Spark plugs generate electric current that ignites compressed air and fuel in the combustion chamber. Petrol powered engines all have spark plugs as this is needed to create the force that would push a piston to move. To understand a little more on the workings of a spark plug, check out this short video to explain a little more. All spark plugs have the same function but there are different types that are available for different types of vehicles.
Standard Spark Plugs
This is the most common spark plug available. Made from solid copper with a central electrode made of nickel alloy, this type has the largest diameter among the other types of spark plugs which means it needs more voltage to generate current. It has high conductivity and can stand heat well but its nickel alloy component is not durable. This means that it tends to wear out faster that other types. Usually needing replacement every 40,000kms.
Platinum Spark Plugs
Just like the standard spark plug, platinum plugs are made out of copper. The difference is the platinum disc at the ends instead of nickel alloy. This gives it more durability which is almost double that of the copper type. It also generates more heat which can prevent deposit buildup and fouling. There are two types of platinum spark plugs – the single platinum and the double platinum, which both work best for distributor based ignition systems or DIS.
So what’s the difference? A double platinum spark plug has platinum plates on the center and ground electrode which is designed for the “waste spark” type of DIS. This system requires the spark to jump from the center to side electrode and then back. It is more reliable and is not easily affected by environmental conditions. Replacement recommendations for this type of spark plug is usually between 80-100,000kms.
Iridium Spark Plugs
The most expensive type of spark plug is the iridium type. It is harder and more durable and generally lasts longer than platinum types. They have a smaller center electrode and fine wire centers which can generate current faster. It provides better power and complete combustion that leads to better engine performance. Replacement recommendations for this type of spark plug is usually between 100-150,000kms.
Which spark plug should I choose?
There are some that think that some types of spark plugs are better than others. Just because the iridium type is more expensive and can last longer, doesn’t mean it’s the best type for your vehicle. The best answer as to what kind of spark plug to choose is simple – follow what’s written in your vehicle manual or ask your mechanic for recommendations.
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