Spark plugs are parts that regularly need to be replaced during routine servicing. Most times this can be done without any problems but sometimes they can seize. If a spark plug does seize it can be a tricky affair to get it out as it is a fragile component. Worst case scenario: a sparkplug can snap if it is forced too much, in which case you will be faced with a big repair bill. Luckily, though, there are ways to reduce the risk of seized spark plugs.
Why Does A Spark Plug Seize?
Spark plugs are fitted to all petrol-powered cars. They makes sure the petrol mixture that is pushed into the engine’s cylinders is ignited. The plugs do so by providing a little spark that ignites the petrol mixture.
As the spark plugs are directly exposed to the extreme heat inside the engine they can deteriorate rapidly, especially if the engine is not running as well as it should. Carbon build up is one of the spark plug’s biggest enemies and occurs if the engine does not run at an optimal level. Usually direct injection engines are affected. The carbon can build-up around the tip of the spark plug inside the cylinder and will prevent you from removing it. Simply put, the spark plug can become seized.
Apart from that, spark plugs can also seize due to corrosion. Whilst on modern engines there is a reduced chance of this happening it can still happen. Usually engine fluids or water from outside will be the cause. The corrosion will occur there were the top parts of the plugs stick out of the engine. The fluids can slowly affect the areas in and around the spark plug threads and start corroding.
How To Prevent Your Spark Plugs From Seizing
To avoid seized spark plugs it’s important to ensure the utmost care is taken when replacing them. As they are vital parts of the engine the replacement of the spark plugs is best left to a professional who knows the ins and outs of your particular engine. Especially as there’s numerous types of spark plugs that ask for different ways to remove and fit them.
Many spark plugs can be treated with anti-seize lubrication which can reduce the risk of a plug seizing. Of course there’s always exceptions to the rule. Manufacturer NGK, for example, advises strongly not to use anti-seize lubrication. Most of the NGK spark plugs have been pre-treated already to prevent seizing.
A generally accepted rule, though, is to make sure the spark plugs and threads are dry of any fluids, like water, before they are put into the engine. That way there’s less risk of spark plug seizing.
Some spark plugs may also suffer from carbon build-up as noted earlier. Whilst there will always will be some carbon building up as you run the engine there are ways in which you can reduce this. If you do a lot of stop and go driving it can’t harm to rev the engine a little more than usual to blow some of the nasty carbon stuff out of the engine. Also it’s helpful to make sure you replace oil and filters regularly, and to use good quality petrol.
If you’re not quite sure how to do it, make sure to always get help from a mechanic.
What Can I Do if My Spark Plug Is Already Seized
If a spark plug is seized it’s important to be careful when replacing it. Get help of an expert to get them out to prevent further damage. If a spark plug does snap when you try to remove it then it’s likely that pieces will have dropped into the cylinder. It’s important not to start the car until all pieces have been removed, otherwise this could lead to significant engine damage.