Spark plugs are a critical component to your vehicle’s internal combustion engine. Without a spark, your fuel couldn’t ignite in the combustion chamber. When running smoothly, spark plugs will burn fuel efficiently. However, faulty, bad, failing, or misfiring spark plugs can be the result of many different causes. Let’s unpack a few of these potential damaging causes and symptoms to look for:
Similar to your vehicle’s air filters and oil, your spark plugs require routine maintenance. Every vehicle requires a specific type of spark plug made up of unique materials. Sometimes these materials can simply wear out, reducing the effectiveness of your spark plugs, leading to symptoms such as slow acceleration. If you start to notice your car running sluggishly, and it’s not accelerating as quickly as it used to, don’t just brush these observations off. This is a symptom that can indicate failing spark plugs (or other potential issues).
Poor Fuel Economy
Another common symptom that can allude to failing spark plugs is a decrease in your car’s fuel economy. What causes this decrease? Often, this is because the gap between the spark plug electrodes is either too far apart or too close, or your spark plug might just be worn out. If you notice your car’s fuel economy decreasing, or you are experiencing higher fuel consumption, have a mechanic examine your spark plugs and adjust the gap before possibly having to replace them entirely.
If your engine misfires, it’s typically because of an issue with the ignition system. However, sometimes this issue can be traced back to the spark plugs. If the wire or tip of the spark plug has been damaged, this can lead to ultimate spark plug failure. If you notice your vehicle making sputtering sounds or intermittent stumbling from the engine, have this checked as soon as possible.
Regardless of the cause, it is inevitable that your spark plugs will eventually wear out. That’s why regular maintenance on your spark plugs is necessary. Stay observant of how your car is acting and reacting to things, and remember to look for the common symptoms associated with spark plug failure!
Many people know that the engine exists, but some aren’t exactly sure what it does or why it is important. The engine is the heart of the vehicle. Without the engine, a car or truck would not work because it is what keeps the vehicle alive and running. An engine is made up of many parts and is built to convert heat from burning gas into the force that gets your wheels turning. Though there are many parts of an engine to discuss, here are the main components of the engine and their functions:
(sometimes referred to as the Engine Block)
The cylinder block is made up of a group of metal tubes called cylinders that burn fuel. There are anywhere from two to twelve of them and the more cylinders there are the more powerful the engine will be. Cylinders are sealed at one end while the other opens and closes. They also have pistons that slide up and down inside of them. The pistons transfer force from gas in the cylinder into the crankshaft.
The engine has two valves that enable things, such as air and gas, to come and go quickly. The inlet valve lets in fuel and air into the the cylinder while the outlet valve lets out the exhaust gases.
The spark plug is an electronic device located above each cylinder that is responsible for setting a fire to the fuel.
The crankshaft plays a very important role in the engine. The crankshaft converts the up and down movement of the pistons (located in the cylinder, remember?) into a rotational movement that makes the vehicle move.
The engine is a super-complex machine that needs to be maintained and checked. You’ll usually know it’s time when your check engine light comes on. If you need an engine check or have any question regarding your engine, make sure to schedule an appointment at one of McCarthy Auto Group’s service centers today!
The support system in a vehicle serves many purposes and can be known by a couple different names. You might be familiar with the “suspension system” in a car, which can be interchangeable for the overarching “support system” terminology. The main functions of this system contribute to the road handling, safety, and comfort of any vehicle. To understand the purpose of these functions, let’s delve into a better understanding of some different parts that make up the suspension system that contribute overall to support your car.
The frame. This is the structural, load-carrying component that supports a vehicle’s engine and body which the support (suspension) system then reinforces.
Springs. Nowadays, spring systems pretty much have four basic designs that contribute to the car’s balance and passenger comfort. The most common type of springs found in the support system are either coil springs, leaf springs, torsion bars, or air springs. You can find most springs located between the wheels and the frame of a car. Overall, they serve to compress and expand to absorb the motion of the wheels, thus contributing to the road handling and comfort results.
Dampers (i.e. shock absorbers). You just learned about springs, which allow the wheels to move up to absorb bumps in the road and improve the handling of the vehicle. Now we’re talking about dampers, which are commonly called shock absorbers and/or “shocks” or “struts”. They go hand-in-hand with springs to prevent your car from bouncing up and down. While the springs are necessary to deflect the bounce, your car would continue to bounce up and down if the reaction from these springs was not dissipated by dampers being in place. The “shock absorber” is a device that helps control this spring motion through an overall process known as “dampening.” Thus the term, dampers.
Stabilizers. These are found in most cars, however, not all. You can hear many different terms when it comes to stabilizers, such as anti-sway bars, sway bars, stabilizer bars, and anti-roll bars. These are all essentially the same thing. Stabilizers serve as a bar between the front wheels and rear wheels that provide another dampening function and overall structural car support. Stabilizers serve to prevent leaning/swaying of your vehicle during turns and resist the swaying movement to keep your car’s wheels at the same height. Depending on the make and model of your car, these bars will vary from a thick/stiff bar to less rigid bars (which are better for off-roading).
Tires and wheels. These obviously are an essential component that support your car. They help provide the traction, grip and friction that make movement of your vehicle possible.
Just like a human, a car is made up of different systems that coordinate to keep the car functioning. The electrical system is an important part of any vehicle. It consists of the battery, starter, and alternator. If any one of these parts stops working your car won’t start or run properly.
The battery is responsible for providing the electricity needed to power all of the electrical components of your car. This small part converts chemical energy into electrical energy— think of it as the heart of a vehicle. When the battery isn’t pumping electricity out, then the car will not start.
The electric power from the battery is transported to the starter which is what really gets the engine up and running. The starter rotates the flywheel to get the engine’s pistons moving. Think of the starter as an artery transporting blood to an important part in your body. Without the heart (battery) pumping blood to the artery (starter) the important body part (engine) cannot run. An alternator keeps the battery charged while your car is running, and supplies additional electric power throughout the electrical system. Think of an alternator as the blood that is flowing through the artery (starter) and heart (battery) to keep it going and able to perform its duties.
Now you have it! The electrical system is essentially what powers the vehicle. It’s important to make sure these parts are always checked. When they begin to wear out, your car battery will weaken and/or die, causing problems to other electrical system parts. Some signs that indicate attention needed to your battery include the check engine light, a slow engine crank, and low battery fluid level. If you are experiencing any of these issues, schedule your next service appointment now!