Are There Different Kinds of Spark Plugs? | YourMechanic Advice

Are There Different Kinds of Spark Plugs?

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Your engine needs at least one spark plug per cylinder to ignite the fuel and air mixture and make the engine run. But not all spark plugs are the same. There are several different types on the market, and you’ll need to ensure that you’re getting the right type. Additionally, your vehicle might have more than one spark plug per cylinder (some high-performance engines have two).

Types of spark plugs

  • Performance: One of the first types of spark plugs you’ll find is performance – these come in a range of different styles, although the only thing that really varies is the shape, configuration and placement of the metal tab at the bottom. This is what the electrode arcs to. You’ll find single tab, dual tab, and quad tab configurations available, all claiming to offer better performance than the others. However, there is conflicting evidence about whether these types of plugs actually offer much of a benefit over the single tab design.

  • Heat Rating: Another consideration when buying spark plugs is the heat rating from the manufacturer. Basically, this is a notation on how quickly heat dissipates from the spark plug tip after arcing. If you’re after better performance, you'll want a higher heat rating. For normal driving, it’s not so much of a concern.

  • Electrode Material: You’ve doubtless seen a number of different electrode materials on the market. They range from copper to iridium and platinum (and double platinum, for that matter). The different materials have no effect on performance. They’re designed to make the plugs last longer. Copper wears out the fastest, but offers the best conductivity. Platinum can last for a long time, as can iridium, but neither offers better performance than basic spark plugs without the high cost for the exotic metals.

The best type of spark plug for your vehicle is most likely the same kind that came from the manufacturer. If you’re not sure what those are, check your owner’s manual or talk with a trusted mechanic. However, if you’re modifying your engine for better performance, you probably want to look for a high performance spark plug that will offer better combustion.


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Chris

21 years of experience
1861 reviews
Chris
21 years of experience
Mini Cooper Clubman - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Silverado, California
He arrived early, went straight to work, and it should have been quoted higher as it’s a Mini which takes longer than the average break job. He didn’t try to get more than the quoted amount. He even set out to replace a running light for me when he was finished. I thought there would hard sales telling me I needed more work but there wasn’t. Because he didn’t try to sell me more work, I will use him again. When I hired a mechanic I don’t want a salesman. 
Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Irvine, California
Chris again has provided great Service. Everything was great. I was very happy with the work and will definitely have him return for any other work.

Bryant

11 years of experience
408 reviews
Bryant
11 years of experience
Ford Fusion - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Indianapolis, Indiana
Bryant has done great work on my car before, the latest work is no exception. He's very flexible, and goes the extra mile to get you back on the road.
Scion iA - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Carmel, Indiana
This is my first time using this service. I am very happy with it. Bryant was very knowledgeable and did quality work. I will use this service more regularly.

Edmar

21 years of experience
184 reviews
Edmar
21 years of experience
Chrysler 200 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Euless, Texas
Edmar always does a very good job. He's done a few different things on my car the last two years. Each job was performed very fast and top quality. Thank you once again.

Mazyar

7 years of experience
255 reviews
Mazyar
7 years of experience
Jaguar XF - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Lawrenceville, Georgia
He was early, courtesy and actually helped me save some money since i didn't need all the work that i thought i needed done. Honest guy. Very knowledgeable. Great attitude.

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