“Back in my day, I remember when I still had to change the spark plugs in my car.” I said out loud, feeling my inner child die ever so slightly as I spoke the words “back in my day” with no sarcasm implied. I also distinctly remember sitting in a new product meeting surrounded by my peers preparing to learn that the game had changed. With every innovation that manufacturers roll out to meet the higher demands of the average motorist, we are asking the components of these vehicles to perform at higher productivity and with greater demand. In my world, this simply meant we no longer lived in the land of 100,000-mile spark plug replacements. Vehicles that were already on the road and being serviced both at home and in local repair shops were already way overdue to have a vital component changed.
*A 2012 Ford Fusion (left) and a 2013 Dodge Ram (right) sub 100,000-mile spark plug change intervals.
The adage “spend a little now, save a lot later” may not be an actual old-adage, it just popped into my head as I’m typing this. That doesn’t make it any less true when it comes to changing out the worn-out plugs on your vehicle, though. Consistently the biggest objection I hear about changing out spark plugs is, it’s too “expensive” to install $30 worth of spark plugs “right now” or that I will “get it next time”. It’s a common excuse, almost as common as having to spend an additional $500-$1,000 on additional repairs caused by not replacing plugs during their recommended intervals. Industry standards suggest the average cost of a single ignition coil is around $300 for parts and labor. With faulty plugs being a major contributor to ignition coil failure and the tendency for these components to fail in tandem the expenses can quickly add up.
Additional repairs are just the tip of the iceberg for not being “spark plug smart”. Taking in the traditional issues with faulty and worn spark plugs, loss of fuel economy or bad horsepower; the additional day to day cost can exceed even that of hard-part repair costs. The biggest opportunity we have as someone involved in the parts-world, both as a consumer or a vendor, is education. We’ve been conditioned by years of belief that our spark plugs will last to a minimum of 100,000 miles. By being aware of these changes and being pro-active about changing these plugs, we can avoid costly expenses that will hurt our customers and our wallet. Especially as technology continues to change and the automotive manufacturers are pushing harder to get more performance out of these components. Check your owner’s manual, talk with your mechanic, or use Google to find your vehicle’s spark plug recommended service interval.
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– Kevin Ford, District Sales Manager- NGK Spark Plugs.