7 Signs You Need to Replace Your Vehicle’s Spark Plugs

Vehicles can run for a long time without needing a spark plug replacement. However, every vehicle is different, and various factors can affect the lifespan of your spark plugs and require you to replace them sooner.

Spark plugs require maintenance, much like other parts of your vehicle in the course of running. Proper maintenance can help you prevent long-term damage, increased fuel consumption, and more.

We’re going to run down some of the signs that you need to replace your spark plugs below — make sure you’re ready before it’s too late. Keep reading to learn more!

1. Decrease Fuel Efficiency

If your vehicle used to be able to drive further distances on the same amount of gasoline, and now you find yourself needing to fill up your tank more frequently, it could be a sign that your spark plugs need replacing.

Other common signs include your car stalling out, sluggish acceleration, or difficulty starting your engine. Other indicators of fuel inefficiency include the engine misfiring or your vehicle suddenly vibrating more than it used to.

If your vehicle is experiencing any of these issues, it may be time to consider replacing your spark plugs.

2. Loss of Power or Acceleration

It is essential to have working spark plugs to keep the engine running properly. If the spark plugs are worn, they will create gaps and cause your vehicle to misfire, resulting in a loss of power or acceleration.

You may notice that the fuel economy is affected, which may be an indicator that the spark plugs need replacement.

You might also hear a sound coming from the engine that resembles a rattling, gritty, or buzzing noise, which could tell you that the spark plugs need to be replaced.

If your vehicle struggles to start and continues to have interruptions while in use, this could be a sign that there are issues with the spark plugs, and it’s time to replace them.

3. Foul Engine Odor

An engine odor can be caused by several factors, such as oil leaks or clogged fuel injectors, but one of the most common causes is failing spark plugs.

It can create a burning odor from unburned fuel/oil seeping through to the hot engine components or transmission fluid burning in the exhaust.

Foul odors can also be related to worn plugs, as the plugs cannot create complete combustion of fuel when they deteriorate. If you experience a strong burning odor coming from the engine, you should check your spark plugs and make sure they are functioning.

If the engine sound seems to be more pronounced than usual, this could also be a sign of worn-out spark plugs. Taking care of the issue promptly is recommended, as driving with faulty spark plugs can damage other parts of the engine.

4. Illuminated Check Engine Light

If your vehicle’s illuminated check engine light is on, it may be a sign that it’s time to replace your spark plugs. This could be the result of a misfire caused by a faulty spark plug, which means the engine isn’t firing correctly.

Symptoms you might notice while driving include a rough idle, engine misfires, increased emissions, and decreased fuel efficiency. If your vehicle begins to sputter or jerk, or if your fuel efficiency has significantly decreased, it’s likely time to replace your spark plugs.

The Check Engine Light should be a clear indicator that you need to replace them soon. Having fresh spark plugs helps ensure a properly functioning engine and optimal fuel economy, both of which are important for long-term reliability and performance.

5. Increased Exhaust Emissions

If your car emits increased exhaust gas, has difficulty starting, or has lower fuel economy, these are good warning signs that you need to replace your spark plugs.

If your car is vibrating, idling rough, or you hear pinging, these are also indicators that the spark plugs need to be changed. Checking and replacing your spark plugs is an easy and inexpensive way to maintain peak engine performance and reduce emissions.

If any of these indicators appear, it is important to consult a qualified mechanic as soon as possible to determine the best course of action.

6. Showing Signs of Leak

As spark plugs become worn, the porcelain insulation surrounding them may get cracked, leading to a leak near the spark plug. A leak may be present on the ground near the spark plug if any oil or fuel solution is leaking out of it.

Also, if any of the metal fasteners around the plug have become rusted and are no longer sealing properly. If any of these signs are present, it is time to get new spark plugs—or better yet, all of the plugs in the vehicle—before more serious damage is done.

7. Presence of Engine Hesitation

Engine hesitation is one of the most obvious signs that it’s time to replace your vehicle’s spark plugs. This could manifest in your vehicle’s engine feeling like it’s “stuttering”, “bucking”, or “missing”.

If you experience a hesitation when accelerating, even if it’s random, the spark plugs are most likely to blame. Other signs to watch out for include increased fuel consumption, stalled engines, and a decrease in engine power. 

Also, prolonged cranking during ignition is indicative of spark plug replacement. To prepare for engine hesitation, make sure to get a FuelTech Spark Plug Gap Tool so you can always make sure that your car is in good condition.

Learn the Signs You Need to Replace Your Vehicle’s Spark Plugs Today

Replacing your vehicle’s spark plugs on a regular schedule will keep your engine running efficiently and your vehicle on the road. Don’t wait until you experience the signs of bad spark plugs.

For advice or help with replacing or diagnosing your spark plugs, contact an expert auto mechanic or service center today.

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