Iridium spark plugs are an upgrade on copper and platinum plugs, and they are the most in-demand plug for vehicles.
No doubt, every vehicle owner wants what's best for their car. Still, when you consider iridium plugs’ price point compared to other regular plugs, a couple of questions pop up: Are iridium plugs worth the extra money? What makes them so unique? I’ll answer those questions by highlighting some of the reasons you may want to choose iridium spark plugs over platinum or copper spark plugs.
What Are the Benefits of Iridium Spark Plugs?
1. Longer Lifespan
Iridium spark plugs last the longest. Typically iridium plugs last for at least 96,000 km, and it could be as high as 130,000 km. Some vehicle owners do not even need to change the car plugs before they eventually sell their cars. So may as well consider it a long-term investment.
2. More Durable
Iridium is about six times harder than platinum, eight times as strong, and has a higher melting point at several hundreds of centigrade. These characteristics make it 25% more durable than platinum plugs. With this plug type, you’ll never have to worry about wear; you can trust it to offer long-lasting performance.
3. Engine Starts Better
It takes considerably less voltage to fire up iridium spark plugs because of the tiny electrode at the centre. As such, it provides your vehicle with a more even spark. And consequently, you get a faster ignition and fewer problems associated with starting your car for the first time in the day.
4. Save More on Fuel
The more voltage needed to produce the spark needed to start your vehicle, the more fuel is burned. With iridium plugs, minimal voltage is required, and so little fuel is used up.
5. Fewer Fumes from Exhaust
Because fuel is burned more efficiently when you use iridium spark plugs, there is a decrease in exhaust emissions, leading to a cleaner ecosystem altogether. The tiny point electrode also increases the firing efficiency (i.e., the chances of your plug misfiring is reduced); this is also a known factor in reducing vehicular emissions.
The combined effects of reduced fuel consumption and plug firing efficacy imply that iridium spark plugs help reduce exhaust emissions in ways that other spark plugs don't.
6. Top-shelf Performance
Cars run faster and perform better when you use iridium plugs. You'll find that hills are also easier to climb since fuel burns more efficiently and overall power output is more efficient.
Can You Clean and Reuse Iridium Spark Plugs?
It is possible to clean and reuse iridium spark plugs. Still, we do not recommend it for the optimum health of your vehicle. The reason is simple: you can't get the same performance level as you would in a new plug. Cleaning the plugs will make them wear out even further, and the edges become less sharp. As a result, electricity discharge will lessen.
Still, want to go ahead with cleaning your used plug? Here's how to do it right:
- Clean the firing tip (electrode) and the plug using a clean strip of cloth.
- Spray with any quick-dry cleaner you can find, and allow to soak for ten minutes.
- After ten minutes, the deposits will have loosened and will be easier to clean now. Clean with a wire brush.
- Blow air through and over the firing tip using an air compressor.
- Read the gap according to the specification of your car.
If you choose not to change your plugs when it's due, you must clean them up. Not cleaning your iridium spark plugs well will cause them to fail or misfire.
How Often Do Iridium Spark Plugs Need to Be Changed?
There’s no written-in-stone rule that tells you when to change an iridium spark plug. These spark plugs can last for 3000-4000 hours when the engine is up and running. Some manufacturers state on the manual at what time interval to change plugs. However, this time recommendation is mostly independent of the plug's power output.
In short, changing iridium plugs are a combination of vehicle performance, mechanic's suggestion, manufacturer's recommendations, and the driver’s instincts. This combination is more holistic in approach than just following a set of rules.
How to Know when Iridium Plugs Need Changing
Iridium plugs, like other plugs, don't last forever. If you use them for long enough, you'll eventually have to replace them.
The factors that indicate the need for a plug replacement are the same, whether it’s an iridium or copper plug. Here are five tips for determining when to change your plug.
1. Use the replacement interval as a guide. Check your car’s manual to find out the replacement interval recommend by car manufacturers. Once you covered this distance, it’s best to change the plug.
2. Car taking too long to accelerate. A spent plug isn't effective at creating the spark that ignites the air-fuel mixture. So if your vehicle seems to lack the energy needed for acceleration, its plugs could be the problem.
3. Increased Fuel Consumption. Since the air-fuel mixture isn’t properly combusted, fuel economy reduces.
4. Loud Engine. This is a common telltale sign of a worn plug. If you notice that your car makes a rattling noise, chances are one or more spark plugs are malfunctioning.
5. Check Engine Light on. Your check engine light is supposed to warn you of potential problems in the engine. One of these problems is a worn plug.
Iridium plugs are worth the price tag that's placed on them. If you can afford them, they should be your choice of plugs. And if your car manual states an iridium plug is most suitable, refuse the temptation to downgrade to a copper or platinum plug. You’ll find that the sacrifice isn’t worth it. To get the plug ideal for your car, request it via our Car Part Finder.
Also, to learn more about cars, check out the CarPartAU’s blog. It’s an inexhaustible resource on a plethora of car and car part topics.
By Damilare Olasinde