What You'll Learn About Spark Plug Replacement in Automotive Training

automotive mechanics school
If you’re a car enthusiast, you probably already know that the combustion chamber of an engine contains a mixture of air and fuel. Igniting this mixture is what gives the engine its power and it is here where spark plugs come into play. These insulated plugs sit in the cylinder heads of internal combustion engines and serve two important functions.
First, they are responsible for converting electricity into the spark that ignites the mixture of air and fuel, forcing the piston down and giving energy to the car. Second, spark plugs pull heat away from the combustion chamber. Removing unwanted heat and transferring it to a cooling system prevents damage to the engine. These parts need to be replaced periodically for cars to function. Read on for more about spark plug replacement!

What Automotive Training Students Should Know if a Spark Plug Isn’t Replaced

An engine can’t start without its spark plugs. Just as cars need enough fuel to travel, they also need spark plugs to be in good condition and maintained properly. Failing to replace a worn out or damaged spark plug can result in engine misfires, wasted gas, and sluggish acceleration.
Spark plugs are important for removal of heat as well, so there is a chance of overheating if they are full of residue build-up or malfunctioning. Regularly replacing spark plugs will be important for your customers in your career after automotive training.

Neglecting spark plugs can lead to engine overheating or sluggish acceleration
Neglecting spark plugs can lead to engine overheating or sluggish acceleration

What Is Required to Change a Spark Plug?

Fortunately, replacing a spark plug is a simple job that requires only a few basic tools. First, a socket wrench is needed with a spark plug socket of the correct size. In some cases, it can be tough to reach a spark plug with a wrench. Universal joints are great tools to have on hand for these situations. Torque wrenches can be used to finish tightening spark plugs, ensuring that they aren’t screwed in too far, as over tightening them can cause damage.
Another tool that can enhance the process is a gapping tool. These are used to ensure that there is the right amount of space for a spark to fly, between the plug’s centre electrode and the ground electrode above. As you may know already from automotive mechanics school, a lot of spark plugs are pre-gapped when you receive them, but a gapping tool can come in handy from time to time. Other tools you may require include pliers, rags and a long rubber tube for hard-to-reach plugs.

Spark Plug Changing Tips for Students in Automotive Mechanics School

A big tip for removing spark plugs is to allow for cooling before you start. Spark plugs can get very hot, and if a car has been running, they will need time before you touch them. The engine and exhaust system also build up thermal energy when a car is running for a while. Once the vehicle has been turned off for some time, it’s safe to remove the plugs.

Let vehicles cool down before you begin replacing spark plugs
Let vehicles cool down before you begin replacing spark plugs

Cleaning the threads where the spark plug is inserted is also a good idea. Before placing a new plug in, you can brush the port to remove debris. This helps the new spark plugs last longer and function better for your customer. When choosing replacement plugs, the owner’s manual is an excellent resource. Most of the time, your best option is to use replacements that are the same as the old plug type.
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