapped versions or versions without proper gapping. Either way, it’s important to invest in a spark plug gap tool to be confident you have the ideal spark plug gap. Review your owner’s manual to verify the correct gap for your particular make and model of vehicle. Spark plugs can be used in a number of engines, from motorcycles and ATVs to pickup trucks and sports cars, and every engine has its own ideal spark plug gap.
Learn How to Gap Spark Plugs
Adjusting the spark plug gap is surprisingly easy with the correct tools. Purchase a spark plug gap tool and, with some patience, you can effectively maintain this critical component in your vehicle. There are a number of spark plug tool types available. Coin-style tools are the most affordable, but a wire-type is typically more convenient and accurate. Compare affordable, professional gap tools at your local auto parts store to determine the best option for you.
Restore your fuel economy and horsepower with properly gapped spark plugs. So, why do spark plugs need to be gapped? So you can enjoy maximum horsepower, fuel economy and long-lasting performance from your favorite vehicle. Shop for spark plug tools or learn more about spark plug maintenance and replacement from your favorite auto parts store.