How To Clean Spark Plugs

Cleaning the spark plugs with tools and the right information

Spark plugs, even though small, have a crucial role to play when they are installed in the car. Their primary function is producing a useful spark that is needed by the engine.

As such, they need to be in good condition always, and this can be ensured by cleaning them regularly.

Here’s how to clean your spark plugs in any of the following ways:

  1. Using Compressed Air To Blow Away Dirt Particles From The Spark Plugs
  2. Using Abrasives To Clean the Spark Plugs
  3. Using A Blow Torch

Cleaning spark plugs will not only guarantee the improvement of the performance of the spark plug, but they will also ensure its lifespan.

This is because when the spark plugs are cleaned, they will not be stressed while working, and this means that they don’t get worn out at a faster rate.

This will ensure that their components are well taken care of, and the spark plug will be used in the car for longer while being reliable.

What Makes A Spark Plug Get Dirty?

Unlike most of the parts of the vehicle, the spark plugs tend to be the most used as they are used all through the running of the car.

They work from the time the ignition is turned on to the time the car is switched off. This condition makes them affected by specific factors that limit their performance.

One reason that makes the spark plugs get dirty is because of an instance when the air to gas ratio is too high.

This is brought about by a faulty setting in the carburetor. This then causes the spark plug to develop dirt issues.

Similarly, the piston rings might be faulty, and this causes them to let in engine oil into the combustion chamber.

The piston rings might be having faulty seals, and hence they let the engine oil, which is normally restricted to go through past them.

When they get to the combustion chamber where the spark plug is located, they make it dirty.

When you often leave your car engine in idling mode or even working in a rather slow operation, this might cause the spark plug to get dirty.

This is brought about by the fact that these conditions cause the spark plugs to be unable to work at a temperature that it is not supposed to.

The temperature when the car is idling or working in a rather slow operation does not provide the spark plug the required high temperature needed to burn the fuel and air mixture.

This causes the spark plug, mostly in the 2-stroke type of engine, to have deposits of oil, fuel, and carbon.

As seen above, the cause of the dirt on the spark plugs is usually the deposits of oil that escapes and makes its way to the combustion chamber of the engine.

In some old models of cars, carbon fouling may also cause additional dirt on the spark plugs fitted in them.

Why Should You Clean Spark Plugs?

You might realize that your spark plug is not working as it should be. This can be noticed from various signs, such as the vehicle not having the best of starts just as it had before.

It might not mean that you need to get a new spark plug altogether, but the issue might just be that the spark plug is dirty.

This is if you have had it in use in the car for not more than the recommended duration, which is approximately 100,000 miles.

While the spark plug is designed to wear out by itself, other factors will increase the rate at which the spark plugs in your car will get damaged.

This is because, in a normal situation, the metal on the spark plug is lost every time a spark is created by the spark plug. However, there are some external factors that will speed this up.

While some of the factors include the heat of the engine and the brand of the spark plug, the occurrence of gasoline and oil on the spark plugs will add damage to the spark plug.

The oil, as well as carbon from the gasoline being used in the vehicle, are what causes the spark plug to get dirty.

These usually form deposits on the tip of the spark plugs. This will then cause the spark plugs to work fairly harder to produce an effective spark.

As such, if you do not clean your spark plugs regularly, they get affected by the dirt deposits, and it might be too late for them, you will just have to get a new one altogether.

You do not have to get new spark plugs every time as the issue might simply be that they are dirty.

As such, you just need to be aware of the most effective ways to clean the spark plugs, and you will be able to enjoy the performance from your spark plug.

Best Way To Clean A Spark Plug

You can effectively clean your spark plugs by using either of the following means:

1. Using Compressed Air To Blow Away Dirt Particles From The Spark Plugs

This might be a good option when you want to clean your spark plugs in a simple manner. It is not as complicated as the many of the alternatives. It can be done through:

  • Disconnect the negative terminal of the car battery.
  • Get to the position of the spark plugs.
  • Blowing the spark plug as well as the area it is in with compressed air.

2. Using Abrasives To Clean The Spark Plugs

Abrasives could just be what you need to thoroughly clean your spark plugs.

After removing the spark plugs from their position in the car engine, you can brush on them using either a wire brush, a good type of sandpaper or even using a file.

After that you can get a brake cleaner and spray it onto the spark plug. This will get rid of grime that forms on the spark plug.

3. Using A Blow Torch

You will need a pair of pliers to hold the upper part of the spark plugs as the torch will get quite hot.

You can then get your gloves and then ignite the torch. You can then heat the spark plugs until it turns red hot.

This will get rid of any carbon particles as well as debris that may form on the surface of the spark plug.

You should then place the plug down to cool. After cooling it will be clean and you can place it back in position.

This video also helps:

How To Clean Spark Plug Wires

Cleaning of spark plug wires is usually a task that many people would take for granted.

However, this is healthy for the car and would guarantee both the top performance of the engine in your vehicle and also an improved lifetime of the spark plug.

You can get this done by following the following steps below:

  1. Disconnect the negative battery terminal: This will prevent the provision of power to the engine of the vehicle. This is suggested to ensure safety while getting the task done.
  2. Disconnect the spark plug wires: This should be done one at a time as you note the locations of each of the spark plug wires. You will need to return them to their exact locations to avoid damaging anything.
  3. Spray WD40 on a clean rag: When you have taken out the wires, you need to lay them out to their full length, and you can then start wiping the WD40 onto them using the rag.
  4. Check the condition of the spark plug wire: You should then inspect any signs of cracking or burning on the spark plug wire. This may occur on the insulation. If you notice any, then you might just have to replace the spark plug wire. This is because the spark plug will only be able to produce a proper spark if the connectors are in perfect condition.
  5. Apply dielectric grease: A dab of dielectric grease will need to be applied on either end of the wires. This will guarantee a proper electrical contact while the wires are in use.
  6. Re-insert the wires: After cleaning, you will have to place the wires back into position, getting each and the exact position you removed them from. You will need to ascertain the connections are made properly. After finishing, it is proper to counter check and ensure that every wire is secure and not placed in a twisted manner. They should be straightforward for them to work well. You can also finish up by wiping the wires with the WD40 since they might have gotten dirty while you were installing them back.

Q&A

Did you learn enough about the method of cleaning spark plugs? I hope you got lots of value out of the information I wrote above.

Now what you will find out are the questions below often asked by people who also looked for the same topic as you did. Let’s check what those are!

Can I Clean Spark Plugs With A Carburetor Cleaner?

Yes, you can use a carburetor cleaner to clean your spark plugs.

A carburetor cleaner will be an ideal inclusion if you want to clean your spark plug effectively. This would work effectively without causing any harm to the spark plugs.

You should avoid using abrasive cleaners as they would damage the functioning parts of the spark plug.

This is because when you use them, the spark plug develops issues with time, and this might reduce their life expectancy.

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06/07/2021 06:26 am GMT

Can I Spray Carb Cleaner Into Spark Plug Hole?

Yes, you can use the carb cleaner by spraying it into the spark plug hole.

This will guarantee quality performance from the spark plug as it does a good job of cleaning the spark plug as well as the other components.

You will need to take some precautions just to be on the safe side to avoid damaging any of the components of the vehicle’s engine.

The carburetor cleaner, as indicated above, can also be used in the cleaning of the spark plug itself. This will get rid of the dirt and enable the smooth working of the spark plug.

Can I Clean Spark Plugs With WD40?

Yes, you can use the WD40 to clean your spark plug, and it would be successful while at it.

The WD40 is a cleaning agent that has seamless usefulness, and it sparkles everything that is cleaned with it.

When using the WD40, you first have to let the engine cool down completely. You can then spray the WD40 on a clean cloth and then rub the spark plug using the cloth.

Another way is spraying it directly to the wires. When you start your truck, you should be able to see that the spark plug is sparkling.

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Can I Clean Spark Plugs With Alcohol?

Yes, you can use AlcoholAlcohol to clean your spark plug effectively. Alcohol would be a useful alternative for cleaning your spark plugs if you can’t get either mineral spirit or a carb cleaner.

You should protect your hands by wearing the appropriate types of gloves while doing this.

90% of AlcoholAlcohol would be enough for you to realize successful results. It is effective because of the fact that it can get rid of dirt particles on any component, even if it is a metallic one.

You should not be worried about any damages to the spark plug, as this is a fully safe way to clean your spark plugs.

Can I Clean Spark Plugs With Gasoline?

Yes, gasoline is a good inclusion to go for if you want to clean your spark plugs.

If you can’t get other types of spark plug cleaners, you should try out gasoline that might just be what you need to clean your spark plug effectively.

When you use gasoline, you can rub it onto the spark plug. You can then rub any dirt particles that form on the spark plug using a suitable type of brush. This will ensure that the spark is polished up.

Can I Spray Brake Cleaner On Spark Plugs?

Yes, brake cleaner can be used in the cleaning of your spark plugs. This is a cleaning agent that has been used successfully in cleaning almost any car parts.

This option is effective because it does the cleaning efficiently and also dries off the surface of the parts fast.

When you use the brake cleaner, you should spray it onto the spark plug and then use a clean cloth to wipe off any dirt particles.

In the case that your spark plugs are covered with too much dirt, it is advisable that you get a wire brush for the stubborn dirt particles.

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06/07/2021 03:50 am GMT

Can Sea Foam Clean Spark Plugs?

Yes, seafoam is a useful alternative that can be used to clean your spark plug and other parts of the engine close to the spark plug.

This would also work to coat the surface of the spark plug when you do not want to use the car. This would be effective if you want to store the car away in the garage for a while.

This is another useful alternative, just like the others. It works better than the abrasives that might cause the spark plug’s surface more susceptible to the dirt particles.

As such, you should opt for this method and similar ones that would be highly effective.

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06/07/2021 06:01 am GMT

Can I Clean And Reuse Spark Plugs?

Yes, you can clean your spark plug and reuse it in the vehicle engine. When the spark plug is in use, it gets covered with either oil or carbon particles, and this makes it dirty.

As such, this limits its ability to work well and hence the poor performance.

What actually happens is that the dirt makes the spark plug unable to spark as needed, and hence it will be unable to be effective in the engine.

When this is the case, you do not have to get a new spark plug. You can just clean it using either of the above methods, and you can reuse it in the car.

It will be able to work well within the engine of the car. However, you should know that it is bound to wear out and you will eventually have to buy a new one.

Can I Clean Iridium Spark Plugs?

Yes, you can clean iridium spark plugs just like the other spark plugs. This can be done by using a fuel injector or a carburetor cleaner, and you will be able to get successful results.

After using the cleaners, you can get a dry cloth, a brush, or even use air pressure to blow away any dirt particles that might be left behind after the cleaning.

The iridium spark plugs are designed to be long-lasting, unlike most of the spark plugs that are there in the market today.

They are designed in such a manner that they do not require to be frequently cleaned and serviced as the other brands.

It is normal to have these types of spark plugs being used for longer periods, yet they are still in good condition.

Can I Clean Platinum Spark Plugs?

Yes, you can clean the platinum spark plugs. These are similar to the iridium spark plugs, as they are all designed for longevity and top performance.

You can clean them with the fuel injector or the carburetor cleaner as well. Similarly, you will need an effective way to get rid of any dirt particles that will still be present on the spark plug.

How Often Should I Clean My Spark Plugs?

There is no exact timeline on which you should clean your spark plugs; it just has to be done on a regular basis.

You should check the condition of the spark plug whenever you get the chance to get under the hood of your car.

If you spot oil deposits on the spark plug or that they appear dark due to carbon deposits, then you will have to get them cleaned.

You should also know that having a dirty spark plug will limit its ability to perform well when it comes to producing sparks with the air and fuel mixture.

Regular cleaning of the spark plug and getting rid of either oil or carbon deposits will not only improve their performance but will also improve their lifespan.

What happens with a spark plug that is dirty most of the time is that it has to work harder than necessary to produce an effective spark.

This shortens its life, and you might have to replace them. This article explains how you can change your spark plugs.

Conclusion

To ensure that your car is in good condition, you need to check on your spark plug regularly. Oil forms on the surface of the sparks plug, and this impairs its ability to do its work.

As such, the spark plug is unable to work well in the car engine. You can clean your spark plug using either of the methods mentioned above, and you will get successful results.

Source:

1. wikiHow – https://www.wikihow.com/Clean-Spark-Plugs

Written by Yusuke Kohara

Hi there! My name is Yusuke. I write about automotive topics for Car Proper. I love cars and have a passion for writing helpful articles on tools, car accessories, and how-to to help my readers solve their problems. In my spare time, I'm either working out, reading the book, or spending time with my family. I also work for a digital consulting agency.

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