Car Tech - Spark Plugs - When do you need them cleaned vs when do you need new ones?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 28, 2013 2:10 AM GMT
    I had mine cleaned at 100K. The dealer's service made my car drive really well.

    I'm at about 160K now. I think I needed new ones at 150K.

    Any comments on standard spark plugs vs. more innovative kinds?

    Thanks.


    A quick google on spark plugs gave me--what else--www.sparkplugs.com and this:


    How Do I Find a Colder or Hotter Plug?

    November 8, 2011

    Typically, the Heat Range is indicated within the manufacturer's part number for each plug. Examples have been provided below for some of the brands we supply. Once you have decided on a number, test to see if it exists by typing it into the search box. If it exists, you can add the part to your cart. For additional assistance contact our tech team at 888-800-9629.





    Autolite:

    Autolite indicates the Heat Range with the last digit of the part number. For example, 3923 has a Heat Range of 3. The higher the number, the hotter the plug. The lower the number, the colder the plug.

    For example, starting with part # 24 (Heat Range 4), If you want a colder plug you would use part # 23 (Heat Range 3), for a hotter plug you would use part # 25 (Heat Range 5).



    Bosch:

    Bosch indicates the Heat Range in the middle of the plug number. For example, FR6DC+ has a Heat Range of 6. Bosch plugs get hotter the higher the number, colder the lower the number.

    Starting with part # FR6DC+ (Heat Range 6), a colder plug would be # FR5DC+ (Heat Range 5), a hotter plug would be # FR7DC+ (Heat Range 7).



    Champion:

    Champion indicates the heat range in the middle of the plug number. For example, RV15YC6 has a heat range of 15. (The 6 at the end of this part indicates the Gap setting.) Champion plugs are hotter the higher the number, colder the lower the number.

    Starting with part # RCJ7Y (Heat Range 7), a colder plug would be # RCJ6Y (heat range 6), a hotter plug would be # RCJ8Y (Heat Range icon_cool.gif.



    Denso:

    Denso indicates the heat range in the middle of the plug number. For example, SK20PR-A11 has a heat range of 20. The number at the end of the part indicates the Gap.

    Denso Iridium Power plugs feature the Heat Range at the end of the part number. For example, IK20 has a Heat Range of 20. Denso plugs get colder the higher the number, hotter the lower the number. Starting with part # IK20 (Heat Range 20), a colder plug would be # IK22, a hotter plug would be # IK16.



    NGK:

    NGK indicates the heat range in the middle of the plug number. For example, BCPR6ES-11 has a heat range of 6. (The number after the “-“ is the Gap.) NGK plugs are colder the higher the number, hotter the lower the number.

    Starting with part # BKR6E-11 (Heat Range 6), a colder plug would # BKR7E-11 (Heat Range 7), a hotter plug would be # BKR5E-11 (Heat Range 5).



    EXCEPTION: NGK Racing Plugs: (Any NGK plug that begins with the letter “R”)

    For NGK Racing Plugs, the Heat Range is located AFTER the hyphen.

    Example: R5671A-10 has a Heat Range of 10. A colder plug would be # R5671A-11 (Heat Range 11), a hotter plug would be # R5671A-9 (Heat Range 9).

    Some NGK Racing Plugs are also available in half heat ranges. These are displayed as a 2 or 3 digit number after the hyphen. For example, R6120-85 has a 8.5 Heat Range and R6120-105 has a 10.5 Heat Range.




    Pulstar:

    Pulstar indicates the Heat Range by the number "1" or "2" in the plug number.

    Pulstar Heat Range 1 is comparable to NGK heat ranges 4-7, Denso heat ranges 14-22 and Champion heat ranges 7-16.

    Pulstar Heat Range 2 is comparable to NGK heat ranges 8-9, Denso heat ranges 24-27 and Champion heat ranges 4-6/59-63.

    At this time the colder Pulstar Heat Range 2 is only available in 2 racing plug designs, BE-2rT and HE-2rT.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 28, 2013 6:30 AM GMT
    Um, spark plugs are cheap (relatively) for something you have to replace only every 160,000 km. Why would you even have them cleaned as opposed to just replacing them? If the dealer cleaned them, most of the cost is labour anyways to take them out and put them back. They're like $7 each. Seriously.

    Just buy new ones. The NGK iridium plugs are very good and what are used in my '07 TL-S.

    Multiple tips are marketing gimmick, so don't fall for that either. Pulstars are also BS. Just go with a normal sparkplug. The only thing that makes a difference is the metal they're made of. Iridium is the best. Get normal iridium plugs and be done with it.
  • Medjai

    Posts: 2671

    Feb 28, 2013 6:35 AM GMT
    What do you drive? That's pretty important to know.

    Also, why don't you just change them yourself?
  • Doodles

    Posts: 33

    Feb 28, 2013 7:13 AM GMT
    I agree with the post above. Spark plugs are pretty cheap to replace. I say just read your car's specific manual of when you should replace them and go from there.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 28, 2013 12:43 PM GMT
    I've been an auto mechanic for 20+ years. The only time I clean spark plugs is if they were replaced recently but the engine flooded due to a malfunction in a different component. As the others have posted before me, just replace them when the service interval is up.
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    Feb 28, 2013 1:11 PM GMT
    Agree with posts above, replace them. I don't let even plugs with the new technology go past 100,000 miles, and that's the replacement interval many car manufacturers recommend.

    Of course, when I was certified as a Master Automobile Mechanic in the 1960s, plugs were ideally replaced at 20,000 miles. They didn't have the newer electrode materials used today, like platinum & iridium, plus leaded gasoline deposits severely shortened their service life. Modern advances in electronic engine management also result in cleaner plugs that last longer.

    But no spark plugs last forever (yet), and you'll get better performance, mileage and smoother running if you change your plugs. I'm not sure it's a job for the owner, however, as modern cars can make the job much harder than it was on earlier engines, you may have to really dig down to merely get to them, and you'd need to buy the proper size spark plug wrench in any case.

    Don't worry about spark plug heat ranges. Unless your car's engine has been modified, or is used in extreme conditions, just install the same plugs the manufacturer originally supplied. A data label or plate with this information may still be found inside the engine compartment, and also mentioned in the owner's manual, and there are other sources the dealer or a competent auto shop can reference.
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    Feb 28, 2013 1:26 PM GMT
    jolly_rancher saidI've been an auto mechanic for 20+ years. The only time I clean spark plugs is if they were replaced recently but the engine flooded due to a malfunction in a different component. As the others have posted before me, just replace them when the service interval is up.


    THIS!!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 28, 2013 4:10 PM GMT
    Hm. Thank you. Interesting. This will help me when I go to my Toyota dealership for my 2006 Prius.

    I guess I better try to go tomorrow or Saturday.

    My commute is going to change

    from
    North Central Plano, TX - Northwest Plano

    to
    North Central Plano, TX - Downtown Dallas.



  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 01, 2013 4:18 PM GMT
    ART_DECO saidAgree with posts above, replace them. I don't let even plugs with the new technology go past 100,000 miles, and that's the replacement interval many car manufacturers recommend.

    Of course, when I was certified as a Master Automobile Mechanic in the 1960s, plugs were ideally replaced at 20,000 miles. They didn't have the newer electrode materials used today, like platinum & iridium, plus leaded gasoline deposits severely shortened their service life. Modern advances in electronic engine management also result in cleaner plugs that last longer.

    But no spark plugs last forever (yet), and you'll get better performance, mileage and smoother running if you change your plugs. I'm not sure it's a job for the owner, however, as modern cars can make the job much harder than it was on earlier engines, you may have to really dig down to merely get to them, and you'd need to buy the proper size spark plug wrench in any case.

    Don't worry about spark plug heat ranges. Unless your car's engine has been modified, or is used in extreme conditions, just install the same plugs the manufacturer originally supplied. A data label or plate with this information may still be found inside the engine compartment, and also mentioned in the owner's manual, and there are other sources the dealer or a competent auto shop can reference.


    " plus leaded gasoline deposits severely shortened their service life"

    The big issue in those days long ago.

    I watch mine a little closer because I do use a bit of this

    http://www.vpracingfuels.com/vp-drag-racing.html

    C-12 or VP100 on race days, but just enough to quell detonation when I bump the initial timing a bit.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 03, 2013 4:07 PM GMT
    I agree with the other posts about just replacing the spark plugs. It's relatively cheap insurance, and you probably won't need to worry about them for another 100,000 miles.