When working as an auto technician, you’ll need to know how to diagnose and repair a wide range of automotive problems. Identifying the source of vehicle trouble is the first step. In most cases, a client will request your professional help after experiencing difficulty with their engine, acceleration, ignition, or the smell and sound of their car. These are all tell-tale signs that something is wrong. Unfortunately, vehicle symptoms may indicate any number of problems, from a failing suspension system to a transmission leak. It’s the job of the auto technician to correctly diagnose those symptoms.
When it comes to spark plugs, the effects of failure can be varied. As a component of the engine, a faulty spark plug can trigger similar responses to other engine parts. Here’s a closer look at common signs that a spark plug needs replacing.
Clients Having Trouble Starting the Car
When troubleshooting a vehicle, it’s important to understand the role that each component plays. The spark plugs are responsible for one of the most important jobs: supplying the spark to power the engine. The spark plug creates electricity that ignites the air-fuel mixture in the combustion engine. The ignition process starts the car. Beyond that, the spark plugs continue to supply power by setting the engine’s pistons in motion, which keeps the vehicle driving.
That’s why those in auto service technician training should pay attention to the ignition when diagnosing a problem. When the spark plugs are worn out, they have difficulty creating the spark to power the engine. The vehicle engine needs to work harder to compensate for faulty spark plugs, and the car may stall when it’s turned on. While the battery is another common culprit, it’s important to rule out the spark plugs as the cause by removing and examining them.
Note the Acceleration as a Professional Auto Technician
The ignition system plays a major role in powering the acceleration of a car. A worn spark plug is less effective at igniting the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber. One of the most notable effects of a faulty spark plug is a drop in acceleration performance. The effects of this can be significant, with as much as a 40% power loss. As spark plugs have such a high impact on engine performance, a professional auto technician should take note of their life span when a vehicle becomes less responsive or starts to drive sluggishly.
Look Out for Poor Fuel Economy
Since faulty spark plugs are less effective at powering a vehicle, they place a heavy burden on the engine. As they’re unable to efficiently burn the fuel in the engine, worn spark plugs increase a vehicle’s fuel consumption. A drop in fuel economy will be most noticeable to car owners, as they’ll spend more money on filling up their cars. While other components may influence gas mileage, bad spark plugs can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 30%. If a customer’s wallet is truly suffering from overly frequent trips to the gas pump, it may be time to replace the spark plugs.
Watch for Complaints of Engine Misfires
When the engine misfires, the vehicle should be serviced as soon as possible. There may be a number of causes of an engine misfire, including poor fuel quality. Most likely, however, a worn spark plug is the culprit. When the engine misfires, the pace of the vehicle may falter. The engine may also make a popping sound as it catches back up. The most obvious indicator of an engine misfire is the check engine light flashing. When the check engine light comes on, it’s time to see an automotive professional. Spark plugs should be replaced as part of the preventative maintenance of a vehicle, as driving with faulty spark plugs can damage the catalytic converter and result in costly repairs down the line.
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