Spark plugs are essential for an engine to run. It’s critical to understand not only why spark plugs are important but how to clean car spark plugs as well. Every type of gasoline engine, whether it is a four-cylinder car engine, a four-stroke boat motor, or a snowmobile, requires spark plugs. The spark plugs in a gasoline engine are what create the spark that ignites the air-fuel mixture inside of the motor. By creating an arc of electric spark across two leads, the spark plugs are responsible for producing the power needed to propel a vehicle into motion by creating an arc of electric spark across two leads. This is why it is vital that you maintain and clean your car spark plugs regularly to ensure your car runs smoothly and efficiently at all times.
Table of Contents
- How do you clean your spark plugs?
- How to clean car spark plugs
How do you clean your spark plugs?
To clean car spark plugs, first, you will need to disconnect the negative terminal on the battery and remove the spark plugs. Next, you can clean them by hand, either using sandpaper, file, wire brush, carb cleaner, blow torch, or by using a spark plug cleaning machine.
How you decide to clean the spark plugs is up to you. You can even take your car to a shop and ask your mechanic to clean them for you or have your spark plugs replaced if they are due for a change anyway.
Either way, it is extremely important that you have your spark plugs cleaned every 5,000 miles and replaced after every 10,000 or 20,000 miles, depending on the car manufacturer’s recommendations. Doing so will greatly increase your car’s performance, help to improve fuel economy, and keep your engine running smoothly.
If you are looking to maintain your car’s spark plugs and do not wish to visit the mechanic so frequently, the easiest way is to clean your car’s spark plugs yourself once every 5,000 miles. Let us take a look at some of the most common methods that people use to clean their spark plugs when they decide to do it at home.
How to clean car spark plugs
No matter which method you choose to clean your car’s spark plugs, the first thing you are going to need to do is to remove them. The main component of the spark plug that you are going to want to clean is what is connected to the engine. Therefore, the area is not exposed, and you will need to remove the plugs to access it.
Disconnect the negative terminal on the battery
Before you do anything with your car’s spark plugs, you are going to need to disconnect the negative terminal on the battery. This step is not only for practicality, but it is for your safety as well. Here are some steps to disconnecting your battery and removing the spark plugs.
- Find the battery for your vehicle. It should look like a black box with two terminals on the top.
- Find the negative terminal, which should also be black and marked with a negative (-) sign.
- Find the bolt that has fastened the cable to the terminal and loosen it.
- Remove the cable from the terminal and secure it somehow so it cannot accidentally touch the battery terminals while you are removing the spark plugs.
Remove the spark plugs
After you have ensured that your battery is properly disconnected, it is time to locate and remove the spark plugs so they can be cleaned properly. Here are some basic steps on how to properly remove spark plugs.
- Find the spark plugs and spark plug wires that run from the ignition coils to the top of the motor.
- By using the spark plug wires, find the cylinder heads. Depending on the size of your motor, you may have four, six, or eight-cylinder heads and spark plugs.
- Using a can of compressed air, go ahead and clean the cylinder heads and all the surrounding area.
- Make sure to remove all the dust and debris you can with compressed air.
- Get ready to remove the first spark and continue to clean all the spark plugs one at a time. You will need to repeat the following steps for each individual spark plug.
- Grab the spark plug cable for the first one and pull the cable off the spark plug.
- Using a spark plug socket, remove the spark plug by unscrewing it.
- Go ahead and clean the spark plug using one of the preferred methods of your choice.
- Replace the spark plug and the spark plug wire how it was before.
- Move on to the next spark plug and complete one at a time until each one is clean.
Preferred methods of cleaning spark plugs
Once you have the battery terminal disconnected and you start removing the spark plugs one at a time, you will want to use one of the following preferred methods to clean the plugs. These tried and true methods of cleaning spark plugs will help ensure that your car’s engine is running as smooth as possible and that your fuel economy is as best as it can be.
By far, the most common way that people clean their spark plugs is by using sandpaper to sand off grime, dust, carbon build-up, and any other types of debris, you can make a spark plug like new. The main thing is that you sand the node of the spark plug, the piece of metal that sticks up between the two pieces that form the bridge until it looks like brand new shiny metal.
Next, move on to the remaining metallic parts. Sandpaper with 220-grits is what is recommended.
A metal file is another excellent cleaning method that can help to remove the most stubborn and resistant deposits that have formed on the spark plug. Sometimes, it may be best to start with a metal file and then end with sandpaper. When used in unison, you can make sure your spark plugs are cleaned thoroughly and properly.
What is nice about using a wire brush to clean your car’s spark plugs is that the metal wires can get into the little nooks of the spark plug that may be a file or sandpaper that cannot reach on their own. Specifically, a wire brush is ideal for cleaning the dirt and grime that builds up in the threads of the spark plug.
Carb cleaner is just a useful product to have around your garage for cleaning any type of automotive part. The carb cleaner is a strong chemical that can be applied to a spark plug generously to help break down and eat away the carbon buildup and other grime that spark plugs acquire.
Some mechanics and vehicle owners may use carb cleaner in conjunction with any of the other cleaning methods, except for the blow torch method.
Never use carb cleaner anywhere near an open flame. However, carb cleaning used with a wire brush may be the best combination. Either way, once you are done with the carb cleaner, you should use a shop rag to carefully wipe clean all the surfaces of the spark plug and pay special close attention to the node.
Using a blow torch to burn off dirt and grime can be extremely effective if you have access to one. Carefully grip the spark plug with pliers with one hand, and with the other, go ahead and use a low flame to heat up the metallic parts of the spark plug.
Make sure to spread the flame around to burn every component of the spark plug until it is clean or glowing red. Once the spark plug cools off, you may want to try using some carb cleaner to further clean the spark plug.
After applying the carb cleaner generously, go ahead and wipe down the spark plug until it is clear of debris and dry.
Spark plug cleaning machine
A spark plug cleaning machine is a wonderful thing to have to clean spark plugs. However, it is most likely you do not own one in your home garage. The machine uses compressed air to sandblast the spark plug when the node end of the spark plug is entered into the machine.