Gas cars and trucks use spark plugs and ignition coils to generate the spark to ignite the air/fuel mixture and make your engine fire. They must be replaced periodically to keep the ignition system running properly.
Types of Spark Plugs
There are three basic types of spark plugs: copper, Iridium, and platinum. The one you need will vary depending on your vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. Check the owner’s manual or ask an associate at your local auto parts store to perform a VIN lookup to see which ones are best for your engine.
Copper is the oldest style and the least expensive option, but these plugs will not last as long as the others. However, if your car is designed to use copper spark plugs, then those are what you should choose. Most older cars use copper plugs.
Iridium plugs use this rare metal that is incredibly durable. They are popular in cars with coil-on-plug configurations. Because they use expensive materials, you will pay a premium price for Iridium plugs. However, they last for much longer than other types of spark plugs, so you won’t need to change them as often. They are available in a single and double-disc design.
Platinum plugs fall between the other two. Platinum is harder and more durable than copper, but softer than Iridium. These utilize a platinum disc welded to the end of the center electrode to provide an ignition spark. They commonly last for 80,000 miles or more and often produce less fouling and deposits than copper plugs. Platinum spark plugs are available with single or double-disc configurations.
The Importance of Coil Packs
Car batteries supply 12 volts of power, which is enough to power headlights and radio, but not nearly sufficient for starting a combustion engine. The ignition coils act as mini transformers to convert that charge into one the car can use for starting. This may be as much as 45,000 volts!
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They work on a simple principle that uses two coiled wires. The number of windings in each determines how much power a coil can put out. A coil pack can fail for a number of reasons, including excessive heat, rough driving conditions, and damage from external forces. An ignition coil should be replaced in most cars every five years or about 120,000 miles.
Faulty coils are commonly the culprit on cars with misfires, declining horsepower, or trouble at startup. The easiest way to determine if yours are bad is by plugging a computerized tool into your car’s OBD II port. If one or more coils are bad, it will let you know which cylinders are misfiring. You can swap an identified trouble coil to a different cylinder to see if the code follows it, in which case you know it’s the coil and not something more serious.
Everything You Need for Vehicle Maintenace
From spark plugs to brake pads and rotors, you can find them at your local auto parts store. Plus, you can shop in-store or online for added convenience. Stop by today to get the parts you need to keep your car looking and running its best.