Tips on How to Clean Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are an essential element of the electrical system of vehicles, as they are responsible for producing the spark that drives the pistons in the engine. A car or motorcycle will not start or fail if they are damaged or dirty, and also, the fuel consumption of your vehicle will increase.

For this reason, checking the spark plugs of your automobile or motorcycle is a fundamental task that you must carry out, as these will indicate the state of the engine. Next, we will teach you how to know if the spark plugs are dirty and how to clean car and motorcycle spark plugs so you can enjoy your car for many years without experiencing any issues.

How to Tell if the Spark Plugs are Dirty

The only way to know if the spark plugs are dirty is the operation of the vehicle, since they generate damage to the performance of the car when they are dirty. Next, we present the faults that may indicate that the spark plugs are not clean and need maintenance or replacement.

Read also: How to Clean Leather Car Seats

  • The engine begins to fail when subjected to great efforts or when the car or motorcycle is carrying a heavy load. If this occurs, it may be because the spark plugs are full of impurities in the area where the spark that ignites the gasoline (electrode) is generated.
  • The car or motorcycle will have misfires, engine jerks, and poor performance. Again, this is because the area of ​​the spark plug where the spark is generated has carbon residue. Carbonization occurs when gasoline makes contact with electrical current.
  • Another piece of information that can indicate that the spark plugs are dirty is the difficulty in starting the engine, the faults that the car presents when starting it, and poor performance in slow gears. If this is the case, it is probably because there are oil deposits on the spark plug cylinders, and therefore these parts need to be cleaned.
  • If the spark plugs are rusted, you will notice that the engine does not work correctly because the spark gap will be fragile, and the explosion will not be produced with enough power. This will cause the vehicle to lose power, even at high speed.

If you have decided to check the spark of the car's spark plug and some of these cases have occurred, the ideal is to remove the spark plug and carry out the proper cleaning process.

How to clean spark plugs - How to tell if the spark plugs are dirty
Image source: Reproduction/Internet

How to Clean Car Spark Plugs

The cleaning of spark plugs is generally quick and easy. You will need

  • Sandpaper or a rasp
  • WD40 multipurpose oil

To clean spark plugs with WD40, follow the steps below

  1. Disconnect the negative battery terminal: to do this, find the terminal with the minus sign, loosen the bolt, and slide the terminal out.
  2. Locate the spark plugs - Find the thick wires that run from the ignition coil to the top of the engine and follow them to the opening to find the part.
  3. With a can of compressed air, remove debris from around the spark plug to prevent it from falling into the cylinders when removing the part.
  4. Disconnect the wire from each spark plug separately, because if you remove all the plugs simultaneously, you could get confused as to which wire goes on which cylinder. If the cable is stuck, try twisting it a little to loosen it, then pull it out.
  5. Use a wrench to unscrew the spark plug: place the wrench on the spark plug and turn counterclockwise. Once the piece is loose, remove the extension and finish unscrewing by hand.
  6. Clean the spark plug: once you have removed it, take 220 grit sandpaper and, on the electrode, pass it back and forth until you can see the clean metal.
  7. File dirt on the electrode - It is recommended to use a small rasp to remove carbon build-up on the electrode.
  8. Scrub the spark plug thread with a wire brush or spark plug cleaning brush - scrub from a perpendicular angle to the spark plug, so the brush moves in the same direction as the thread, to remove most of the accumulated dirt without damaging the part.
  9. Lastly, spray WD40 multipurpose oil to give it the final cleaning finish. This product evaporates and makes parts of the piece dry quickly. Repeat for each part to finish cleaning spark plugs with WD40.

How to Clean Car Spark Plugs with a Blowtorch

There is another method of cleaning car spark plugs. This entails using a torch to clear away dirt and debris:

  1. Once you have removed the spark plug, hold it with pliers by the end that connects the wire.
  2. Put on gloves and light the torch.
  3. Hold the end of the spark plug, placing the electrode part and thread over the flame until the part turns red. The torch will burn the charcoal and all the debris.
  4. Let the spark plug cool for a few minutes.
  5. After the spark plug has cooled, install it in the proper location. Adjust with the wrench and this time, turn to the right. Finally, connect the wire again and repeat the process with each of the spark plugs.

It is recommended that once the spark plugs are cleaned, and before reinstalling them, they proceed to calibrate each one with a calibration tool. The goal of this step is to correct the spark plug and the electrode gap. Your vehicle's owner's manual will tell you the exact gap between the spark plug and the protruding electrode (usually 0.6 to 0.7 millimeters).

How to clean spark plugs - How to clean car spark plugs
Image source: Reproduction/Internet

How to Clean Motorcycle Spark Plugs

In motorcycles, as in cars, the spark plugs are responsible for igniting the spark that gives life to the vehicle's engine. While it is true that there are different types of spark plugs for motorcycles (as with other cars), they are all cleaned in similar ways.

Some types of motorcycle spark plugs are copper, platinum, or iridium spark plugs. Following that, we demonstrate how to clean the motorcycle's spark plugs.

  1. The first thing you should do is locate the spark plugs and mark the wires to identify them later and reassemble them in the same order. (Depending on the model of the motorcycle, it will have one or more spark plugs).
  2. Next, you will have to gently remove the spark plugs with a special wrench (be especially careful not to damage the central electrode). Remember also to clean the cables and caps to avoid bad contacts.
  3. Next, check the condition of the spark plugs that you have removed, as these will give you a clue of what is happening to the motorcycle.
  4. Clean the spark plugs once they have been removed with abrasives, using 220 grit sandpaper on the electrode. Move it back and forth until you can see the clean metal. The electrode should look like bare metal.
  5. Clean the upper part of the spark plugs, where the electrodes are, with 90-degree alcohol or WD40 multipurpose oil, just as we have done with the car.
  6. Now blow them under pressure to remove debris from the surface. You can help yourself with a wire brush and a cotton cloth to clean the threads well.
  7. Finally, dry the spark plugs and put them in place. Check that the cables are in the right place and that the distance between the electrodes is the same.

Also read: How to Clean My Car Floor Mats

If you intend to take the spark plugs apart and clean them, keep in mind that they are very delicate pieces that could easily break, so to avoid this, place an old thick blanket on the ground. If, after this cleaning, your vehicle's engine continues to have problems, you may need to change the spark plugs of your car or motorcycle.

Adapted and translated by The Cop Cart Staff

Sources: Uncomo