How to Buy the Suitable Spark Plugs for Your Car?

To buy the suitable spark plugs for your car, you need to know its specs (or “specifications“). The owner’s manual may tell you related specifications for gapping and buying the spark plugs for your car. If you can’t get an owner’s manual, you can determine the suitable spark plug gap and spark plugs in the “Tune-Up Specification Guide” (also known as “spec sheet,”) at the auto supply store. Those guides are either printed on large sheets or in pamphlet form that are placed at the parts section. If you don’t see a specification sheet, ask a sales staff to bring it to you. Important information should be mentioned in the owner’s manual, and most of them are also printed on metal decals or tags inside the car hood. You can usually find the metal tags inside the hood, in front of the radiator, inside the fenders. I know of one car that has its tag inside the glove compartment lid. These identification decals also provide a lot of other important information about where the car was manufactured, what type of paint it has, and so forth, but don’t worry about those information right now.

Here is what you need to find to obtain the specifications for your car:

  • The maker of the car (Chevrolet, Toyota, and so on).
  • The model (Malibu, Prius, and so on).
  • The year (2001, 2004, and so on).
  • The type of engine and number of cylinders.
  • Whether the car has a manual (standard) or an automatic transmission.
  • The engine displacement: How much volume there is in a cylinder when the piston is at the lowest point? (For instance, a 3-liter 6-cylinder car engine has engine displacement of one-half liter, or five hundred cubic centimeters -usually expressed as 500 CCs ) The bigger the engine displacement, the more air and fuel the cylinders hold. The engine displacement on older cars may be expressed in cubic inches, such as 302, 350, and so on. Modern cars are usually expressed in liters (1.8, 2.3) or cubic centimeters (3400, 3800).
  • The type of fuel system: If your car engine is fuel-injected, you should know whether your vehicle has multi-port injection or throttle body injection. Carburetor is described by how many “barrels” it has.
  • The optimum spark plug gap: This is the optimum distance between the side and center electrodes of a spark plug.
  • The spark plug part number designed for your car.

When purchasing car parts, don’t just ask a sales person which model of plug you need to buy – you have a good probability of getting the wrong type. First consult the specs yourself, and then ask him for the spark plug by number. If you are hesitant, have a sales person check it for you. Search your car by maker and model under the correct year on the specification sheet.

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