The 100,000 Mile Tune Up Myth

29 09 2010

Dale BertramSome auto manufacturers recommend 100,000-plus mile spark plug replacements. Many consumers seem to believe that all cars have “100,000 mile plugs”  . . . to the detriment of their car’s fuel efficiency and performance.

Spark plugs have become more reliable and longer-lasting over the decades. Some premium spark plugs are in fact designed to last up to five years or 100,000 miles. In fact, to the surprise of many late-model vehicle owners, approximately 13 vehicle manufacturers still recommend more frequent spark plug changes in several of their vehicles. These include premium nameplates like BMW and Porsche as well as Ford, Chrysler, Jeep, Mazda, Suzuki, Kia, Mitsubishi, Toyota and others.

On the list is the 5.7 liter HEMI V8 found in thousands of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles – it features copper core plugs and requires a 30,000-mile spark plug change interval. Several Toyota V6 applications including the 2004 3.4l Tacoma and 4Runner also need spark plug changes every 30,000 miles. Ford trucks like the Explorer and Ranger with the V6 SOHC engine have plugs that need changing every 90,000 miles and the fairly new Saturn Astra actually specs a 25,000 mile plug change.

When the spark plugs are replaced, I recommend using spark plugs that the manufacture recommends. Using a different brand of spark plug in some cars may cause irregular drivability concerns, such as a slight rough idle, hesitation or even a random stall when stopping.

“Spark plugs help in the overall performance of a vehicle, but if ignored, can degrade over time and lead to performance issues. Unfortunately, many drivers are under the impression that every new vehicle doesn’t require a tune-up for 100,000 miles,” said Dave Buckshaw, technical trainer for the Autolite. “But conducting tune-ups on a routine basis is important for maintaining both fuel efficiency and performance.”

Buckshaw also points out how important it is to keep in mind our driving habits and the demands we put on our engines when determining the replacement intervals. Heavy stop-and-go driving (like rush hour in a typical city), excessive idling, towing, cold starts and several short trips all constitute extreme driving conditions and may warrant earlier change intervals.

Check your owner’s manual or contact your auto service provider to find out what interval is recommended for your vehicle.

Happy Motoring,

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