5 Minute Spark Plugs Tutorial

Whether you live in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the United States, or practically anywhere in the world, in today’s day and age, motorists replacing their spark plugs every couple of years is simply a thing of the past.

Back in the day, spark plugs really did wear out that often. The materials used to make the spark plugs would wear down or break in a relatively short amount of time. But, it was also more than just the materials being used for parts. Spark plugs in our older vehicles were riddled with carbon deposits that built up because of the inefficient burning of the fuel during the combustion process.

There are a couple of reasons why the spark plugs of today are lasting much longer. As our understanding and experience with building engines and optimizing our systems and processes grew, our automobiles and other vehicles – and everything that allows them to do the things they do, evolved and became better.

First, technology has been able to improve materials used in the manufacturing of spark plugs. The improved materials coupled with an overall better design, allows the spark plugs to last longer.

The second reason is that modern engine management controls have been able to reduce the amount of carbon deposit that gets left behind. The engine control computers are so accurate they are able to precisely time when the fuel is injected into the engine and when spark plugs fire. We haven’t completely eliminated carbon build up, but there has been a significant improvement. In today’s vehicles, unless something’s wrong, the spark plugs just don’t gunk up like they used to.

How Spark Plugs Work

So, just how does a spark plug work? Mechanics will tell you the bottom line is that it is nothing more than a good current. Here’s what happens.

Electricity is generated from the battery. From the battery, this electricity travels to a coil that allows current to build up. The amount of current varies anywhere from 12,000 to 45,000 volts, depending on the vehicle. In today’s vehicles, this is where the engine management computer comes in. The engine management computer tells the coil when to release the built up current. When timing is just right the current is released. The current leaves the coil and goes to the distributor. The distributor distributes the current to the appropriate alternating spark plugs through a wire. Then the wire delivers the current to the spark plug. The end of the spark plug contains two electrodes. The current travels through the spark plug to the tip and between the two electrodes. The current traveling through the electrodes produces a spark which then ignites the gas in the combustion chamber.

How a Spark Plug Can Spark

Modern engines used around Alamogordo are delivering more power and better fuel economy all the time. Thanks to technology, we are able to continually improve our engine control computers, advanced sensors, electronic ignition and even the common spark plug. There is no doubt that it be interesting to see where the future takes us with vehicle development.

But that doesn’t mean that your auto repair and maintenance can be ignored. Spark plug wires can wear out and will need to be replaced. It’s also important to understand that when your spark plugs need to be replaced, you need to have the right type of spark plug for your vehicle. Each vehicle’s engine is designed slightly differently when it comes to internal temperatures. Different spark plugs are designed to work optimally based on particular temperatures. Additionally, some vehicle engines have more than one coil. Coils will also occasionally need to be replaced.

Your Alamogordo, New Mexico, service advisor at Tierra Del Sol Automotive will be able to get the right plugs for your vehicle. And they’ll be able to advise you on any needed auto repair or maintenance as well. Contact Tierra Del Sol Automotive today to schedule your next appointment.