What Are The Different Types Of Spark Plug?
Spark plugs are an integral part of a car engine. They conduct electrical energy from your car’s ignition system, which is needed in order to finalise the combustion process. After air and gas have been fully compressed within the cylinder head, spark plugs then work to ignite the gas and air mixture – acting as a small lightning bolt of electricity – thus creating an explosion which pushes the piston in a downward motion.
Now you know (roughly) how they work, we’re here to present to you the different types of spark plugs that might be, or can be, installed on your vehicle, together with the advantages of each spark plug.
Copper/Nickel Spark Plugs
Copper/nickel spark plugs use a nickel alloy coating for the electrode, with its inner core being primarily copper. Copper is a soft metal, which means that it would instantly melt if it were ever subjected to the extreme heat. It’s common for most spark plugs to have copper cores, as it makes for an excellent electrical conductor.
As a result of their cheaper price tag, the lifespan of a copper/nickel spark plug is considerably shorter than that of other spark plugs. Copper can deliver the best spark under the adverse conditions that can be generated by higher compression ratios or turbochargers.
Some vehicle manufacturers will design engines that use copper/nickel spark plugs as original parts. If your car was originally fitted with copper/nickel spark plugs, then it’s recommended that you do not replace them with spark plugs made from a different material. They also shouldn’t be fitted in modern cars.
Advantages of Copper/Nickel Spark Plugs
- Relatively inexpensive
- Delivers the best spark under adverse conditions (often generated by turbochargers or higher compression ratios)
- Copper is an excellent electrical conductor
Single Platinum Spark Plugs
As the name would suggest, these contain a platinum centre electrode. Although platinum-tipped spark plugs are slightly more pricey than other alternatives, they’re impressively long-lasting, especially under normal driving conditions. Platinum is harder than a nickel alloy, which means it doesn’t erode in the same way that nickel ones do. Therefore, if your car has them fitted as standard, it’s advised that you don’t change them out for copper/nickel ones – especially if you have a modern car.
Advantages of Single Platinum Spark Plugs
- Able to run at high operating temperatures
- Perfectly suited to modern car engines
- Long lifespan, more than twice that of copper/nickel spark plugs
Double Platinum Spark Plugs
Double platinum spark plugs use platinum plating, not only on the centre but on the ground electrode too. These aren’t exactly budget friendly, coming in at one of the most expensive spark plugs on the market. They also manage to yield slightly higher performance than that of single, long-life platinum plugs, something they’re well-known for.
Advantages of Double Platinum Spark Plugs
- Platinum plating covers both the centre and ground electrode
- Enhanced performance in comparison to single platinum spark plugs
Iridium Spark Plugs
Iridium is highly corrosion resistant, able to withstand temperatures of up to 2000°C. Iridium-tipped spark plugs can allow for smoother-running engines as a result of more complete combustion. As well as this, they also have a considerably longer life-span than that of copper/nickel spark plugs, sometimes lasting as long as platinum spark plugs. Iridium spark plugs are the most expensive spark plugs that are available, featuring a ‘fine-wire’ centre which is designed to better conduct electrical energy.
Advantages of Iridium Spark Plugs
- Highly corrosion resistant
- Can help to give you a smoother running engine
- Considerably long life-span
- Are able to conduct electricity more efficiently
Silver Spark Plugs
The centre electrode tip of a silver spark plug is made from a silver alloy, ensuring a relatively long lifespan (although not quite the same as platinum spark plug longevity), with ignition sparks of increased energy. They also have the best thermal conductivity in comparison to other spark plugs and are highly resistant to material erosion. These spark plugs also feature a ribbed insulator design which can prevent your car from misfiring. Generally, Silver spark plugs are fitted in older, European high-performance vehicles, and have even been known to be fitted in motorcycles.
Advantages of Silver Spark Plugs
- Relatively long lifespan
- Increases the energy of ignition sparks
- Superior thermal conductivity
- Resistant to metal erosion
- Can prevent your car from misfiring
Here at Wyatt Auto Services, we’re proud to supply the Barnsley area with high-quality car servicing, repairs, tyre fittings and MOT testing. Our highly trained, fully qualified mechanics are dedicated to ensuring your vehicle is roadworthy and safe for you to drive once again. If your car is under warranty, don’t worry! Our skilled team of specialists will work tirelessly to maintain or repair it for you. We even provide free, no-obligation quotes. If you’d like to learn more about the products we sell and the services we provide, get in touch with us today – we’re more than happy to help.