Spark plugs are little pieces that pack a lot of power and punch. They are extremely important in that they play a role in starting the engine by providing the required spark. All vehicles come with state-of-the-art spark plugs already installed. However, after a few years or after a few thousand miles, you will notice changes in efficiency. They may go bad and cause problems while starting or during handling. Bad plugs also affect mileage and performance.
This is why keeping an eye on the signs and replacing them when needed is necessary. Once you purchase the spark plugs, you can either have a mechanic install them for you or you can engage in a DIY project. Either way, there are a few basics you should know about. The biggest of them is – how much you should tighten them. This is going to be our topic of discussion today.
How Tight Should Spark Plugs Be?
It’s all about the torque here. You must tighten your spark plugs to the specified torque or angle. Torque is an important aspect to consider because it directly impacts the ability of the spark plug to function efficiently. When torque is not right, the spark plugs will not be able to remove the heat and the engine will heat up significantly.
Each spark plug comes with the specified angle or torque that you must consider during the installation process. Since the value depends on the brand of the spark plug you purchase, we cannot give you a specific answer. To make it easier for you, though, we have mentioned the specifications of a few popular brands:
- NGK: ½ to 2/3 turn if the plugs have a gasket or 1/12 to 1/8 turn if they have a tapered seat
- Champion: For plugs with gasket it is 3/8 to 5/8 and for plugs with a tapered seat, it is 1/16 turn
- Autolite: ¼ to ½ turn and 1/16 turn for gasket and tapered seat respectively
- Denso: If you are going with plugs with a tapered seat you should tighten them to 1/8 turn and if you choose plugs with gaskets, it should be ¼ to ½ turn
- Bosch: ¼ and 1/16 turn for plugs with gasket and tapered seat respectively
Please note that these specifications hold true only if the gasket is new.
What happens when you overtighten a spark plug?
Overtightening can ruin the spark plug altogether because it damages the cylinder’s threads as well as the spark plug’s threads. As a result, the internal seal gets stressed and damaged. It can also hurt the insulator of the spark plugs.
What happens when you under tighten a spark plug?
Not tightening the spark plug enough is almost as bad as tightening it too much. When you under tighten, you end up disturbing the position of the spark plug. It won’t sit comfortably in the cylinder head and this will affect heat transfer because it is not properly in contact with the head. Insufficient contact leads to starting problems and increases the temperature of the combustion chamber unnecessarily.
Tightening a spark plug properly
The best way to ensure that the spark plug is tight enough is to use a torque wrench. You should start by going through the manufacturer’s specifications and recommendations for the torque setting and then use the torque wrench to meet those requirements. If you do not have a torque wrench, you can finger tighten it first and then use a plug wrench to achieve the right torque. The first method, however, is the safest.
People also ask
Now, let’s take a look at a few questions on this topic.
1) Can you overtighten spark plugs?
Yes, it is possible to overtighten spark plugs.
2) How do I know if my spark plugs are too tight?
You will see performance problems such as misfires, starting issues, and difficult acceleration.
3) Is a torque wrench really necessary?
We would say yes because it makes the job really easy without complications.
4) What happens if you don’t use a torque wrench?
Chances of overtightening are high when you don’t use a torque wrench.
Spark plugs should be installed by following the manufacturer’s guide and specifications. This will help you avoid mistakes such as overtightening. If you are not confident about it, we advise that you hire a mechanic to do the job for you. If you have any more questions, please leave a comment.