Small but mighty, the spark plug is an integral ignition system component responsible for providing the jolt of electricity to ignite the air-fuel mixture that powers your car engine.

Here are some warning signs to help you identify when it’s time to change your spark plug(s).

1. You face difficulty starting your car

Being a major component in the starting mechanism of your vehicle, it is no surprise that a worn spark plug would cause difficulties in starting up a car. In such a situation, it usually takes a few tries to get your car up and running.

2. You experience rough idle

With a worn spark plug, you might experience a rough and jittery sound while your engine is idle (running while the vehicle is stationary). Usually, an unfamiliar vibration (in some cases, shaking) can also be felt throughout the whole vehicle.

3. The engine misfires

Your engine misfires when one or more of your cylinders aren’t firing properly. It will be noticeable when your vehicle halts briefly before resuming its usual movement, coupled with sporadic stuttering noises.

4. It’s harder to accelerate

A worn spark plug interferes with the operation of a cylinder. When this happens, your vehicle would accelerate sluggishly even though you’re already pushing down the gas pedal. This causes your engine to work harder, increasing demands on other components of your car.

5. You notice a spike in fuel consumption

Over time, as a spark plug wears down, the gap between the plug electrodes can either expand or shrink, causing it to be less fuel-efficient. If there is a sudden increase in your petrol bills, it could indicate a worn spark plug.

6. The dreaded engine surge

Also known as engine hesitation, this is when your vehicle experiences a deceleration that comes to a stop after a sudden jerk. In addition to heavier wear and tear on your vehicle internal parts, an engine surge is especially dangerous when you have to cross an intersection as your vehicle will be stationary while other vehicles come your way from different directions.

So, we’ve covered the major symptoms of a worn/faulty spark plug and the dangers it poses to your vehicle and your day to day safety. How then can we safeguard against these? We recommend 2 solutions.

Firstly, be wary and get your spark plugs checked out if one or more of the above symptoms are present. The second solution is to get good quality spark plugs to begin with. Good spark plugs tend to last longer, giving you time to notice the milder symptoms of wear before anything important in your engine is compromised.