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Car and Truck Spark Plugs and Glow Plugs

Keeping your car or truck engine starting consistently means replacement the spark plugs or glow plugs on a periodic basis. Deciding on which spark plug to buy is essential to your auto's engine performance. Choose from iridium, platinum, or copper spark plugs for your ignition needs.

What is the difference between spark and glow plugs?

The basic answer is that glow plugs are used in diesel trucks and gasoline engines that take a spark plug. The reason for two different types of plugs is based on the significantly different ignition systems requiring a different fuel mixture. The glow plug is used specifically to start the vehicle. It is a one-time use each time the diesel engine is started. On the other hand, the spark plug is continuously used as long as the engine is running because the gasoline requires consistent compression.

How do you know when to replace spark plugs?

Your vehicle's owner manual will recommend spark plugs or glow plugs be replaced every so many miles, usually 30,000 miles or more. However, if you are experiencing performance problems such your auto not starting or the vehicle is misfiring, you may need to change them sooner.

What is the difference between iridium, platinum, and copper plugs?

Copper is the material that spark plugs and glow plugs are traditionally made from. Platinum and iridium plugs are both more durable than copper plugs, with iridium being especially durable. They can last up to four times as long as the copper parts. Consult the owner's guide for the recommended plug for your vehicle.

Is there a special tool needed to remove glow plugs?

Glow plugs can be removed with a ratchet unless they are damaged or broken. If the glow plugs are broken, it depends on where the break is as to how best to proceed. You may need to power drill the plug out or use a special glow plug tool to facilitate removal from the engine.

What causes carbon build-up on a spark plug?

Spark plugs are prone to a number of buildups. Each type of buildup represents a symptom of a possible performance problem within the engine or with other parts. A black, feathery buildup is carbon, and it could be a symptom of a weak spark or a fuel mixture that is too rich. If the fuel mixture is too rich, there could be a problem with such parts as the choke sticking or a problem with the carburetor float. A leaky injector, low coil output, or the oxygen or coolant sensor malfunctions can lead to spark plug carbon buildup. When spark plug wires need replacement, you may see carbon build-up on the plug as well.