How to Clean Spark Plugs? Step by Step Tips and Tricks

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 it will also increase the fuel consumption of your car.

For this reason, checking the spark plugs of your car or motorcycle is a fundamental task that you must carry out since 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 spark plugs for cars and motorcycles so that you can enjoy your car for long years without problems.

How to clean spark plugs?

The first thing that you should take into account to know if the spark plugs are dirty is the operation of the vehicle since when they are dirty they cause damage to the performance of the car or the motorcycle. Next, we present the failures that can indicate that the spark plugs are not clean and need maintenance or replacement:

  • The engine begins to fail when it is under high stress or when the car or motorcycle is carrying heavy loads. 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 is going to exhibit 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 originates when gasoline makes contact with an electric current.
  • Another piece of information that can tell you that the spark plugs are dirty is the difficulty in starting the engine, the failures 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 in the spark plug cylinders and, therefore, these parts need to be cleaned.
  • If the spark plugs are rusty, you will notice that the engine does not work properly, since the spark jump will be very weak and the explosion will not take place with enough power. This will cause the vehicle to lose strength, even if you are going at high speed.
  • If you have decided to check the spark of the car spark plug and some of these cases have arisen, the ideal is to remove the spark plug and carry out the appropriate cleaning process.

how to clean spark plugs

Spark plug cleaning is generally quick and easy. You will need to:

  • 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 – look for 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. Disconnect the wire from each spark plug separately, because if you remove all the spark plugs at the same time, you could be confused as to which wire goes in each cylinder. In the event that the cable is jammed, try to rotate it a bit to loosen it and then remove it.
  4. Clean the spark plug: once you have removed it, take 220 grit sandpaper and pass it back and forth over the electrode until you can see the clean metal.
  5. File away the dirt on the electrode: it is recommended to use a small rasp to remove carbon build-up on the electrode.
  6. Scrub the spark plug threads with a wire brush or spark plug cleaning brush – do this from a perpendicular angle to the spark plug, so that the brush moves in the same direction as the thread, to remove most of the accumulated dirt without damaging the part.
  7. Lastly, spray WD40 multipurpose oil to give it the final cleaning finish. This product evaporates and makes the parts of the piece dry quickly. Repeat the process with each part to finish cleaning spark plugs with WD40.

How to Clean Car Spark Plugs with a Torch?

There is another method of cleaning car spark plugs. This consists of removing dirt and debris through a torch:

  1. Once you have removed the spark plug, secure it with a plier at 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 the thread over the flame until the part turns red. The torch will burn the coal and all debris.
  4. Let the spark plug cool for a few minutes.
  5. Once the spark plug has cooled, install it in the appropriate 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.
  6. It is recommended that once the spark plugs are cleaned, and before reinstalling them, proceed to calibrate each one with a calibration tool. The goal of this step is to correct the gap between the spark plug and the electrode. The vehicle owner’s manual will tell you the exact measurement of the spark plug gap and the protruding electrode (usually 0.6 to 0.7 millimetres).

How to clean the motorcycle’s spark plugs?

In the case of the motorcycle, as in cars, the spark plugs are in charge of lighting the spark that gives life to the vehicle’s engine. Although it is true that there are different types of motorcycle spark plugs (as with other vehicles) they are all cleaned in similar ways. Some types of the motorcycle spark plug are copper, platinum or iridium spark plug. Next, we show you how to clean the motorcycle’s spark plugs.

  • The first thing you should do is locate the spark plugs and mark the wires well to identify them later and reassemble them in the same order. (Depending on the motorcycle model, it will have one or more spark plugs).
  • Next, you will have to remove the spark plugs delicately with a special wrench (take special care not to damage the protection of the central electrode). Remember to also clean the cables and caps to avoid bad contacts.
  • Next, check the condition of the spark plugs you have removed, as these will give you a clue of what is happening to the motorcycle.
  • Clean the spark plugs once you have removed them 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.
  • Clean the upper part of the spark plugs, that is, where the electrodes are, with 90-degree alcohol or WD40 multipurpose oil, just like we have done with the car.
  • Now apply pressurized air to remove debris from the surface. You can help yourself with a wire brush and a cotton cloth to clean the threads well.
  • 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.

If you are going to disassemble and clean the spark plugs, keep in mind that they are very delicate pieces that could break easily, so to avoid this, put an old thick blanket on the ground.

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