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5 spark plug-boosting tips

  • 01

    A spark plug appears simple in design and operation, so it is often taken for granted and is the recipient of improper service. Despite the harsh environment surrounding and inside a spark plug, it can deliver a very long life, if installed properly. Here are five simple tips to keep a plug performing in any engine.

  • 02

    Before removing the old spark plug, use a compressed air gun to blow away any dirt or debris that may have collected around the exterior. The dirt cannot be allowed to enter the cylinder bore because it will score the wall and wear the rings. If the spark plug does not have a tapered seat, then a washer-style gasket is required.

  • 03

    Always inspect a new plug for damage. If dropped, check for cracks in the porcelain. Make sure the side electrode lines up with the center electrode and is straight. If not, gently reposition it with needlenose pliers. Next, employ a spark plug feeler gauge to obtain the proper gap between the electrodes. When correct, the gauge will drag evenly on both the center and side electrodes.

  • 04

    Using carburetor cleaner, spray the cavity around the center electrode while having the plug face downward so any material will fall out. This will remove any porcelain dust or debris from manufacturing that can cause a misfire, especially under load.

  • 05

    Coat the thread with antiseize compound. This is especially important with an aluminum cylinder head or equipment that is not stored in a building. This will aid in removing the plug in the future without galling the threads in the cylinder head. Keep the antiseize compound away from the electrodes. If it gets on the electrode, wipe it off with a clean rag that is moistened with carburetor cleaner.

  • 06

    Coat the secondary wire connection and the porcelain insulator where the boot sits with dielectric compound (available at most auto parts or farm supply stores). This compound deters corrosion and prevents the boots from sticking to the insulator, which can lead to wires breaking during future service. Thread each plug in by hand and then tighten with the proper socket and wrench. Never use air tools to remove or to install a spark plug.

Keep your plugs in tip-top shape with these ideas from the Engine Answerman!

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