How Often Do Spark Plug Wires Need to Be Changed?

Spark plugs provide the electricity necessary for combustion to happen by igniting atomized fuel in an engine's cylinders. However, they need a constant supply of electricity to do that. This is the job of your spark plug wires. And, just like your plugs, the wires wear out over time. Once they begin to wear, the electrical charge sent to the spark plugs can be unreliable, which creates problems with engine operation, including rough idling, stalls, and other issues.

How often should you change spark plug wires

There’s no single rule that governs all vehicles. For one thing, your car might not actually have wires – many newer models don’t. These models use a coil on the plug instead, and coils can last a very long time. With that being said, modern spark plug wires can also last much longer than they once did.

Most of the time, your wires should last well beyond the 30,000 miles your copper spark plugs are rated for. However, there are other factors that can play a role in the timing.

  • Damage: It’s possible for spark plug wires to be damaged. If the insulation is compromised, or there’s an internal break, you’ll need to replace your wires even if it’s not yet time.

  • High Performance: High performance doesn’t always mean a long lifespan, and some types of high performing spark plug wires may need relatively frequent replacement (every 30,000 to 40,000 miles).

  • Increasing Resistance: Perhaps the best way to tell if your spark plug wires need to be replaced is to test their resistance. You’ll need an ohmmeter for this, and you’ll need to know what the wires’ original resistance was. Test each wire and look for resistance levels higher than when originally installed, as well as higher resistance in individual wires (which indicates a failed wire).

All that being said, the best option is to follow your mechanic’s advice about replacing your spark plug wires. While modern cars don’t need the regular tune-up service that carbureted cars did, they do need regular maintenance, and plug wires do eventually fail.


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Collins

11 years of experience
202 reviews
Collins
11 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz ML430 - Ignition Cable (Spark plug wires) Replacement - Kennesaw, Georgia
COLLINS was very knowledgeable and worked hard on fixing my car which is now running GREAT!!! I have more work I need to book with YourMechanic and I would like to request COLLINS for all duture work!!!!!
Toyota Camry - Ignition Cable (Spark plug wires) - Smyrna, Georgia
He was timely (often early), friendly, and went about his business. I would have him over again if needed.

William

32 years of experience
69 reviews
William
32 years of experience
Chrysler PT Cruiser - Ignition Cable (Spark plug wires) - Hemet, California
Super professional and very skilled. Showed up on time and was very friendly, and even tho he was not sent out with the right parts, and needed to leave to get them (not his fault), the job was still done on time and I am super pleased
Honda Civic - Ignition Cable (Spark plug wires) - Murrieta, California
Absolutely phenomenal mechanic! Was able to complete repairs in half the time that had been estimated and was very knowledgeable! Thank you William!

Terry

29 years of experience
223 reviews
Terry
29 years of experience
Oldsmobile 98 - Ignition Cable (Spark plug wires) - Tempe, Arizona
Terry was the best mechanic I've had. Instead of just fixing the problem and leaving he spent the extra time yo fix additional problems so the car would be in top shape.
Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 - Ignition Cable (Spark plug wires) - Mesa, Arizona
Friendly and professional. Terry is a skilled and knowledgeable tech. Explains as much (or as little) as the owner wants to know and puts it in understandable terms. He's also organized and methodical about his processes when working on a vehicle, which is the sign of a good technician. I will be having Terry back.

Brad

22 years of experience
31 reviews
Brad
22 years of experience
Chrysler Town & Country - Ignition Cable (Spark plug wires) - Richmond, Virginia
What a awesome person he explained everything to me about my car and it sure sound better will test drive this evening I will certainly use him and my mechanics again and refer him Tom my friends I love your website also

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