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Vehicle maintenance comes with ownership. Especially if you plan to drive your car, truck, or SUV for years. While you might not be a DIY enthusiast, you likely already know the importance of proper spark plug care. But do you know if you’re using the wrong spark plugs?

When your car goes clunk and rattle, you might rush to the mechanic, hoping it will not drain your bank account for repairs. However, some issues might point to the wrong spark plugs. These are the signs you need to know to spot if your spark plugs aren’t a good fit.

Spark plugs are loose or won’t go in

A spark plug, particularly for a sports car.
Specific style of spark plug | Getty Images

If you’re not using the correct spark plugs, a host of problems can result. And trust us, these are more than noticeable concerns.

For example, you might notice that your plugs don’t look like they fit the socket properly. In some cases, the wrong spark plugs can fall right out of their sockets altogether while you’re driving.

If that happens, you’ll hear the clunking as the plug dislodges and rattles around, hitting other parts of your engine compartment. Unfortunately, in these scenarios, you’ll be stranded, without spark plugs to start your car.

There’s a myth out there that some spark plugs are universally applicable to almost all makes and models. However, there’s definitely a right and wrong spark plug for your car and signs to warn you if you’ve made the wrong decision.

Car doesn’t function normally

One of the first indicators is a poor acceleration rate. If you hit the gas pedal and acceleration feels sluggish, take notice. Others have shared experiencing engine misfires, hard starts, or hiccups when attempting to start their cars. For some, the whole vehicle begins shaking for a genuinely terrifying experience.

When the proper spark plugs are in place, your vehicle will burn fuel more efficiently. It’ll start with a satisfying hum and purr like a kitten while driving. Alternatively, when you have the wrong spark plugs, or failing plugs, for that matter, your engine might not start at all, according to Jalopytalk. And if you don’t pay attention, trying to start your motor more than once can result in flooding your fuel lines because you’re just not getting the “spark” you need to ignite.

Why your car needs spark plugs

Your internal combustion car needs spark plugs. It’s imperative that you find and install the correct spark plugs. To understand what a spark plug does, consider it as the trigger that starts your engine. It’s like lighting a match before starting a campfire.

The science behind how spark plugs work is a little more complex than starting a fire. It’s about the friction needed from turning the key or pushing your ignition button. An electrical charge emerges from the car’s battery and flows to your spark plugs. From there, the ignition occurs, or spark, burning fuel harnessing that power to propel your vehicle.

If you’re guessing whether or not you’re experiencing mechanical problems because of the wrong spark plugs, check your owner’s manual. The right spark plugs for your ride will be listed there. Otherwise, especially if you’re not a DIY mechanic, schedule an appointment with your technician to talk a look. Remember to spot these warning signs of failing or improperly installed plugs, so you don’t find yourself stranded.


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