Ready, Aim, Misfire!

16 02 2011

Dale BertramSpark plugs occasionally misfire.  A spark can be too weak to ignite the fuel in the cylinder.  This causes a loss of power, wasted fuel and excess pollution.  Usually a check engine light will shine on the dash board when major misfires occur.

However, sometimes your vehicle will be hard to start, runs rough or starts using more fuel than normal, this results in elevated hydrocarbon emissions (more smog).  Too many misfires and your vehicle can fail its emissions test and damage other expensive parts, such as a catalytic convertor.

It is time to change the spark plugs when fouling occurs.  This is an odd term but apt.  It means that a plug has become contaminated with fuel or oil that prevents the plug from generating a spark.

Fouling may occur, if you drive short, frequent trips, the engine may not get hot enough and you will need to have the spark plugs replaced more often.

Keeping up to date on all maintenance service, especially oil changes, will also help you maximize the life of the spark plugs.

When replacing spark plugs it is important to get the correct “heat range” and type (there are many different types), so the spark plug can burn off the fouling deposits. Spark plugs have improved a great deal over the years so most will last many miles before they need changing, some spark plugs are designed to last 30,000 miles and some can work until 90,000 miles, always follow the manufactures recommendation for changing your spark plugs.

If you are experiencing a rough ride, contact your car care provider.  It might just be a fouled spark plug.

Happy Motoring!

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